When my roommate left for Christmas it felt like she was never coming back. Her bed was made, crisply, like a hospital, and her desk was bare. It was like a line had been drawn down the middle of the room separating "someone lives here" from "no one has ever lived here."

The night before she left, I had told her things about her boyfriend that she didn't want to know. At the moment, I mean. She really did want to know, deep down inside. How he lied. How he cheated. How he manipulated, slowly over two years. How he called to check up on where she was and who she was with, and what that said about him.

So she cried. She dumped him. It was over. The next morning, she came to my work and gave me a hug, and she was gone.

The intensity of everything that had arrived and gone so quickly was hard to accept. It was almost like she had exploded, vanished into thin air from the sheer shock of it. Looking at her empty bed from across the room, I thought of alien abductions (always a possibility), and pictured her body being sucked through a beam of light into an awaiting UFO while I slept peacefully five feet away. Don’t laugh - it could happen.

A few days after she left, I was reading at her desk (I had long abandoned any hope of working around the books piled on my desk), and I noticed a picture of her on the wall. It had been taken at sunset; not just any sunset, but that beautiful time of night when the last glow of orange screams its colour out loud before dipping below the horizon for good. But the sunset was only a background. In front of the sky, her silhouette stretched, like a dancer frozen in motion, towards the sky at the edge of the dock. She was only a shadow, but against the orange glow I think it was the purest thing I've ever seen.

As I stared at her picture, the image of a beam of light pulling her through the air to an alien spaceship popped into my head again, but this time, she was dancing her way up. It was like she wanted it that way. It was like she was thinking about everything that had happened to her, every single time her innocence and forgiving nature had been manipulated, every tear she had tried to hold back and failed, and in this one pose she was letting it all course through her body and rise from the top of her head. And then it was gone.

There's something about her that I will never understand. A hidden strength that purifies her. A beam of light that pulls her. It’s all her own, though, this strength, as natural as the way she laughs when something is funny and she almost doesn’t want to admit it, covering her mouth but letting it all spill through.

No one needs to tell her to make the best of what’s around. She knows it. I wish I knew it. I wish I could describe it, and the way it feels to finally know, but I can't. For now at least, I'll just watch her.

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