What you are

Continued from Philtrum

It was all too weird for Mira, and she left me soon after that embarrassment at the church. I hardly noticed, to tell you the truth. I had become obsessed with the woman I had seen who, like me, lacked the groove on her upper lip the same way that I did.

I took to attending the same mass every Sunday after that first one. For some reason, however, as the mass approached the consecration of the Holy Host, my headache would always return and chase me out of the church. Not that I minded; I was no longer there for the service after all, although it still moved me. I was there hoping to catch a glimpse of that woman again.

It wasn’t until almost six months later that I finally saw her again. As I was slipping out of the church, my temples throbbing with pain, I caught a furtive movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked and there she was, her head down, slipping out of a side entrance, much as I was doing myself.

I nearly ran after her, the increased pace making my footsteps click loudly on the tile floor.

I got outside just in time to see her walking rapidly across the church yard, towards the parking lot. And then I did run, yelling “Miss! Miss!” as I did so. She looked back at me and, with a question in her eyes, stopped and turned around to face me.

“Yes?” she asked.

I’d never been the athletic type and by the time I reached her, I was out of breath. I stood there in front of her, with my hands on my knees, struggling to catch my breath.

“You’re him, aren’t you?” she said. “That guy who fainted?”

Unable to muster up the breath required to speak, I could only nod mutely. Yes, that was me. What happened to me? And why do I think you would know? The questions filled my brain faster than I could get them out.

“And you’ve been looking for me because you think I know what happened,” the woman said, not unkindly.

“Please,” I replied, finally able to catch my breath.

She took my face in her hands and for the first time, I realized she wasn’t as young as she looked. Despite being as soft and supple as the hands of any woman in her twenties might have, hers had a sort of fragility to them that I’d always associated with old people. She looked deep into my eyes and I saw the sadness creep into them.

“You really don’t know, do you?” she asked, with a tinge of pity in her voice.

“Don’t know what?”

“What you are.”

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