March 4, 2010

Six Weeks

It was six weeks before I really got him to talk. Six weeks of nothing more than hi and hello and I’m fine and it was good and I’m going to get a coffee, I’ll see you after class.

It was pathetic, really, the entire situation. I’d arrive at the platform a quarter of an hour before the train arrived, and he’d show up twelve minutes later, clutching a paper bag, a newspaper, and a briefcase, looking for all the world like a businessman who had woken up one morning in an adolescent’s body and a teenager’s clothes. We’d exchange the slimmest of pleasantries before staring desperately into the distance in search of escape.

When the train arrived, he’d find the seat, but I’d sit first. He’d extract a bacon egg and cheese sandwich and a bottle of Tropicana orange juice from the paper bag, flip open The Wall Street Journal, and, aside from the greasy shifting of the sandwich, and the crinkling of the newspaper, and the rumbling of the train, there was remarkably little noise. The news was bad, and school was good, and his weekend was fine, and his class was interesting, and there was no statement that could not be compressed into a single word.

I hated it. I loathed him for ignoring my search for other students to sit with and I fumed every time he merely nodded in response to a question or comment. I stared pointedly out the window until the trees whipping past became too much for my eyes, and I let them shut, but I stayed awake, too angry to sleep.

I’d deliver a fast paced monologue on how awful he was each day when I arrived at class, the words exploding out after being pent up for so long. Before I started the final one of those twelve silent rides, I was ranting about how utterly obnoxious he was at the exact moment that he appeared behind me. I didn’t swear. I didn’t drop my bag, or start stuttering. I didn’t give any indication that all that he’d just interrupted a conversation centered on how annoying he was.

“Hi,” I said.


“You’re late.”


“It’s alright,” I said, but it wasn’t really.

We got in a cab and stared out the windows while the cab-TV blared, and we arrived at the station and stood on the platform, and he fingered his worse-for-wear newspaper, and I stared desperately into the wind, my hair flying about my face, hoping for a train, and soon there was a train, and we walked on and sat down and pulled out our ipods, and not one word was said.

I stared out the window as we tilted over the first bridge and rode through Rye and Mamaroneck and Cos Cob, strange towns that sounded like the bread in those disgusting heart-attack sandwiches he ate each week.

I was angry at him, so angry, and all he’d done was do nothing.

We passed over the second bridge, and the river glistened with the light of the low hanging sun, and the little boats stood in the water, and the houses sliced the threes into carefully ordered lots, and the docks broke the water into cells. A boy stood on a dock, wreathed in a pale gold light. He was gone before I could see if he was moving, before I could tell if he was even a he, before I could see more than that he was all that lived within the perfectly cut squares, and in that moment, I loved him. I loved him, and I would jump from the train and chase down the dock and run to him and hold him because his little bit of golden life was perfect.

An instant later, the boy and river and the houses were gone, and I looked back over at him, the him on the train who didn’t speak, and I hated him, and he hated me, but here we were within the aisles and the windows and the businessmen, and I knew that, next week, the seventh week, we were going to talk.


Gretchen said...

very different, but i like it!!!

hmm, i'll get him to talk to you *crack knuckles*

Tea said...

haha. He talks to me *now.* This is about last year, and I wrote it for an English essay. We had to use a bunch of Hemingway's rhetorical devices. I did polysyndeton, nature imagery, and sentence length variation, and I think it's kind of about friendship/the meaninglessness of life/nature, and that's what we needed.

vicky/bruney said...

ugh! I hate knuckle cracking! Hiemlech does it all the time!

hahaha, mario is just like a business man. sometimes at starbucks I see him randomly talking to men 3-4X his age while at the puffy chairs...

Ginny said...

I understood nearly none of the rhetorical devices you mentioned. Nonetheless, I am very happy that we're going to be reading Othello soon, and I hope (although it seems a little unlikely, but I still have my hopes) that we're going to read Hemingway as well.

I hate knuckle-cracking as well. And Dino did the clicking thing with his calc notes today, which annoyed me so much.

I think Mario's preparing himself for whatever he's going to do with his future.