He loved the way her face would light up the moment she stepped into the sun. She would grace the world with her smile, even if no one was looking. People were always looking, though. Which is why he did not feel so bad observing her as closely as he did.
Her eyes were like the forest, brown and green and full of life. Her hair was the brown of the wood of the maple trees that surrounded the school. And her voice was the wind that blew through the leaves, that lifted petals from their flowers, and that sometimes howled down streets, rattling windows and smashing down branches.
She did not make his heart thump in his chest. He did not flush when she walked past. He had no desire to hold her close and whisper his love into her ear. And yet there was something that made him stare. Perhaps the sparkle that always seemed to dance within her eyes. Or the way she seemed to float, rather than walk.
She caught him staring one time. But she did not seem bothered. In fact, she seemed pleased, for she had smiled a mysterious smile and for a moment her image blurred, as if she was not she but rather someone else entirely. Then she had winked and turned away and he had hurried off to his next class.
One day, he hoped, he would have the courage to talk to her. Then maybe he could find out why he always wanted to sit next to her in the sun, but felt no desire to kiss her. Why she seemed so familiar, even though he had never met her before.
But at the moment… she seemed a world away. A place of her own that no one could reach. No one was quite comfortable standing next to her. They always shifted a few paces ahead, a few paces back. But never beside. They never sat close to her, either. There was always space beside her, while the others bunched like fish packed into cans in the factory.
And sometimes she looked lonely. Surrounded by people who couldn’t look away, by people who smiled and flattered and demured, she seemed singular. And it was not that her beauty or her intelligence or her wit stood above the others. It was something… else. Something he could not quite place.
At those times he longed to stand beside her as no one else did. To stand beside her and show her the wonders of life in the sun. But, he would muse sadly each time, he was not worthy.
Then he would step into the sun and clasp his hands together, gathering life, that golden glow, and cupping it to his heart. The warmth would seep into his skin, reaching with warm tendrils throughout his body. Then he was able to smile again.
Another stand-alone in the Changeling Child series.