“Ah, damn it,” I thought.
“Just a white shirt . . .”
Again I caught myself in reverie, staring lazily and unfocused out of the library window, my wrists wresting awkwardly on the corners of the neglected book that lie strewn out in front of me. I looked down and stared at it, bored, passively gazing past the print on the page, until the page seemingly had nothing on it to read at all. It frowned at me with a kind of impotence, like it could feel my growing disinterest in it. It was almost as if the book were disappointed in me for my lackluster effort, disappointed in itself for not stimulating me. “What do you want from me?” I thought at it, angrily, waiting for an answer. But it just sat there, feebly, unmoving and unresponsive. “Ah, I understand,” I said to it in my head. “You’re giving me the silent treatment.”
But could it blame me?
Earlier, it seemed to reprimand me for drifting off, occasionally catching the soft skin of my wrists on its sharp corners. I would start, and try looking down at it to concentrate on the top of the page, but the words would again, softly grow unfocused, and seem to drift farther and farther away, until I was staring out of the window again.
Looking for her,
in a white dress.
When she introduced herself to me, I thought she said her name was Maria.
“Maria?” I asked, like a fool, too busy getting lost in her smile, contrasting brightly against her flawless dark skin. I was too busy staring. I wouldn’t have caught a single word she said to me.
“No, Marina,” she corrected me, pronouncing it slowly and smiling even wider, our hands still locked in that first primordial handshake; which was lasting a queer amount of time.
“Oh wow!” I interjected, like an idiot, our hands still locked, swinging repetitively up and down, like monkeys across vines in the jungle. “God Damn it Joel,” I thought to myself. “Let go of her hand and blink; she’s going to think you’re trying to hypnotize her the way you’ve been gawking . . .”
“That’s such a cool name!” I said, dazed, pulling my hand away and shoving it hastily into my pocket, as if I feared it would spring to life and of its own accord, latch on to Marina’s hand and devour it.
Marina, I thought. How fitting a name for a girl, talking to a boy, who lives on an island.
“Thanks!” She said politely, smiling again, further forcing my knees to buckle together with a kind of nervous fervor I have never known.
“Your blowing it Joel,” I thought to myself, as my tongue slowly began to dry up. “Say something Joel, anything is better than nothing at this point. She’s going to think you’re an idiot if you just keep staring at her. Speak up damn it.”
“Well, I’m gonna . . . head back over to my stuff, ya know?” I managed to choke out, while my mouth filled with sand. I rocked back and forth from my heels to my toes, struggling to think of something else to say. “Gotta uh, Gotta hit those studies – I mean, hit those books!”
“Joel, you’re a fucking moron.”
“Well,” She said, raising her eyebrows and pursing her soft lips. “It was nice to meet you, uh . . .”
“Joel!” I exclaimed, like a chimp excited about a banana. I couldn’t believe I forgot to tell her my name. Maybe it was for the best though now that I think about it. It’s less rude to ask somebody to go away if they know your first name. She could have had the wherewithal to just say, “Oh I’m sorry Joel, I don’t mean to be rude, but I really have to get some work done here, so why don’t you go consider fucking yourself?” With my name in there, it actually sounds kind of polite. Better that than, “Listen, uh, whateveryournameis, why don’t you just go fuck yourself?” At least staying anonymous bought me some time with her.
But she didn’t need to say any of those things. I had excused myself. She just re-extended her hand out to me and with another big smile said, “It was nice to meet you . . . Joel.”
Dragging my hand slowly back out of my pocket to wipe off any extra sweat that might have collected on it, I calmly placed it back into hers, and gave her one deep nod with it. Than, bending my knees backwards as if to push myself forward, I leaned in and said, “The pleasure was all mine.” And without another word, hurriedly rushed back to my desk in the corner of the library by the window, burning from the embarrassment.
“Really Joel, the pleasures all yours? Gimme a fuckin’ break.”
I peered over my cubicle occasionally, trying to catch her looking over in my direction. She did, twice, smiling each time as I darted my eyes away, trying to make it look like I was reading. But I wasn’t reading. I was just thinking about things I should have said, instead of the things I did say.
“The pleasures all mine?” Really!? I should have just shrugged it off when she said it was nice to meet me. “You’re goddamned right it’s nice to meet me. Do you know who I fucking am? I am Joel baby!”
Girls like bad Asses right?
God and that excuse I made to stop myself from talking . . . “I’m gonna go hit those studies?” Kill me. I should have worn a suit here. That would have been cool. Than I could have said, “Yea well, it’s been a real pleasure to meet you Marina, but if you’ll excuse me, I have to go save the fucking world.” God that would have been awesome. Than She’d raise her eyebrows at me again and go, “Oh wait! Let me give you my number before you leave!”
“Thanks,” I’d say. “But don’t get your hopes up about me calling you. I’m usually too bad ass to call chicks.” And then I would have climbed up the ladder that my spy helicopter would have dropped down for me, and disappeared into the afternoon sky. But none of these things would ever happen.
Here’s what did happen.
Marina rose from her desk, gathered all of her books and tucked them under her arm out in front of her, staring down while she pushed her chair in with her free hand. I watched her, the blood draining from my heart as she walked over towards the double doors that led out of the library, her frame burning permanently into my head - the same way the flash from a camera burns itself onto the back of your eyelids as you smile like an idiot in a dimly lit room. I remember everything about the way she looked that day. Her billowy white dress, laced at the bottom, clinging delicately to the curvature of her body. Her long, thin, tan legs, silhouetted through the thin pattern of the fabric. I remember her hair, sweeping down over her smooth freckled shoulders when she looked down to read. Long, sunny, brown, blonde, and lustrous, casting the light off of its sheen like the sun reflecting light off of still water. With her books in her left hand, she brushed the hair out of her face with her right, taking the long thin strands and tucking them behind her ear, revealing her long slender neck, and her exotic dark eyes. Everything about her was graceful. And classy, and elegant, and alluring . . . and a million other adjectives that I can’t seem to think of. With a strong stride, she walked out of the library and marched past my window, decidedly not giving me another glance, as she disappeared out of my life.
So, I have been trying to read today. Trying to forget about Marina, as I have been coming back to this library every day now for six weeks, looking for that long hair, and those freckled shoulders, and those dark eyes, and that flawless dark skin. Again, I stare at my book.
“Even if you have the wit to look by yourself in a bush away from the other children, there many bell crickets in world. Probably you will find a girl whom you bell to your clouded wounded the world is only you will remember that beautiful dancing off a girl’s written.”
. . . Until I was staring out the window again,
looking for a white dress.