Still not the thing but a little bit closer. I can see Sebastian. I can’t see Lana. She is hiding from me. Why is she hiding from me?
Lana isn’t the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. Remember I have spent hundreds of years studying the human kind in all its subtle variations. I have witnessed in my not so idle curiosity many, many beautiful beings, both female and male. I am well-studied in the subtle shapes, angles and postures that render a person beautiful. My love for Lana transcends the physical, though she is, I must tell you, a wonderful, generous sight.
Though she is beautiful. It was not her beauty that captured me at first. It was laughter. I might never have even noticed her if it were not for her laugh. How many times had I seen her, shared space with her in the sanctuary and never noticed? I could not say. But it was her laughter, strong, forceful, inappropriate that caught my attention.
She was alone in the sanctuary at midday, praying in a room full of short candles, her head bent in solitude. And the intent with which she held herself, the posture of one who is grieving or wrestling with some secret burden. The muttering phrases. The susurrations, soft and unceasing. And then, when one might expect a pang of grief, a wail of despair, there lifted the brash rupture of laughter. It tore the silence. Shattered the stillness. She started laughing and could not seem to stop.
I walked over to her. I could not help myself, my errand entirely forgotten. I was drawn to her in a place beneath thought.
“What’s funny?” I asked. She startled, not realizing that anyone had entered the room.
She looked up at me with eyes bright with tears and there was the mix of humor and sadness in her eyes. And I could not say in that moment if she was more happy or more sad. She was both and embodied both perfectly and I was, quite against my will or expectation, captivated by the elegant contradiction of this woman in this church on this day.
She looked around, surprised to find me standing there, wondering who else she might have disturbed.
“Sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean to bother anyone.”
And she kept watching me, recognizing without saying the strangeness that was in me. It is a thing that happens sometimes when I choose to show myself. The people who see me realize on some level that the figure they are seeing is not quite right. That something about me does not add up. And yet, to her credit, she lowered her gaze, apologized again. “I didn’t mean to disturb anyone.”
“You didn’t disturb me,” I told her. “I heard laughter. One doesn’t often hear laughter in here. I wanted to meet the person making such a wonderful sound.”