Outside the snow was trying desperately hard to remain on the ground. The tiny white flakes would fall heavily to the ground, too wet to stay, then eventually just fade away. I looked out the small square window, my arms crossed in front of me and sighed heavily. Mothers, fathers and other relatives were all leaving from the front door of the school steps. Most of them clutching the tiny hands of their first graders, some still in costume, and attempting to duck from the wet snow. One raucous little boy freed himself and ran ahead of his parents. His mother ran after to rescue him from the cars on the street. The lights were off in the makeup room surrounding me, and again I breathed a deep, long dangerous sigh of relief.
This Christmas pageant had been my test. It had been the chance to prove myself. When I first applied to this school division, the head of the school board looked at me as though I was a child. I was too young to have a teaching degree. He clearly didnít think I could cut it. I was too young and too cute. He had probably thought I would be gone in the first week. I have to admit it hasnít been easy. When the opportunity had come up in August to host the Christmas pageant. I had to take it. I had to agree to do it. Not a single other person had put up their hand in that meeting. I had raised mine as high as it would reach. Here it was all over, and even though I was pleased, Deon had ruined it for me.
"It went well." Deon said as he came up behind me. I hoped he wouldnít touch me for fear of the anger I was feeling. Its location is somewhere deep inside me and for some strange reason, my entire body aches. I stared intently at the last few families that were leaving. I felt old suddenly, not like the mere twenty-four years I am.
"I didnít mean to say it when I did. I honestly justÖKenya, I was just feelings so frustrated right then. And you werenít listening." He muttered. He moved in front of me, and blocked my view. His hands plunged into his pockets suddenly, and I felt offended.
"That was not how I had meant to break up with you." He whispered. "I came to watch the pageant, because I genuinely wanted to see what you had worked so hard at all this time. I really came here for you. It was just thatÖitÖI donít knowÖI didnít know if I would have another chance." The squareness of his jaw startled me. He pulled his collar back against his neck, and his face wrinkled into that pained, troubled look I had seen so many times. The dimples in his dark cheeks woul d become hollow, and beautiful, to the point where I just wanted to kiss him. He ran his hand over his head, sideways. It puzzled me. I touched the wall as I turned away from him, and walked steadily to the left side of the room. I touched the wall there, avoiding a basket of swaddling clothes. I went to the entrance to the washroom, switched on the light, turned it off, and brushed my hand against the wall. Next I went to the coat rack near the door. I paused a moment at the door, and felt the cooln ess of the wall. The light from the street was barely enough for me to distinguish the discarded robes of Mary and the shepherds. I almost slipped on one of the wise menís silk gowns. I walked out of the room into the hall, and down the long lit corridor. The corridor was now empty of screaming children, who had earlier been anticipating the opening of the Christmas pageant. One lonely old janitor shuffled down the hall pushing an orange bucket and mop, he didnít look at me. I headed for the front doo rs, remembering to hold my breath as I passed each classroom.
"Kenya wait. Please." He called, and caught up to me. "You canít ignore me forever. I seriously need to hear what you have to say to me." I was deeply affected by his need for me, even at this, the end of us. Once we reached outside I stopped walking, and looked up towards the white sky. I blinked away the snowflakes just before they melted on my warm face. I pulled the scarf around my neck, and then readjusted it. It wasnít quite right. I tried to wrap it again, but I kept g etting the ends uneven. I donít need to catch a cold in this weather. I grabbed both ends of the scarf and pulled it into a knot around my neck. Maybe just one more time, if I just pull it here. There we go. Thatíll do. I took it off again, and carefully folded it, and then tucked it into the front of my long black coat.
"Say something!" He said, between gritted teeth. "Fuck you! Say something." Gripping my arm, he spun me around to face him, and my heart raced. How dare he encourage me to fuck him up? He knows I will. The minute I open my mouth it is all over for him. I laughed at the irony suddenly. He grew more distressed, thinking I was laughing at him.
"What would you like me to say Deon?" I asked with strength that he couldnít even begin to comprehend. For a moment it looked like he had lost his footing. He looked as though the fact that I was speaking to him had caught him off guard. He steadied himself, and stood to his full six foot three. I stood quite smaller than him, but resilient.
"A break up has to have something. Whether itís an argument, or a mutuality, or just plain and simple violence. It needs something. You canít just walk away without saying something."
"What do I need to say to you?" I asked him stiffly. "Youíve already made up your mind."
"Emotion. Thatís what I need."
"Why do you feel you need to break you with me?" I asked, and began to walk again. I stepped around all of the little cracks in the wet concrete, without him noticing.
"Itís just things. Things that drive me nuts. Like for fricks sakeÖmilk. Why donít you drink white milk?"
"I donít like white milk!" I responded.
"But, see thatís what Iím saying. Why not?"
"Because it tastes like crap." I replied turning to the left and then the right. Where had I parked my car? Had I driven? No. I took the bus today. Or was that yesterday. The snow was falling a little thicker, and a very light misty white film was beginning to coat the ground. He looked off to the right, and then started walking. I felt repulsed suddenly by the presence of him. He was like a mosquito bite that I had tormented until it festered and bled. I know I mustnít, but it just f elt so damn good. He had broken up with me, but my dreadful silence was terrifying to him.
I remembered the fight that had broken out between Mary and Joseph at the last rehearsal this evening. Joseph had come from the makeup room screaming that Mary was ugly, and he would not go on stage with her. I had kindly reminded Joseph that there was no show if he wouldnít reconcile with Mary, and that Grandma and Grandpa would be disappointed. He scornfully, banged his cane on the ground in anger and then stormed onto the stage. For the rest of the rehearsal he stood scowling, just a little too fa r away from Mary and the manger.
Oops! Deon has been saying something. What? It doesnít matter. His voice was as fleeting as the snowflakes.
"Why is this so easy for you?" He asked finally. This I heard, because I had reached my car. He had led me to it. I tried to fit the key into the door. I wanted to say goodbye. But he does need something. Famous last words perhaps.
"Because, I donít need you anymore. Youíre too...I donít know, something. Iím all I need, and Iíve already forgotten that feeling I get when you kiss me. Iíve even forgotten the smoothness with which you say my name. You never loved me Deon. You said my nose was too big, my behind a little too juicy. My lips and thighs too thick for you." I sat down in my car, and started it. He leaned on the door, and looked down at me. I cocked my head as though this was the way I wanted to remember h im, looming above me, not menacingly. Just like nothing.
"I never said those things." He said defensively.
"You didnít?" I asked, and then I chuckled, and reached by his leg, for the door handle. Maybe he hadnít. Well, whatever.
"No! No I didnít." I never said any of those things to you!" He practically yelled this. His body seemed to tense. I coaxed the door gently, and he moved sideways out of the way.
"Youíre crazy." He said. He repeated this again to himself, as I closed the door.
I wonder if it will snow well into the night? Finally the white comforter of snow was thickening. Winter is such a pretty time, full of a startling new freshness.
*I tried really hard in this short story to have an underlying theme. Not a necessarily hidden theme, as so much as strategically placed. If you "get" the underlying theme let me know. I'm curious to know whether or not I achieved my goal or not. Or...lol...whether I just lost you.* Thanks!