Eff's not here. He's not writing this. See, he's got writer's block.
So... I am here instead. Oh, honestly, I wish I weren't. I'm an unfortunate third wheel to this tale of loving woe.
Worst of all, I'm not so sure it's a tricycle that we're riding.
I am his artist and he is my writer. Best friends since an early age. We work on a weekly webcomic together in our spare time. But sometimes, best friends just don't tell each other everything.
It began with a nosebleed. Winter approaches, and the air becomes dry. My nostrils don't like this. It should have stopped when I matured. Not to mention three attempts to cauterize it.
The worst is yet to come, I tell myself, tissue clamped firmly around my nose.
I wait some more.
And as I go to throw it out, I see his hand-writing in the garbage; Eff's. Jagged, rough and masculine, yet somehow full of curvy feminine artistry. I reach for it, in the wastebasket.
It's a poem. He never lets me see his poetry, says it's too personal. And I respected that... until now.
Paper cut. Damn. It's a serrated cut-out of a heart. Eff's a sadistic poetry ninja, I just know it.
And those words, not meant for me, make me cry. The sun, the moon, the stars and his breaking heart; all revolving around one person and one person only.
I suck upon my bleeding finger, and wipe away rare and dissipating tears with my left arm. My sadness is absorbed by a thick lavender sweater's sleeve.
I wished those words were for me.
That's when I swore. F-ff-fuck, eff. Tongue over lip, I swore in silence. I swore to tell him; how and why I felt the way I did.
Blood came once more, from above my upper lip, and my hand dug into a pocket of tissue. Vaseline up each hole, that'd set things right.
I laughed, then, in the corner of the classroom, at my Freudian reinterpretation. I was, of course, referring to my nostrils; doctor's advice.
* * *
Next, came an unexpected phone call. One night later, I was doing homework in my room. No, that's not true. Not exactly. Introductory calculus on one page, yes, but on the other I was sketching between questions.
It rang, down the hall, dampened by my closed door.
I ignored it, as I focused on the calculator buttons I was pushing.
It rang again.
Silence. Answers. Answers checked. Sketching, outlines, a body in torn and tired clothes. My pencil danced across the page, eager for an escape from the monotony. Minutes passed, and I moved on to the next math question.
I was interrupted.
"Jesse, come get the phone!" Mom yelled through my door.
Someone who'd made conversation with her and who also cared to talk to me? Curious.
Grandma? Calling to lecture me on the wickedness of my ways? No, it's too late in the night for that! Besides, she knows I can hang up. Better to corner me in a room when nobody else is around, to attack my values and my vices.
I opened my door just a bit, and Mom passed me the cordless phone. I put it to my ear, "Jesse speaking."
"Hi, Jesse, it's Miranda. Err... Miss Reynolds, I mean."
The voice was familiar, but I couldn't bring a face to match it.
"Umm..." I fumbled for a more polite answer.
"Fabian's mum." She said it with worried uncertainty about something.
Silence. Fabian? Do I know a Fabian? In any of my classes?
Then it struck me.
In kindergarten, we called him Fabby. Then, it became a letter written phonetically.
I was speaking with Eff's mother.
"Oh! Ohhh... yes, hello Miss Reynolds."
"Please, Jesse, call me Miranda."
"Alright," I said. "How can I help you this evening?"
"It's about my son, of course," she told me, sounding distressed. "I need your help. No, he needs your help."
I wanted to help. In any way I could.
"This is an issue of morale, Jesse. I've taken him to see a doctor, they think he's depressed. He's stopped doing his own laundry, he barely showers, he doesn't eat on his own, he barely eats at sit-down meals... and last night, I caught him crying himself to sleep."
"He's got writer's block," I added, "so he told me."
"Grrreat, well... I want you to figure out what's troubling him before I even consider those pills the doctor's recommending. Anti-depressants have a small chance of pushing him over the edge, making him worse."
"I understand. I'll do what I can. I promise, Miss-M-Miranda," I stuttered.
"Tomorrow," she instructed, almost in tears, "take him home on the bus with you, for a sleep-over. Don't take no for an answer."
"Alright," I said, but she didn't hear me because she'd already hung up. And then it happened.
I felt it before it fell. A drop of blood, running inside my nose. My hand grabbed a tissue in time, and my clothing was spared yet another stain.
* * *
I had sworn to myself and promised to her. I recollect these moments, now, with sorrow. Somehow, the promise and the oath, they seemed the same to me.
I would confess my love for Eff.
In retrospect, I regret everything. I wish I had kept my eyes to myself. Never to admire the silhouette beneath his windbreaker, never to glimpse at discarded poetry. Onley is a very lucky woman. I pray that she forgives me.