It's Friday and a chunk of golden chicken drips, cook-marks sizzling on the bottom of melted crumbs shining in the fake light of your unnatural landscape.
Today it was a long, dry chain of multiculturalism, the Great Depression, mapping skills and changing Australia and I'm so glad that the nights of being chained to a desk are over. For the time being. I turned around during after exam and caught you slumped back in your chair. You had never cared about test results and that attracted me to you in a strange, rebellious way.
I asked Mrs Dennett, a teacher who had gone with us on the French Tour, to sign my late note. She said "Of course!" and unfolded the citrus-yellow sheet of black markings and suspicion.
"It's horrible to be back, isn't it?"
"It is," I answered, half of me wanting to elaborate and agree even more vigorously, because she was right: it was horrible, and half of me wanting to just get out of there.
I just got out of there.
I gathered all my belongings and collected my bag from the foyer, where Janelle was waiting for me. I didn't see you in sight, and I breathed in the fresh air. The freshness let me know that you had gone - wherever you were going, I didn't care anymore - because the air was never fresh when you were around. It was smoky, dangerous, flammable.
I walked with her to the buses, although ours weren't there yet, so we started our own conversation which soon attracted five others. Soon I saw you, standing in your own little group to the side of me, and your eyes were on my legs. I felt reckless. I don't know why. Maybe it was because it was Friday and exam week was over. Maybe it was because I realised I was still breathing fresh air, yet you were near. I'm not sure.
But I brushed my fingers against Janelle's for good luck (everything always seemed to go right for her), and I strode up to you and took your hand. It was strange: I felt a grazed spiral of electricity dart through me, originating at our connection. Now that I have had time to think it over, to bake some of the half-cooked thoughts that whizzed around in my head until we parted, I have my philosophy: my feelings for you have a life-cycle of their own. They were born with raging energy, yellow and red and orange fires flaming every inch of me. I used to long for you, and there was desperation in our voices when we spoke on the phone. Then they cooled down and I thought I couldn't live without you, although I could stop thinking about you and escape from your image inside my head. It was a calm, rational sort of feeling but you still meant everything to me. After that, there were alternating times of sensiblility and wildness. There would be days when I would concentrate on things at hand, and days when I would ache and squirm in anticipation for your eyes, your skin, your voice. When you quenched my thirst and we were together, I would feel like I was alight, like you were the burning flame and you were corroding my body in your heat.
Now I suppose it's dying. I dipped into some sort of green water which soothed the burns on my skin, the purple scars and welts inflicted by you. Then I didn't feel the need to see you, I didn't feel as though you were the second half of me like I had previously. I forgot about you, and when I felt your tongue, my skin, heart and mind didn't reach out with long, snaky fingers.
Today. Perhaps that was just a flashback of old times, to give me the chance to dive back into the raging flames if I wanted to. To show me what I would be missing out on. But this time it wasn't desire for your heart, your mind, your words, it was simply a longing for brown body, hot eyelashes and smoked strawberry mouth to satisfy my equivalent.
You turned to me and frowned, looking at me quizzically, and you entwined your fingers between mine and led me away from your friends. I saw them turn around, but you mustn't have cared, because you only led me to the metal fence a couple of metres away. Janelle's eyes flickered over to us, but I didn't care either.
I can remember it clearly; getting scorched along every inch of your skin and getting electrocuted under your nerves does tend to stick in your memory, even if it's only until the evening after.
"How was the exam?" I whispered forcefully into your skin as you ran your fingers up and down the inside of my arm. That burned like crazy, but I didn't show it.
"Fucking boring, you knew it," you replied absently.
I smiled a tiny smile at you and grabbed the back of your neck, pulling your head towards me. Our mouths smashed together: two fleshy labryinths of boiling redness and wetness. I don't know what came over me, but I just let it keep going, and let your hand continue up and down my back underneath my white school blouse for a while, my skin burning madly.
"Let's stop now," I breathed into your mouth. I was beginning to feel self-conscious.
When you didn't I bit your lip hard until you yanked away from me, clutching your mouth and looking at me in horror and fury. I just rolled my eyes. You stood there staring at me and then I shrugged, picked up my bag again, leant over to kiss you shortly and unmeaningfully on the cheek, and got on my bus, which was almost full. I tried not to let myself look out the window, but I couldn't resist it, and there you were, picking up your bag and getting kicked in the shins by your grinning mates.
Now confusion just floods into everything. I don't regret doing what I did; you can't regret anything that feels so good and leaves you with so much power and control. But that doesn't mean that I want to do it again. Maybe your life just doesn't complement mine anymore, the way it used to, without leaving any gaps and plugging all the electrical curcuits in.
The burns fade from my skin now. The dark marks you left, imprinted by your fingers and lips and skin. I'm sorry for every misconception I ever placed upon you, every salty taste I left in your mouth after the beach, every tear I left on your pillow when I couldn't take it anymore and only you sat by me. It used to be a matter of getting up and finding messages from you on my phone and sitting next to you on public transport, feeling the heat of your body on mine as we listened to your discman.
Now it's about white confusion leaking into everything, a result of the combination of memories (acid) and change (base). That leaves us with a salt and a water, which I'm beginning to conclude are tears.
written: Friday 15th October 2004, 9:57pm.