Unnamed #4.

She has a smile like a firetruck siren – sharp, quick, electrifying to anyone able to catch it. She was taking vicodin before House was, though what for no one really knows. In any case, we believe her. It’s impossible to even entertain the notion that she might be lying.

She speaks of her mother affectionately, if somewhat offhandedly, and of her twentysomething sister with distaste. Despite her total disinterest in the people who surround her she’s widely liked. Since puberty I’ve been approached by four over-enthusiastic boys with amorous designs on her. I pat them on the back and tell them I understand. She is pretty, no doubt: spaghetti-thin, long-haired, dark-eyed. But it’s more than that. She is a girl who belongs in fiction, a girl who looks as though she could fly but walks only to humor us all.

People ask me about her in hushed whispers, incorrectly assuming I am her friend. They watch us talking together and marvel at the fact that she’s not biting my head off. We do talk, but it is nothing serious, just banter: Jose Saramago, seawater, Crete. Despite the age difference she doesn’t treat me differently, doesn’t ask me where I go to high school, what grade I am entering next year. We are not friends, not acquaintances. We have a noncommittal, spontaneous relationship, like those formed on buses, planes. I’m reminded of how fleeting everything is, knowing that I will not see her for the rest of my life.