Glance/The Other Side
Right now, you’re in India teaching English.
Later, you won’t be.
Last week, he was just another student who didn’t know the difference between us and them and going and gone, until yesterday, when after everyone else left the room, he wrote a Telugu word on the blackboard and looked at you. He had never looked at you that way before. Like a still life with chalk dust in afternoon light. Like a blue flame. As if a swell of water could blush and bite its lip. You asked him what it meant. He said darling and stared past everything that wasn’t you.
Today he’s wearing a pink t-shirt that says, “Enjoy Pussy” in the Coca Cola font and black slacks with no shoes. He’s playing cricket on the hot dust of the school grounds. You tell him what pussy means and he changes his shirt. You dream about him. You come saying his name.
Tomorrow you’ll tell yourself it’s taboo for a reason—he’s sixteen, think of the consequences. Then for several tomorrows your heart will pound like pouring rain. He’ll take your hand to show you how to pop your fingers one at a time. You’ll learn how to say when will you be back in Telugu and you’ll note that the first syllable is pronounced like ache. The power will go off during a class at night and you’ll feel him seeing you in the dark.
Eventually you won’t be in India. You’ll live with your sister and work at a diner and try to rebuild his face in your memory, but it will slip away until his glance is another one of your mind’s many photographs. Then it will go, the way a dream can leave a feeling without a trace of having happened.
You’ll roll the windows down on your drives to the diner and always look at the people in the cars at red lights. On the radio, a woman’s voice says something about the other side of the world.