He looked up at her as she pulled out a cigarette from the half empty pack. Half empty. He guessed that made him a pessimist. She closed her eyes as she lit it. He noticed that. That, and the fact that her hair fell about her face in an almost apologetic way while she was lighting it. He said almost because she was too proud to ever be able to look apologetic. Angry? Easily. Annoyed? Definitely. Disappointed? Yes. Sad? Sometimes…. But apologetic? It just wasn’t possible.
She took a long drag and opened her eyes. Kohl filled dark eyes that always seemed like they meant to say something more but didn’t know how to. Or at least that’s how she imagined them to look. A conversation from a lifetime ago floated through her head along with the strains from the music at the bar.
“You have creepy eyes.”
“Creepy? Thanks! What the hell is that supposed to mean anyway?”
“Err… I didn’t mean it like that… It’s just… well, they’re too blank. I can never tell what you’re feeling”
She always thought that her eyes were what betrayed her. Years of practice had taught her how to hold that mask in place. Blank and smooth, like nothingness itself. It was the best weapon disguised as a perfect shield. In reality, it couldn’t stop anything. Definitely not pain. But it was proud. And it made the opponent determined to break you. And so, the words got crueller and the blows harder, but as long as you didn’t flinch, you won. It wasn’t exactly a fun game, but it captivated her.
Her eyes were always what gave her away. She could hold back any emotion, but her eyes reflected what she felt. Even the slightest hurt would make them widen, kind words would make them quiver and sometimes they would soften. Luckily, most people couldn’t read her eyes… but she still felt betrayed… and a little reassured. She did not like losing control… but she liked knowing something about her was still natural. Still… human.
And he had said her eyes were blank…
She looked at the man across the table. She couldn’t exactly place the look he had on his face, which bothered her. She was good at reading people. Really good… but when it came to him, it frustrated her to no end that she couldn’t figure out what he was thinking. She sighed and took another drag from her burning cigarette, watching as he lit one of his own.
He wondered what he should say now. She looked like she was waiting for him to say or do something. It was like playing a game of poker and suddenly realizing it was your turn… except the difference was he really had no idea what game he was supposed to be playing right now, and that just made things a lot harder.
He asked her what she wanted to drink and they both ordered their shots. Brandy for him because his throat still hurt. She asked for a Whiskey. Straight. And he couldn’t help nor explain the smile that flitted across his face.
She looked down into her drink with the saddest eyes he had ever seen on anyone. When he called her name, she looked up at him and smiled. And the question he had been planning to ask seemed pointless. Of course she was okay. Didn’t she look like she was okay? A perfect defence he didn’t know how to cross. And so, he let it be, shaking his head as she looked up at him curiously.
She smiled at him, and the confused look on his face made her giggle, which confused him even further, but he laughed anyway. She didn’t laugh like this very much. And it made him oddly happy to know that he was the reason. He didn’t know why and he continued to bug her about inconsequentialities. She didn’t mind. He knew that. He could tell. Even if her eyes were hollow, they seemed to shine when she argued with him, and he liked that.
She asked him a question. He started telling her about the answer. And both of them skirted past the things they really wanted to talk about. Needed to talk about. Why did he keep disappearing? Why did she never ask him where he’d been?
They couldn’t be on opposite sides, he thought. She was too much like him. And yet, with her blank eyes and distant smile, he couldn’t even tell if she was fighting the same war… and he didn’t know how to ask. But he really didn’t think it mattered very much. At least, he thought as she laughed again and pretended to throw the glass at him as her eyes shone, not anymore…