Staring out of the window, I fold my sweater wrapped arms under my chin and rest my head on the soft wool of an actors sweater. The sky is covered in cold grey clouds that dangle there like they were hung there by someone and that someone forgot to cut the strings after they played. Voices are booming ever louder around me as the bus stops and more kids shuffle in. My sweater is betraying me as the cold seeps through it and only my supposed-to-be-warm skin. I hear voices around me and I feel the straps of my bag move against my back as someone moves it from the set next to me to sit, I turn so fast to protect my precious backpack, I bang my bent elbow against the window and I am anxious that I cracked it, but I froze in pain as a boy I have hardly seen before stands there with my bag hanging from his hand and looks at me with worry in his eyes. He has dirty blond hair and dark blue eyes, a square chin and parted lips. The bus driver yells at someone to sit down and a second later I realize he is yelling at the boy. I grab his school shirt and yank him down on the seat next to me and pull my bag to my feet. He lets go just in time before I crush his hand with my foot.
We don’t talk as the bus drives in the school grounds and he doesn’t stand up when it stops, but he stands up when he needs to get out, because we were sitting at the second row from the back (my favorite spot on any bus) and he takes a step back to let me pass. So I do, I can feel his looking at me form the back and I pull my beloved sweater over my jeans, just in case. Later that day, I catch myself looking for the mysterious boy between classes and at breaks.
It’s weird how people can change after they meet a specific person. It’s also weird that the whole surface of the water should ripple if you only touch one, tiny fraction of that surface. One tiny difference and change can alter a whole understanding and concept, also meaning of one thing, sometimes small, sometimes more immense. That change is what that boy did to me. That boy saved my life, because now, everyday, since the day I first saw him, I always kept one eye out for him. I try not to mess with the “cool kids” any longer, I am a quiet nerd who always wears dull colors and sweaters with large track pants and gets straight A’s in all subjects but German. I am short, always will be, but i used to be the tallest, now I just feel left behind.
I never let the boy out of my sight. I half memorized his schedule and follow his classes every time I see him pass me by. Once, I was walking a long way from Music to Mathematics and he was walking to the reception area to grab something and he looked at me and smirked. I pretended not to notice but I will never forget the red and the blue and purple around him. He always wears clean shoes and school uniform (except for the pants, his pants are always different) he wears his tie neatly and his hair is gelled and neat. He is green and blue immediately, then red and purple but at the same time white and innocent. He is perfect, yellow, but also grey. I so wish I knew him better.
I went home, about a month after I first actually sat next to him, and wrote down everything I thought about him. He was handsome, tall, strong and seemed very loyal, I saw that in his eyes, I could notice the difference of his atmosphere whenever he is around his friends, but whenever he sees me he looks completely divergent.
I get myself lost very often in books. It’s magical how words can form pictures and motion and in the end you have a whole film of the whole book, all fit together, every word meant to be there, where it is right now. Every word and letter has a place and without one or two of them, the whole masterpiece shifts into something better or into something worse. Just like my life right now.
I wrote every color I saw in him. I was supposed to chose one, maximum two; but none of the colors I thought of or listed were to my liking. So I thought about the true origin of colors. Who invented them, what they even were, and where they came from. In the end of course, I had no answer to any of the questions, but I developed an idea: to invent my own color. This, one color, will be his color. His and no one else’s, because he is now my centre of everything.
He was the first person I wanted to see when i came to school. He was the person who I always had the mood to see. I hardly ever heard his voice, but I imaged him talking to me in my thoughts. God, he was so good in general and he was the perfect boy.
That winter I got a letter from Mr. Smiths, our PE teacher, about a skiing trip that will take place in January. I took the letter home and begged my mom to pay for it and then let me go etc, and she let me. I collected all the pocket money I had that I collected throughout the years and spent them on my trip. I then packed all my stuff and my mom drove me to the bus stop by our school. I came early and waited at the very back with Simon and his friend Theodore. Some minutes later I look up to see who came now, and I see him. Beautiful as ever, walking down the aisle of the bus, holding his backpack in front of him and looks at me with his handsome baby bye eyes. He looked at me and smiled his crooked smile.
“Excuse me.” he told me. I looked down as he said it, so I stood up, ducked under his arm, which he rested on the back of my original seat, just in front of Theodore, and it happened so fat he didn’t really even notice. I heard the boys chuckling in the background as I was getting comfy in the hard seat and listening to my depressing music.
Some hours later, I slept near Jules, my classmate, and we stopped at McDonalds to buy food and drink, so I went out, followed by the back row of boys and most of the bus. I stayed in the corners and hid in the shadows with my book, which was always company for me. He came up to me.
“Hey.” he says confidently, I, on the other hand, am the opposite.
“Well, hey back, then.”
“Is there anything you want? Or did you decide you owe me something (finally) from a couple moths ago on that bus?” I smile, remembering then. I loved it.
He laughs. I made him laugh? “No, I still owe you, but I would just want you to hang out with us, if you wouldn’t mind.”
Shock. “Hang out?” I whisper.
“Yes, come on now.” he pulls me by the arm towards Simon and Theodore who are sitting at the other end, eating something. God, I am hungry. My mouth waters and I swallow. He notices. Crap. I look away.
“I’ll be right back.” says he and starts to jogs off somewhere when I stop him. I don’t look at him because I know he’s getting me something to eat. I press my hand to his chest and make a fist, clutching his teeshirt. He knows that I don’t want him to get me anything.
“You’ll pay back later, if you want to. It’s nothing special, after all, I owe you” he whispers. I dare to glance at him and I then see him wink. Simon and Theodore continue eating and talking. My stomach grumbles so loud now that I hit is (not that it helped a lot) and I know he heard it.
I didn’t have to wait long before I finally had a bite of real food today. My mom never’d let me eat McDonalds. She hates it and thinks its gross, but I’ve been, many times. Only place I’ve never ever been to is KFC. But no matter. I don’t really care. Simon tells a story about his smaller disabled brother who plays an instrument and he himself can’t even be bothered with the stuff, then Theodore talks a little and makes remarks and small jokes, some of which I do not always understand, and then there’s him. He speaks only when spoken to, and he likes to bully by adding his own comments when other people talk. He will never interrupt, but he will comment – there’s a difference – I learnt that today. I quickly sent a text message to my mom and looked up to see the three of them looking at me.
“I…I’m sorry, I just had to quickly-“ I started to apologize when he grabbed my phone and out it in his jacket and zipped it. That is when it vibrated with a text from my mom.
“Can I please-“ I reached out and then I felt a pain in my chest and recoiled. It burnt hard; I couldn’t breathe deeply ‘cause it hurt and when I did, my chest felt like it was about to explode. I felt sick. I think I recovered quickly, but I opened my eyes to see the three boys sitting at the table, but they weren’t talking. They were staring.
“What is it..?” I whispered.
“Is everything okay?” that must have been him; I was looking down at the table. I nodded and felt an arm around my back, then I felt something warm and heavy fall onto my back. A coat. He was giving me his coat. HIM.
“I, uh, don’t think I need it, but thank you, very much.” I whispered, and after a 3 second silence I thought he didn’t hear me, but when I wanted to repeat what I said louder, he answers.
“I’m boiling, take it.” I didn’t feel like arguing right now.
We arrived the hostel in Austria at around 16:00 and I was so tired that I could hardly stand my own weight, not counting my bag. The pain in my chest never ebbed away, ever. So I did all i could to get upstairs and onto my bunk bed. Later that evening, we had dinner, I was so tired I could hardly walk up to the canteen. I didn’t feel great, but I managed. I sat at the bench table when i see him coming toward me with his food. Simon and Theodore are already talking at the table and the muffled voices are everywhere and you can’t figure out who is talking where and about what specifically. But a he showed up, the sounds and voices were gone. It has never been quieter and I looked him in the eyes, because I knew then, i fell in love, and by then, I knew I fell hard. I knew.
The next day was a blur. The day after that, too. I went over to his room which he shared with (guess who?!) Simon and Theodore, and i visited them everyday, hanging out with them on his bunk. Then, once, he asks me an unexpected question.
“Um, do you…know…my name?” Wow. All this time we have known each other, we did’t even say who we were. Of course, I knew his name, he knew mine.
“I heard of it around, but I never had the full confirmation, I guess.” he looks at me and smiles.
“I’m Max. Maximilian”, he says in a low, clear tone and voice, “and you?”
“My name is Lisa. Elisavetha.” I say in my typical sociopathic voice.
“Elisabeth? I know a girl whose name is Lisa, too.” God, I hate when people think I am Elisabeth. No one, not a single being has spelt or pronounced my name correctly form the first try. Not a single goddamned person.
“No”, I say stubbornly, “My name is Elisavetha.”
“Is there…a difference?” he asks this question and I just pull my knees to my chest and hug them.
“Not really, I guess…I’m sorry.” During the whole trip, I always apologized, and every time I did, he asked me for what I apologized for, and guess what, he did it this time, too.
I pulled my knees in tighter, expecting the answer already.
“There is nothing at all to be sorry for, you know that?”
“Really, now-“ he then puts his right hand on my knee and his left on my enclosed hands and pulls them apart.
I hold tighter.
I look into his eyes. Now, is this just me or did his eyes become brighter? His eyes were this dark sea color, not it is as light as the cloudless sky. Then I have the courage to say.
“You have nice eyes, I really like eyes.” I whisper.
“Well, thank you, I love yours. Did you know that green eyes with a hazel brown tone to it and a blue outline are really rare?”
Lisa Sergeev, 14, Berlin British School, Berlin, Germany
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