All holidays, all gruelling six weeks of enforced family time, I waited, heart open.
I’d seen next year’s classroom list, and you were on it.
This was it. I’d waited three years, but Year Ten was the prize. You were going to be in my class. Finally. I was going to be able to sit next you, maybe. Feel your aura.
I’d been quietly in love with you since I first saw you in Year Seven, in your green chequered school uniform (mine, an invisible grey), laughing with other girls about who knows what. A sparkle in your eyes. There was a snorting sound you made, that the other girls were afraid to make. You seemed so unafraid.
And each day, those three long years, you accumulated inside me. Every time I saw you in the playground, each time I saw the back of your head at assembly, every time one of your pieces of art was up in the glass-fronted display cabinets in the North Wing corridor, my sedimental love for you grew stronger, grain by tiny grain. Soon enough, I was almost crushed under the weight of all this love.
Unseen, unspeakable. A silent and heavy love.
I was of course nothing. I was a hairless, high-voiced nobody. But I knew, I knew, that, once you got to know the funny, interesting, thoughtful, love-brimming person inside, you’d grow to love me too. And now, we were getting that chance.
(Breeze’s friend Katrina approached me one day in the corridor, made some giggly announcement that Breeze liked me, did I want to hang out at lunchtime? I laughed, shook my head: I was already taken.)
Three years of accumulating desire. Not hormonal lust, I knew it in my heart. In my fantasies, I had sex with every girl in the school, except you. You were reserved for something more important. This was the kind of connection I’d read about – the stuff of destiny. I had a throne ready for you, in my spirit.
And of course, the first day of Year Ten came, and, of course, you were nowhere to be seen.
Over the holidays, you’d transferred to a different school.
Leaving just a space, your size and shape, in the heavy silent stone of my heart.
Years later. Hair on my balls, a man’s larynx. Booze and nihilism. Sharehouses and unpaid utility bills. Pizza boxes and bongs and sticky carpet.
I’d slept with a bunch of second bests. Your throne was covered in a layer of dust, and I barely even felt the silent obelisk in my heart: what the high school kid had found so heavy, this man found easy to lift.
And then, lining up to take a shot at the rickety old pool table at our local, suddenly I hear your voice, out of nowhere.
“Hey,” you say, sipping a mojito, “haven’t we met?”
And all the dust is blown away, and the weight almost brings me to my knees.
“Hey,” I gulp.