Narrator: Faruq-Kadir Nayak (Adam)
He hadn't said anything for the whole car ride. During the fifteen minutes it took to get home, I had not trembled, shook my legs or cracked my knuckles. I didn't know where the usual nervousness had gone, but I suppose my mind was largely occupied by the thought of Leslie instead. I was surprised how much she had an effect on me, over the usual impulsive hook-ups I made. Then again, hers involved a death, a manwhore of a boyfriend and pink hair.
I only noticed how tired I was from the heaviness of my legs as I stepped out of the car. My body was in no shape to take any bruises, bleedings or scars. One day, the man might even kill me - but I hope I'll be out of the damned house before then.
"Faruq!" My stepmother called out in her nightgown, as she stood up from the green sofa.
She was dozing off in the den, the lamp providing the only light in the room. The house was always dark; the furniture were always of a dark shade, minimal lights were turned on, and the curtains were often closed unless surrounded by guests. I had gotten used to the darkness.
"Go to sleep. I will deal with this boy myself - don't worry unnecessarily," My father said. It sounded more like an order than a suggestion out of concern.
"Don't take long; it's very late." She left the room, and it was just me and him.
"Sit down, Faruq." I sat.
"This is unacceptable behavior from you, son. You don't call to tell us where you are at such a late hour, and then I find you hanging around with a girl who obviously does not attend your school - how do you think I should respond to this?" So he noticed the pink hair.
How should he respond to this? He owed me just to send me off to bed, finishing the parent-child disciplinary discussion with a mere, "watch your behavior", or something of the like.
"Listen to me son; you are a teenager, and we are in America. It is only normal that you should be drawn to such vulgar activities by your 'cool' peers." He emphasized the 'cool' and added a sarcastic tone to it. At least he was keeping up with the 'cool' words.
"But I did not bring you up to turn into one of them. You cannot expect me to watch out for you everyday, and tell you what is wrong and right. You are growing up, and you need to take your own responsibility. Do you understand me, boy?"
I looked at him; half his face was barely visible from the dimness, but the vague view of him was not marked with fatigue. Nor uncontrollable anger. And no urge to swing a fist or two. He was truly calm. And suddenly, I was not afraid.
"Yes sir. I understand. It won't happen again," I replied confidently.
"Good. Now that does not mean you are going to get away with it. What you've done today was very wrong, and you are lucky I have been quite understanding of you. I will speak with your mother, and we'll talk about our decision tomorrow morning."
I nodded and he told me to shower and get to bed. I did not do the first, for I did not believe my legs could endure to be used any longer. My bed creaked as I climbed in under the covers. The sheets smelled of sweat and incense. My stepmother always lighted an incense candle every Friday night. She thought it was more effective than cleaning - I think otherwise, but my opinion rarely made a difference in this house.
However, that brief discussion with my father had given me a spark of hope. The under-reaction of his may have been because of the late hour, and the fear of causing too much of a racket during the night so the neighbors would suspect something.
But the lecture; his tone, his expression, his position - they were all... out of character. I felt like a white boy, getting one of those talks in the movies by a white dad; sitting exactly as we had on the couch. Of course, my father's strong accent prevented from being quite as identical an experience. Nevertheless, it was... refreshing.
The buzz of the fan and the way it made my amateur drawings flutter, was all I could hear. I had been meaning to tape the other end of the sketches down, but I never came around to asking my father for the two bucks or so to get a roll of Scotch tape.
My father refused to install air-conditioners due to the expensive utility bills it would bring. I didn't mind, really; the hospital had felt incomplete without the silent hum of the fan making its continuous revolutions.
I thought of how Leslie had told Brent she loved him while we were there. I didn't bother me much, knowing it wasn't sincere, but I wish it hadn't stopped me from looking at her for that moment. I wish my dad didn't have to find me so quickly, curtailing my time with her. And I wish I'd come up to her earlier in the party so I'd have had more time to register her features. Half-heartedly, I even admit that maybe the time in the shower was best to have been spent without the marijuana fumes at all, which veiled my view of her face.
Her button nose, I could recall. Slightly upturned, but in a cute way -I think I even bit it once or twice. Her eyes were fading on me; a shade of grey or green, I thought. Oh, and her lips... I could feel them on mine; the thinner upperlip and the slightly thicker lowerlip. But the shape... Her cheekbones were rather high, and defined, with a shade of light pink. Or maybe that wasn't natural, and only a reaction to the flirting or the hot sex. Not only that, the anxiety from the experience at the hospital - there were a number of things that could have caused the blush.
I put the features together, and in my head was a face that my hands were aching to draw. Despite my tiredness, I knew it wasn't possible for me to fall asleep with her image fading in my mind. I wasn't going to allow that to happen; I probably would be grounded tomorrow, and forget her altogether. God, that would be torture.
My pencils were in a box in the drawer of my desk. I took the sharpest 2B pencil out, and took my almost finished sketchbook out from the crowd of underwear and socks I hid it in in the wardrobe. The heart-shaped face of hers was soon penciled in; my hand confident of the beginning. The order, I knew, was incorrect by professional artistic standards, but the lips were fading away too quickly. I drew them, followed by the eyes.
As the pencil traveled around the page, the image in my mind grew stronger and I felt comforted. My heart thumped in euphoria, rather than fear and worry. I wanted to kiss the lips on the page, and stroke the lead colored strands of hair, although I missed its vibrant color. The Scotch tape had run out, so I took off my most recent drawing of a vase and a surreal bedroom, using each of their pieces of tape.
I wrote Leslie in small writing in the corner, and stuck it on the wall right in front of my desk. The air of the fan swept in its direction, but the paper stood still.
The blanket felt warm around my body, and my eyes grateful as my lids veiled them gently.