When she reads her heart is vulnerable in her eyes, and her smile is one I never see anywhere else; full of honest thoughts and emotion. That smile does not betray her thoughts; she doesn't pretend and she doesn't protect her heart in that small smile that is bigger than the image portrays at a careless glance. She opens her heart up to the characters she loves, to the characters she does and doesn't understand, and to the characters she protests.
She scans the pages, her eyes dotting around the page. I could almost hear part of her mind telling her eyes to calm down, to breathe in the serenity of a story that's not her own.
The room is quiet, except for the intermittent flicking of the pages. But there is so much noise. I can see it through her changing expressions that stay like statues for a second. Her mind is breathing in the characters and their thoughts and opinions, their experiences and love and disdain. She adores them. She despises them. Either way, they're helping her. Most of the time.
When she reads, I feel helpless to her vacant gaze that's full of everything good, and everything bad. Her breath is coherent. Her breath is little. Her focus is strong. Her focus is weak.
She strokes the cover a little. Enough to comfort her sad eyes. Something's happening and I'm helpless to reassure her. So I watch. I watch her mouth delicately will to whisper into the air. She never does. Her cheeks stay the same; pale but entranced. When she reads her image is one of wonder. It's like she's not a person, but a body of some sort that only wants good for these characters that she will never fully understand.
Then she smiles. I can tell she's sad, but she's learnt something. She's found comfort in a sad ending.
But then it hits her all over again.
She closes the book, completed. The end. She looks at me, a single tear captivating her expression for what feels like a lifetime, but is only, in reality, a moment. She looks down. I whisper, "It wasn't the ending you wanted."
She doesn't look up, but I see her nod. "It never is."
Tulips & Chrysanthemums,
The Girl in the Moonlight.