Claudia, Part 3

I couldn’t think about anything else. How could she say we were friends? Why would she stick up for me like that? I’d known her for less than a week and spoken a handful of words to her. I didn’t even know her last name. I had to find out where this girl lived and I had to know more about her. I found myself staring out of my window, hoping I’d see her. I thought I heard her voice at the door, but it was just my imagination running away with me. I was pulsing with pent-up energy. I was pacing my floor, waiting for the weekend to be over. Finally it seemed like days had passed when I looked at my clock. Imagine my surprise when only 30 minutes had passed since I got off the bus.
I grabbed the four things I always take with me, my wallet, keys, phone, and pocket knife, and got in my car. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I pulled out of our driveway, turned on the radio, and started driving. I lived in a small suburb, lots of little two-story, gray houses, all in a row. If Claudia got on at my bus stop, then she had to live nearby. I drove through the neighborhoods, slowly because of the snow, and just looked. I saw happy families making snowmen. There were small children laying down, making their own angels. I peered in windows, watching dinners being served and memories being created. I saw the beginnings of Christmas decorations being prepared and kids starting to go crazy over their presents. I was fortunate to witness warmth and kindness in many houses, but I couldn’t find the one thing I was looking for.
It was 4 hours later and long past sundown when I pulled over out of frustration. I turned off my car and laid my head on the steering wheel. I turned on my radio, and Smokey Robinson’s voice gloated back at me. The snow flakes were falling softly outside when I saw a glint in an upstairs room across the street. I glanced up, and there she was, sitting by her window, looking out at the snowfall. Her face was glowing from the streetlamps, and her eyes seemed like bottomless pools, glistening like stars in the night sky. I thought I was dreaming as I gazed up at her.
There was so much written on her face. There was a sort of hope as she looked skyward, but a touch of resignation. Her gaze seemed sure and confident, but her lips trembled with fear and trepidation. What I sensed most of all was a deep, crushing loneliness. A sadness that filled her very being. With a heavy sigh, she turned away, taking with her all the beauty I’ve ever known. The light in her room switched off, and the world started turning again. If only she would linger a while longer. If only I could reach her.
I just sat there, thinking of the deep, longing grief that stared back out of her eyes. I sat silently for what felt like eternity, then I started my car and drove home. I wanted nothing more than to hold and comfort this girl, this stranger, who had crashed into my life. I crept into my house and laid on my bed, overwhelmed with the sorrow I felt, totally unsure of what tomorrow would bring.