She wasn't used to flirting. It was a foreign language that she could not grasp. Yet all around her they spoke it, fluently, using any and every part of their body to convey the message, while she sat dumbly on the side, watching in awe and disgust their ability to ensnare.

He didn't know the language either, that man amidst the boys. He spoke little, but when he did it was something from a story book: neither mundane, nor profound. Familiar, and magical in a sense. It was comfortable, too. And laced with a mysteriousness and a childlike innocence.

He exuded relaxation in everything he did, just as the flirters exuded a putrid shallowness in all they did. His mere presence calmed her raw nerves, allowed her to focus in a room full of fool's gold and parlor tricks.

From her station at the side of the group, she searched his face — how he smiled often, with all his teeth, but laughed only when something truly merited it. How he craned his neck forward as something of use was said, and how his eyes wandered as the conversation dipped into worthlessness.

He was intriguing to her; a quiet, almost invisible gem amidst a sea of volcanic pumice. He was odd, she thought, but oddity was a welcome change. A wanted change. For she, too, was odd.

Once or twice his eyes locked to hers. Embarrassed to be caught in her silent study and ignorant of how to act, her eyes flicked down to her feet, her head turning to the side. It was a defense, that head turn, as if by baring the right side of her face she hid the true emotion spread across the left.

She hoped he'd realize she was different like him, that she was channeling all her thoughts toward penetrating the fog of insincerity that choked their surroundings. If only he'd look around and see her realism that contrasted all the impressionists.

Time will tell, she thought. And he, well, he seemed worth some time.

© e.gosney 2011