Its three days past Christmas break, a week or two post my sixteenth. By this time almost every fresher at C. has already left for home. I can’t, cause it gets freezing cold in D. in winters. God knows how much I hate winters like that.
There’s this marvel of a lawn at the rear of the school building where I’m sitting right now with J. Sun hits this place a couple o hours after noon, so its just the right amount of sunny and soft and cool all at the same time, to make you nostalgic. We never talk when we’re here – J. and I. In fact we hardly talk at all unless we’re discussing Fitzgerald or gay literature. You should know I’m crazy about Fitzgerald. J and I were like that and it didn’t bother us. Maybe we only stuck around to savor the sun in winters, in company. and so I did, until it struck me how angelic she looked when the light hit her at this peculiar angle. What a grand, grand sight. She asks me, ‘whatcha gaping at, kid?
I definitely didn’t want to answer that. So I looked away only to see this other kid – Rhai walking towards the school building. I don’t know where he was coming from; possibly from the woods (did I tell you this lawn merged into the woods? this lawn merges into the woods past a cemetery. that’s dark, ain’t it?) He was this absolutely beautiful kid I always had an eye for; the kind of beautiful only I noticed. I don’t know why nobody thought he was beautiful. I wonder if his friends ever told him he’s beautiful? Sometimes people just don’t tell you you’re beautiful even if God knows you are. Yes, most people tend to do that. But thank God he has friends, and he’s not the reclusive kind of beautiful that’s also slightly mysterious and sinister and depresses the hell outta you.
I thought he must have also left for home. People who have friends do that, they leave at the first chance they get. I don’t know why J. stayed. She got girls all over her neighborhood leaving messages at her mom’s. Sometimes, they’d send letters all the way to C. to tell her how much they miss her. God, was she grand.
I never talked to Rhai when he was around his friends. In fact, I didn’t talk to anyone. I’m not entirely reclusive, I just don’t like most people. But seeing he was alone, I thought this was my shot. I called him from the rear, ‘Rhai, where’re you going? School’s nearly empty.’
God, how I absolutely adore what he did after this. He continued walking and turned his head around ever so slightly, much like cute guys do in movies (God, these movies definitely drive you hella mad) and gave me this absolutely, absolutely divine smile, he didn’t say anything. He just smiled like that until he turned his head back around, as though to say Thank God you talked, Maulin. Thank God you finally said something to me. Have you any idea how long I’ve waited for this? Please understand how this moment has overwhelmed me and stolen every little word I ever learnt and therefore I have to walk away. Please forgive me for walking away. You have always left me spacebound
God, what a funny, funny thing to think. I tend to read too much into things. But that way even the tiniest and most minuscule of things have meaning. So if you ever meet me at a bar à huîtres (because if I ever get outta C., I only go to these exotic places) and I happen to give you the eye, be a wonderful little flirt and pass me a coquettish smile. But be careful not to do it if you think you’re too pretty and I’m trying desperately to look away from you, which is when my heart is really breaking, because all I want to do is write poems about pretty people yet its so tragic I’ll never see them again in all of my life.
‘Did you see Rhai? He’s got this heavenly smile, have you noticed? I ask J..
‘Quit talking like you’re in love, kid. You know that’s forbidden
We weren’t celibates or anything of the sort. We just had this peculiar, peculiar pact where we swore never to fall in love because neither of us knew what love was like. And if it was anything like what they showed in the movies or what we read in Shakespeare, we hardly cared for it. I was definitely not in love with Rhai; that’d be absolutely irrational. But that cursed smile was so goddamned intoxicating I couldn’t help but think every moment after that, why would you smile like that, Rhai? Why in the world would you smile like that?
I was scared J.’d tell on me. She’s a little twisted like that. So I offered to take her out to dinner to one o these exotic oyster bars I know if she swore she wouldn’t tell anyone how crazy Rhai’s smile drove me. That wasn’t the only reason though. God, you should’of seen her eat. J. eats like a dozen elephants combined. But she’s hella graceful. She eats like a fucking Goddess. You could keep watching her eat till all of eternity. And she looks absolutely grand while she’s at it. She’s a little plump in the cheeks and a little plump in all the right places. So I dress up in this real swell nude baggy suit and have her put her arm around mine, so people think what a catch when they see me with her. J.’s a marvel at the dinner table. She asks the waiters to send messages over to the Chef saying how exquisite the food was and sometimes to the pianist asking em to play a certain Bob Dylan record. And on nights when she’s absolutely terrific, she asks the pianist if he’d let her play, and he’d let her without protest because she was oh so divine, and she plays Joan Baez’ Diamonds & Rust, and gets a little sad, which is when we go out to the terrace (which I’ve always presumed is closed for visitors, but nobody dares to stop a sad, heavenly girl like J.). She lights a goddamned cancer stick and passes it to me under the light of the stars. A remedy to quit thinking about Rhai, possibly. She knows I’m thinking about Rhai. She always know what I’m thinking about, which is why I think she doesn’t leave C. in winters. Because she knows I need company under the Sun. I need company to deliberate over Fitzgerald. I blow smoke into the dark and return her the cigarette, and so she speaks like a goddamned goddess, her dress sparkling under the light of the stars, as though what were to come were one helluva revelation-
Door’s wide open, Maulin. You could stay, or you might as well leave. But anything you choose to do, will make all the goddamned difference.