It was a mistake to think that going down Main Street at six o’clock in the evening would be a good idea. It was all part of getting over it, of living her life, of being the bigger person. She’d heard these phrases over and over again, coming out of her friends’ lips. She watched those odd flaps of skin move around those words, fascinated by the way they were formed out of clicks of the tongue and smacks of flesh on flesh.
It was strange, but over the last six months, all the faces Paige saw had turned into a strange arrangement of mouths and noses, eyes and ears. They stopped seeming like a cohesive unit – as they’d always seemed before – and began looking like collages, bizarre formations stuck together on a blank, flesh-colored slate. The only face that still made sense was the one that she hadn’t seen in person for twenty-six weeks.
But on the winter evening that she finally took the once-regular route home from work, Paige saw that face again, and its perfect clarity baffled her more than all the bits and pieces of faces that she’d gotten used to. He said hi, and she said hi back, and she could feel her mouth as if it, too, were its own entity and not connected to her skin any longer. The awkward pause lasted a lifetime and a nanosecond, both at once, and then he said that she looked good. Paige didn’t know what to say back, so she nodded and clutched at her bag. It was something solid and real, and the feeling of leather and fabric anchored her and reminded her that she was of this earth, not an alien who’d fallen from the sky moments ago. She remembered that she needed to get away, and fast, or something bad would happen, although she was unclear what that might be, exactly.
She didn’t turn back to look at him again. She was too scared that his face would have turned away by then and she’d only get to see the back of his head.