I spotted David chatting with Elena and tapped him on the shoulder.
“Hi Suki, I’ll leave you two alone shall I?”
Elena gave me a pointed glance as she turned and entered the classroom. David watched her go as I spoke to him.
“Hey… David… Um, did you get my text?” I suddenly felt very awkward speaking to him. “I mean I sent a few… after you didn’t reply to the first one that is… I also left you a voicemail when you didn’t pick up your phone so… Did you get any of those?”
“Hm? I didn’t get any messages. Must be a satellite thing or maybe you hit the wrong number?” His brows furrowed for a moment as he checked his phone then he sighed in exasperation and gazed absently into the middle distance. “Nope, nothing on my phone.” He stood, one hand in the pocket of his jeans, the other fidgeting with a thread on the collar of his shirt.
“Oh.” I wasn’t really sure what to say. I shifted my gaze between the floor and the ceiling and David and back. He didn’t say anything. “Well I was just saying that I needed- we needed- we need to talk… ugh I’m sorry,” I laughed nervously. Honestly, why is it suddenly so hard to speak? “I can’t seem to get my words straight today… Yeah, I just think we need to talk about what happened on Saturday because of… well I don’t know… I mean we didn’t…”
“Are you pregnant?” He cut me off. I imagined a touch of sharpness in his voice. He almost sounded irritated at me…
“No, I’m not pregnant but…”
“Then there’s nothing to worry about is there?” He opened the classroom door and entered, letting it swing back and shut behind him. I sort of felt a little in shock. If there was a way to fit the phrase ‘fish out of water’ to a situation then that would have been how I felt I think. It was like I was opening and closing my mouth, hoping words would come out and gobbling for something to breathe at the same time. The air around me clogged in my throat with a sickly feeling. The atmosphere he left wasn’t of the comfort I’d hoped for. It wasn’t of his welcoming arms or his gentle touch, nor his warm smile or kindly voice. It was distant, accusatory and irate. It was uncaring. It made me feel alien from him. I didn’t know if I’d angered him or upset him. I didn’t know if it was my fault or something else entirely. I didn’t know what had happened to make David, my David, turn into this. I didn’t understand. It scared me. With an anxious twisting feeling in my stomach and the numbing pressure of uncertainty on my head I followed him through the door.
I couldn’t focus. We were discussing Shakespeare, King Lear, no less. ‘“Is Edmund a truly Machiavellian villain or is he a victim himself?” Discuss.’ Quite a typical exercise, one I normally wouldn’t have any problem debating over with Elena and David. Only right now the conversation seemed off-balance, ungainly. Elena produced an excellent summation of why Edmund could be seen as a typical scheming Shakespearean bad guy: hungry for power, manipulative, solipsistic, and, of course, a cold-hearted ladies’ man. David countered her, arguing his sympathies; a man labelled as an outcast by no wrongdoing of his own, it was only reasonable for him to look out for himself and take what he wanted by force. And just like that the conversation ran on without me. I sat and listened and thought about contributing and thought and thought and let my mind flood over with thoughts just stagnant in my head. Ugh. I’ve got total mental block. What’s wrong with me? Why does it feel like there’s nothing in my head to say when there’s everything, anything I could say? This doesn’t make sense. I don’t make sense. Not even to myself. I’m spouting nonsense and I’m not even opening my mouth. All the more reason not to open my mouth.
“Suki?” Elena’s voice released me from my spiralling internal monologue. “Are you okay? You haven’t said a word.” She scanned my face, concerned.
“Yeah, I’m fine, I just… yeah I’m fine, I’ll be fine.” I forced a smile and nodded at her as if to convince myself as much as her that I was really okay.
“She’s fine, leave her be, let’s get on with the work.” David turned back to his copy of Lear and Elena with a frown to hers. I also turned to the much-thumbed pages of my copy and wished that perhaps my thoughts would flow as easily as the words on the paper.