I go to class, you know, English class, in the basement of the C building. It’s the really old-looking building with all the silverfish in the lockers. I’m glad to get away from my girlfriend; her name is Menteuse. She’s French. We practically live together. She’s all into math and science, and I take history, geography, politics, drama, and anything else that isn’t math and science. We’re engaged, which is kinda weird. I asked her to marry me, and I meant it, but I don’t think I really love her. I kiss her, and it feels like nothing at all. It reminds me of eating corn. It sustains me, but it doesn’t make me feel anything. It’s like I love her, but she doesn’t make me feel like my mind is going to explode if I don’t see her for a day. I would be sad for a long time if we broke up, but once it was over it, I wouldn’t care. I wouldn’t ever look back again.
I loved this one girl before, named Frai, also French, but we didn’t treat each other well, so that was that. I would kiss Frai, and I wouldn’t think about anything else. If I was mad at her or she was mad at me, we would kiss and everything was all right. We would kiss and my heart wouldn’t speed up or slow down; it just stopped. In those moments, I knew that I had to be with her forever. I think she knew it too, but we just couldn’t do it.
I sit two seats behind Frai in English class. She is the only good thing about English class; well that and it’s the last class of the day. I sit there and imagine her with her clothes off and with her clothes on. I imagine us holding hands, kissing, and doing everything else. The best time of my life was the day it was just the two of us walking around downtown. She held my hand everywhere we went, and it was so nice. She made me feel like there was nobody else that day, like nobody else existed, just the two of us. Now, I sit two seats behind her, reliving that moment over and over in my head.
Everything else about English sucks. The teacher drones on in a Charlie Brown teacher sort of way, and there’s an idiot behind me, who I think is named Michael, but I want to call him Todd, even though he doesn’t have the stupid haircut of someone that would be called Todd. Anyway, this Todd or Michael guy is a huge dick. He keeps poking me and pinching me.
“Todd, knock it off. Leave me alone.”
“My name isn’t Todd. We’ve been in school together for 4 years. How do you not know my name?”
Todd continues poking at me.
“Listen, Mike or Michael or whatever, keep your hands off me or I’ll kick your ass.”
“I know your name Ryan. Why don’t you know mine? I’m not Michael or Mike.”
As if I care. I’m not a violent person, but I hate guys that should be named Todd, and I sure would hit a Todd in the face if I ever got the chance. The very next time I see Menteuse, I’m going to say goodbye to her. I’m going to say goodbye to her forever. Even if Frai doesn’t want me – even if Frai never wants me again, it’s the right thing to do. I can’t love Menteuse, and I can’t stop loving Frai.
The bell rings, and I jump out of my seat and rush out of class as soon as I can, but it’s the C building, so I’m in a line of slow people who are saying hi to each other and blocking the stairs in front of me. I feel a poke and a pinch behind me. Todd. I turn around with my hand balled tightly into a fist.
“I’m tired of you Todd.”
I stop just before Frai’s face, but she’s looking down at the ground so she doesn’t even notice.
She looks up at me with a big, friendly, gentle, sweet smile and asks: “who’s Todd?”
“Todd is just some guy in class that bugs me. I was going to hit you. I thought you were Todd.”
Frai giggles a little, a sweet little giggle, before she says: “there’s nobody in class named Todd.”
There’s nobody behind us on the stairs, so we’re not being Todds by standing there, but I still don’t want to block the stairs for anyone else that might come up behind us, so I make room for Frai, and we walk next to each other. My hand is rubbing up against her hand. Her hand is rubbing against my hand. We both want to hold hands, but neither of us wants to make the first move. It should be me. I’m a coward. We both open our hands, so they kinda accidentally slip into each other. Neither of us lets go. If only the staircase weren’t so short. I kiss Frai on the cheek and say: “I have to go deal with something. I’ll see you soon.”
Frai heads off for the buses, but I see Menteuse, so I go over to her. She starts to walk, so we’re moving towards the buses as well, a fair distance behind Frai, but I can see her there, just like in English class, just out of reach, just outside of my reality. Frai has something in her step, something happy, something loving.
“There is something I wanted to chat about,” I say.
“Oh, me too.”
Menteuse grabs my collar and pulls me down to her kissing me passionately on the lips. I taste corn, always corn. I look up ahead at Frai. She looks back at just that moment, the very moment Menteuse kisses me. Frai turns around quickly and starts speed walking forward like one of those older ladies in the expensive yoga pants that make their big butts look muscular. There was a big shift in how she carried herself. She was upset, hurt, and I did that.
“What did you want to talk about?” Menteuse asks
I stop for a moment to let Frai get some more distance. I don’t want her to have to see Menteuse with me.
“I just wanted to tell you how beautiful you were.”
A lie. A simple lie from a simple coward. I figure there is no point now. Frai had ruined things with me, and I had ruined things with Frai, but this time was different. We felt that strong connection. We felt that moment together. We knew in the moment walking up the stairs that we should be together forever, and I betrayed that. I betrayed the truest feeling that we had together, and she saw that betrayal. It wasn’t deliberate or spiteful, but it was cowardly.
Suddenly, I couldn’t remember what Todd looked like. I couldn’t remember anything about him. I just knew that Todd didn’t seem so bad anymore.