by Karen Preston
The girl was naked; her back leaned against the birch tree like she was part of it. Blonde pieces of hair were turned white by the moon. You watched her from the old convertible your dad had given you; it’s top was stuck down behind the back seat.
The girl’s eyes were closed, and the moonlight had painted her skin blue. White strands rose up and fell through the breath of the forest.
You were afraid if you turned off the engine she would disappear. Your hands slid down the curve of the car’s steering wheel without your knowing.
The girl wished you had been there. She would have liked a friend. She was a fan of the old movie actress Brigitte Bardot. Some days she would tell people Brigitte and she were friends. Then she would take a drag from her cigarette and say she was sending smoke signals. Just like you, she loved her gold aviator sunglasses, even though hers had so many hairline scratches. She said with them she could be a movie star or the invisible man. She said a lot of things when they let her.
You got out of your car. Your hand held onto the side, over the crack where the power windows slid up and down. Your eyes had not left her; they had fallen in love. A twig broke between your foot and the pine needle floor of the forest. She faded away. You started to run towards the grove of birch. The ground was impressionable around her tree, and you left footprints as you searched. Though there was a scent in the air of lavender and vanilla, she had not left a mark. It had started to rain as you walked back to your car. Sitting down in the seat you saw something on the passenger side floor. You reached down and picked up a pair of gold aviator glasses. In the reflection of the twin lenses you saw her. She had on your clothing. Your heart went fast forward. You looked in the back seat. It was empty. Taking a breath you looked at the reflection in the glasses again. You moved your right hand up to your face. In the glasses her image made the same gesture. What could you do? You put the glasses on and lit a cigarette. You sent smoke signals and waited.