Schooldays.

It was in the mundane, irksome principal room, Eric wished for the ground to break open for him to reach middle earth. It was ringing in his head…

“Tell the truth, Eric!” Mr Andrew barked.

His mother, Cecile Jones, was nothing less than a mute witness and his clumsy, drunkard father glared, silently oathing to make sure Eric paid for his demeanour. As the pearls rolled, she reached for Eric. He was agile enough to escape, “Leave me you—”

“Eric -!” Mr Andrew walked towards him, enraged.

“Keep your hands off him…Sir!” Cecile cut in defensively. Eric flared up,

“You! Enlighten them…you vitiligo freak!” he pointed at Esther.

A slap was immediately planted across his cheek.

“You black sheep! What’s he saying?” Bob, Esther’s father shouted; ironic that her cupboard was decorated with first prises

Undergone the bruises, “It’s him..!” Esther managed a whisper.

“Esther’s innocent, Sir. It’s him, this rowdy boy!”

Eric could hardly bring himself to believe her words. And gaped at her, bewildered,

“He kissed me first!” She lied.

The lonesome lunches, filled by her presence. The soul being he spoke and shared his lunch, inhibition-less, in the abandoned stairwell. Two of a kind whom the world ignored.

Esther’s classmates evaded to share a seat with her, misunderstanding her disease to be contagious. And she just smiled comprehending their illiteracy. Whilst she clicked her heels for being extra-ordinarily different, Eric held collars of everyone in his posse and sat with stitched eyebrows throughout the day, merging in Esther’s solace. And it was just in no time the hearts grew fonder of each other, best friends as they called themselves.

It was one of those days when Esther color coded a whole mathematics chapter for Eric to fathom the most rudimentary concepts. They skipped their post-recess periods to execute their  long worked-out plan. “These” Esther pointed “are to be added” She went on ranting all the concepts, rules, sometimes deviating she mumbled her deepest thought and emotions. How she dealt with her family…when abruptly Eric, who was a keen, minute observer, came closer offering a consoling hug. “Esther..I understand…”. It was almost an inaudible whisper,she smiled,wearily. In the blink of an eye, there was softness curling down and passion brewing up in the crux. Though realization crept in, it was hard enough to let go when Esther’s hands were curled on his shirt and Eric leaned in. Incredulous of what she did, his vision shifted from Esther to the dilapidated stairs, to his own torn boots eventually. And Esther stood perplexed with a pounding and engulfing heart. “Eric -”

Eric’s mouth made a little ‘o’ shape, catching her fleeting expression of horror, about to say something. However, he just picked  their textbooks up and she knocked him down with a feather,”What made you do this Eric?!”

“What?” He let out with a shell-shocked regretting smile.

He climbed a step and Esther swiftly departed evading his presence.

While images floated inside him and his ears went numb, there were public display of emotions- his mother defending him, momentarily quaralling with Mr. Jones; momentarily mentioning about their dissolving marriage. Bob quarreled with each one and Julian held Esther to her heart. Eric on the other hand ambivalently gaped at her with his swollen eyes.

“Look at him, shameless creature!” Bob barked.

“Yes sir, it’s me.”said Eric,”its my fault. I kissed her” Bob heart lit a bit,”See sir.”

“That’s what you want. Isn’t it?” while everyone ignored him retrieving the ‘truth’ it was highly audible to Esther’s ears. She stopped sobbing, looking down. He shoved his hands inside his pockets and walked windlessly out.

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