"She's not coming back."
Alan's shoulders sagged. "I know that, Andrew," he said.
"Then why do you keep staring out that window?"
Alan shrugged again.
Andrew sighed. "All right," he said. "I give up. You stay here and mope. I'm going to supper."
There was no answer.
Sighing again, Andrew picked up his coat and left.
As the door closed with the click that meant the lock had caught, Alan sat up for a moment, and peered over the back of his chair. Andrew was gone. Alan slumped again.
It had been a week, but it felt like much longer.
The first time he had seen her, he had been walking in the rain. No one ever did that here - and when it rained, he had the campus almost completely to himself. It had been over Thanksgiving holidays, and most of the students had gone home for the long weekend anyway. Alan had pulled on his raincoat, locked his door, and gone outside.
The rain had been invigorating - it was only past mid-day, and the rain seemed to cling to everything - and when the sun came out from behind the clouds, it lit the hanging droplets of water so they almost glowed. Alan stood at the top of the hill of upper campus, looking out over it all with a faint sense of awe. He'd reflected, later, that he might have stood there all afternoon - if he hadn't seen her.
She was standing halfway up the stairs, face upturned into the rain. He stood at the top of the stairs, and as he had been standing there for nearly ten minutes, it was beyond him how she had managed to get there without him seeing her approach. But she was there now, standing still as a statue, looking up into the sky. She wore jeans, a denim jacket and running shoes - totally unremarkable, for the most part.
Her hair was long, straight, and light-brown - her skin was pale and white. From where he stood he could not see her eyes, but even though she was facing away from him he could feel their intensity.
Alan was transfixed, mesmerized. He stared at her for he knew not how long - the rain continued, increased in strength, and Alan had to pull his hood over his head as a particularly fantastic clap of thunder accompanied a suddenly ferocious storm. The wind kicked up and drove water into his eyes.
When he could see again, she was gone.
Blinking away water and dirt, he ran down the stairs at full tilt, nearly slipping halfway down and barely saving himself from completing the trip head-first. But when he reached the bottom, looking wildly left and right, there was no sign of her, nor any sign that she had ever been here. Not even a feeling.
Over the next few days he had tried in vain to convince Andrew that the girl had been real - but Andrew, though good-natured, only laughed.
"So you're seeing ghosts now, Alan?" he'd chuckled over lunch on Monday. The holidays were over, and the campus was crowded again. Usually Alan would have been bothered by the press of so many people, but in his excitement he scarcely noticed.
"She wasn't a ghost," Alan insisted, then hesitated. "Well, maybe she was. But I didn't imagine her. She was real, Andrew. I *saw* her."
Andrew made a placating gesture with one hand. "I'm not saying you didn't, man. Just that maybe you... I don't know. Maybe your imagination embellished a little without your permission."
Alan gave him a sullen glare. "You think I'm crazy, don't you?"
Andrew stared, then shook his head. "Not necessarily - but I've never seen anyone who fits your description, and I'm pretty sure there haven't been any new students since the end of September. I mean, there couldn't have been. First semester's a month in. So where did she come from? The sky?"
Andrew caught the look of consideration on his friend's face and held up one finger in warning. "Don't start that, man. Don't tell me she came from the sky. Angels don't wear sneakers."
Alan glared again. "How do you know?"
Andrew sighed, and went back to his lunch.
No one else Alan spoke to had any idea who the mystery girl could be - and no one could think of anyone who matched her description. When he checked with the registrar's office, Alan had found that Andrew was right - there had been no new admissions since late September, and it was well into October now. Eventually, after two days of enthusiastic searching, Alan had finally admitted defeat - though not aloud. The girl was nowhere to be found. If she had ever existed at all.
A week later, Alan had nearly forgotten about her. It was raining again, and he went outside again to walk. Though he was fairly certain by now that the girl had been a figment of his imagination - albeit a fairly impressive figment - as he walked he still caught himself glancing over his shoulder every now and then, hoping to catch a glimpse of light-brown hair. But he saw nothing.
When he reached the foot of the stairs that led to upper campus, he stopped, and stared. The library loomed at the top, stone pillars ominous and dark in the storm. As he stood there, the storm lessened, until there was only a light drizzle coming down. But as the sun came out, no one appeared at the head of the stairs. She didn't come. She wasn't coming. Maybe she never had.
He was about to turn and head back home when someone touched his elbow, surprising him sufficiently that he almost jumped out of his skin. As it was, he whirled about, heart pounding in his throat.
She was standing right there - less than a foot away, hands clasped before her. Her eyes were a brown so dark they were nearly black, and they held his gaze so firmly he felt he couldn't have looked away even if he'd tried.
"Hello," she said. And then she smiled. "My name is Marin."
Alan swallowed hard. "Alan," he replied, in a choked voice. "Hi."
"You've been looking for me, haven't you?" she asked, though he could tell she already knew the answer.
He nodded. "You have no idea."
"Oh, I think I might." And then she smiled again, and Alan saw, with another leap of his stomach, that though the rain was running down his coat in rivulets, she was bone-dry, even though she wore only a denim jacket. The rain didn't touch her. It was like it didn't want to.