Saturday, December 16, 2006

time will reveal pt. 3

part one
part two

watching damon walk towards us was like watching a raindrop cascade down the face of a window, a drop from heaven gliding down a path that led him straight to me. i adjusted my glasses on my nose so i could get a better look at him, the blood thundering through my veins as i stood there wondering what he was thinking. by the time he reached us, i had covertly adjusted my skirt at least ten times and was fighting the urge to scratch around the band-aid on my knee.

"wassup," aswad said as he leaned into damon and they did their secret handshake. damon was looking at me as he answered. his eyes widened fractionally.


my lips tilted slightly as i tried to play it nonchalant despite the fact my heart was racing furiously.

"hi," i said, noting the bemused look on his face as he continued staring at me. was he surprised? happy? disappointed? what did that slightly dazed look on his face mean? i didn't stay around to figure it out, straightening my shoulders and adjusting my backpack on my shoulder as i walked past him.

"see you guys later."

i could feel his eyes on me as i made my way to a group of girls near the school entrance. renee, my old nemesis who had long since become one of my best friends, was standing in the circle of bodies waiting for me to get to them. all of the girls turned their heads in my direction and a few of the mouths dropped in shock. by the time i made it to them, i was fighting the desire to run my hand across my nose to see if i had a booger hanging from it.

"uh," renee started as she ran her eyes from the top of my head to my knees, her gaze hovering pointedly at my skirt, "hey, nikki."

the circle was silent. four pairs of eyes were looking at me, anticipation crackling from their skin as they awaited what had to be a juicy explanation for my attire.

"hey, y'all."

i lifted an eyebrow haughtily and pretended nothing was different. i wasn't about to volunteer any information. they were gonna have to pull it from me. realizing this, renee spoke again.

"so um, when are you gonna tell us why you're wearing a skirt?"

tina, jackie, and claire's giggles followed on the tail of renee's question. i rolled my eyes and let out a big sigh of aggravation.

"why is everyone so surprised i'm wearing a skirt?" i asked exasperately as i broadened my stance and placed my hands on my hips, "you're acting like you've never seen me in one before!"

the girls just continued staring at me, their eyes growing saucer-like as my growing anger amplified my voice.

"dang girl," tina responded with irritation, "why you getting all mad at us?"

"we're not saying you don't look nice in the skirt," claire added quickly, ever the mediator, "but it's not 'awards day'..."

"and why would you wear a skirt today with that ugly bandaid on your knee? it clashes with everything," interrupted jackie, ever the smart ass, "you should have done us all a favor and worn something to cover that thing up so we wouldn't have to see it."

i looked at jackie, squinted my eyes warningly, and silently counted to ten as i reminded myself for the millionth time not to let her get to me. she'd always found a way to work my last nerve like it was a prostitute and she was its pimp trying to force its old and shriveled form onto a nauseated john for one last ride. more times than not i just wanted to smack her in the mouf and be done with it, but she'd been renee's friend since they were in first grade so wherever renee was, there she was.

after i finished counting, i breathed in deeply, exhaled slowly, then deliberately turned so that my back was to jackie when i spoke to renee.

"i'll tell you later in class," i said to her, feeling the heat from jackie's fuming gaze torching the hair on my head.

ignoring her, i made a slow stroll towards the front doors of the school just as the bell rang. i looked over my shoulder to see if renee was behind me and my eyes locked with a pair of light green irises a few feet a way from me. irises the color of diaphanous envy.


so intent was i on staring at him i forgot i was still walking. as i cross the threshold i caught the tip of one of my brand new seba.gos on the slightly raised iron strip on the floor and tripped forward, bumping into the person in front of me before landing on my knees. my bookbag swung from my shoulder and hit the floor with a loud bang, books and papers ejecting from the hole on the side. silence punctured the din as everyone in the crowded foyer turned to gawk at me. then it came. undulations of laughter, giggles, and whispers rolled towards me from all sides. they crashing into my confidence like an ocean's open handed smack against the vulnerable cheek of a beach, the sounds gorging through the surface of my composure, leaving behind grooves as their frothy fingers retreated with grains of my spirit caught in their cuticles.

and then the kids were moving forward as if nothing had happened, walking over and around me as though i was nothing more than a crack in the sidewalk they avoided stepping on in order to prevent breaking their mothers' backs.

i wanted to kick 'em all in the kneecaps.

a second later renee and the girls were surrounding me, protecting me as the crush closed in as i sat there on the floor. aswad was down on his knees wrapping his fingers around my glasses as damon bent over and began shoving my school books back into my bookbag through the tear in the side. tina and claire helped me up, renee brushed the dust off of me, and jackie stood there with her arms folded across her chest, shaking her head disapprovingly. i bit my tongue to stop myself from snapping at her.

"girl, you alright?" renee asked with concern as she straightened up to face me.

"yeah, i'm cool."

i gathered the remaining grains of my composure and used them to soak up the embarrassment pooling within my posture. i stiffened my spine and lifted my chin a notch. at the same time aswad was handing me my glasses and damon held my bookbag on the end of his outstretched arm. i grabbed both items and a small smile limped onto my lips.

"thanks, guys."

aswad and damon shrugged and said nothing, then left the group to head to class. we all turned to watch them, my covert gaze of longing stuck to damon's back.

"that damon is really cute," said tina. i turned and looked at her in surprise.

"damon? cute?" i stuffed nonchalance into my voice, "i hadn't noticed."

"girl, you need new glasses then," claudia replied in reproach, "cuz that boy is fione."

renee was listening to the exchange, a pensive look on her face as she continued staring in the direction of the retreating boys.

"i've never seen a boy with eyes like that," she finally said matter-of-factly, "he's definitely a cutie."

i was getting angry again, but i couldn't let them know that.

"is he cute enough to be your boyfriend?" i asked, perhaps more interested in her answer than i cared to admit.

"HECK naw!" jackie interjected with disgust, "he might be cute, but he's still in the fifth grade!"

i turned to jackie with my temper barely held in check.

"did i ask you? no, i didn't, so shut up."

renee stepped in between jackie and i, aware of where the exchange was headed.

"don't you two get started." she grabbed my arm and pulled me towards our classroom, "you know mrs. perry be trippin. see y'all later."

tina, claire, and jackie turned and headed to their respective classes located in the opposite direction. my knees felt raw, the bandaged one throbbing more acutely after my fall. i was limping by the time we got to mrs. perry's classroom at the end of the hallway. the peel of the first period bell rang out just as we plopped into our seats next to each other, breathing heavily from the rush to get there. as mrs. perry began attendance, renee leaned over and whispered.

"are you wearing a skirt cuz of ronald?"

i gasped in horror. surely she wasn't talking about...

"ronald jackson?!?" i whispered incredulously, "HECK naw!"

renee snickered.

"well you know he likes you, right?"

i got the beer face...or in the case of a 12 year old girl, it was more like the 'so.ur kids' face. either way, my face was crunchy looking after that revelation.

"for real?!"

"nikki indigo!" mrs. perry yelled from her desk at the front of the room. i started as i heard my name being called for roll.

"HERE!" i exclaimed.

she pointed her perturbed look in my direction.

"i know you're not talking in my class are you?"

i straightened my posture quickly, swallowing the lump of her disappointment in my throat.

"yes ma'am," i said softly, "sorry ma'am."

she stared at me a second longer before continuing with the roll call. as soon as her eyes left me i slid down into my seat and kept silent, searching the room for ronald's petite frame. there he was sitting in a seat next to the window. he was looking at me as he winked slowly. i just stared. ronald and i had been good friends for years, spending hundreds of hours playing basketball on the courts behind the school. back when i was in the fifth grade and only taller than him by an inch or so, i'd had a crush on him, but he only saw me as his basketball buddy. then i shot up three inches over the summer before sixth grade and suddenly ronald was too short to ever be my boyfriend. he was still cute and one of the best basketball players in school, but his head barely reached my shoulder. i felt like an amazon around him. he was my friend though, so i didn't want to hurt him. a whisper of a smile touched my lips as i looked at him before turning my attention to my bookbag.

i pulled it onto my desk and stuck my hand into the hole on the side, rummaging around for my english book. i started pulling papers out of the bag, not paying attention to them as i tried to locate the book. my hands finally landed on it and i yanked it out and placed it on the desk. as i started stuffing the papers back into the bookbag, i saw a torn piece of paper flutter to the floor. i reached down and grabbed it, pinching it between my fingers as i read it.

"you look beautiful"

it wasn't signed, but the words were neatly written, just like those from the recent letter now etched deeply into the walls of my mind..


i glanced around the room feverishly, wondering how the piece of paper got into my bookbag. then i remembered him putting my books in my bag after i fell. i started grinning stupidly, turning to renee as i did so. she raised both brows and mouthed "i told you!". i shook my head at her, hurriedly shoving the piece of paper back into the bag.

"pull out your homework assignments from last night," mrs. perry said as she stood up and came around to the front of her desk, "we'll go over it first, then move on to the next chapter in today's lesson..."

when class let out an hour later and renee and i were walking in the hallway towards our next class, i was still wearing the remnants of the stupid grin on my face.

"so you ARE wearing that skirt for ronald!" said renee excitedly, "I KNEW IT!"

"NO WAY!" i exclaimed, "he's too short for me and you know it!"

renee pinched her lips and looked at me skeptically.

"i saw him wink at you in class," she had stopped and was crossing her arms over her chest, "AND i saw you smile back at him."

"smile back at who?" claudia asked as she stepped up to stand next to us, a questioning look in her eyes as her glance ping-ponged between renee and i, "who did nikki smile at? is that why she's dressed up today?!?"

renee looked at me with the gossip grin sticking to her face like maple syrup and i knew then nothing i said would help the situation.

"well first, ronald winked at her," renee dished out, "then she smiled back, then she looked at me with the cheezy smile on her face and then she was smiling for the rest of class!"

i rolled my eyes and prayed for patience.

tina and jackie walked up to us just as renee's tale ended. tina saw the gossip grin still sticking to renee's mouth and leaned in quickly.

"what'd i miss?!?"

i scowled at her but said nothing. i couldn't tell them the real reason anyway. if i admitted i was wearing the skirt because of damon, smiling because of damon's note, there was no telling what social repercussions i'd suffer. so instead i turned to renee and waited for her to speak.

"WELL..." she started as she gathered the girls in close, "FIRST ronald smiled at nikki and then..."

i would spend the rest of the day fending off inquiries about me and ronald and the skirt i was wearing and vehemently denying any connection between the three. meanwhile by the time school had let out, the story was that ronald had dedicated the game ball from his league game to me and that i wore the skirt cuz i was letting him know i was ready to be his girlfriend and subsequently we were supposed to meet behind the school for our first kiss.

needless to say i was pissed by the time i found the girls outside after school. i grew even more angry when i realized i hadn't bothered to bring a change of clothes so i could shoot hoops with my boys.

"this SUCKS!" i wailed, "first the ronald stuff and now THIS."

renee was unsympathetic.

"stop acting like you don't like him," she said, "the whole school knows you two are together."

i turned and glared at her.

"this is YOUR fault! if you hadn't spread that lie in the first place i wouldn't be going through this right now!"

i was yelling at this point.

"i didn't lie!" said renee indignantly. she started counting off the points of her air-tight argument, "one. ronald DID wink at you."

i sighed and nodded. tina and claire giggled. jackied 'hmpffed'.

"two. you DID smile back at him."

i gritted my teeth and again nodded.

"three. you were grinning all during class."

now there i wavered. i mean, how could she prove that? renee however, didn't give me time to answer.

"i saw you girl, you can't deny it."

i closed my eyes, clinched my fists, gritted my teeth...and nodded begrudgely.

she went in for the kill.

"so it's obvious you like him and THAT'S why you wore the skirt, right?"

i winced, swallowing her flawed logic until it settled in my stomach like an ulcer. i opened my eyes and saw ronald and some of his boys had joined the group. i wasn't sure how much of the conversation he'd heard, but i saw joy in his eyes and i didn't have the courage to snuff it out. i shuffled my feet a minute as i contemplated what i should say.

"yes," i finally whispered into the hushed silence.

and that's when i noticed a pair of light green eyes looking at me. eyes the color of diaphanous envy now darkened evergreen with hurt.