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So Near

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The biology table is strong-legged and black-topped. It is cool to the touch from her side and a wretched holder of heat on his. It has been half-empty for most of the school year. It is a place for binders and notebooks and cheery, colorful folders with too many papers stuffed inside. It is the platform which asks students to peer closer, the surface supporting the discovery of everything a plain piece of thread reveals itself to be beneath the scrutiny of a microscope.


She lowers a curtain between her and her frosty and inexplicable lab partner, shakes her hair out and lets it block. The boundary is for her sake. Class ticks by, and her hair provides a plausible excuse as to why her face feels flushed. She does not have to admit how his silence makes her want to snap. The dark locks are effective blinders, sparing her the temptation to watch him from the corner of her eye.


If she has become invisible to him, she will make him invisible to her.


He does not watch her. He keeps his gaze ahead and focuses solely on the primitive scrawl on the blackboard and thinks of hellfire and heartbreak and the danger and destruction affixed to him like diseased limbs he cannot amputate. He thinks of everything he can in order not to think of her.


Which means she lurks at the center of every effort, regardless.


They do not speak, they do not stare, they do not reach or acknowledge. They sit, together, day by day in this class only, such a small distance separating the tight fist on his leg from the tapered fingers clutching her blue pen so determinedly.


Both consumed by the other. Both acting millions of miles apart. Both certain the biology table is the one thing they will ever share.