Narrator: Leslie Defiere
I was letting myself be flooded with many a condolences, half of which would be given by people close to strangers, therefore without sincerity. This society of manners made it an obligation for one to offer their sympathy. It annoyed me immensely, and I hid behind my squeaky locker door.
“Oh, Leslie, I’m so sorry. How are you? You look just the same – even better than usual!” Jamean said much too enthusiastically. She had an almost mocking tone, as though she was saying sorry to me after hearing about baked beans being poured all over me. I failed to see similar humor in the death of my only parent.
“Thanks, but I’m fine. Honestly,” I said as politely as I could. The two plain words, ‘fuck off’ were roaming my head, and wasn’t only directed at Janine but the increasing numbers of stares and pitiful gestures.
“Of course. If you need anything you just let me know. I’ll have your back, okay Les?” She smiled gently at me.
“I don’t think I’ll require your help, but thanks anyway.” I looked away as to signal the end of our conversation; she said bye and walked away with an unfamiliar classmate.
Truly, I was not only hiding from the unwanted commiserations, but from the guy whose ring was in my bedside table drawer. The guy whose name was so prominently written on the spine in black marker. I had written as a love struck girl, unaware of the road of misfortunes that were ahead of me. Well, us, actually. Ahead of me was Adam, and that was something far from a misfortune. And the guy who thought I loved him. I was good at fooling Brent.
I took out my hand phone, seeing if Adam had messaged me since the hour I’d woken up and seen a notification for one new message that wasn’t his. It was Brent’s cheesy Monday ‘Good Morning’ texts, towards which I replied that I loved him too and I was sorry to have to leave him for a shower.
I had slept facing the wall on my right, and woken up towards the opposite, where my bedside table stood. The diamond seemed to get brighter everyday, as though it were reaching out to me, pleading for it to be worn. Over the years, I’d learned something – inanimate objects are only so when the choose to be. They understand your situation and even acquire an opinion on it; it’s up to us owners to notice. However, in this case, I feel that the ring may be dissatisfied, for I refuse its refuge on my finger.
Clara was heading in my direction and I quickly slid up my phone, and talked animatedly into it. Not laughing, but serious; I knew that joy would stir rumors implying I was emotionless, lacking in filial piety, or if it was to come to an extreme, a murderer. None of which I am, for I know myself to have an erupting bottle of emotions, and I tried my best as a daughter, even as a replacement for my mother. And the last would be the most inaccurate label for me.
“Whom are you talking to?” A deep voice whispered from behind, accompanied by a startling tap on the shoulder.
“Oh! Gosh dammit, CJ! Nobody – I was just trying to make myself seem unavailable to the over-pitiful and over-polite beings,” I informed him, my cell phone back in my jeans pocket.
“Of course. Where might I ask, is Michelle? You did arrive with her, didn’t you?” CJ asked.
“Her mom dropped us both, but she had last minute homework to catch up on. I think she’s in one of the Drama studios.” I was grateful for her having left me so quickly. Conversations always led to the heart-rending subject, which would cause tears in her eyes, rather than in mine.
“I see. Well, I was going to compliment on how well you look and ask how you were coping – but that seems rather daft of me; it’s only normal you wouldn’t want people swamping you with such,” He said sympathetically, and I smiled gratefully at him.
“So maybe I’ve got something to cheer you up… I was wondering if you wanted to head back home with me, and perhaps you and Adam could meet up?” The thought of seeing Adam elated me, and I took a deep breath as my eyes widened. I was still unable to come to terms with the way he made a quaver circulate through the wires of my body, making me cold and warm simultaneously.
“I’d have to ask Michelle’s mom, but thanks CJ. Yeah, I think I might come,” I replied with eagerness to receive permission.
In spite of all the innuendos I threw at Junior, much to his discomfort, and the every so often shameless exhibitions of my vulgarity, which were far from his tastes – he always managed to do the good thing. The good thing without suggesting he wanted something more than the friendly hospitality. He saw friendship as a necessity, and relationship (or with some, booty calls) as a choice. Something that people believed the world would come crashing down if ‘no’ is selected.
“Hey! Sad One!” A person yelled out a few meters away from us, in the middle of the corridor. CJ turned around, obviously familiar with the voice, as I also surprisingly was.
“CJ!” And the figure appeared. The face was that face. The voice was that voice. All thoughts disappeared from my mind, and I thought of the time I said ‘yes’.