“Can’t you see I’m sick?” said my aunt reading a newspaper on a sunny morning in the winter season as leaves from the trees above her, fell one by one on her lap while she sips her morning batch of alcohol without paying attention to what I had to say.
“I’m hungry,” I said thinking she might sympathize on a hungry thirteen years old kid who contrary to the popular believes, still thinks that his aunt, the only living relative he has, loves him no matter what.
“Look kid, I’m not feeling well and it’s time for your school. So why don’t you get dressed and for today, share lunch from one of your rich friends” she said turning a page and pretending to cough. It bothered me when she called me a kid but not a son. My mom died in a car crash when I was three and I never really knew my father. My aunt was the only family I had but I didn’t say a word as my best friend always shares her food with me even though she doesn’t eat mine.
“Let’s bunk today,” she said as I walked to her house and waited for her to get ready so that we could go to the school together like we did every day.
“We can’t do that. If my aunt finds out, she won’t give me anything to eat for at least a week.” I said being terrified of the punishment my aunt gave me the last time I made a mistake.
“Oh come on silly, nobody will notice if you miss one day out of every day,” she said knowing our school hardly cares about their students as much as they care about their fees.
“What if our class teacher asks me for a signed application from my aunt regarding my absence?” I said as that’s what usually our class teacher says when you’re absent without prior application.
“That’s perfect,” she said remembering the coincidence that today our first class in mathematics. “We’ll attend math’s class, give our attendance and then bunk the entire day”.
“No, please, it’s too big of a risk to take,” I said as all I could think of was the horrifying hunger I felt the last time I didn’t finish my homework. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to escape that sickening punishment.
“Oh come on,” she said pressing both of my shoulders and closely looking into my eyes with her beautiful blue round eyes. I’m usually bullied in school because I’m not as strong as other kids but I would very much like to know who was strong enough to say no to those eyes. “I told my mom today is my friend’s birthday so she baked me a cake and some fried chicken.”
“Ok, fine” I yielded to those eyes.
We did as we planned and after the first class when everybody left for the computer lab, we stayed behind and decided to leave through the back door of the school. Everything was going according to plan until we saw a security guard watching the back door.
“This was a mistake,” I said like a chicken.
“Don’t chicken out like that” she said thinking of a way another way out. “Wait here,” she said with a smile on her face and headed straight to the ladies washroom near the back door.
“Wait, where are you going?” I asked but I was too late for her to listen. ‘Why did she go to the washroom?’ I wondered whether it was the same reason I wanted to. I then heard a noise, quite similar to breaking of a light bulb and saw her rushing out of the washroom and hid with me. I couldn’t understand a thing but it all became clear when the guard got up to check out the noise.
“That’s brilliant,” I said.
“Thank you, now let’s go before he comes back,” she said pulling me with her as she ran through the door.
“Now where?” I asked knowing she wants to go to the waterfall inside the jungle I told her about. For days she would hold my hand and keep asking me about it, then she would hate me for being the only one who knew about it. “Why don’t you come with me on Sunday? I’ll show you that waterfall” I asked her every once in a while as I couldn’t understand why can’t she come with me if she wants to hear so much about it. “I can’t, my mom and dad don’t allow me to go outside with someone else” was the only answer I got out of her before she changed the subject every time.
“You know where!” she said smiling and taking a breath after she ran pulling my shirt until we couldn’t see our school anymore. “I want to see that waterfall you keep talking about”.
“Ok,” I said smiling “let’s go”. I headed towards the forest near our school. I was leading and she was following. She stepped only where I did and followed me without a complaint.
“How far?” she asked after we walked for about half an hour and couldn’t hear a sound of a raindrop.
“Almost there,” I said wondering whether or not I’m heading in the right direction. It wasn’t too long before the ground became wet and a few minutes later we could hear the sound of water trouncing the rocks. She was overjoyed and ran toward the source unaware that in doing so she was getting mud on her expensive shining shoes.
“This is so beautiful,” she said as she stood on one of the rocks watching the waterfall from as close as she could. “Get off from there,” I said as she was too close to the fall. “It’s dangerous and the rocks are very slippery”. “Don’t worry dad, I’ll be careful” she said sarcastically looking at me with a smile nothing can frown.
I was happy as for the very first time I felt like I did something to make her happy like she made me, every day when she shared her lunch with me. I dropped my bag where she did and climbed onto the rock she was standing on, held her shoulders close to myself to keep her from falling. She then turned around and hugged me, thanking me for this blissful moment of her life. She then kissed me on my cheek, climbed down from the rock and ran towards the end of the waterfall, taking off her shoes, dipping her legs in the chilled water and started splashing water towards me, asking me to come and sit next to her.
I did as she asked and dipped my toes in the water. “It’s freezing,” I said as she curled her arms around mine and kissed me on my lips. My heart started to beat like of a racehorse and for a moment, gravity-like its concept became illogical as I felt like I was floating in the air. It was the most wonderful moment of my life as all the troubles and worries just disappeared into the mist.
“Something wrong?” she asked as I was too busy to think how I felt to kiss her back.
“No, no, it’s just, I have never kissed a girl before,” I said and instantly regretted anything I said beyond ‘no’? I then stopped thinking and kissed her back, unceasingly for as long as I could. It was the happiest day of my life and far more beautiful in every way I could have imagined. She then took her feet out of the water, turned around and sat on my lap while she curled her arms around my neck like I did around her waist and we kissed and kissed like neither of us had anything better to do.
“I love you,” she said.
“I love you too,” I said in an instant.
We ate the cake and the chicken as we kissed and kissed and played with water.
“I want to swim,” she said sitting on my lap with her arms around my neck and her leg stretched out on the rock while my hands around her waist and my legs dipped in the chilled water.
“Water here is freezing and because you don’t have another set of clothes or a towel, you can’t get your clothes wet but most importantly, do you even know how to swim?” I said pointing out the numerous reasons why this was a bad idea.
“Okay, maybe I don’t have another set of clothes or a towel but I do know how to swim”
“How? You took swimming classes?”
“No, my dad taught me.” She said “didn’t I tell you that we have a swimming pool in our house?” she wondered.
I knew they were rich but I had no idea they were that rich. “Nope,” I said “You know, we have been best friends for almost two years and yet I have never set foot in your house”
“I know,” she said, “My mom hates it when people come over but don’t worry I’ll talk to my mom and maybe then you could come inside my house and maybe in my room.” She said kissing me again.
“Your dad and our principal are good friends right?” I asked thinking if I do get invited to their house maybe her dad will help me one day if get into any trouble.
“Oh, they are more than friends. Dad told me that three years ago, our school was about to shut down as they couldn’t pay taxes and fees to the teachers. But dad offered the school board enough money for everything. They even started our computer lab and the gym with that money. Our school became famous and now every student wants to study in our school.”
I was surprised to hear the story. I had no idea her father was that rich. ‘No wonder she never gets into any trouble’ I thought. She then kissed me again and suggested we should leave as the time for the school was almost over.
“This was fun wasn’t it?” she asked in a manner suggesting she wants to do it again.
“Yeah, but it’s too risky”
“I’m not saying we should do this tomorrow silly, all I’m asking is we should do this at least once a month,” she said and kissed me again and again until I agreed with her.
“Ok, fine but we have to be careful.” I finally gave up knowing I didn’t really have a choice.
We then packed our bags, wore our shoes, dusted off anything that might suggest we spent the entire day alongside a waterfall and then we marched towards home holding each other’s hand. Step by step it was becoming the perfect day until I saw someone following us the moment we stepped out of the jungle. I didn’t tell her anything because I didn’t want her worry but just told her to walk fast so that we could go home and put an end to this wrongdoing.
‘Whoever he is, has been following us since we walked out of the jungle that means he knows that we bunked the school today’ said the detective inside of me. I asked her to walk faster and she became worried enough to do as I asked but not enough to ask me why. My heart was beating faster with every step we took. We walked as fast as we could with our tiny little feet’s but it was all in vain as the man caught up to us, squeezed my shoulder to stop me and twisted my biceps until he saw my face. ‘Holy shit! It’s our class teacher’ I thought as the blood drained from my face.
“What do we have here?” he said as he got a closer look at both of our faces. He was surprised when he saw her and realized that dealing with her without consulting with the principal won’t be a good move for his carrier. “Come with your parents tomorrow,” he said and let us go.
We didn’t say a word and just went our separate ways. All I could think about was how to tell my aunt that I was caught bunking the entire day. Every time my angelic side pushed me to stand up and reasoned me to do the right thing but the devil inside me suggested to delay as there’s a slight possibility that her father could handle this and save both of us. The longer I thought, the weaker I got and I finally succumbed to the devil. I couldn’t sleep at night as all I could think about was what will happen when I show up in the principal’s office all alone. I then sneaked down from my window and ran towards her home hoping I might be able to see her and she would tell me how her father will handle the matter tomorrow.
I saw a light switched on the moment I stood in front of her house. She opened her window on the first floor and threw down a ladder for me to climb up. We then kissed and she told me that everything will be fine tomorrow. For some unknown reason, I started to shiver but I was puzzled as the windows in her room were all closed and the radiator was working properly. It was difficult for me to ignore as I was still shivering and she felt nothing. Then I opened my eyes and saw a window in my room swung open by the blowing wind. ‘It was all a dream’ I thought as I closed my window and set the radiator to a higher temperature.
The next morning, I followed my usual routine like a good boy and headed straight for her house. It was locked which I assumed meant that she’s already in school with her parents. A sudden ray of hope brought a smile on my face and I took it to my school. I was called into the principal’s office the moment I stepped inside my class and like I expected she was there with her father.
They all turned their heads the moment I stepped inside. “Where are your parents?” asked the principal.
“I’m an orphan sir,” I said hoping he would sympathize on an orphan. “I live with my aunt and she couldn’t come”. I could see that the principal felt sorry for me but not enough to say anything about it. Her father turned back towards the principal and said.
“You see what I’m talking about? This kid is a dirty fish and if he stays here any longer, he would pollute the whole pond.” I was taken aback as I thought the man who was going to save both of us is throwing me under the bus. “Look at my girl, does she really looks like the type who would bunk an entire day? This kid forced my daughter to bunk the school so that he could misuse her money.” These wild accusations were something I couldn’t imagine in my wildest dream and yet it was happening right before my very eyes. “My decision like I said before is final, either you let my daughter go or I’ll look for someone else who would like me to invest in their school,” he said and sit back waiting for an answer.
Even after everything I heard, I didn’t care as I knew our principal wouldn’t let his money go to someone else. ‘It was only a matter of time before he caves and let us go with a slap on the wrist’ I thought. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was a con, he blamed everything on me but the principal can’t punish both of us differently for the same mistake, so he would let both us go with a warning. My theory didn’t make a lot of sense but there was no alternative. Our principal thought about it for a while and then finally said: “Why don’t we let the kids tell us what really happened and then we would decide what to do.” He said and turned toward me. “So, did you force her to bunk with you?”
I was outraged by this false allegation but I kept my feelings at bay and said: “absolutely not, it was a joint decision”. I lied knowing it was all her idea.
“He is lying. He forced me to go even after I told him that I didn’t want to go. He is lying. He forced me.” And that’s when my heart skipped a beat. Every word she said were like a bullet to my stomach. Not enough to kill me in an instant but enough to kill myself trying to numb the pain. I heard her clearly but I couldn’t believe a word of what she said.
“Do you now believe that my daughter is innocent? He forced her to bunk and like I said before, you have to make a choice, my daughter or this washed up kid” and there it was the same sorry look on the principal face. He had a choice to make in which he didn’t have any choice. I was too broken to say anything in my defense, so I was dismissed and asked to come with my aunt the next time I come to school.
I wandered around unaware of where I was going with my heart shattered like a broken mirror. ‘I love you’, ‘I love you too’, ‘No, no, it’s just, I have never kissed a girl before’, ‘don’t worry I’ll talk to my mom and maybe then you could come inside my house and maybe in my room’ those were the most beautiful moment of my life and I witnessed it becoming my worst nightmares. Her every touch felt like an electric shock, her every kiss felt like suffocation and her every smile reminded me when I thought I saw a ghost. My most precious memories of her became the most horrifying story of my life.
I walked and walked until I realized I was standing on the top of my worst nightmare. I could see the rock which she climbed on when she saw the waterfall for the very first time, I could see the rock where we kissed for the very first time and then I looked down as I was standing on the edge of a waterfall which filled a bottomless pond. I had to make a decision and like our principal, I too didn’t have any choice.