I found her that way – perched on the roof of her car, her knees drawn up with her hands around them, her hair unbound blowing in the wind, looking up at the sky. For a second, I couldn’t move. With the moon behind her, she was a silhouette, ephemeral. As if she would vanish in a blink. So I did what came to me instinctually; I raised the camera slung from my neck, disabled the flash and snapped her picture.
The soft ‘click’ of the camera shutters was like a cannon-boom in the silence, and her head turned.
I stepped out from among the trees, wondering what it was in her voice that sounded different.
“Hey, Wild Girl. What are you up to now?”
She held out her hand. “Come on up.”
I eyed the car roof.
“No way. You’re fine up there, but add my body weight and your little car will have a collapsed top.”
She laughed – a tinkling, bubbling laugh, with no hidden hurt. I froze.
“You’re probably right.” She sighed. “My job’s done here.” She slid down to her car’s hood and grinned at me – an honest smile, no fake grimace.
The moonlight fell on her face, and she was so breathtaking, I couldn’t breathe. I wanted to click her picture, and keep it with me forever; I didn’t want to click her picture – I didn’t want a photo, I wanted the real thing. The real thing that was smiling at me in the moonlight, her eyes a deep pool of mystery, her lips, soft, enticing. And she was oblivious.
All these months I had loved this girl, I hadn’t even realized what I had been missing. All the while I had ached to help her, I had no idea it was just her shadow I was dealing with. And now that I saw she had gotten herself back, I hurt more even as I loved her more. Being the best friend sucked, since it guaranteed that I could never be anything more.
She patted the space beside her and I climbed up the hood. I stared at the moon for a few moments before I turned to look at her, the girl even more radiant than the moon.
“Tamanna… Tell me.” I told her.
And she did.