Ten seconds. I’ve been staring at her for ten seconds without blinking.
“I might melt if you keep gazing.”
Ashley said while trying so hard not to meet me in the eye. She held an old white book between her fragile hands. ‘One Rainbow at the Duration’ was written on the book cover.
“You won’t,” I said. “If that’s possible, you should have melted a long time ago.”
She raised the book up to her face. Just like a country setting up defense to hide its most priceless possession.
Thirty inches, I estimated, is the space between us. Thirty inches? That’s too big for a measure. The library is too quiet for my perky thoughts. This wonky table between us is not helping either.
“What’s the book about?” I asked.
“I never knew you’re interested in books.” She teased.
I’m only interested in the books you read, I wanted to say.
I crossed my hands and leaned at the table. Her freckles are more noticeable, her milk chocolate eyes more striking, her hair’s scent more detected. Perfect. I leaned a little closer.
“Tell me about it.” I urged.
“It tells of a bittersweet romance between an American soldier and a Flipina during America’s unending fight for democratic principles. It’s war between countries. And love.” She explained.
War and Love. Ironic. I nod in understanding.
“So how does it end?”
“I’m not even close to the ending. I’m in the middle, you see. But the beginning’s a nice ride.” She smiled.
She continued reading the book. She looked so drowned and absorbed like she’s living 200 years before today engaged in the bloody peak during World War II.
“Why do you read books like that?” I asked.
She eyed me as if asking.
“I mean, why don’t you read books like everybody reads like John Gree–”
“I’m not everybody, Elis.”
There, she does it again. Firing bullets in my heart that heal rather than destroy. Ash and her smart mouth, I surrender to it. Elis, a greek warrior in Trojan war, will despise me knowing I, a bearer of his great name, accepted defeat.
“Yes. You’re not.”
I looked at her in astonishment.
She raised the book to hide her face again but I caught a glimpse of the dimple peering in her left cheek. The country has a hole in its defense.
“Don’t hide your smile.” I uttered.
She put down the book, crossed her hands and lean at the table.
“How sure are you that I smiled?” She grins.
I know I should be ready for endless questions. That grin should annoy me but it does the opposite. I’m up for this war.
“Because I saw it.”
“How did you see it?
“Because I have eyes.”
“Yeah, I feel them.”
How do you feel them?”
“I have senses.”
“Why do you have senses?”
“Because I am human.”
“How are you a human?”
“Don’t you believe I’m human?” I asked back.
“Not unless you prove to me you are.” She teased.
I smirked. I lean much more closer. One inch, I estimated, is the space between our faces. Five seconds. She was shocked. I, too. She was red. Thank God, I’m not capable of that.
She pulled back and looked around her.
She whispered to me ” Why did you do that? Now, people are staring.”
“You said prove to you and I just did.” I defended.
She sighed. “So teasing me and leaning closer makes you human?”
“No,” I began. “But when I leaned closer, I felt it. The cells in my body that randomly collides with each other. My breaths racing with each other to come out. And whatever this thing is throbbing in my left chest behind the ribcage, It’s throbbing in an extremely odd way. I feel alive. And that makes me human.”
220.127.116.11.19. She’s been staring at me for twenty seconds successfully breaking human rules by hindering involuntary blinking.
“I might melt if you keep staring.” I said.
She laughed in a breathy, gleeful way. And the unending fight is now ended. The country’s defense was destroyed. Its most treasured possession revealed.
“That’s impossible. I wonder why you haven’t melted a long time ago.”