By: Jon McAllister
Jon McAllister is a journalism major at OSU. He performs in a Columbus band called SHVS. He dabbles in photography, writing, and bartending, and hopes to do cool shit forever.
No, she knew. I was looking for her. Passively, all the same as if I had just woke up while walking. But still, I found myself there.
Through that showcase window in a Midwest mall, I saw the occupancy of hipster layers and irony-clad, patterned leggings for the fashionistas of faux-California. Somehow, they were palming the rest of my day as they worked. Technically, I was never there to see her.
I didn’t look into her store when I passed it previously. So I wasn’t there to see her.
A friend I once knew well had made this day happen, laying down the structure for inner-circle relationships kin to a No Man’s Land where most men cannot avoid.
So we became close, like a bald-tired truck driving toward a brick wall.
Have you ever found yourself at a place like this for no reason? Perhaps only to cash in on five-finger discounts once upon a time when you were a handful. Nobody actually needs nail polish, pins, sunglasses, or perfumes. You never really need the kinds of things you didn’t come for to begin with. And you certainly don’t want to pay for the little surprises that catch your eye.
But, sometimes you do. I noticed her shoes below the mannequins, in espionage. Though I was not there to see her, I could not miss any part of her no matter how common being unique was in this environment. To glance in was more or less human nature, just like the other window-shoppers or the kind of people that don’t need any “help,” but thanks anyways.
I was just looking.
Of course, there she was; long purple hair rippling as her head swings back in response to goofy, acronymic goodbyes departing from the lips of other pretty girls who also have taste.
I had only but a taste. With so many flavors, all the love she gives is but a byproduct of a disdain for her own being. She thought herself more as a purchase too damaged for return. But what can be said of the unforeseen fun to be had?
I had been compromised.
To leave your guard while a new human being tells you indiscretions of depression and lacking fulfillment. I bathed in her purple light of self-hate.
Hopeful and arrogant, here I am. There I was. I believe in myself more than usual, and she had made out this way. In between the disclosure of mental instability, this attractive stranger convinced me of my incredible mind, talent, and strength. I found it realistic due to inflated ego, as I was receiving good marks for days on end.
I left the rationality of it alone; and now so am I.
Spying requires cover, so I wasn’t spying. Perhaps it was applying for simple capture.
The good thing had started quickly, and ended sooner than what was desired. So it was likely that I’d continue to stray down the same bad path in the same direction as before, wrecking my made-up truck into its make-believe brick wall. The brakes halt the spin of worn tires, yet who’s to say there’s no remaining momentum? Some things maintain a residual capacity.
Regardless, I was finally leaving this place.
And I was passing her store.
As I glanced in, there was nothing at all. No reason to have that feel. No reason to think.
So I looked forward again, towards the daylight outside.
Purple hair suddenly appeared as if my day should not be returned to me. The hair and this moment are equally too recognizable. She was where I had hoped: in a place I shouldn’t be. Escaping through the entrance, slightly surprised at my passing, she neither stared nor cared.
I was still moving, but the gait had slowed while the shoulders turned to surrender.
She told me, “Oh. I’m actually leaving now…” making off in the opposite direction.
I thought I was doing the same until I came to consciousness amidst another lap in this stupid shopping center.