A short story by C.A.
I have no recollection of the morning when I woke up and prepared myself for that final day of my 10th grade, nor which was my breakfast or what “classes” we had during the day. Of course, school was over now, who cared for learning something more on the final day that the year was due, anyway. Even though I was actually requiring to study for a supplementary test in two or three subjects, but that’s beside the point.
I do remember, however, the annual final ceremony: the 11th grade passed on the school’s symbols to the 10th, in hopes that we would be a better example of the school we “swore” to uphold. I remember that I did not go dressed in the “decent” uniform but the school sweaters instead, so they took me aside and I effectively vanished from the visual records of having been in the 10th grade.
Laughing off the teachers’ disgust of my reckless behaviour, unlike the past nine years where I was like a saint, I sat among the lesser grades and saw her among them. Her, for whom I had broken my usual shyness and asked out on a dance, with whom I had shared a sort of understanding with simple eye contact. Just her smile was enough to help me forget the crippling depression of my usual solitude.
Entranced as I was in merely the sight of her, I did not clap or cheer as the year was over, committing to memory the times when she had had that same effect on me. An afternoon with a scarlet dress as she sang with a voice that not even the singers of the songs I heard on the radio that she was now covering would match that sound. The time she giggled when I was sincere and told her I did not know how to dance after asking her out, merely telling me to match her movements with my clumsy frame, taller than her.
And of course, the time when I confessed to her how I felt for her, and the other time when I was tricked into asking her to be more than friends.
I did not resent her for what she told me on the first occasion, not knowing what she meant. In the second, however, while she did not say ‘no’, she never said a yes, either.
Just that I was the kind of guy she was looking for.
And for the briefest of picoseconds, the joy of her frame on my eyes became an anguish that would not have a reassurance, that I would have to mask with iron resolve. I wouldn’t see her again, perhaps in life. Young as I was, I believed it was a truth. Today, three years later, I’m sure that she must have already relegated me to a corner of her mind.
I went back home, for the first time in 10 years of study, not savouring the cold air that contrasted the sun’s inclement gaze, a mixture of the idea of freedom from the prison that held us like slaves with interests set high. Not ten minutes after, my brother sent me out on an errand I still remember with his firm voice like that of a soldier’s. “Go and take a copy of my diploma, before it’s too late to present my curriculum!”
And so, I left running, the only good sport I was good for. In a certain corner, not far from where I lived, a couple of figures chatted with each other, closing the distance between them, holding hands and looking at each other in the eyes. It was all I needed to know. The guy I considered my best friend took the chance when I did not, and she… was simply happy to finally receive the confirmation she had longed for.
Like a prophecy come true, the voice of someone who had warned me was again in my ears.
They might have been closer to doing more than what they were currently doing if my footsteps had continued past them. As they felt me stopping before them, I did not remember what their face’s expression was, yet the seconds with which they looked at me became a small eternity. He broke the spell of the silence and greeted me. She might have had a smile on her face, perhaps to salute me as well. I only remember that seven seconds later their calling out still rang in my ears, as I kept running.
And five hours later, as I sat beside my brother on the bus back home and saw the sun set behind the mountains, the cold finally setting in, on that first day of summer vacations.
C.A is an engineering student from Columbia.