It had been four years since I'd seen her. Four years, in which she'd gone from a gawkish, coltish, adolescence to--well, to the gorgeous flower of womanhood, if I must be cliche, although such a metaphor is--for the first time, I understand--completely fitting. As she first took the stage, I stared at her, unable to understand why this slender young woman looked so familiar--and then I realized both who she was and and whom she had become.
She had cut short her flame-red hair, and put what remained of it in intricate knots piled on the back of head, but leaving twin flares to come down from her temples and frame a face in which were set those too-red lips that shocked against the paleness of her face. She smiled, and her teeth flashed in the spotlight's artificial sun as the crimson dress she wore like a glove glittered like the twinkling of small supernovae. In that instant, she was utterly beautiful to me--utterly feminine, in a way that had nothing of contrivedness about it, nor yet vulnerability. She did not submit; she gave, and was enriched--and my heart went out to her.