by Elizabeth Crane
We did not exist before now. We are young and nameless and our skin is unblemished and our hair is just like this and we keep our faces blank, always. There’s a boy who likes me; though his face is blank and he does not speak, I can tell because he is facing in my direction. Some of us wear old man glasses, though no one is old here and we do not read. We are thin with the effortless slimness that comes with youth. Our shirts are flannel and our knitted caps defy gravity. They say my hair is cut like Sharon Tate’s, but I don’t know who that is. I don’t know who anyone is. I run in slow motion through the woods. It’s very moody and pretty when I do this. See how my hair swings behind me? The boy who likes me follows.
We drive around Los Angeles at night, these girls and me, two in the front and two in the back of a vintage convertible. It doesn’t matter what kind. I wouldn’t know. One girl might be Asian, I’m not sure. We look at anything but each other. Another girl has hair that is short on one side and long on the other, she could be gay, and the third girl has a nose ring, but we are all supposed to be the same. I wave my hand in the air below the palm trees like they tell me. My hand is pretty. Our hair blows in the wind, in slow motion. Whatever we do we do it in slow motion. We turn our heads to look at the passing landscape in slow motion. Everything looks best in slow motion. A couple fighting, a drunk girl stumbling, two old ladies with fancy hats go by in slow motion. It’s like a beautiful hip dream. A homeless man with a train of grocery carts turns to look at us, in slow motion. He sees our beauty and in him seeing our beauty we see beauty.
There is one boy who looks bad. He wears a new old man’s hat. His face is blank too, but in a bad way. He’s gone soon enough, though.
The boy and I are in the woods again. I keep running, but now I have on a bunny mask, which makes me mysterious but also playful. I can tell the boy still likes me because now we are hugging. We never speak and our faces remain blank, but we convey things with our facial stillness and our perfect hair.
Some boys in tight pants and flat sneakers swerve by on skateboards. Then they’re gone.
The bunny mask is gone now. The boy puts a cap on me but it’s itchy, and I think it looks dumb there on the back of my head doing nothing. My hair is so pretty. I’m not cold. I don’t need a hat. You don’t get a say, they say. This is what the young people wear. This is how the boy shows that he cares. If he really cared he would ask if I was cold. He would ask if I liked the hat. This hat looks like a lump.
Your face is not blank enough now, they say. It needs to be more blank. You’re falling in love. Think about nothing. That doesn’t make any sense, I tell them. Well then think about something that makes you feel blank, they say. Blank isn’t a feeling, I say.
The boy and I begin to walk out of sight into the woods, holding hands. It’s supposed to be the end but I decide to improvise. I drop the boy’s hand and run a little bit and then I run backwards a few paces and smile. You’re asking for trouble! they yell. You have no idea what’s out there! I shrug, big. I shrug big and make a big shrug face and I head for what’s out there.