Pencil frozen halfway to my mouth, thirty workbooks rustling, she twisted the knob of your elbow, unfurled you in that awkward threshold space, and left, without even a gesture to an empty seat.
There never was an empty seat. Hector and that big kid, the one we called Gigamesh, were squeezed in at the radiator, and we laid our work on the windowsills, crusting the room’s edges, when it wasn’t too hot or too cold.
I was the one to make room, to claim you. I wheeled and wheeled my hand.
Everyone watched. No hatred, there was no way to tell you there was nothing to fear, just the loose momentary engrossment of something new.
You were white, or at least mostly white. Your hair was long, plain, it split in locks in the front, but the back seemed felted, some sort of fuzzed semi-solid, laying all as one piece. Pointillist, your dirt, the dandruff that sifted, the freckles.
Everything in that classroom happened in pantomime. Nothing would be questioned, as long as there was quiet, solemn and total, and some denomination of worksheets at the end of our mutual time.
I stood up, backed up some steps, and made the grandest motion I could. My seat, take it, pointing, pointing. You reacted at last, you had no choice. You walked your steps and sat down.
And startled by my own magnificence, I looked around and, not seeing a solution, sat down at your feet on the floor, cross-legged, too.
They laughed at me when I did it—only a little, a quick raining patter—and only at me, my love, not ever at you.
Nicole Matos is a Chicago-based writer, professor, and roller derby girl. Her credits include Salon, The Classical, The Rumpus, theNewerYork, THE2NDHAND, Vine Leaves, Chicago Literati, berfrois, Oblong, neutrons protons, and others. You can catch her blogging for Medium, publishing tappable stories on Tapestry, and competing as Nicomatose #D0A with the Chicago Outfit Roller Derby, too. Follow her on Twitter at @nicole_matos2.