"No." I could see her shaking her lowered head. Her eyes looking down. Somewhere inside I could feel my heart going wild while my stomach practiced the boy scout manual for tying knots. Except for the internal pain, I felt hollow, as though my true self had been sucked out and destroyed, leaving this shell of flesh standing mute before her. With a mechanical gesture I stepped back and raised my hand to her, open flat. The rose lay across my palm. Her eyes looked up at me and she smiled, gently plucking it from my hand and holding it to her nose, breathing in its fragrance. The rose was bright red in her hand. Blood red. Love red. The colour contrasted nicely against the deep pink of her lipstick. Pink flushed the white of her cheeks, her lips forming a broad smile. "Thank you," she whispered. Her magnetism drew me one step toward her, our eyes dancing together. "No," she repeated. The power of the word ripped through me again, emptying my innards. Two small letters from barely past the middle of the alphabet, in order, and spoken through her lips. This was what was tearing me asunder? Her eyes were bright and searching. A spray of gold coloured their grey depths. "Maybe you'll find someone else," she ventured, looking beyond me. Her words hurt. I looked away. "Maybe you'll change your mind," I replied weakly. She giggled, drawing my eyes back to her. Bright red had replaced the pink in her cheeks, her white teeth shining through her smile, her eyes pulling me into them. I raised my hand again, offering it to her. "Please," I begged. She looked at me and smiled, swaying like a child with a doll. She clutched the rose to her breast, unable to raise her hand to mine. The moment passed too long, and I withdrew my hand from her, broken inside. I suddenly felt repelled from her, like two of the same poles of a magnet. I turned and briskly walked away from her, my eyes misty, my limbs shaky. Several steps away I turned to look at her, expecting her to be walking away. Seeing her was like tunnel vision. The background to this angel was a blur, heightened by the sharp focused features of her radiant countenance. The image stained my mind. Even looking away, the image remained brilliant against the screen of my mind. My eyes, no longer my own, returned to her. Her frame halted in mid movement. Hesitatingly, she stood there. The wall behind me felt solid, an anchor of reality amongst the surrealism of her presence. Divine imagery surrounded her, raising her in my mind. For a long minute we stood and looked at each other. Time is a wild beast, working for and against us. I could feel it pressing in on me, pressuring me. Do something, it called. Go to her. Smile. Blow her a kiss. DO SOMETHING LAD. Water streaked down my face, rushing to find the pavement I stood on. I broke into a run, brushing the drops of pain from my skin. Behind me she faded into the past.

Sleep was no friend of mine. Each day the glorious sun welcomed me as it rose, the tendrils of colour spilling across the charcoal horizon, the new day passing me by, surrounding me in its utter brilliance. Warmth flowed from it. Cold comfort to a soul devoid of life. Dark bands settled below my eyes, reminders of another night I had seen come and go, intimate with all its details. Mankind is above the animals because he has the time to think about civilised things. How cruel that our mind must also think on our mistakes and failures. Should I have been more direct with her? Should I have said I loved her? What if I tried to be her friend first, get her used to me? Mistakes, errors, bad judgement. How could I go back in time and change her mind? What can I say to her, what can I do? Is this love? Is this love? Isn't it strange that our body and soul must coexist to be alive. Even with the slow disintegration of my soul, my body cried enough. Food, it needs food to continue. To continue. Continue what? To draw out this pain, make me suffer even more? My body was stronger, its will to survive stronger than my own. Reluctantly I followed its lead, journeying to the supermarket in the search for physical sustenance. If only I could buy food for my soul. The steel trolley fidgeted in my hands, intent on going its own way no matter how hard I tried to coax it to go my way. Perhaps girls were modelled on shopping trolleys. The best laid plans of mice and men. I wandered the aisles in search of the elusive food. Each shelf held possibilities, but in my frame of mind I could not bring myself to make a proper meal. I bought a couple of pre-processed ones. Handing the girl my money I didn't even realise I had over paid for it till much later. Stepping out of the store, a quiet breeze rolled past me on both sides. A silence greeted me from one direction, everywhere else buzzed with energetic energy. The silence tugged at me, and I conceded its presence and looked in its direction. Movement slowed and my mind became super alert. Fatigue washed away, energy coursing through me. Somewhere inside I could feel a heart pounding with a rush. I was alive. Washing over me like a narcotic to the system, her gaze took me in. Her lips curled up in the corners, washing me in waves of happiness which rolled up inside me. Beaming, I smiled back at her. Driven by unseen hands, I stood next to her. Time passed swiftly, rushing past me like a jet. Every second I tried to hold, just being here next to her my insides felt quite queasy. "Hi, how are you?" I could speak! "Good." Her smile broadened, and her head tilted down, hiding the rising colour of her face. I could see the flakes of powder and every fine hair on her cheek. Every line in the smudges of her lipstick were so clear to me I felt as though I were examining them through a microscope. She honoured me with her soft giggling laugh. The intensity of being so close to her embarrassed me and I looked down from her face. Bright white bags clustered around her feet like frightened children. "May I carry your bags?" No other words would come to me. My mind seemed incapable of simple words. I spoke in a hurry. My chagrin must have been so plain to her. Her gaze joined mine at her feet. "Yes." Leaning down, I gathered the collection and stood to look at her, only to be rendered immobile by her eyes. Seconds passed as we smiled at each other. "After you," I indicated. Words! My mind could at least partially function around her. Drawing her car keys from her handbag she stepped forward, automatically drawing me in her wake. I followed behind her, intoxicated by every small move she made. The supple rolling of her head as she looked from side to side, her silken hair waving with her movement. Her skirt clung to her, as if it, too, loved her and was unable to leave the contact of her skin. Its affections highlighting the gentle arc of her hips and waist. Everything about her I seemed to see, and yet in my adoration of her I could not bring myself to look at her too intensely. I was afraid to look too closely in case I found she wasn't really there. My hands wanted to reach out to her. My heart longed to walk up there beside her, to look down into her blazing eyes. Stopping at her car she leant over a little to fit the key, defining her shape even more. I turned to look away, my heart, barely contained by the flesh of my chest, strained to escape. The sounds of a door opening reminded me to look back. She stood there, hands outstretched to receive her bags. She took them from me, placing them in her car and shutting them away. "Thank you." I smiled at her as she smiled at me. Again the colour returned to her cheeks. Her lips beckoned me, calling my name. Please come here, join us they cried. I leaned forward a little, drawn by their song. Her giggle alerted me to my imminent blunder. "Bye." "Have a good day." "You too," I called after her as she entered her car. With a hum it started and she was moving away. My heart, unable to watch her go, turned my eyes away. Even so, eyes have a mind of their own. They had to watch her. And there she was, drawing my vision to her as though it were anchored in her hands. Her car was stopped and she was looking back at me. Four cute fingers and a thumb waved at me and I waved back. I could see her chuckle, and then the red brake lights flicked off and she drew away into the crowds of life that surround our existence. People all around, and yet they could not feel what I could. Why am I a lone worshipper at the temple of this goddess? What innate magnetism does she have that affects me so? Walking by me is a blonde, slender legs, loose top, flowing shiny hair. Her sensuality oozing from her skin, and yet my vision is not drawn to her, this veritable Aphrodite of pure desire. No, my eyes are elsewhere, vainly searching for a diminishing glimpse of a silhouette against a car windscreen. Where has she gone?

Sleep. Who need sleep? There is too much to think about. Rose tinted images of her cloud my mind. Everywhere I look, reminders of her stand out, drawing her image to my mind. Every second is blissful in remembrance of her. She is everywhere, and yet she is nowhere near me. I am isolated from her. Unable to approach her after her rejection of my feelings, I hung back from her. Fading into the background, out of her way, out of her life. And yet, every now and again, walking unaware of her, I feel the calm around me. Silence descends and I know she is around. Her eyes are on me and her face is lit by a smile more brilliant than the sun. I wave nervously to her, eager to approach her. Talk to her. Be near her. Hidden ties pull at me, drawing me to her. Movement is awkward, my eyes unable to stray from hers. Through the very air I can feel her. Warmth surrounds me. I can hear the soft drawing of her breath. The strands of her hair, framing her face, come into super focus. Even from this distance the black pupils she sees through are sucking me into them. I can see them enlarging, ready to allow my passage within. And then with a rush reality slaps me in the face. FOOL, FOOL, FOOL it cries. Back away. Warning Will Robinson. Warning. Warning. Danger. Immanent embarrassment approaching. Flustered, I hang my head and look away from life itself. Am I denying my own existence? How can I turn from her? Just one look, please? Please? No. Look away. This is instinct calling. Return here to sanity. The real world is here, you can't escape it. She doesn't like you, it came from HER lips, remember? She said no. NO. Get it! Why? Why! "No!" my soul cries in the silent realms of the inner self. My heart constricts, my chest is heavy, unresponsive. I look at her again, her eyes are averted. I can see her profile. What cheeks! The shallow curve of her nose. Lips open, eyes searching the crowds. I can see she is smiling. Those lips. AHHHHH!!!!!!!!! Let me out of here. Too late. Her eyes hold me transfixed. Somewhere from the drone of background noise someone says hello to me. I mumble back, unaware of who it was or whether they were stopping, but it was enough. Her power was temporarily broken. I managed a wave and a smile at her, and before my soul could be drawn from me to her, I was elsewhere, my thoughts only on making the next step. Not looking at anyone or anything I quickly break through the passing masses. Who are all these people? Are they all here just for me? Background for my life story, or am I just part of somebody else's background? How do I affect someone else's life? Do I matter. No, I don't care what happens to them. I can't even live my own life, I can't handle my own feelings for her. How can I love her? Love is a two way street. She feels nothing for me. Nothing. Why does this word seem so final? Why is this word destroying me? Go away you silly word. Ha, YOU can't hurt me. My insides go hollow, she feels nothing. In the crush my body experiences, I stop and look in a shop window. There's nothing in there to interest me, but I look anyway. I have to continue to live, I have to. Have you ever looked at something just for the sake of looking? There's nothing there to see, but you look anyway. This is what I was doing. Aimless, lost, no purpose to my life anymore. My pale reflection in the shopfront window reflected my own soul. I was there only in some sense. In other ways I had flown, escaped the cage of this body and running free in the loneliness of the world. Gazing intently at a product I would never have a use for (Pram), my mind refocussed, even if only slightly. My breathing was calming. Sucking in a deep breath, I smiled to myself. Courage. Life itself is a battle to survive. More heroic than wartime sagas or schoolyard bully stories. Life is a challenge and we all lose.

"Watcha lookin' at?" My mind is sad in this state. Manufacturing her voice to try and keep me sane. No, my feeble little mind, your petty tricks can't deceive me. As if she would be standing next to me, talking to me. AS IF. Just wait till I get you home. Boy, I'm gonna trade you in and get a new mind. I think this one has gone out of its warranty period. "So what are you going to use a pram for?" Silence. Either my mind is really gone or ... The collapse of buildings is swift once it has begun. It pales at the speed with which my thoughts left me. Retreating to the webbed corridors of my mind I set off after the fleeting shadows of words that beckoned me on. They were here a moment ago. Words everywhere. Lots of them. Now I stand in the vacant chambers of my mind alone. Alone with the reverberations of her voice. Run, find them. Chase, hurdle, twist, leap. My acrobatic tricks brought me no closer to those elusive words. Panting, leaning against the firmament of my skull, I knew I would have to come back out. Time had run out. "Yeah, right." Totally inappropriate. No context with the current conversation at all. Totally odd and misplaced. Great. Next time I'll just shut up, hey. Clown Her face filled up my mind. She was looking down, frowning. She didn't know what to say. Temporary respite from having to impress her. I know where those words went. They went to my heart, stirring it up, agitating it with their numbers. I could feel them now, pushing the beating muscle through the ribs. I could feel them. "You look nice." Cool. Excellent. Words had come. Not the best, not the worst, but words just the same. Her eyes exploded with light, growing rounder. Light flecks of colour sprayed her irises. The black pupils, the black ... NO! NO! Breaker, breaker, get out of there. The spiral effect. It's here again. Gees, there should be a law against this. It's just not fair. How can any mortal man have defences against this sort of power? Too late. My hand slid along the velvet of her cheek. Warmth, sweet warmth flowed into me. I could feel the redness there. Soft sounds came from her. Reassuring sounds. My thumb ran across her lips. I could feel the moistness, the sleekness of her tender skin. Uh oh, the spiral effect again. I know its there, but does that save me? No, this is a trap that can't be circumvented, no matter how well you're prepared. Enticing me forward, those lips called to me. A silent voice, transmitted across the space between us without being noticed, but its consequences were powerful. Her head cocked a little to the side, ready to accept my embrace, the colour flowing vibrantly in her face. And then my hands were left cold. Cold and lifeless as the concrete at my feet. She was gone, skittering through the people around us. I blinked. Yes, it WAS her. I tried to follow, to apologise.. I was sorry, I didn't mean to love her, I didn't. Please come back. I'd sell my soul to stop from hurting you. Come back, come back! Looking around, I searched desperately for her. Confusion reigned supreme in my mind. Chaos. The laws of chaos were now in charge of the situation, and rule number one was if you wanted to find her, you won't.

I walked around a few minutes looking for her, then gave up. I knew she would be long gone. Walking back to the car, I planned on going home. I drove around awhile, drawn to a place with flickering red and blue lights. Someone had had a pretty bad smash. White foam blanketed half the road and a blackened car under the frame of a red truck. Some people are so careless when they drive. They have no idea how to drive. Not just put the foot on the brake and the accelerator, but to really drive. Some people just have no soul. Indicating to turn into a side street, I noticed a police friend waving me to approach. The car glided in next to him, the cylinders purring in their perfectly ordered existence. He looked through the open window. I could see the weight bearing down on his shoulders. Poor guy, to have to deal with this. I'm glad that I could plead ignorance of these sort of problems, I had enough of my own. "You better turn the engine off," he said. I looked at him, puzzled, but the spark plugs stopped parking and the motor ceased its life. "I don't know how to say this..." He looked about, trying to find words. He too, it seemed, had lost control over his words. Hold on, I don't get this. Why flag me over? Why look at me like that? His voice quavered. Words would not come. I looked at the car. Twisted scrap, burnt out, unrecognisable. Paint blistered. A husk. And on the husk was a small plate bearing three numbers and three letters. Her numbers, her letters. Cold grief sucked my stomach. I lie in a field of black, surrounded on all sides. There is no support, no comfort. Just the bleak frightening blackness of nothing. "I'm sorry," he said almost inaudibly. "Before she died, she said something about you, but we don't know what. It looked like she had been crying." I collapsed completely. She thought of me as she died. She knew I loved her. How am I ever going to know her and what she thought? Darkness sucked me in like a vacuum, a darkness to follow me until my last day.

For Wendy, Gods come and go, there will always be angels.

[Hmmm thinks I was wrong in this case. ]