Did you know that drowning victims can be the most dangerous? Often they will inadvertently kill their rescuers, because the need to breathe, to survive, suffocates any other kind of understanding.
The battle between life and death is always fought alone, no matter how many people surround you.
He was the one, I was sure of it.
Now to make sure that he knew it, too.
Several times during the week I arranged to be spontaneously loitering near some of his classes, but he never noticed me. Instead his level gaze was fixed upwards in that rare stratosphere known to only very tall people.
Was I already too late?
I spent an entire day eavesdropping in every aisle of the girls’ locker room and all the bathrooms, but he supposedly wasn’t daydreaming about anyone else.
Unless her name was Nintendo.
What the heck was that?
I overheard a thin kid in my science class using the same strange words in hushed whispers: Nintendo, Link, Mario. I bribed him with a smile and a box of donuts to let me come over after school for a tutorial. He and his mom watched as I fumbled through The Legend of Zelda while sitting cross-legged in a short skirt on the green shag carpet of their living room, quietly biting back all the furious curse words boiling on my tongue. After an hour I finally handed back the controller with the sweetest, most innocent smile in the world. “Gosh, that sure is hard to get the hang of!” but neither one of them said a word, just staring at me like an exotic bird that happened to fly in on a wayward breeze.
I let myself out and shut the front door gently, watching them still sitting silently on the couch, the empty donut box between them and the controller dangling limply from his left hand.
To this day, I still wonder if I was perhaps the first girl to ever visit that house voluntarily.
Now I knew enough; I knew everything but how to get him to notice me, to talk to me.
And time was getting short, extremely short. I could feel it, the breath of danger raising goosebumps on my arms, in the cut-eye glances from strangers in the lunchroom and around the quad. It felt like everyone was watching me and…waiting.
Finally, on Wednesday evening I stooped to cajoling the custodian to open his locker, saying it was mine and that I had forgotten my Algebra textbook.
Bingo! A crumpled flyer with directions to Shakey’s Pizza, Friday at 6. Coach Bingley was going to discuss “team business”.
Thursday I invited several pretty classmates to an impromptu slumber party at my house planned for the following night. Girls have always been much more difficult to be friends with, because they want to know everything. But my daddy had a membership to the new Blockbuster Video store, an act that required impeccable credit and possibly a kidney donation. I lured them with Teen Wolf and Fright Night on VHS, with popcorn and ice cream sundaes and the biggest prize of all: the promise of secrets to be revealed.
Damn straight--Shakey’s Pizza.
Wrapping up with Part 5 tomorrow!