“Peter,” Miss Derico, my teacher in the Fourth Grade calls. “I want you to team up
with Sharon. Sit across from her, right here on this part of the grass.” I do as she says.
Cross my legs and sit facing Sharon. Miss Derico puts everybody in the class in pairs, and
makes them sit the same way, facing each other. Our class is outside on this small grass
area near the playground at school. While she places other people like she did us, I just
stare at Sharon and say nothing. But my mind is very happy. You see, I fell in love with
Sharon from the first day I saw her, a couple of months ago when the class started.
I have trouble breathing. She is so pretty, I don’t really know how to describe … but I’ll
try. She looks like this little Chinese doll. She has black, black eyes like some kind of big
cat, like a panther or something. And like an animal, they never show any feeling. Like I
don’t know if she’s happy, or sad. or peaceful or angry. But her eyes which sort of point
up, like a V, are like, how can I say? They like sit on her cheeks, bright, like lamps on a
table. She is so pretty. Her hair is as black as her eyes are. It makes her white face look
whiter. like it’s in a black picture frame. She’s a tiny thing, but would fit great with me
because I’m small for nine years old. I’m always in front of the line in class cause I’m the
Once when I first saw her, I tried to talk to her, but she’s just not friendly. Like I said,
maybe she was afraid because she was the only not American looking person, but I don’t
know. When I talked to her, she just seemed to want to get away from me. Not friendly at
all. So, of course I kept away from her till today with this thing the teacher’s doing.
I just sit by her now waiting for instructions. I’m so nervous. I can look at her from up
close with no problem because she doesn’t see where I’m looking. She never looks at my
eyes. She looks there, away, everywhere but at me. Those black eyes that cut into
everything they see like one of Buck Rogers’ Space guns.
Then Miss Derico starts. ”Okay boys and girls. What we’re going to do today is learn
how to really, really listen when people talk to you. Most people that talk to each other
are thinking of what they’re going to say, or want to say, and really don’t hear what the
other person is saying.”
“So today, we’re going to take turns really listening to whatever the other person says.
Okay? Any questions?”
Someone asks who goes first. The teacher answers, “Boys. Now I don’t want any
horseplay. This is serious stuff. Talk about whatever you want, but when I stop you, the
listener has to tell her partner everything she heard him say. So pay attention. Begin.”
Sharon looks down. When I begin. She is not nervous like me, it seems. It seems like she
doesn’t care. “Sharon, I want you to know that I liked you from the first day of class.”
She looks at me really quick, but I can’t tell anything by that. “I mean I liked you like
grownups. Like boy, girl, men and women like each other. I don’t know what it is. But
right now, I have trouble breathing right. It’s like I’ve run for ten blocks.
“Can you tell?” She shakes her head, yes. I’m glad that she’s listening. Then I think,
that’s the assignment. “Anyway, I can’t really describe what’s happening to me. There’s
changes in my body that I can’t really talk about though.
I want you to to know I would give you any of my toys, or Comic books, or whatever I have, if it will make you happy. That’s what I feel. And I ain’t lying or anything.” I make the Sign of the Cross. “Swear to God. If l could just hold your band and smell your smell. That’s special. I would probably faint. I hope I haven’t embarrassed you or make you hate me. I’d never want to do that, but I … ”
Miss Derico’s voice stops me. “Okay, everybody. It’s now time for the girls to tell their
partners what they heard. Ready? Begin.”
Sharon picks her head up and seems nervous. She’s almost shaking. She pushes her
perfect hair back away from her face, takes a fast look at me. Before she begins, she takes
this deep breath then looks into my eyes. It’s the first time she is really looking at me.
She scratches her face with her first finger, then says. “Peter,” I think she said my name. Like a song from an orchestra—Peter. She continues, I feel the same about you.
This whole semester, whenever we were in the same class, I constantly looked at the back of your head, or your face when you turned around.” Her eyes are stabbing through mine like, like Superman’s X-ray vision. “I was always afraid to talk to you because you have so many friends around you all the time and I wouldn’t know what to say. I just didn’t want to feel like some idiot. And anyway, Chinese girls are never supposed to talk to boys unless it’s about an assignment or something. ” I can’t believe how fast she‘s talking. Like she going to run out of lime and die, or something. She changes position. Instead of staying cross-legged, she’ extends one leg straight out like an open scissor. I feel very hot down there.
Then she sounds like she’s been running. “I want you to hold my hand too. You can
smell me too, and I want to smell you. I think you’re the most,” she raises her
eyebrow and looks away, thinking. Then she reaches out and touches me with two fingers of her right hand. “The most handsome boy in the whole school. Even better than the bigger Juniors and Seniors. Let’s spend more time alone somewhere … ”
Miss Derico breaks up this nice time between Sharon and me. “Okay boys and girls.
That’s good. Now boys, tell your partners what you heard. Ready begin.”
I feel like I have lots of water in my eyes. Thank God I’m not crying tears down my
cheeks. “Oh Sharon. I’m so happy that you like me. I wonder if this is what grownups feel
when they talk about love. All I know is I want to hold you tight and even kiss you if you
let me. I want to do whatever big people do when they love somebody. Let me know if
you want any of my toys or anything. You can have them all. You can talk to me
whenever you want no matter who I’m with.” I begin laughing because I’m so happy. I
can’t talk because I’m laughing so much. Sharon is laughing too. For no reason.
Miss Derico says out loud. “Look class. Look at Peter and Sharon. They’re having such
a good time.
“Do you see what can happen when you listen to others. Those two have not said one
word to each other this whole term. Now look at them. Good work.”
P.S. Sharon and I touched every chance we could when no one was looking. We even
kissed and things. I did love her, I’m sure, but what did I know at nine.
by Peter Bruno
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