Read Past the First Line

What is the right way to your heart? Is it a cliche first sentence to catch your attention, so that you’ll listen to me because I have more things to say, way deeper than my opening line? Because I might seem to you that way — cliche, ordinary, so commonplace you tend to forget my face in a day. I know you see hundreds of faces in a day, some smiling, some frowning, all trying to swim into your mind like schools of silver fish heading out deeper and deeper into the sea. If my face is one of these countless numbers of fish only slightly different from one another — can you even notice me? Do my scales even shed out, from time to time, a more striking glimmer that pierces your crystal-like eyes? Do my fins, even occasionally, move so elegantly and gracefully that you have to drop that important thing you’re fussing about and look at me? Oh, how I wish it were so. How I pray it were so! For I’ve been improving myself for you, overcoming a reflection of myself each day to get so far away from my old self that you’ll never recognize me when we magically bump into each other in a school or in a mall. You’ll say, “You look familiar.” Those three enchanted words! They’re so much better than “I love you” or “I like you” or “You love me.” They’re better because they symbolize our eerie strangeness and closeness at the same time. They remind me of how I want desperately to get near you by running away from myself as fast as possible. How I wish you can squint — your eyes turning into divine rainbow arcs — before saying those three words to me: “You… look… familiar.” And my god, the whole school, the entire mall full of people or faces or schools of silver fish will come staring at us, both of us in the center of an impenetrable realm of strangeness and closeness, our heartbeats failing to beat in synch quite dreamily. Then I’ll walk two steps closer — farther away from you — and tell you my name. You’ll also tell me yours, though I know it already for I tuck it underneath my pillow every single night. We’ll fall into a useless conversation about bargains and bands and bouquets. I’ll feel so lucky I’d force you to line up with me for a lottery ticket. Squinting so irresistibly again, you’ll ask me why: why I act so weird, why I’m shaking at times, and why I look so sad even when I am smiling. I guess I’ll tell you the reason is that all of this, compared to you, is still so ordinary. It’s so ordinary and predictable, I know where the two of us will soon end up, missing each other. All of this is still as cliche as your first memory of me and my first question to you: “Oh dear, do tell, what is the right way to your heart?”

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