Ruth doesn’t know this but a man in the café is watching her too. He has a sketchbook in front of him. He is drawing her outline. He is sketching her dramatic silhouette. A young girl pensive watching out the window. She is an unknown. He has discovered her. A beautiful sight. She has a beautiful figure, this slip of a girl. He wouldn’t mind poking her a bit with his pencil.
The rain has let up momentarily. She gazes at the top level of a double-decker bus stopped outside. The passengers seem unaware that they are being looked at, secure in being so high up from everything. They are in fact naked there, relaxing their tense city selves except for the small dramas of transport, the bumping and pushing and excuse-me’s, no pardon-me’s. The looking without looking. She catches a boy regarding himself in his reflection, shaking out a light caramel shag, a mustard scarf, a leather jacket the color of toffee. A bled-out brown. She meets his eyes boldly, safe within her bubble. I see you. I see you.
Moments ago she was on her stomach distractedly rubbing herself against the mattress. When she masturbates the face she usually conjures up first is her own. In her fantasies she is beautiful, more beautiful than what youth naturally lends her. But not only is she beautiful, in her fantasies she is beautiful through another’s eyes. Her fantasies are of being witnessed, of being watched. By HIM, the one she must banish from her thoughts but that she allows to star in these fairytales. She can feel his gaze upon her. But today she tries not to think about HIM, she thinks about Olly, with HIS face, or maybe the reverse, trying not to think about HIM so making HIM look like Olly….It wasn’t working. The only way she could get off, could ride herself to ecstasy dry humping herself on her bed was to resurrect the past starring HIM her episodic Lazarus, peeling off the Olly mask, yes it was HIM, HIM, HIM, gazing at her face like it was composed of stained glass, she allowed herself to remember his face, just one last time, but she was having trouble recalling it exactly. And if she remembered his face, if she could only remember his face…
She groans and rolls onto her back and picks up the magazine, lying underneath her.
Knock on the door. Insistent.
Come in. Feebly. It is Agnes, with her red lips still on, wanting to hang out.
They are in Agnes’ room. They sit on Agnes’ bed. Agnes’ walls are plastered with posters of actresses. Monica Vitti. Hanna Schygulla. Corinne Marchand. Anouk Aimée. Rita Hayworth. Agnes’ makeup kit is strewn across the bed. Ruth is trying on a dark blood stain which she thinks with her pale hair lends her a definitive Greta Garbo appeal. She admires her strange red lips in Agnes’ large mirror propped up against the bed, pursing them, pivoting her pale chin from side to side.
What do you think?
A demonstrative head shake from Agnes. Not you.
Ruth sighs, wipes with the back of her hand, and against her better judgment begins to confide in Agnes about the scene with the terrible girls in the toilet.