From the moment I first saw her, she invoked intense reactions in me. The first glimpse of her I saw through the bars on Georgina's and my window, and I was intrigued in spite of myself. She walked with such brazen assuredness, seemed utterly confident of her place, her importance, in the grand scheme of things. It was clear that unlike me, she knew exactly who she was and what she wanted, and she didn't care about what anyone else thought.
But even when she changed her demeanor so abruptly… even when she had me held aggressively against the wall as bony fingers dug into my flesh, angry, red-rimmed eyes bearing hard into my own frightened panicked ones… even then, with my fear, I was drawn to her, to the obvious intensity of her person. I had never felt such a degree of passion myself, never carried out such physical and unrestrained aggression. It appealed to me, spoke to some desire I had not realized I carried. Though I had always been more passive, ambivalent, torn between two sides of any issue or emotion, I looked at Lisa Roe and wanted what she was, what she seemed to me to represent. She had certainty in her thoughts and desires, whereas I had none… she had control and influence, and I wanted it as well. And though I did not realize it then, I wanted her.
After that first meeting of ours, in my bedroom, I began to watch her. To be prepared to defend myself again, if needed, yes, but also to begin to get a feel for who she was… and to get a sense of how she felt about me. At first Lisa seemed oblivious to me, but whether she was ignoring me or simply uninterested, I was unsure of. Perhaps in light of her initial confrontation with me, she was also trying to get a read on me from a distance. I don't know. It's something I never asked her about, and I don't plan to.
Whatever the reason, when she did at last focus her attention on me…when she looked at me for the first time without disinterest or contempt… I was entirely hers. I didn't quite understand this at first, but as time went on, it was to become more and more clear to me that I was no longer fully my own person, but rather Lisa's.
She fascinated me, even as she sometimes shocked or even horrified me with her odd or cruel behaviors. I could not tell her no, could not tell her she was wrong… and eventually I was to come to regard her actions as less disturbing, maybe even as right. She was just more honest than all the rest of us… and wasn't that right, even if it sometimes brought pain? Wasn't it better?
I wanted, the more I watched Lisa, to be like her. I wanted to be loose and loud, fiery and charismatic, fully confident, not caring about anyone but myself and my needs. I wanted Lisa's approval… and I was more than willing to follow her lead.
There was something exhilarating about the way she could look at times… she would fix her eyes on me, eyelids half lowered, a mischievous, knowing gleam in their surface, and smile her pirate's smile as she spoke to me with teasing yet blunt words. I would glow, warmth spreading throughout my entire being. In those moments with Lisa's attention focused on me, there was no need for any other in my mind. I found in her an identity I did not have to struggle to find and figure, for Lisa had already laid out a model for me of what I should be. I found my purpose with her…or so I thought. I found truth, but I did not know then that it was only a thin veneer over a much bigger lie.
Lisa told me that we had been given a gift, that our insanity was not insanity at all, but rather freedom. She told me that we were better, smarter, and I believed her. It didn't matter what we had been, or what had brought us to this point… all that mattered was that we were here now, and we were free.
I never asked Lisa about her past, her family, and she never offered any insights of her own accord. I told her everything about me, let her know me as no other had, but it didn't strike me as odd or lopsided that what I knew of her I knew only from firsthand experience. The truth was that I didn't want to know about Lisa's past. She wanted to be mysterious, and I let her…I liked it that way. In my own mind I could pretend in this way that Lisa simply was and always had been… my own personal God.
It didn't take very long for me to fall half in love with her…too much so for me to be very troubled over her bitter viciousness at times, her manipulations and explosions, the way she sometimes went silent and still, her eyes going flat and blank in a manner that frightened me. It didn't matter to me… it was just more of what made Lisa, Lisa. It made her all the more exciting to me. She was like this, because she was not like the rest of us… she was above us. She had said this many times, and I believed it, hoped that I too would be at her level some day…
It wasn't until later that I knew differently… it wasn't until after our escape from Claymoore, after Daisy's suicide provoked by Lisa's attack on her…it wasn't until I was exhausted and bleeding, all guilt and anger giving way to nothing more than a weary pity and sadness. It wasn't until I sat in a darkened basement as I held Lisa's head in my lap, stroking her hair as she wept in choking sobs, that I understood. Everything I had thought about her, everything I had believed and idealized as truth, was nothing but illusory dreams.
Lisa was not better than us, was not stronger or more confident or brave. She was not smarter or wiser or more worthy of our emulation, of our admiration or fear. She was not any of these… if anything, she was weaker, because she could not acknowledge her shortcomings. She was as broken as any of us, if not more so… and she certainly wasn't free.
I had based a year of my life on Lisa, believing her to be above me, above us all… but I had been wrong. Lisa had been one of us all along… and unlike me, unlike most of the rest of us, she probably always would be.