The Most Beautiful Girl In Town

A girl in her party outfit.

It doesn’t matter what she’s wearing but she looks beautiful anyway.

Saturday nights she is always downtown having a drink in a local bar. Different week, different town, different bar, different guy, same drink.

Bloody Mary. She drank it and told herself it was actual blood. It reminded her that human beings had tastes – tastes for food, tastes for drinks, tastes for other human beings.

That last one was hard to adjust. She had gone out with many guys – too many to keep track of – and still hadn’t felt what girls her age or younger normally felt. Infatuation? Attraction? No, I believe they call it love.

She hadn’t felt that yet. She had been deprived of her father from an early age due to a sickness that caused his nervous system to slowly degenerate. She desired a brother but never had one. She missed a strong male presence in her life.

Now she was going out with plenty of guys, some who were her friends, some who were online acquaintances, some she met in a bar, some who were simply strangers. Guys of all ages – her own and older. She looked for maturity in them but only saw instinct. Brutal, rash male instinct. They all cared for one thing in the end and that was taking her to bed. She knew that well – she was too smart for her own good and their own good – but she caved anyway. It made her feel relevant and wanted. But she still didn’t feel loved. And more importantly, she never felt that she loved.

Love is a strange notion that comes and goes with each passing generation. If you look closely through the zoomed lens of a camera, you find different types occupying a single street: the hungover drunkard singing in a loud disturbing voice, the melancholic writer sitting in a corner with a beer can in his hand, the couple going from one bar to another and stopping every few steps to twirl and kiss fervently, the group of teenagers coming of age and going to experience the drinking life for the first time, the sad lady sitting with her lady friends and scouting the area for a potential lover. These types all have one thing in common: they’re either going through or have been through the spell of love. They have memories. They have scars. They have desires.

In a perfect world, they are all in love and happy. But who’s to say love is the answer in a perfect world?

Now back to our girl. The girl that goes out every weekend and comes back home at 4 in the morning. The girl that experiences sex and lust and passion in their raw, naked form. The girl still searching to believe in something greater than all of that. Because in the long run, sex and lust and passion and desire have a dwindling effect, same as booze: these substances fade and their effects fade along with them. The girl was searching for something a little more consistent. Something more lasting. Something eternal or undrainable.

For now love was pretty much the same as the 8-5 job: a cycle. Every week it started again and every week it stopped. But the girl read the books. She read the greats. She listened to the great songs written and played by legendary bands. She knew there was more to it than that.

But it had to wait. It was a great thing but it had to come on its own. She believed that. She had to believe that. If she didn’t, she would go back to being the little sweet girl from the block, speaking in her pompous French accent while the neighborhood men devoured her with their eyes. She had to take control of her life and her drive. At least until the love she hoped for and philosophized about came to her and set her body and mind to rest.

It was hard work – it was continuous maintenance – maintenance of the self and the body. Maintenance of the appearance and soul. Refreshing of the resources so that the hounds surrounding her were kept interested and alive. Because if she killed one head they’d all die. They were the Hydra spouting from the same body. The body of late night lust and alcohol and sex. She understood that, but she played along all the same.

After all, she belonged to a unique and rare category of people: the smart people. She understood those people had to make sacrifices to last. They had to compromise part of their thoughts to make it alive from this place or else frequent loneliness for their entire lives.

She couldn’t handle that much loneliness and decided to take the lower road. She degraded herself at times, doing unspeakable stuff with other men. Nasty men. Why and how did these men end up on her road? She wondered for a while. But after a while, you stop wondering and just go along with it. You get used to it. You get familiar with it. It becomes a parasite that renders you its host and takes control of you.

This girl is a lot of girls. She’s the most beautiful girl in town, in every bar, carrying the most colorful drink in her hand. I’ve met this girl. She’s Arab, she’s American, she’s European. She changes with every track she listens to, with every book she quotes, with every dress she wears.

I still look for her in the bars on the weekends. I still order the drink she carried in her hand hoping to see her surface from its red liquid. But she seems to have disappeared off the face of this earth.

Maybe she finally found the arms of love to take her in. Or maybe she’s still searching for it. Searching for that thing we’re all unconsciously looking for and wondering about. Searching for something even musicians can’t sing about and writers can’t write about. Searching someplace far away from here.

***

Be sure to check out my debut novel, A Road Away From Home, available on Amazon Kindle for 2.99$ and now in hard copy.

A Road Away From Home – Hanna Abi Akl

 

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