It’s in her face. The best of it, and the worst of it—each tuck and fold and new shade of skin, alive and fragile and present, whether she’s wearing something perfumed and faintly glittery, or stark black tallies of Silent scrawl.
Her face had terrified him. Still does, a little, but it’s terrifying like long drops or a blindfold—a lurching sort of terror, excitement and leaping pulse and a hope of new discovery. Gullies and gorges, depth and death defying spray. And that does not sound like it at all—not one little bit of it—but she is River, in the end. (And at the beginning) Not exactly wrong to compare words and worlds with her to white water rafting.
But yes. Her face. It’s the world in her face. Sadness and sweetness and just something in one of her eyebrow quirks that tells him she’s seen him put together a flat-packed wardrobe .
(“Wrong hole, sweetie.”
“That is never the problem.”
The point is, it’s that while he knows her enough now to pattern down words for them in his head--fun things, patterns. He never did meet the bloke who came up with Tetris, but once he does, he’s going to kiss him--there is still rage, deep inside, and it is the rage of the wordless, newly born. The quest and pull and the desire—yes, fine, desire. He’ll say it—to learn and understand, to seek and touch. They slip through the darkly rich interstices of each other’s lives—rub shoulders, compare notes and sidelong glances—but he will know, in the end.
And by the time he does, her face will be young, and smooth, and...unspoiled. And it terrifies him.
They lose each other by degrees, and the fairness of it, sometime soon, is going to make him weep.