She sat on her bed, the laptop warming the mess of her bare legs and tangled blanket, her ears quickly becoming aware of the only sounds in the unlit room; her mother’s light snoring, the leaves of the tree outside her window blowing in the breeze, and the occasional click of her wireless mouse. Quiet nights often lulled her to sleep; sometimes she fell asleep next to her laptop. And this would have been one of those nights – hair tucked behind her ears, already in her night clothes, the grandfather clock downstairs striking 11 o’ clock to remind her of the land of dreams. That was until her idle exploration of Twitter led her onto his profile, and from the display picture she saw a face she hadn’t seen in three years and hadn’t imagined she would see once again – his. She could see how his face had changed over the last three years, and it felt unreal to see updates from his life from just eight hours ago, when her last memory of him had been from three years back. But she remembers the messages exchanged.
He was lying in bed, thick sleeves reaching the wrists of his long arms and his feet propped up on the bed frame, not by choice but by length constraints. The sky was dark and cloudless outside his window, and the thunder rumbling softly but surely suggested coming rain. Having told his good nights to his parents and two sisters, he turned on his side, preparing to switch his bedside lamp off. He would’ve done so, and he would have fallen asleep almost immediately and slept soundly through the night, if his eyes hadn’t wandered to a dusty photograph that was sitting on his top shelf. It was one of the very few photos he kept of his primary school days – of him grinning and posing for the camera in his sports shirt with his newly attained gold medal from Sports Day, the last year he attended it before graduating. He could picture, once again, his friends and classmates that came up to him and congratulated him, and how he would thank them quickly and feel embarrassed by the attention. Truthfully, there had only been one person he had been waiting for to congratulate him, but she never approached him, and only left her congratulations in the inbox of his phone. But that had been enough for him. Texting had always been the most they could communicate by, besides instant messaging, though he never understood why. And once he started thinking about her again, his brain jolted awake, and the memories came in like waves in high tide. He could only wonder how her life had been the past few years, because he didn’t have a clue how to begin looking for her again, and every form of keeping in touch with her had either been shut down or lost to the wind. But he remembers lying on this very bed, and how wishing her good night was an everyday occurrence.
Twelve had been a weird age for most; puberty suddenly kicking in, worrying about who liked you and who didn’t, and always trying to keep up with who-liked-who in class. That had been what twelve was like for her; growing 5cm and using her sarcastic wit to add humour to her conversations. Her band of friends was small and close-knit; other classmates had their own circles, and they were like planets co-existing but never really interacting. That was how it worked in their class. All her friends were friends with each other, and that was that. But there was one boy who defied the norm, whether he realized it or not. She knew it from the first day when he reached out to her through the cyberspace empire that was Facebook, asking for her e-mail address, coolly adding that he was asking everyone he knew for their addresses, too. Surprised, but thinking of it as nothing more, she gave it to him.
The start of their friendship is a blur of events arranged on his memory timeline haphazardly; but he recalls how he went on Facebook adding all his friends after finally discovering the work of art that was MSN, and how afterwards he bashfully approached a few of his classmates he didn’t really know but didn’t really mind talking to. She had been one of them – the girl who kept to herself and her friends, and spent class time doodling or paying attention. He never had a chance to be near her, let alone find a conversation topic. But he found quiet people interesting, as a break from his loud and rowdy friends.
Everyone used MSN. Everyone around her age that she knew of, at least. Classmates, cousins, and any person she met from elsewhere – they all had e-mail addresses and MSN accounts. She would be online every afternoon while playing Facebook games until dinner, and occasionally they would converse via MSN, which helped where actual conversation failed. She can close her eyes and still visualise the same shade of blue that he used for his words, and how they would ‘play’ bowling and rock, paper, scissors – strange, considering she cannot remember what they would talk about. MSN seemed to provide enough entertainment to fuel conversation where words lacked, and for that she was grateful.
He would talk to her on the more quiet afternoons, when he was free enough to maintain decent conversation. She didn’t stick with one single colour, but he cannot remember what colours she used. Their conversations were long, but he doesn’t remember what they would talk about. Maybe they just talked about school. Maybe just literally anything. He’d like to remember it as the latter. Falling in love was a surreal and grown up thing to him, but he fell as far as he possibly could. There must have been something to describe the automatic smile that lit up his face when she came near. Something to describe his feelings when he found personal hand drawn comics sitting on his classroom table in the morning.
It was called a crush. It was called a crush because it would only crush you, the proverbial saying went. Who would possibly fall in like with a girl that spent her afternoons drawing ugly comics and wore gold glasses? Certainly not the boy who thought she “radiated happiness” and waited patiently for her to finish her two hours swimming lessons on Saturdays. Certainly not the boy who found his eyes wandering from conversations with people he thought were the most beloved. Certainly not the boy who spent almost every waking minute texting her.
Parents became angry. Limits were enforced. Look at these phone bills! Mothers scream. Five messages a day. They grew shorter, quieter, until they almost disappear and he changed his number and they graduated from school. If there was anything to describe that split second where my fingers almost brushed yours and you tried to grip my hand and I fell from heaven into earth, I would tell you in a heartbeat.
But now we live in separate worlds.
(written from 2 september ’13 to 17 march ’14)
the poem version: http://floatingangels.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/unspoken-words/