We’d been talking for a while now, over social media but never physically even though we saw one another every day. You liked your little corner in the class, secluded from everyone else, never to be bothered. I never told my friends we talked and I always smiled faintly when they spoke about you. I soon realised no one knew you like I had come to know you recently and I would smile inwardly, glad and possessive of this new secret.
Whenever I tried to speak to you, you would shy away and message me later on with some excuse. It didn’t matter because I was unable to stay mad at you. Summer came and our conversations grew intense. You seemed to be the only one I wanted to fill in about my day and I found myself looking forward to seeing you online. After a while, I felt you drifting away and it soon hit me. You had broken out of your shell. You miraculously grew taller and more attractive over the summer and girls now loitered about while boys wanted to be seen with you. It was almost like you had transformed completely. I refused to let this get in between us.
I’ll never forget the first day you spoke to me publicly. You called my name amidst all the attention you were getting from girls and I was shocked. All eyes were on me, but that was the least of my worries.
“Am I not a fantastic singer?” You asked and I felt the bile rise at the back of my throat. You were discussing the moments I guarded so dearly. When you’d send me voice notes of you singing my favourite songs to cheer me up after a bad day even though you can’t sing. It hit me too close to home, but I pushed it all back, trying to be happy and let you bask in your newfound fame.
“Of course,” I lied. You sat there in all your glory with a smug look on your face and it worried me. It felt like aliens had abducted the Abdul I knew and left me with a complete stranger. But just then, in the split second your act faltered, I felt your eyes rest on me and bore into my soul. You had a thoughtful expression on your face and when our eyes met, my heart picked race at the beautiful sight that is you. You winked at me and I felt my senses take leave. I didn’t know what to think, but at that moment, I was sure I meant something to you. You had your way of doing things and I understood this, for this was your grand gesture of revealing our special friendship to the world.
The next time you looked deep into my eyes, I was standing outside a classroom chatting with my friends when someone called out to me from the class. I turned to find you and Andikan peeping through the louvers.
“Why are you guys so weird?” I asked while trying to act unbothered by this sudden interest in me.
“What are you ladies talking about?” You asked.
“How is it your business?” I shot back
“Why won’t you tell me?”
“Please, who has time for this nonsense? Are you people playing 21 questions or what?” Andikan rolled his eyes and retreated back to his seat, leaving you and I to butt heads.
“Did you get my message last night?” You asked after a while.
“My BIS finished, sorry,” I lied.
“Hmm.” You knew I was lying, but you smiled teasingly. I looked away hurriedly, embarrassed that I had been caught in a lie. When I looked back, you were looking at me with this lost puppy look on your face. A crooked smile was at the brink of springing free and your eyes sparkled. I shuffled my feet uncomfortably and found myself blushing.
“What?” I asked nervously, placing my palms over my cheeks to stop the hotness.
“Nothing.” You shook your head and smiled before you turned to leave. For the first time since I saw you waiting for me, I found myself breathing out and my heart rate return back to normal. This possibly couldn’t be healthy.
I tried to turn deaf ears to the tales about you. Suddenly, you were luring girls to dark corners. Guys were hailing you for your promiscuity and girls developed a love-hate attitude towards you. This game of hearts you were playing seemed more of a gamble every day and yet, they still fell. Just like dominoes, they fell one by one until you had gone a full circle. While every day, I struggled because I could feel you get distant and our conversations became shallow. I cut you off and told myself I was better off. I had moved on till the funfair came.
You came and picked me out of the crowd. It was weird because girls had been throwing themselves at you ever since you arrived. But you found me at the confectionary stand and never left my sight. I remember struggling to hold a giant pink cloud of cotton candy and you taking a bite out from nowhere.
“What the fuck Abdul!” I cried and you laughed. I laughed too because it had been a while since we had spoken and it was an Icebreaker.
You placed a hand on my waist and directed me to a spot on the field, not too secluded; we were within the happenings but far enough for privacy. You took my hand in yours and we talked. It was beautiful, music blaring through the speakers from afar, the sky clear and air cool. Half of the time I was thinking of how great you smelt and how warm those almond shaped eyes were. I noticed for the first time, how long and curly your eyelashes were and how rough your palms felt. All of a sudden, the clouds went gray and it began to pour with no prelude. It took us no time to get to the halls but by the time we got to the hallway of block B, the rain had come down hard on us. Your white t-shirt clung to your mildly fit frame and my hair was dripping wet. We were laughing at God knows what but you used the opportunity to draw me closer to you, till my head rested on your chest and we were both chuckling. It faded out and despite the sound of rain and people scurrying about, all I could concentrate on was your heartbeat and how it matched mine. We had never been this close and I suddenly felt overwhelmed.
I looked up to you, teary eyed and my love reflected in your eyes undid every restraint. You leaned down for a kiss and I enthusiastically met you halfway, silently praying for this moment to last forever. It was soft and sweet. Fireworks erupted as your kisses lingered and you squeezed lightly. My butterflies soared and every part of me grew weak. It was impossible for one person to have this much effect on you and it bothered me. When I pulled away, you smiled nervously, but your mood switched up quickly and for the rest of the day, you were quiet, obviously brooding over something and I remember feeling inadequate. I acted like all was well but once I was within closed doors, I cried because I felt the end coming.
I should have seen it from the beginning but I was stubborn. That bond was irreplaceable and I needed to hold on to it for as much as I could. So when you called later that holiday for us to meet up, I obliged. Even when the kisses were no longer sweet and careful but eager and rough, I obliged. Even when your hands went under my clothes, time and time again till no layers were left to seduce me out of, I obliged. We never went all the way although we might as well have because I’m sure no area was left unmarked. Finally, I mustered the courage and asked.
“What are we?”
Your mood switched and my palms got sweaty. You furrowed your eyebrows at me while I raised mine, determined not to retreat.
“What type of stupid question is that?” Those words cut through me like a thousand daggers and my stance faltered.
“You know I think relationships are overrated. Please, leave this as it is and if you don’t want, feel free to walk. I never expected this from you Anjola.” You spat. Even though you gave me the option to walk, it was you who did the walking away, bound to never cross my path again.
Two years now, as I scroll through Instagram, I see you and her happier than ever. You haven’t changed but for the fuzz growing underneath your chin. She’s beautiful and I feel old scars ripening again. It’s an epistle but the sentence that stood out caused my hands to shake.
‘To the love of my life, happy second anniversary.’
My mind starts calculating, but nothing adds up. Your eyes haunt me, clouding my thoughts. I’m starting to wonder if your eyes tell lies perfectly or your lips tell differently. I wonder if I was just another victim, a casualty in your game. I wonder if you felt what I felt in those moments or better still, if those moments ever existed. These questions will remain unanswered and I’m stuck with treating these wounds.