That’s it. I’m doing it. Come on. Rob sat alone at his table. Others sat at tables around him but none bothered to acknowledge his presence. He felt like a ghost. The ultimate loner. You can show them who you really are. Show them all. His mind fantasized; playing over and over the events which he wanted to take place. In one scenario he was belittled, made a fool of and shamed for trying. In another though he was a king, a hero, heralded as being brave enough to act. His fear kept him riveted to his seat, afraid to find out which of the two would occur. You do this all the time. Stop being such a baby and just do it already. He felt his chest tighten. His palms became slick with sweat as had the rest of his body. He was losing his cool, not that he thought he had any. Rob slid his hand into the pocket of his long black trench coat. A talisman of sorts sat at the bottom of this pocket. An object which filled him with the power he needed. As he gripped the cold metal, a surge of electricity ran through him. It energized him, gave him the strength of ten men. It was the cure-all he needed.
Rob procured the item six months previously. It sat in an unlocked box, unused and unknown. It once belonged to his Grandfather. Rob remembered him telling the story of how he came by it as he battled through the jungles of Korea. For it only to be left, forgotten about, after his death. He knew it had power. He knew it had the energy to change lives forever. When Rob took it he hid it well in his own bedroom. A New Balance shoe box, he felt it was secure enough. There were no prying fingers of younger siblings and his parents trusted him enough to never snoop where they shouldn’t. At times when he felt disillusioned by the world around him he would slide the box out, take off the lid and gaze upon it. He wished to use it but felt too afraid of the consequences.
Shit, she looked. Is she laughing at me? Rob’s gaze met hers for the briefest of moments. He could have sworn she stared for a moment longer but that was impossible, surely. Why would she look at him? He was a nobody in her eyes while she was a somebody in his. In his short sixteen years he had loved her for five of them. They met in junior high and had shared several classes since. He could remember being her science partner, explaining convoluted theorems while she listened intently to his words. What he thought was intent listening was most likely silent laughter. Still his heart soared at the sight of her. Her oval face, dark skin, big brown eyes and sensuous lips sent him over the edge of reason. Her body was perfect too. What he would call perfect, while fashion magazine would not be so kind. Everything about her made him feel whole, filling the void that he knew only she could fill. Keep dreaming, never gonna happen.
The weight of his thoughts crushed his dreams. He continued to gaze at the table in front of him, allowing the world to pass by. The object contained within his jacket now seemed to pulsate. It wanted out. It wanted to be used. He had resisted using it this long but he knew he couldn’t last much longer. The time was close. He could feel its grip on him tighten, whittling away his will power.
Two months ago he practiced using it. He rode his bike far from home to a wooded area he knew. There he practiced unbeknown to the rest of the world. Here they couldn’t see or hear him. It was his place of solitude. Solitude by his choice and not social hierarchy. He began to enjoy using it, making several more trips to his secret place. He felt he was becoming proficient, at least enough to do what he now knew he had to do.
Rob caught a look of derision from one of the powerful in the societal hierarchy. The sportsman. Lauded as kings of the world for their ability to achieve athletic feats he and most like him never could. They looked down upon Rob and his kind with a superiority that society enforced as normal. Rob didn’t hate people for who they were. He did hate the way they treated people for who or what they were. She would surely want one of them. One who is strong, handsome, talented and desirable. Rob thought they were cavalier, gaudy and empty. Rob had his positives, he was smart, he was loyal and he was virtuous. His ideas came from books not life’s experience. He knew the object in his possession could be used by anyone. But Rob was the one who would use it for the right reasons. He would show them who he really was.
OK, it’s now or never.
Rob pulled it from his pocket and placed it onto the table in front of him. Nobody seemed to notice. Was he that unnoticeable? It didn’t matter any longer. His heart began to race as he put into action the plan he’d had in his mind for weeks. He needed to dry his sweat drenched hands or else it would slip from his grip. He rubbed them on his jeans preparing for what would come next. He picked it up and went with his gut. He would let his emotions guide him now. He remembered his Grandfather saying to him when he was a child, ‘It really is mightier than the sword son, so use it wisely.’
Rob smiled at the fond memory and began writing. He thought of her and how wonderful it felt. He let his thoughts and feelings flow through his arm and into his Grandfathers pen. A pen found on the jungle floor all those years ago. Rob had written many lines of poetry at the thought of her but today it felt different, more powerful because today he’d show her who he really was. The words came fast, emanating from the pen like wildfire. After a minute he was done. It was complete. He read the lines over twice and knew they said what he wanted them to say. Reading them caused him to believe. To believe this could work. With confidence and vigour he stood, paper in hand and walked towards her. In his mind he couldn’t believe he was doing this. Who was he, who had he become in the last few minutes, this brave soul now so unafraid. Rob made his way across the bustling cafeteria. He could swear people looked at him, actually looked at him as he walked. His unprecedented confidence drawing their attention. There was only one which he cared for. As he neared her he nearly faltered, her brown eyes turned towards him but he’d come too far to change course. He steeled himself enough to reach the rest of the way.
“Hey Rob, what’s up?” she said. Her alluring voice music to his ear.
Wait she knows his name. He felt his new found bravery being sapped by some unseen force. He had to act quickly.
“Hey, erm, I just wanted to give you this.” He handed his meagre lines of longing to her. She took them, a slight confusion in her eyes and began reading. Oh Jesus, what had he done? He was going to be the laughing stock of the entire school. Rob felt himself shrink in size the longer she read. The man who walked towards her a moment ago had become a boy once more. His face flushed red as she began to smile. Her friends looked at him with questions -who gave him the right to walk over to them. She’s gonna laugh, she’s gonna hand it around to her friends and they’ll laugh. Rob turned to walk away. He needed a quick getaway. Somewhere he could sit and think, mull over how he would piece his life together.
“Hey stop,” he heard her say as he began his retreat. He turned, heart in his mouth, feeling every beat.
“I guess five years is better late than never,” she said and held out her hand.