She has black hair. It is always very straight and she grows it now only up to her neck. If it grows too long, I overheard her saying to her friends, she has her mother cut it. She does not like it longer because it is a pain to take care of. She is such a lazy person, she told them.
“I remember it used to reach up to my back.”
“Yes. You were watching me then?”
“Yes.” Not only her. I watched everyone. Intense physical exertion, dust and smoke induce my asthma, so the teachers often just told me to stay inside the classroom and sit while outside my classmates sweeped the school grounds or pulled weeds, or arranged the stones lining both sides of the pathways. I always insisted on joining them, the teachers always said no. So alone inside the classroom, I gazed at them through the slats of the window. This has been my situation since third grade.
She is one of the taller girls in our class. There are five of them. They’ve been friends since third grade. They are all taller than the boys. They go everywhere together. Talk, laugh, play together.
She was absent for a few days. We heard she had chickenpox. When she came back today she was wearing a hooded jacket colored blue. She walked everywhere the whole day wearing it. The teachers told her to stay in the classroom with me.
“You had a crush on me didn’t you?”
I smile, slight wheezing as I inhaled and exhaled. I did not reply. “Can you show me your arms?” I said.
“I want to see.”
“Aren’t you hot?”
“I already had chickenpox back in third grade, remember?”
“You can’t see it from where you’re sitting, but I have a scar from the chickenpox in my forehead, right in the very center. Want to see?”
She stands up and sits beside me. I touch the spot. “See? Here.”
She pulls down the hood from her head. I could see the pustules have dried. They were small and black-brownish and were scattered mostly in her lower jaw and neck. She edges closer to me and touches the pit of scar on my forehead. “Okay,” she said, then proceeds to roll up the right sleeve of her jacket up to her bicep. She has pale skin and you could see the bluish-green veins underneath the surface. Scattered all over her arm are the pustules. She raises her arm to my face. I take her upturned hand with both of mine. I lick her wrist.