‘Elaine’ he said after sometime, swallowing hard. JC felt a bit of a shock. How did this popular guy know her?
‘Len’ she acknowledged him quietly in a cold, tight voice. Wait a moment, JC thought; his name wasn’t Len. His name was Leonard Faye. JC remembered wondering about his exotic name before.
Anyway, it looked like she had the name, or rather, the nickname, right. Len looked like he was going to collapse. He opened his mouth many times to speak, but no words came out. Then, someone from his table called out to him, asking him to get over there quickly. He muttered an apology to them and, after staring at her for a long moment, went back. When JC turned next, he saw that Len wasn’t talking with his usual gusto. Of course, he kept on joking and talking, but something was missing, and JC wasn’t the only one who noticed it. Very soon, he excused himself, saying that he wasn’t feeling very well.
He was waiting for them when they came out of the cafeteria, near the lockers. He stood in front of her till she had to ask him in a strained voice to move aside. He didn’t budge.
‘Why’ he asked stonily, ‘Why didn’t you tell me that you were here?’
‘Since when does it concern you, where I go?’ she countered. JC moved aside to give them some space, and he noticed him.
‘So you’ve been going around with his low life all this while?’ he asked scathingly, ‘Anyway you didn’t answer my previous question. What are you doing here?’
‘You ran away to Paris, didn’t you?’ she asked suddenly, and looked him in the eye, defiantly, for the first time. ‘And then, when I found you, you ran away again, and came here instead.’
‘So have you been stalking me again, Elaine?’ he asked icily.
She didn’t answer, and tried to go around him, but he stopped her. ‘We will talk about her, D'you get me?’ he whispered hoarsely, ‘you need to talk to me. I need to tell you a lot of things.’
‘I don’t want to talk. We’re way past that stage’ she said.
‘You have to’ he pleaded suddenly, desperate, ‘Elaine I need to talk to you. Please.’
She looked into his eyes, and saw that he was dead serious. She knew that she had no other choice. She cared too much to just push him aside and walk away as she would have wanted. She nodded, and quickly walked away before his girlfriend spotted them talking.