There are two Mia Richardsons in this world: Mia and M.I.A. In Mia’s lifetime, she has chosen to show me the real Mia. The rest of the world thinks they know Mia, but they only know the girl I like to call M.I.A.
I wouldn’t say it’s a coincidence Mia and M.I.A. contain the same letters. I don’t think Mia was ever meant to participate in the action that is an inevitable part of life. It was only a matter of time before the letters of her name became uppercase, and three periods were added.
Mia and I were the most unlikely pair in the history of opposites attracting. I was an average height for a boy. She was tall and gangly for a girl. She was popular. I was anything but popular. She was outgoing. I was shy. Everything Mia was I wasn’t.
I’m not sure how or why we started talking. Mia probably wouldn’t remember either; even though in the grand scheme of life it wasn’t that long ago. I think knowing Mia was one of those things in life that was bound to happen. When I’m old and breathing shallow, shaky breaths, I will remember the Mia I knew.
My Mia had sleek, black hair, dark brown eyes, and regular skin that sort of tans but doesn’t really tan at the same time. She was designed to be an average person that blended into the world.
I have brown hair and bright blue eyes. I’m nothing more than ordinary.
Somehow, against the odds, Mia made herself into the exact opposite of what she was built to be. She was the most popular girl and arguably the prettiest. Mia managed to accumulate enough power to command our entire school.
And somehow I ended up like me: that boy that sits in the back of the classroom blending into its walls.
I can’t think of a way to explain why the two of us would find each other in the chaos of life, besides the fact that it was fate. We needed each other to be our true selves. I have lots of memories of Mia being my Mia, but the one I remember most is the last. For the remainder of our relationship, she never truly went back to being my Mia.
This is how Mia became M.I.A:
It had been cloudy yesterday, and it was cloudy today. The clouds were so gray they were almost black even though it was barely four in the afternoon. They looked like they were aching to rain, but they couldn’t bring themselves to let go.
I looked at Mia walking beside me. I could feel her shedding the school Mia off into the air as we walked. She did this every day on the walk home. Mia wouldn’t say a word to me until every bit of her school layer was gone.
“Charlie,” she said. She took in a deep breath and then exhaled. I could feel her release the last fragment of school Mia into the atmosphere.
I felt her palm brush against my palm, and I let her fingers intertwine with mine. When Mia let herself be my Mia, she had to hold my hand. My theory was without her other layers Mia needed to hold onto something to keep her grounded. Otherwise, she would float away; she had a tendency to run away from herself.
A clap of thunder rolled in the distance. Mia squeezed my hand and began to run. I didn’t protest. She led me to the library. We slowed to a walk as we reached the front lawn.
She pointed to a ladder on the side of the library that had been left out by a worker replacing the shingles. “We’re going to climb up that,” she whispered.
I shook my head, frantically.
She put a finger to my lips. “You are going to climb that ladder Charlie, and you are going to sit on that roof with me.”
“But lightning,” I muttered as I pointed to the sky.
“Charlie,” she said. “For once, just live a little bit. If not for yourself, do it for me.”
I gave her a weak smile in a lame attempt to hide my nervousness.
She tugged on my hand, and we walked toward the ladder. She went up first. I followed.
Once we were sitting on the roof facing the darkest of the storm clouds, she said, “Not that bad, right?”
“Right,” I said, but I knew my voice was shaking, which probably wasn’t very convincing.
She took a deep breath. I watched her cheeks turn red as she attempted to hold it in. Her dark hair quivered in the breeze blown in by the black clouds.
I felt a drop, and then another, and then another. In no time at all, it was pouring and the black clouds seemed to be inches from our heads.
The closer the clouds got the more it seemed like Mia was a part of them. The drops didn’t drip off her skin. They stuck to it. They just kept sticking and sticking until I had to squint to see the outline of her face.
I’d never seen this layer of Mia before. Actually, I don’t think you could call this Mia. The girl covered in droplets was not her. It was an entirely different person.
The last thing I saw before I blinked was a white light, and when I opened my eyes Mia was gone.
“Mia?” I called into the storm. No answer. “Mia!” I shouted.
I peered over the edge of the roof. Her body was in a mangled knot lying on the front lawn of the library.