A S h o r t S t o r y
B y A l e s s a n d r a “ A l i ” P a m e l a F r i t z
P e r i o d 5 , D e c e m b e r 4 t h , 2 0 0 5
When she saw him the first time, she thought nothing of him. He was just another person on the bus, waiting to get where he was trying to go, another shadow taking up a more convenient seat that could have been hers. She never really thought about who was on the bus with her, only about the seats that had been taken, the seats that could have been hers. The only time when she did think about who was on the bus with her was when she did not really care about wherever it was she was going, in which case, it did not matter very much anyway, as she was only trying to fill her mind with whatever would come. Felix cared about where she was going that first day, because once she got where she was going she would be able to forget about everything she should remember. She could forget where she was going once she got there. What she was doing seems very simple if you do not think about it, but if you do, it is as far from simple as concrete is from breathing. She was going home after a long day of school. She did not think of anything, except for being able to forget once she came home. When she was home she did not have to think about the waiting.
But he was on the bus every day after that, and it came to be that some days Felix did not want to go home, she wanted to stay in the middle. She wanted to stay where she was going somewhere. She never wanted to reach her destination because she feared it would not be as wonderful as she would like it to be. So she noticed him, and she thought something of him, somewhere between thinking about the old lady with the garbage bag and, after he left, the little girl who would not stop moaning and grasping at her mother. When Felix thought about him that day, she noticed three extremely peculiar things about him. She would later notice more.
The first extremely peculiar thing Felix noticed about this boy was that he was the only boy on the bus that day. She wondered why, then figured it was probably only a coincidence.
The second extremely peculiar thing Felix noticed about the boy was that he had one blue eye and one dark brown eye. His blue eye was the color of chlorinated water during the summer time, like joy and poison together at once. His dark brown eye had no other word to describe it but mud. Mud, mud, mud she thought, mud after a long hard pelting cold rain when you’re only walking to nowhere. Felix smiled. She wondered for a moment if he had ever stared at someone the way she was staring at him. Adjusting the shoulder strap of her book bag, she decided she was only bored anyway, so it didn’t matter. Then she turned her attention back to him, because he intrigued her far more than he would probably ever know.
The third extremely peculiar thing Felix noticed about the boy was not important at this time, as the moment she noticed it, this strange boy, his mud and chlorine eyes focused on her dull hazel ones. He raised an eyebrow and grinned at her. And then he pulled the signal wire for the next stop. He left the bus before she had the chance to reciprocate his smile.
The next morning, Felix accidentally spilled fruit punch all over her project for English. Surely she would fail that class. Fruit Punch does not come out. This project was big. It was worth thousands of points. She figured she might as well give up. And then after school, she walked on the bus, and Felix saw him right away. She made sure she sat in the seat across from his, and stared at him intently. I have been thinking, she thought, and I need to know. It took her a while to gather up the courage to ask him.
"What's your name?" she inquired.
"Zayn," he replied, shutting the book he had been reading close with a force so powerful it made Felix jump. "What's yours?"
Felix stared at him for a moment. "Zayn." She paused, pondering to herself the meaning of this boy named Zayn, and if he would solve the problem of her waiting. "That's a strange name, isn't it?"
He raised an eyebrow and grinned at her, the same way he'd done the first day she noticed him. "Your name is Zayn, too?"
Felix shook her head, and pulled the signal wire for the next stop. She did not know how to speak to this boy. She feared him. He refused to stop raising his eyebrow and grinning at her. He found her amusing, she supposed.
This became a daily routine. Felix would have a very bad day at school, only to him on the bus, raising his eyebrow and grinning at her. At first she would return his smile, but then refused to look at him because he found her oh so amusing. She pretended as though she had something extremely important to do, like arrange her wallet or fiddle with the locket her great grandparents didn’t need anymore because they were dead and gone. Eventually Felix became curious, and she thought she perhaps had imagined all of this after all, so she searched for him and then she found him a couple seats farther back than he use to sit. He looked pale, much more pale than he did the day she first noticed him, with his shoulders slumped and his head cast down. She worried about him even though she did not know him. The third extremely curious thing she had noticed about him was that she felt as though she had known him for a thousand years.
"Zayn." She called out to him. He looked up at her. "My name is Felix. But I can be Zayn, too, if you want me to be." He stared at her for a long moment. The chlorine in his left eye washed into the mud in his right, and the mud in his right washed into the chlorine in his left. He stared at her far past his stop, far past her stop, far past anyone's stop. Then he raised his eyebrow at her and grinned.
"I love you", he said. They pulled the signal wire simultaneously, and after the driver told them where they were stopping to make sure they wanted to stop there, they walked together to nowhere, fading in the pouring rain.