“Maybe you shouldn’t.”
I say as she kicks the espresso machine.
“Don’t do this to me!” She shouts.
People in the hallway are staring at us. I smile, nod, say hello. So embarrassing...
“You know, Daphne,” I whisper, “assaulting the vending machine isn’t going to help: out of service is out of service.”
She finally gives up. “I know.” She sighs, leaning her forehead against the device. “I’d kill for some coffee right now.”
She suddenly looks so fragile. So tired. I suppose she didn’t get much sleep.
Guess now is not the time to tell her.
“Alright, what’s up?”
She doesn’t respond and starts banging at the machine. I grab her fist.
“Stop that, you’re going to hurt yourself.”
I glance at the big clock at the wall. Five more minutes.
I won’t let go of her by now unclenched hand.
“Did your parents fight again?”
She jerks free and turns her back to me, crossing her arms. I don’t see it, but I know she’s crying and I know she’s trying to fight it.
I lay a comforting hand on her shoulder.
“It’s definite.” She says in a small voice and swallows heavily. “Nothing can be done, they’ve made that very clear, it’s over. They’re going to get divorced.”
“I’m so sorry, Daph.”
She’s silent. I’m afraid she’s going to collapse. What can I do? I reach my hand out to her, but pull back.
Other students left and right dart past us, standing in the middle of the hallway and disappear into the classroom. We wait till they’re gone. We’re running late. I don’t mind. She needs me.
“Do you want to ditch?” I ask.
She shakes her head, drying her eyes. The clinic light bounces off her long dark tresses. It makes me want to run my fingers through them. It’s difficult to keep my hand under control. I put it in my pocket, just to make sure I don’t do anything rash or stupid. She looks so utterly breakable.
She takes a deep breath and pulls herself together. I grimace at her. We take our seats somewhere in the back row. Everything else is full.
The teacher comes in after us and closes the door. We’ve made it in time after all.
He just babbles on, I’ll read up on the matter later myself, I can’t concentrate. He tells a joke or two, I hear the people around us laughing, I’m not in the mood.
I scratch her name into the bench when she’s not looking, cover it with my notes. I’ve written ‘Daphne’ all over the room, throughout every class we’ve ever been to, hoping and fearing that she’d ask about it. Then I’d have no other choice but to tell her how I feel and finally get it over with, but she never noticed. Or maybe she did. There are so many Daphne’s.
I have to find a way to tell her. I take my notebook and scribble all over the margins every possible way to tell her.
I love you, Daphne.
I always loved you.
I long for you.
I can’t live without you.
I love you.
I LOVE you.
I love YOU.
I love you,
I love you.
Is she looking? No. She never is. It has to be today, I must confess to her today. But how? What should I say and when? What if she refuses me? I’ll lose her as friend as well. Won’t I? Then what?
I have to know. I must tell her. I look at her. You can just see how tense she is. I should figure out something to make her more at ease first.
Class is finally over, it seemed like ages. Everyone else packs up in a hurry and sprints out. Daphne just watches them go and sighs. The suspense is building up in me, I can feel my heart pounding in my ear. I can’t let her leave now, like this. I must be brave.
Listlessly, she picks up her bag, shoulders drooping, head down. I can’t bear to watch this happening.
I take her arm, gently, I don’t want to be pushy, and guide her through the door, into the cool evening breeze.
“Let’s go get a drink somewhere, calm you down a bit.”
She just nods, but I can see a faint hint of a smile come over her lips. Those full, moon-shimmering, lips.
We walk the street, I try to determine what to say and how, but having her near is just so damn distracting.
Her eyes are fireflies in the night. They dazzle me. I stare at her, I have to say something, she looks at me in wonder, say something!
I hit my foot against a fire plug – how could I have missed that? – and curse. She giggles.
“You’re so clumsy.”
That wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear from her tonight, but I’m glad to see her laugh, so I do too, despite the pain. It may even be worth the slight limp it got me and that I’m desperately trying to hide from her.
We come across a nice, cosy, informal cafe. It’s nearly empty and there’s a candle on every table. Perfect!
I hold the door open for her. So many beautiful tables shrouded in a romantic glow. She takes a seat at the bar. Damn it!
To be continued... (next part: Friday)