The new boy met Paras in the courtyard everyday after school. They discussed the latest Game of Thrones episodes and ate roasted nuts together. Sometimes they played badminton. The new boy wasn’t that new anymore; he had admitted into the eighth grade three months ago. He promised Paras they’d study together for the mid terms.

A week before the exams, the two met at their usual spot. Paras greeted him with enthusiasm that hadn’t vained over the past three months. Every day, Paras would notice something new: his dimple, his thick lashes, his confident eyes, his coy smile. Every day, he’d look more beautiful. And then he’d rub his hand against hers or pick a flower and bring it for or quote Rupi Kaur. Today, she noticed his smile become suspiciously more coy, his confident eyes hooded, a crease on his forehead. He looked intense. She got excited.

He led her to the library. The school was out but they had a few hours before the library shut down. The librarian sat in the corner paid no heed to the young couple so they found a spot in the far end and got to work. Hamlet had never felt so arousing. Paras didn’t understand why she couldn’t focus, why her face felt hot and her stomach felt heavy.

He noticed her excitement and he toyed with her, touching her on purpose but without any purpose. Slight, soft touches. A flick of the finger with hers, a slight rub on the arm, a breath on her cheek.

Then came the hand on her thigh. She closed her eyes, blushing, and letting her pencil roll over from her open palm on the table. He picked the pencil up with his free hand and found her index finger. One hand on her thigh, unmoving, the other holding the pencil and pressing the nib on the tip of her finger. Her eyes stayed closed while his were wide open.

This was what all fifteen years of his life were leading up to. This was the foreplay to his late thirties when he would live with his wife in a four bedroom house, each bedroom witness to a new kind of violence. The pencil pricked her skin and she bled but Paras didn’t budge. She couldn’t, until he moved his hand from her thigh. Only then did she feel the sting, and retreated her finger. She didn’t understand what had happened. Her eyes had watered and she gave him a questioning stare. Why?

The boy only shrugged. Did there have to be a reason why? He let the pencil go and rubbed his sweaty hands on his pants.

The moment passed.


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