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Empty Infatuation

I can still remember the day I saw him for the first time. It was near the end of middle school. I hunched over in the corner of the locker room; pulling up my faded peach, one-piece over my lengthening legs, up until it covered my body. The suit sagged a little and puckered due its loss of elasticity and my loss of weight. This didn’t bother me. I ran like a little kid excited to play in the water after a long cold winter. They lined up the girls against a wall facing the pool. The chlorine smell excited me. My eyes wandered the plain aqua walls then stopped short at the sight of the boys lined on the opposite wall. A wall of bodies; bodies to make you hot around the ears; bodies sallow, bodies suntanned; bodies that vary in every shape. But he stuck out. It was like looking at the world with dilated eyes. There was too much light, though only when I looked at him. I remember rubbing them and looking up again. The effect was the same. I can’t really tell you anything else that happened on my first day of swim practice, except that it was also my last.
The next day Kaden died. I remember being angry at my mom. Kaden hadn’t been planned, but apparently that did not make him less loved. I had secretly believed she liked the idea of her being able to have child more than actually raising one. When mom let go of Kaden, her love went with him into the coffin.
What I’m trying to say is my whole life was like living in a walking coma until I met Hanan, and it wasn’t till next school year, freshman year, that I saw him again.
***
I am in a tree, a pine tree to be exact. Excluding the sap pines are preferable. You can see out pretty well but it’s hard for people to see you. I wouldn’t want my peeping to be interrupted by someone gaping at me now would I? Not that that’s what I’m doing. No this is more observation than peeping. I think this for two reasons. One, when he gets undressed I turn away. Everyone deserves some privacy, and besides I have that first memory of swim practice to keep me company. Two, I interact with him at school. This isn’t the closest I get to talking to him and some how that makes this less creepy to me. Now you’re probably wondering: why do I even bother to observe him? The reason is the infatuation of art. I’m sure it’s happened to you. You see a painting, or hear a song and you can’t get enough of it. So you go back to the museum, or listen for it on the radio, but it’s never enough. It has you captivated, so you finally give in and buy a print or purchase the song and finally you can enjoy its blinding beauty whenever you want. I can’t purchase Kaden, and the amount of time I see him in school isn’t nearly enough. Not for art of his caliber. Sitting here I have the best seat in the house. Hanan never leaves his room from what I’ve seen. Every time I go to his house he’s always in there reading, or doing homework or sleeping. Today he turns on his stereo before sitting at his desk. I settle in and my eyes adjust to him. Life is razor sharp, just the way I like it. I can see every pine needle; every drop of sap glistening on every pine cone, but I mustn’t get distracted. Our time together is always so short, too short to waste on foliage. For the first time I notice there’s a phone in his room. I only notice because I hear it ringing and Hanan is now reaching for it. He answers and I see his face illuminate with happiness. I feel my stomach drop because I wish I was the person on the other line causing his delight. He continues smiling and talking until I just can’t take it anymore. Once in a while your favorite work of art will hurt you. I know others have experienced this. Right now I feel pathetic how can I ever compare, or hope to yearn. How can the art connoisseur ever hope to possess a Van Gogh?
I am running to my home in my miserable state. It isn’t very far, but I take a slow pace. Then an even slower one as I pass Seth’s house. Like I predicted he comes sauntering out from behind his wooden fence. I stop in front of him, and he offers me a smoke. I say no like I always do. This is our tradition; he is the only one who knows where I disappear to for hours at a time. Seth was the one who first taught me to climb trees when I was little in his back yard. Seth always used to beat me to the top of trees but I’m pretty sure I could take him now. He’s a freshman in college and doesn’t have times for such trivial things nowadays.
“So,” he asks, “Still peepin’ on Hanan?” I look down. He always knows how to help spoil an evening.
“Yeah, I guess you could say that,” I say. I’ve given up correcting his use of the word peeping.
“I still don’t understand that.” Seth shuffles his feet then shakes his head. “Hanan is the most depressing person I’ve ever met, ever since freshman year. He’s always just blended in, as shades of gray often do.”
My mouth involuntarily falls open. I’ve been so used to sharing with Seth without scrutiny that I probably would be less surprised to hear my diary call me pathetic. My first instinct is to start running again but instead I take a good look at Seth. I look into his eyes and they are hopeful and guarded at the same time.
“Look I didn’t mean to hurt you but I don’t know what you see in him.” Seth speaks these words in a pained mutter. Seth gives me one last look of confusion then disappears behind his fence.
Visiting with Seth today was a bad idea, but at least he got something off his chest. As I think this I trudge through my front door. Inside my dad is watching TV and I can bet my mom is doing the same, just holed up in her room. I walk to my room and glare at my reflection with the lights off. My large pupils, so much like me, stare emptily, attempting to soak in some illumination in this dim room.



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