Friday Fiction – The Girl Above All Others
We all fell in love with her at once. It was inconvenient, but once our feelings had set, it was impossible to think that they would do anything but continue to grow.
She would direct a comment at us, and our heart would swell with pride. Even when her attention was focused on someone else, we would be envious, but still grateful at being in her company. I admit, like the others, I was secretly willing one of my friends to make some spectacular slip-up that would count them out of the running. We behaved like gentleman, but inside I have no doubt that each of us was hoping the other would make a damning mistake.
Greg spread his cards openly across the table. He fell in love with the idea of Ava upon sight. It was in his nature to spend great stretches of time waiting to be saved by the girl of his dreams and expecting her to cross his path at any moment. As such, he kept his life as open as he could for them, making little impression and no great commitment to the world, just so he would be ready for when she showed up. It was made even easier by the fact that his type was so flexible. It didn’t matter as long as the girl was outstandingly beautiful and had at least one quirk that he could latch onto. So far he’d loved The Girl Who Plays Violin, The Girl at the Comic Book Store, The Bi-Lingual Girl and The Artist, amongst countless other roles and personas.
I have no doubt that Ava would have been The Girl in the Green Coat, but I already knew very well how it would unfold. He already had Ava all figured out and like our feelings, once set, his perception was unlikely to change. He would come to realise that Ava was too wonderful for his mould and that there was so much more of her to cherish than he really wanted. She would be the ultimate muse, and being so close to perfection would ruin him. Once he lost her, he would no longer be able to find solace in The Girl Who Runs Her Own Supper Club or any of her peers. No one else would ever compete. It wasn’t completely selfless, I grant you that, but in time Greg will realise that what I did wasn’t a completely malicious act on my part.
Of all of us, I will hold my hands up and admit that Sam was the one who needed Ava’s love the most. He was certainly just as enthralled with her as we all were, except for the fact that no matter how much she directed her attention at him, I knew he was at times searching Ava’s beautiful eyes for someone else. Each time Ava smiled, the ghost of Nadira would be there tugging at the edges. He would look at Ava’s glossy red hair and wonder what it would be like if Nadira wore hers like that. He would make her laugh and the sound of a thousand laughs would wash over him, followed by worn memories of blissful nights and lazy days spent promising the world to one and another. Ava was perfection, but a different kind to the one that Sam had vowed to spend the rest of his life with. She could have definitely made him forget, but she would always be following in footsteps a little too wide to fill. She would always be the second love of his life, the one after the fall, and I knew that neither Ava nor Sam would tolerate that. Perhaps at first, but in the end they would resent each other – she would resent him for his expectations and Sam would resent her for not being Nadira, no matter how hard they both tried. I did think about bowing out a good few times and seeing where it would go between them, but in the end I decided that the kindest thing to do would be to leave Sam to his memories and not allow anything to sully them. Besides, Ava wasn’t the girl to try to be someone else; I wanted more for her than that.
And yes, I was obviously the one to give that to her. To the rest Ava would only ever be a role, an ideal or a substitute. She would be playing the part that had already been set out for her and only be allowed to steal parts of it for her own. Oh I’m sure that Ava was both talented and very used to playing parts for all manner of different people, perhaps even just to see how easy it would be, but it was beneath her. I wanted her to see how wonderful she could be and how it would feel to just stop living up to the ideals that had been set for her. I wanted her to be free to decide what her part would be and exactly how she wanted to play it. That was my dream for her. I wanted her to be The Girl Above All Others, the full stop at the end of the sentence.
But then I also wanted her to fall in love with me.