I stared at myself staring at me. My small, dark eyes watched me with fixed confusion, thinking how this was possible; perhaps it was an out-of-body experience. But moments ago I was standing at the corner cafe staring at Kali Good, the girl I’d grown obsessed with over the last few months. I had been spying on her through the window of the café until she vanished from my sight, only to grab my arm in anger moments later, demanding to know why I’d been spying on her.
The bellicose manner in which she accused me made me tremble, but I was crippled in the moment, so I listened while she flung insults at me and listed my obsessive antics, loud enough to attract the bemused eyes of passersby, on their way out of the incoming storm that darkened the sky above us. I stuttered tragically and she ruthlessly cut off my hasty apologies with police threats. I was never good at explaining myself, and three months ago, my speech left me completely when Kali walked into my Physics class.
Instantly, I had fallen in love with her brilliant mind, perfect physique and angelic face, and only desired to learn more about this young woman. It was innocuous the way we’d meet randomly in the merchant district surrounding our college, but so quickly those interactions would become forged and calculated, and I was the mastermind responsible.
I wanted to know everything there was to know about this painstakingly beautiful young woman who always left me breathless and stuttering in her presence, despite my acknowledged intelligence and otherwise indifference to members of my own sex. I wanted to savor each thing I learned about her like it was sacred. In my desire to do so, I had become a stalker.
Naive and without malintent, I watched her life play out from near distances, admiring her worldly beauty, smiling with her bewitching smile and gushing over her imaginative words, while my heart fluttered and broke with envy and desire. She became the last thing on my brain at night and the first in the morning. I didn’t understand it at all. I knew it was wrong, strange and embarrassing, but I couldn’t stop myself. And then in a moment she had disappeared from view, my eyes, programmed only to see her, prowled the noisy café.
Moments later, Kali’s soft hands grabbed my arm, cornering me outside the café, a place she frequented twice a week. Her large expressive eyes narrowed on me, demanding answers I couldn’t provide. Her friends whispered in her ears: "she's obsessed with you...gross."
My eyes darted to the thunder that roared in the darkened sky, hinting at rain, hoping it’d make her release my arm, so I could run away until another time when she’d be calm and I could return to my secret obsession.
The sky’s dramatic darkening seemed to mimic Kali’s angry face and intensified her temper, while my heart pounded in my chest. Should I explain it was unlike me to do the thing she was accusing me of—that I was normal on any given day? Even if I should’ve, I couldn’t, because she left me breathless.
The lightning barely tapped us, not enough to catch anyone’s eyes, but long enough to hold us in trance and to keep her hands connected to mine, as we trembled together.
When it was over, we staggered backward by two feet, barely shaken. But when I looked at her, I saw my own face. My position had shifted, too. I stood on the side she originally stood. My face frowned disgust, but then wild perplexity as we both drew the conclusion that made little sense. She rushed toward the café window, inside which the patrons carried on loudly like nothing had happened outside. She touched her face with tepidity and shrieked, attracting the attention of the sole stranger who walked on the street. She demanded to know what happened: what I did.
I told her the truth—nothing. She yelled at me to undo what I hadn’t done, but I watched her amused, secretly reveling in our switch. I had become what I yearned and desired to become all along—Kali Good.
A smile crawled on my perfect lips, on my perfect face, while Kali cursed my former face—a vision of cruelty and acne. Kali ran to the café to bemoan what happened, but I doubted anyone would believe her.
The clouds were clearing over head. It occurred to me that I had no reason to stay there anymore. I hurried to join the onslaught of strangers crawling out of their rain shelters to form human traffic on the street.