Imaginary Truth (a short)

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This story is based off of the famous painting of the Rockwell Diner. 


       As I sit here in this diner, I see myself through these teenagers--young, dumb, and full of life. She's about eighteen, with the skin of a porcelain doll and shrugged curls not even halfway down her small angelic neck. I can't see her face, but I imagine it as beautiful as a girl I once knew, years ago in this same diner. There are two boys mesmerized by this young woman, a face that I imagine to be so familiar, a face that every teenage boy could see as "home." Her flirtatious laughter was like poisonous nostalgia-- taking me back to merely seventeen, falling in love under the changing leaves. I wanted so badly to tap her graceful shoulder and strike up a conversation--but the forbidden half of me couldn't find the will to do it. I could taste the words I imagined her saying to me, and they were sweet. That kind of sweetness that you couldn't ever get tired of. 

       I laughed in my head at the horrific pick-up lines these teenage boys were using on her. I could imagine her facial expression un-impressed, but laughing anyway to save them from their embarrassment. 

       Suddenly, she spun her cherry red stool around to face the bartender. Her side profile seemed flawless; I imagined the other side of her face symmetrical. Though I had not seen a front view of this young woman, I put two and two together and knew just how beautiful she was. 

      "May I have a glass of water, sir?" Her English accent was strong. You could hear it in her vowels. She smiled at the bartender and leaned her head slightly to her right away from me, as her long sculptured neck gazed in my direction.  She twinkled her hazel eyes in manipulation at the bartender. The bartender was getting weak in the knees and flushed pink, then hurried around the corner of the bar to get her a glass of water. 

     The boys looked at each other with a confused expression and whisper quietly while still looking at the young woman. They grabbed their coats with a frank expression and frantically departed from the diner. 

      I sat next to this familiar face with words streaming through my head disorderly--dancing and twirling across my mind. Twiddling my thumbs, I began to get anxious. "This isn't Dalia," I thought to myself. But a part of me wanted so badly for it to be her. "This young woman is at least 10 years younger than me. Stop living in the past," I kept telling myself. 
      
      But I could dream.
      Yes, I could dream.
    
     I didn't want the woman to turn towards me. I didn't want to discover the truth behind her image. I just wanted to sit near her and imagine. I suppose I could imagine this anywhere, but her  existence was closer here. Her spirit took a new form--a form I could personify and pretend with. Dalia had just galloped into a  new physical appearance to tell me, "hello."  And oh, how the mind could play tricks on you. That's the power of daydreaming: even long after my wife had passed away, I could imagine and think of her in any way I wanted and she would be alive again. 

      So, if I never know the difference between what this young woman was really like in comparison to my deceiving imagination, that is something I can indefinitely live with. 

      She never died.
      She just . . . became a daydream. 

Jamie Marie


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