You were at the back of the room.
I didn’t know how you looked.
But I knew that you liked to draw.
You weren’t in the casual class pictures that we took from time to time, or so I thought. You were not friends with my friends. I don’t think you had any, really. But I was at the front each time. And yet, somehow, I met you one day.
You were big and tall ― I did not expect it, based on how you sit in class. You have a lopsided smile that leaned to your left side, as if you couldn’t move your right. Your hands had veins for trails, and so did mine.
Your hair leaned to the left and I could see a faint scar on your temple. There were days when you’d stay seated in your chair and I wondered if you’d get up at least once between breaks.
I sat beside you. The class seemed bigger whenever I did. I would go there to watch you draw. Lines on paper looked abstract until you finished each piece. Messy, I’d say, but all of them seemed to have purpose. I can’t say the same for words, but you’d say otherwise.
I thought that I might have found what I’ve been looking for.
You said you liked me.
I had a lump forming on my throat by then, but I still sat beside you. Each time, I noticed something ― a chipped tooth, uneven skin tone, a dry part of your lip, and a mole on your neck. And there were some things I wouldn’t understand, like how you stayed silent when I got closer, or how you swallowed when I left.
I noticed you staring and how longer your stare would last each time. You had light brown eyes and, sometimes, the sun’s light reflected on them, giving them a shade of fine hazel. But then you’d frown and say nothing.
We sat there, staring at each other, as if time told you to stop for a moment to look at me. You wouldn’t blink, and for a moment I’d worry. But then your embrace would follow and, for a second, I’d let my guard down.
Then you’d ask me to show you things, like a scar or a mole. I did, but you’d see a patch of darkened skin and pulled away. Then I left, a trace of me lingering in the air. I let it stay there, though I don’t know why. I sat at the back of the room in this new school ― the class seemed bigger that way. I eased the lump in my throat by humming to myself. The noise of the room faded into the white wall until it became white noise. Then something caught my eye and I think I saw a flash of white light.
There you were at the front of the room.
I did not know how you looked.
But I knew that you liked to sing.
Need more great reads? Check out these pieces by MockingOwl Roost contributors and staff.
A. L. Sarino
A. L. Sarino is an emerging writer hailing from the Philippines. They are currently studying Creative Writing at the Philippine High School for the Arts in scholarship. They love to immerse themselves in literary and political analysis, aside from reading as a daily ritual. Their first book titled “Sa Ngalan ng Gula-gulanit na Gunita” is set to be released on August 2023.
Find more on A.L.’s Instagram.