© by Oliver Wetter / Fantabulous Visions*
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Are you even listening? I ask him, struggling to keep my composure. I understand that this is boring, I tell him, And that this disinterests you, but this is of great importance and you must focus. Although trigonometry seems useless and that there is a low probability that you will actually be able to use this knowledge in a crucial situation in the future, it is still necessary for you to study, even if it is just for the sake of high marks.
He shrugs. Don’t bother, he tells me, tone dispassionate. I don’t understand it when you explain it, or if anyone else does for that matter. Why do you think I self-study so much? he utters. I ask for his ‘notes’, which numbers precisely zero. He sighs and pushes his thick glasses up his slender nose, then hands me the notebook he was writing in.
Read from the front, the notebook is full of stories, all with distinct plots, characters and settings. Each feels like a different author crafted them because they are all so unique and idiosyncratic. But the one thing that connects them all is the writing style because it’s so like him. Every noun, every verb, and every adjective were stringed together in a way only he would. The back, on the other hand, is full of drawings. Brilliant concepts brought to life through the skill and patience of a technical hand. (I used to look here and steal the concepts for our schoolwork, but don’t tell him that.)
I admire him, I honestly do. He’s wonderful and talented and has a great eye for detail. If only he extrapolated the level of attention he paid to his craft in his studies. It would make things much easier. You can continue doodling later, I tell him sternly, When you’re finished with studying. He grumbles before pulling out a battered, leather-bound book from his bag.
I’d rather read one of those cliché romcoms you always seem to have, he mutters, opening the book. In fact, he says, I’m going to do that right now. He flips the book to a random page, clearly just trying to get out of work. So, he continues, Why don’t you leave me alone and bother someone else for a change? It was not a proposal. It was an order.
He has always been quite an aggressive person. He did not think of the interests of others, even if the interests of others is him himself. Like an unbridled king or an antagonistic emperor of a far away nation, he did not compromise with people. He demands and expects affirmatives. And I, like an obedient servant, bear him as he wishes. I comply with his unreasonable requests.
On most days, that is. On some days, I decide to stop being so obsequious and put his needs before his wants. On some days, I wish I were in a far away nation myself, away from all his whining and quibbling. But I’m not in a far away nation. I’m here in the library with him and I have the choice to either sycophantically adhere to his commands, or to uselessly chastise him like an irate mother.
Today, I choose the latter.
Would it kill you to be at least a little bit thankful? I say, gradually losing my patience with him. He has always had that effect on me - although his actions weren’t the least bit surprising and I’ve dealt with numerous people similar to him before, there’s something about him that just gets to me. Something that just exasperates me when I am usually quite patient. After all, I add, I’m the one who’s taking the time and effort to help you.
He blinks for a second before screwing his face up in disdain. Look here, he begins, I’m not asking you to help me. You’re here on your own accord. He closes the novel and leans in closer to speak. So could you please not tell me on what I should and should not do? he says firmly.
I exhale in defeat. You’re clearly exhausted, I say, And so am I. But I am sincerely concerned for you, so could you please cooperate? Just this once, I request him.
He pauses for a moment, as if considering the prospect, and nods sullenly. Fine, he states through gritted teeth, But just this once. The next time, you leave me alone. I agree without hesitation, and produce a workbook from my knapsack.
I try my best to explain the lesson to him, keeping everything as simple as possible. He has never been good at comprehending verbal communication. How pitiful.
It hasn’t been five minutes yet and he already starts complaining. (This is boring yadda yadda yadda I don’t understand blah blah blah Fuck you and fuck patience you fucking fuck). He would continue his rant for who-knows-how-long if I don’t stop him, so I lean forward and press my index finger against his mouth. Silence, I tell him quietly but firmly, We had an agreement. He remains irritated but stops complaining, fortunately. We continue the discussion and he remains compliant for the rest of the lesson (with occasional lapses, of course).
Did you understand? I inquire of him, and he yawns, nodding wearily. If that’s the case, then we’ll continue, I respond, while skimming through the book. I read through the next chapter and prepare a question when I realize that he has already fallen into slumber.
You’re asleep already? I ask him, not expecting an answer. I look at my watch: the time is 18:47. Still much too early for anyone to be falling asleep. Reaching across the table, I comb my fingers through his thick red hair. I wonder what it would take to wake him up, then discard the thought, knowing that he would stir eventually. Once he does, he can return home by himself. There was no need for me to stay here. As such, I organize the papers and slip the confiscated notebook into his bag.
I stand up and look around me. The library is deserted save for me, him and the librarian. I look back at him. His sleeping form looks so serene, so vulnerable - it felt unnatural. He is not a peaceful person. Seeing him as such is odd and uncanny. The strangeness of it all makes me wonder about him, and the distance between us seems to grow somehow. Then the librarian suddenly coughs and momentarily disrupts the silence. I turn my head to glance at her, then back at him, and all I see is a simple red-haired boy. He is him again, and that’s all that matters.
Sighing, I quietly approach him and place a soft, chaste kiss on the crown of his head. His eyelids flutter open and he awkwardly meets my gaze. After a few unwelcome moments of silence, he extends his hand and speaks. Thank you for helping me, he drawls, voice barely audible, Let’s go home. I hold his hand and help him stand up, then we walk towards the door and out the library.
Tomorrow, I tell him, We’ll be studying Calculus. He contends, Over my dead body.