It was half-past six in the morning and I was walking in the school corridor sometime in March. The air was full of fragrance of freshly bloomed flowers. I stopped for a while and smelled the familiar fragrance of someone quite akin to those flowers.
He caught up with me, and greeted me with a casual good morning. A passing glance – but still I couldn’t find the right words to say straight to his face. I never thought talking to someone like him could be this complicated. I felt desperate to say something in the crucial moment. I saw him clutching his guitar. “You have brought your guitar.” I casually said. He just nodded and smiled.
I remember I was sleepy at the Chemistry lab room. The chemistry teacher was discussing the properties of elements. I knew nothing more about them except from the fact that sometimes they undergo changes and in some circumstances they do not. They are always like that. And it made me sleepy. But at that moment his voice stunned me into wakefulness as he tried to impress the class with his seemingly poetic recitation of the periodic table. I didn’t oftentimes see him doing something like this. By the end of the period, we were grouped in pairs for individual reports and I was the unfortunate one to be paired with him. It must have been a total fluke but he didn’t mind being paired with someone passive and average like me.
How could I think of protons and electrons at a time like this? I heard myself say. He was in front of me, smelling like soap and sometimes smiling at me. He was still wearing his basketball shoes for he had just finished his regular play-off with his team. Oftentimes, I glanced at him, but he would only smile politely at me and ask if I understood his explanations. Oh yes, the protons – the positively charged atom, and electrons, the negatively charged ones. They stick. They should. Do they? I’m not sure.
We went on with extreme deliberations about our report, discussing the possible questions the class would throw at us and clearing ambiguous scientific terms up. We also did a few final experiments. We didn’t realize it was nearing twilight. I knew he was expecting a lot from me, probably to keep up with his own standards, and I was more than willing to do so. Tonight I would browse the internet about our report and I would sleep late at night, I told him. He patted my shoulder gently, and said, “You’re a different one.”
I was not like what he probably imagined his girl would be. That’s why it didn’t occur into his mind that every time we would have to postpone to the next time the report that connected us, I wanted to just smash the clock for ticking so fast. I knew where he would go after our casual meeting and I knew what the guitar was here for. At least, I didn’t have to worry that much on our fast-approaching report when he could just casually went off straight to his girl and sing songs to her. He wouldn’t probably think of protons and electrons and the changes they undergo when he was strumming the right notes. But I think a lot about them after our meeting. I think about them over and over.
It was 5 pm and we were at the Chemistry lab to finish our work. Finally, we were going to report tomorrow, and I jokingly told him that this would probably be one of our dreadful days, for the classmates would sure pick on us and the teacher would toast us in front of them. He didn’t seem to respond right though, and just remained silent. Probably he was confident that we could actually pull it off nice and clean.
It was already twilight, but still he remained sitting there as though he never had the casual and habitual rendezvous after our meeting. I was tired and I wanted to go home too but since he was acting serious, I sat down the floor and crossed my legs for a while, staring hard at the tripod. I looked at the Chemistry lab; it was awfully quiet and empty unlike during regular Chemistry classes. I looked around some more. There were pictures of different scientists nailed on the classroom walls. I leaned my head to my knees. I felt exhausted physically and emotionally.
He sat back to back with me at the Chemistry room not even making the slightest bit of sound. With a slight turn, I saw him slouching and facing down the floor and when he noticed me watching him, he bowed down his head so that his forehead was bending to his knees.
I realized that he was depressed. He was pressured about the protons and the electrons and why at some point they wouldn’t undergo changes. As much as his efforts were futile. He began talking about senseless things that didn’t seem to fit in with the prospect report for tomorrow. Such things were better postpone for the next days, I think. The girl he loved. At that time, I just tried to concentrate on looking at Isaac Newton’s portrait than to listen at his digressions. Weird, but since when did staring atNewton’s face became more indulging than talking to him?
And so he didn’t undergo any change as much as any atom would usually undergo. Maybe he did for a while but then he came back doing the old ways. So that’s why he smelled the usual scent of freshly bloomed flowers. And he was still clutching his guitar. So then the greeting remained casual and we were just high school classmates – who once shared the same report about things that occur to other people but would never actually occur to us. One of the other wouldn’t just stick around.