The dutiful scribbling of my pen would loyally fail to betray the sea of thoughts in my head. His thoughts. An urge, like bile rises in me to glance back towards him, which I swallow back. Look up on the blackboard instead, Shireen.
I like my hair in a braid. No, I love my hair in a braid. From where he sits, I bet that all he could see is the braid, if he is willing to.
He never seems to be willing to.
We’re studying something related to Chemical Energetics in Inorganic Chemistry and I’m getting a D this semester. Needless to mention to whom should the blame for that be directed to; technically. Struggling to distract my mind, I adjust my feline glasses and dart my eyes back on the board. And the urge strikes again.
Screw it, just steal a glimpse. I turn around impulsively.
The caffeinating sight of his coffee-coloured mane, I spy first. Everything else next.
From the dreamy hazel eyes to the jaw occupied with shadowy stubble – that thankfully leaves his jawline unperturbed. Those protruding pink lips that could be chewed like a marshmallow, and that tan, lighter than the shade of the milkiest milk chocolate in the world.
Why of course, thank you for the unwanted maniacal stretch of a smile, dear lips, but I’d like it vanished now. Yes, good.
It’s a freaking wonder how I am the only girl around obsessing over Narcissus here. Was it Narcissi or Narcissus? Darn it, stupid Greek mythologies.
The mechanical board-to-notebooks, notebooks-to-board glances roll all around the classroom. I’m stumped and don’t know what’s the worst of it, whether the fact that my wrist has gone irony after endlessly jotting down the chalked letters and diagrams, or the fact that nothing that I have written makes sense to me. I might as well have been trying to decrypt Egyptian hieroglyphics.
I drop my pen with a sigh and navigate my eyes back towards Narcissi/Narcissus to find his determined eyes dribbling in synchronicity with his pen. His tongue is planted across the corner of his lips and he writes on. Everything else fades into the background. It’s breathtaking as to how oblivious is this boy to the wonders nature has endowed upon him. My head leans into my hand as I gape at his Hellenic face. My lips part; I even forget how to blink.
And suddenly then, he raises his hand and Sir Baig points towards him, “yes Zamad, answer,” and he blurts out “By drawing the Hess Cycle.” Accompanying his voice, I feel as if a thick wave of a summer zephyr breezed into the room.
Zamad. Could there have been a better name to go with that face, oh perfect stranger?
“Right!” The professor walks up to the board and chalks some more lines.
I return to glare at him with a slight squint of my eyes this time… and he sees me. At the intersection of our eyes I feel a clang of sword beat against sword in my chest; my stomach goes all acrobatic and then there’s a miserable juggling of breath in my lungs.
I’m never going to the circus again.
I think I feel a stroke of thunder within when he squints his eyes into mine, bemused, his lips twitching – he inaudibly challenges with an eyebrow raise, ‘you sure you know what you’re doing?’ Am I sure?
Goosebumps fall on my skin like rows of toppling dominoes. Just his looks could evoke such anarchy?
Against the plenitude of odds, I dare myself to hold his sight. Unblinking, both of ours glare remain. His brown eyes brand into my darker ones. I feel myself in tatters on the inside; yet I find no feathers of skin shedding off of me before my eyes. Even as I inch into this battle by the second, disbelief of my own feat cloaks me. I’m braver than I thought I were.
My lips feel funny. Shireen, hold yourself together. But I can’t.
I do something with my lips that I think might appear cute, but then he gives me a bulging-eyed look before averting his gaze as if he’s walked in on someone who was undressing. I feel a piece of me carve and die out right then. The loss of electricity, the return of eye-blinks and the normalcy of breathing pattern are the trends I’m no longer thankful for.
“Yes, Shireen… Answer what I just asked.”
I immediately turn towards Sir Baig. He has asked me a question. Another surge of electricity rushes through me, but this one I don’t crave again. “Uhh… Hess… Cycle?” I say in my soft timid voice.
“… I didn’t ask any question.”
There was a murmur of laughter.
I fail to grasp that. “Sir?”
He runs a hand along his bald head and barks out this time, “I didn’t ask any question, Ms Shireen! I’d rather you pay attention over here or I’d be more than pleased to throw you out of the class.” Saying that, he turns to the board again, fuming. I wonder if it was just an illusion of light or did I actually saw steam rising from atop his head.
I don’t care whether rest of the class was laughing. My eyes just tread back to Zamad’s seat… and find his face covered behind his notebook. He parts it slightly and I see the playful laugh in his glistening eyes and a corner of his upturned mouth before he shies away from me. Heat rushes up my cheeks.
That was the most beautiful sight I have seen this week.
Yield Shireen, yield, or this’ll be the death of y-
For once, I snap off the voice in my head like some deity would shut close the Pandora’s box, before giving in to the field of smiles awaiting behind my lips.
I feel a spring blooming in a corner of me where I never thought it’d bloom.