As our eyes met across the classroom, a moment of recognition flickered across his eyes and our gazes locked. Everything just fell away, the teacher, her droning voice, the other kids, the lesson. The teacher was introducing him to the class as a new comer but we barely noticed.
And one thought rose to my mind at that time, so finally you came…
My eyes began to water, I could feel the tears welling up and I knew if I blinked my cheeks would get wet, he slowly shook his head, just ever so slightly, no don’t cry. He broke our gaze and looked down and I saw him wipe his eyes with the back of his sleeve. So finally you found me…
I turned and looked out the window and took in the playing fields and running track. It was a hot summers day and the classroom was getting hotter and hotter as the day was wearing on. Classes for P.E were out training for the coming sports day. The 100 metres race was on and before it even started it had ended, with a victory for one guy.
Suddenly I felt like running too, as fast as I could to anywhere, everywhere, fast as my feet could take me. Anywhere but here, anywhere but this moment, anywhere but in this stifling room, anywhere but here with him.
Get a grip! I told myself but as hard as I tried I couldn’t help but feel confused and disappointed in my reaction. I was annoyed with myself when I was really annoyed with him. In fact not just annoyed with him but angry, no, wait, I was infuriated with him; so furious I wanted to turn round and yell at him. I could feel my legs shaking and my heart beats were getting louder and louder as my feelings were spiraling out of control. Everything was rushing me at once. What the hell!!!
Outside some idiot on the field messed up their long jump; a poodle could have jumped higher and further, what a twat! If you can’t jump why bloody bother? Thinking of jumping, how do I get to the top of this building? Is the entrance locked or will it be open? Where the hell is the entrance! After being at this school for a few years I still didn’t know where it was. It was a six-story building so I suppose it wasn’t a necessity to know where the roof access is, boy I wish I knew!
I stole a look at him and, after introductions he was now seated at the front of the class. All I could see was the back of his head and shoulders. His shoulders were slumped and I knew instantly he was upset, I knew him too well. His hair needed a good combing, it always did. Many a time I would move the hair from his eyes, he had gorgeous green eyes, yet he would keep them covered up. “How do you see through all that hair?” He would just shrug, ruffle his hair and there it would be back in his eyes again.
He didn’t care about hair or clothes, jeans and a t-shirt were all he lived in and un-ironed ones too. His sneakers always had holes in them, I could see them now under his chair, scruffy as hell. Why can’t you make an effort? God-dammit it’s your first day at school!
But just as these thoughts and questions were coming to mind also the answers were coming to me too. Realisations. Who is going to iron your clothes? Who is looking after you? Is there anyone? Are you still running? Running to where? Still running to nowhere?
“You need to stop running!” I’d yell at him after another failed attempt of “escape” There would never be a word from him. “These people just want to look after you, that’s what they are here for. Look at me, do you see me running? One day you are gonna get into some serious trouble.” Just silence from his side, nothing else, there never was. No answers to my questions or anyone elses. Where did you go? Who with? Why? We all knew why though, who didn’t.
Someone fell attempting the 3 legged race with her partner landing on top of her. They were in hysterics and I suppose it was funny, I could hear some of the other kids laughing too. I didn’t feel like laughing, I felt like crying again. He always made me cry. From the first day we met to this day he could so easily do this to me.
I remember the fights we had. Pulling my hair and kicking me. It wasn’t that I’d cry from him hurting me, it would be after when he would show kindness and say sorry for his aggressive behaviour. “I just get so angry at times.” He would try to make it up to me buy sharing his pocket-money and sweets. Saving a place for me at the dinner table. Never letting the other kids push me around. Helping me keep my room tidy. But the outbursts would happen again and again.
Sometimes I would give as good as I would get, the black eye was awesome, everyone kept ooing and aaing and what a Shiner I gave him. He wore it proudly and even said to me, you are getting better! I felt proud of his appraisal and looked forward to the next barney. I had ideas now of how I was going to dodge his first punch and go straight to grabbing his arm and twisting it. It was good fighting with him at times, especially when I had the upper hand and I won. I would be on top of the world while I’d be holding an ice pack to his swollen lip or eye. We would just keep grinning as we would tend each others wounds.
The carers were concerned at our behaviour and it was brought up at the next staff meeting. The decision was made to separate us and keep us out of each others company. ” We don’t tolerate violent behaviour of any sort in this establishment! This home has a good reputation and we intend to keep it that way!”
The following days we never saw much of each other and then one day, Maria, one of the staff, came into my bedroom and told me. I always knew it was going to happen, because he would never stop running.
The bell went and finally class was over, as the kids all rushed out I took my time. I knew he would wait for me, my heart was telling me that he would be standing there with hands in pockets and head bowed. Sure enough there he was, I walked past him, pretending I never saw him. As much as my heart was racing I just couldn’t stop myself from being a bitch. I could feel the anger welling up inside me again and the rage too. How dare you think you can walk back in to my life and act like nothing has happened. How dare you leave without saying goodbye. How dare you leave me like all the rest. How dare you abandon me. How dare you! How dare you!
I started walking faster and faster. Finally. I hear the footsteps behind me.
“Stop!” But I kept walking, in fact I think at some point I ran too untill I saw a teacher and knew I better stop. I went outside on to the steps, went down them and sat on the wall that ran round the school. It was lunch time, my mind was a thousand miles away from food.
He sat down next to me on the wall. We never spoke for a long time. A few times I had to steal a glance to just check that it was really him. I cried quietly, just crying and crying. There was so much I wanted to say, to tell him, ask him. My emotions wouldn’t allow me to speak. Finally he spoke.
“What are they like? Are they good to you?” I just nodded. “I heard you went, finally you got a family to take you.” A sob escaped my throat much louder than I would have preferred. I kept thinking I must look bloody awful. But I knew he wouldn’t look at me, not while I was crying, he never could.
“I’m sorry, I really am…. I know you won’t believe me… I did come back but you were gone and they wouldn’t tell me where… you have to believe me… ”
I stood up, suddenly I couldn’t take anymore. Today it was just enough seeing him and knowing he was here. Everything else could wait. “No! Don’t follow me. I’m going home, I need to go, I can’t do this right now.”
He looked hurt and confused but I knew he understood. This was all too much. The shock. The emotions. I turned to walk home and this time there were no footsteps behind me because now he would wait for me. He will wait as I did all those months, he had no choice. And if he was mines and I was his, he wont mind waiting. I knew one day he would come and find me, my heart knew, my inner voice knew, my whole being knew and now he was here I knew all would be well… He finally found me…