Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Crushes crush...sometimes

“Hey Naruto,” I placed a pile of books on the counter.

“Tshering,” she nodded, without looking up from her game of Clash Of Clans. The streak of blond highlight in her black tight curls stood out in the bright light of the library. In her effort to look like a 3D anime character, she’d donned on a yellow jumper. Only, her ears were pierced, with black statement earrings hanging from them, and her nails were painted metallic black. 

“I brought some more books,” I said, tapping a thumb on the pile. 

She put aside the phone and looked up, her thin almond eyes rimmed with smudged khol. She made a fairly gothic Naruto. “Let’s see,” She flipped through my set of The Fallen series – which mum had ordered from Amazon because she felt bad about suddenly taking off to Delhi – at the same time chewing at her lower lip. “They’re pretty new. You sure about donating ‘em?”

“Sure,” I shrugged. “I’m done reading. Love to share.” 

“Suit yourself,” she said. “I’ll let them know.” 

I turned to look around the library. For a charity public library, it was a reasonably large hall, with aisles of shelves running the length of the walls. In the middle were wooden tables where a few after-school readers had books flung open before them. On one of the walls was a big board that bore the library’s slightly cheesy name: Bookworm Paradise. Beside that was another board that read, ‘Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body.’ I walked to my favorite shelf of fiction. 

After running a finger over the spine of the books, I picked Aum Kunzang Choden’s The Circle of Karma up. Then I realized that there was someone on the other side of the shelf. I casually peeked through the gap. My heart jumped. It was Rigsel. He was bent down over a book in his hands, his guitar slung over his shoulder in an attractively careless manner. 

He suddenly clasped the hard-cover book close and walked round the corner towards my side of the shelf. I quickly opened the book on a random page and put it up in front of my face. The letters whirled before my eyes. 

He carefully slid the huge book back in its place. Then there was a knock on the book I was holding to my nose. I swallowed, and lowered it. 

“Uh, hey?” Rigsel smiled down at me. His messy hair had sloppily fallen on his eyes. “I’d be grateful for a recommendation.” 

“I didn’t know you were into books,” I blurted out. 

He chuckled. “Don’t let the band fool you into thinking I’m a typical high school girl-coaxer Greek God,” his band’s logo ‘MackFlix’ was monogrammed on his grey sweatshirt. 

I wanted to scream. ‘What kinda books do you read?’

He shrugged. “Percy Jackson?” 

I grinned. “Then you’ll like the Hunger Games trilogy. Girl’s P.O.V. but they’re pretty kickass. They’re probably in that shelf over there,” I pointed at two aisles away to the right. 

“Right-O,” he smiled, and left. 

When I pushed open the door to my sister’s room, there was a fluttering feeling inside my chest I couldn’t quite ignore. Lhaki’s room was an explosion of bright pink. The walls were amateurly painted fuchsia, soft pink curtains draped over the windows and the bed sheets were a mixture of pink and white. Posters of The Beatles, Zyan Malik and Gigi Hadid stared down from the walls.

“Are you going somewhere?” I asked as I entered the room.

“No,” she stood up from the stool that was in front of her old vanity table, and turned around. “Do I look like I’ve put in a lot of effort?” 

I ran my eyes down her.  Her straight black hair was curled into beautiful loose curls. She was wearing a floral top paired with frayed jeans. Her big round eyes were lined with black liner, eyelids painted pastel. Even in such a casual attire, she looked tall and stunning, her skin an exotic olive brown. 

“Lose the earrings,’ I said, sitting down on the bed. ‘And the eye shadow.”

She instantly slipped off the feather earrings, and sitting back down on the stool, she worked at rubbing off the eye shadow. 

“No really, what’s going on?” I picked up a sweatshirt that was lying on the bed beside me. “And since when are you into heavy metal? I thought you liked Paul Mc Cartney.”  

She stood up – now minus the earrings and eye shadow – and walked across the room towards me. “People change, sweetheart,” she said, taking the sweatshirt from my hands and smiling down at it. “and feelings fade.”

“I still don’t see why you’d have a local boy band’s logo monogrammed on your favorite sweatshirt,” my voice somehow sounded edgy. 

“I think they’re cool,” she said. “Those boys.”

“No, you did not the last time I checked,” I said. “I remember you laughing at their band name.”

“MackFlix, literally meaning a furry raincoat,” she smiled with a mild amusement. “But now I think it’s pretty cool. A furry raincoat would keep you warm on the inside.”

“Not if the fur was on the outside.”

We burst out laughing. We were interrupted by a ring at the door. Lhaki abruptly stopped laughing. She gave her hair a last pat, flecked invisible dust off her jeans and turned to me. “Do I look OK? Like, okay OK?”

I ignored her question. “Am I missing something?”

She bit her lower lip before letting out a string of jumbled up words. “Guitarist coming over Rigsel MackFlix.”


She took a deep breath. “MackFlix’s guitarist Rigsel is coming over,” she said in a quiet voice. My heart dropped to my tummy. 

“Right,” I swallowed. “Because?”

“I’m dating him?” she raised her slim shoulders into a tiny shrug. “Oh tell me it’s okay with you.” She said with pleading eyes.

“Mum’s going to kill you,” a small ache crept up my chest.

“Not if nobody tells on me,” she reasoned. “You won’t tell on me, right?” 

I didn’t say anything for a while. “You’re too young. Rigsel is sixteen.”

“I’m fourteen,” she retorted back defensively.  


“Oh I don’t believe you,” she eyed me incredulously, like I suddenly sprouted horns and gills. “I’m letting Rigsel in whether you like it or not.” She walked past me and out of the room. I followed. 

“How long have you two known each other?” I asked as she reached forward a hand to open the front door. 

“One week,” she answered through gritted teeth.

“One week!” I hissed at her accusingly. “One week, Lhaki.”

“That’s seven days,” she rolled her eyes. The door opened. 

Standing at the threshold was a tall guy with exhausted hair, a guitar hoisted on his back and a crooked smile playing about his lips. “Hi.”

“My, my,” I smiled up at him. “Look what the cat dragged in.”

His crooked smile disappeared. I snorted inwardly. 

“There’s no need to be sarcastic, Tshering.” Lhaki’s voice was smooth as honey, but there was an undeniable edge to it. 

“I’ll leave you two birds on your own,” I said, slipping past Rigsel and getting out in the open. 

“Where are you going?” Lhaki asked, sounding hurt. 

Without answering, I turned around and walked away. Rigsel did after all turn out to be exactly that: a typical high school girl-coaxer Greek God.

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From "Die Mitte der Welt"

It's one of those hot, sky-blue days that taste of vanilla ice cream and summer and future, when your heart beats faster for no apparent reason, and when you're prepared to swear any oath that friendships never end.

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