Volume 9, Number 48, 2006

The Details of The Human Face
By Andrea Peters

We were looking upon the face of God, they had told me, but all I wanted was to drive with my hand caressed by the wind.

We had spent all day watching, searching for meaning in the carved stones built up over the centuries. Human hands had toiled, their sweat and blood pressed into the rocks, burrowed in the dust. Now, the work was revered. Every day, hundreds of fascinated eyes scanned the landscape, dived longingly past the imprints, beyond where their thoughts were allowed to roam. Each wanted to find the key, the secret, the reason why the world still turned the same each morning despite the clouds.

All together, we had walked for hours. The dust filled our shoes, and still I felt nothing. The monuments that we saw each day were lovely ... lovely ... more than lovely, but capable of stirring up less in my mind than the warm breeze. Perhaps there was something of importance to be found in the crevasses - the little nooks and crannies. Maybe some great truth rested on the path right before my eyes. Maybe I walked right past the greatest goodness that I would ever know and I had missed it.

We are riding in a small bus with cushioned seats and burgundy curtains that flap as the wind gushes through the open windows. I sit with my hand out the window the whole way, sometimes even leaning my upper body beyond the panes to let the air brush past my face and the light dance upon my hair. It makes me unimaginably happy, to be driving along a winding road, the air warm enough to touch, the world flying by in a windy haze. How simple I am, I think to myself, smiling joyously, waiting for the particles of delight to burst out of my cheekbones.

Throughout the bus there are students gazing out the windows or talking excitedly with one another. It seems a haphazard jungle of limbs and curtain, each moving a little more freely with each bump and twist on the street. As we drive, I see people dotting the landscape. Most of them wave, amused to see a bus full of pale-skinned teenagers thumping along. Of course, I wave back. My hand is already out of the window.

Returning to the inside, I scan eleven faces, perched on their cushioned seats.
Some have even fallen asleep by this time, and alternately tilt their heads forward and backward, their necks relaxed in slumber. Each face is so different, so detailed.
I turn to look, really look, at the eyes of those awake. They are of the deepest blues
and browns, reflecting the sun, pouring it forth. The eyes of the sleeping forms each possess blackened eyelashes that flutter lightly from delicate eyelids. Each dimple
has its place, every freckle is so perfectly at ease. One girl’s nose is gracefully
turned upwards. Another boy has his twisted knuckles resting lightly on his lap.

And then I see it.