I gauge the time by your shoes. I squint at the back of your worn-down Converse to read what you’ve Sharpied on the tag - some band I’ve never heard of. Your heels are flat on the floor at 7:20 AM. By the time you stand for the pledge at morning announcements at 7:23, you return to a sitting position with a slight tapping of your index finger, maybe the wiggling of a pencil. During our final ten minutes of work time from 7:50-8:00 (you know how Ms. Longworth is always tired in the mornings and gives us work time?), I can hear you tap-tap-tapping on the table while you pat-pat-pat on the floor. Pat-pat-pat, because those shoes are so worn-down on the soles that they’ve lost their slap-slap-slap of new vinyl that they had back in October. It’s February now, and the mornings are so dark that the clock is too bright, and I know what time it is by your shoes.
I gauge the day by your grey sweatshirt. You know, the grey fleece with the collar, slightly darker on top than the bottom? I had one just like it in purple. I’ll tell you a secret - every time I wore it, I had slept in it the night before. It got too cold some nights and I’d pull it on in the dark, feel the fleece warmed by my chest as I tucked my chin into the collar and curled up. And every next morning, I wouldn’t even look in the mirror, wouldn’t even brush my hair. But I would see you, wearing your grey sweater. And I’d think hey, we’re wearing the same sweater. Except yours is grey, and mine is purple. Isn’t that funny? After I noticed our two-person dress code pattern for more than a few times, I realized that every Thursday, you wear your grey sweatshirt.
I gauge the weather by your hair. My walks from my car are dazed, my thoughts and feelings of the climate drowned out by something angsty in my headphones. But your hair; your floppy blonde hair and the way falls a little in your face every day. And your nose, your pointy nose that I know you don’t like; on rainy days, a crystalline droplet drips from your hair and lingers on the bridge of your nose. On misty days, the dampness on your head is more of a hazy sheen than the thick streaks that form on rainy days, dyeing the thickest areas on your head slightly brown. It dried, but slowly enough that by the time you got up and left at the sound of the bell, the tips of each strand had formed a point that dripped down the back of your neck and left streaks of darker grey down your sweater that you wear on Thursdays.
By the time the bell for the second period rings in the speaker above your head, I owe it to you that I can pick up my phone that I grabbed off the nightstand before I left and for the first time, check the clock. I watch as your sneakers pat-pat-pat to your car to take your free second period at the coffee shop on the corner, and I wish I could go with you. When the clock isn't so bright and my eyes aren't so tired, maybe one day I'll tap you on the shoulder and ask.