Memoir of an Hour: \\\\\\\"Laughing at Nothing\\\\\\\"

We all may know that feeling when we connect with someone, or maybe the few of us that have been lucky enough to experience this rare moment of bliss and intensity will say that although this moment was fleeting and impermanent, it seemed to proceed mortality; it almost felt like this spark of chemistry was deathless. Although I am only sixteen and the promised sweetness at this age has yet to present itself, I believe I have experienced this feeling, this spark of recognition and connection in someone before. It surprisingly wasn’t when we first confronted each other, but rather a whole year had gone and passed until I had noticed this spark between us, though I am not sure he recognized it. It occurred one Thursday afternoon or rather evening after school when me and my friend and carpool had to stay late in the area after school. We had previously been offered by our classmate to go over to his house to study and wait for our carpool to be released from her weekly late teacher meetings. This classmate and I were friends I suppose but we were never close; however, my carpool and him were close friends and played in a band together. For the sake of confidentiality, I will not be using direct names, but to avoid wordiness and confusion I will substitute the names Lee for my classmate and James for my friend and carpool.

              The living room where we were studying was dark, and unventilated. The room was bare of windows and damp, the only furniture was a brown leather couch and an arm chair and small ottoman. While James sat in the chair, Lee and I settled on the couch to work on homework which had been accumulating over the past two weeks. Staring into our brightly lit computers, the soothing tapping and clicking of keyboards filling up the silence that oppressed us I worked, but always a part of my mind blindingly distracted by the warmth of his knee brushing mine. He never moved his leg and didn’t seem to notice mine nervously quivering against his. Taking a deep shaky inhale, I tried to relax but when I exhaled, he noticed my ragged breathing.

              “You ok?” he asked, turning in towards me, our eyes connected briefly, and I shivered but my face felt flushed and warm. I nodded dumbly and painfully forced my gaze back to my computer. God his eyes were so kind and captivating. It felt like I could stare into their brown warm depths and never feel cold again.

              “Your face is red, should I turn on the AC? It is kind of hot in here.” Getting up he pulled on a switch and a few seconds later the fan above buzzed and whirred. My hair lifted slightly, and cool air washed over me.

              I smiled up at him, “Thanks I think it was just the heat.” He smiled in return and sat back down on the couch, although this time I noticed, with some regret, that his knee wasn’t touching mine anymore. He closed his computer and got out his math homework, his brow creased and every few seconds he would sigh, frustrated. He must have noticed me staring for he looked up and leaning in towards me with his notebook he asked, “Hey, is this right? Because I keep checking my answer, but the numbers aren’t lining up.” Without thinking I leaned in closer to get a better look, the room was dimly lit, and I ended up looking over his arm with my shoulder snugly pressed against his, our bodies’ close. His warm breath tickled the back of my neck and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t concentrate.

              “Um.” I said. “Can you show what you did?”

              “Uh it’s right there.” He said pointing to a problem and laughed through his nose softly. “I feel like what I did was suspiciously easy and that’s never a good sign in math.” I breathed slowly, trying to collect my thoughts which were focused ironically on not ruining this moment. I forced myself to block out the feeling of his skin on mine and looked down at the problem.

              “Can I use this?” I said resting my fingers on his pencil. His hand grazed over mine as he gently placed the pencil between my fingers.

              “So first you have to set up the problem like this in the chart she showed us, always putting the first number in the problem on top and the second on the bottom, which you did. Then you have to put the second number over one so you can cross out the two numbers-“

              -“Oh, that’s what I forgot to do.”

              “After you do that the problem is pretty simple because you just repeat the second step until the measurements are converted.” I said quickly scribbling out the problem until I reached the answer, which I boxed satisfying my accomplishment.

              “Wow you made it look so easy.” He said and I couldn’t help noticing the admiration shining in his voice.

              “It is that easy if you set it up right.” I handed the pencil back to him saying, “Sorry my handwriting is kind of messy.”

              “No, it’s legible besides I think I understand what you showed me, thank you.”

              “Your welcome.” I replied smiling to myself. I looked up again at him and seeing him smiling down at me, the corners of his dark eyes crinkling, I blushed but didn’t turn away. “What are you smiling at?” I asked smiling right back.

              “You.” He said laughing.

              “Why are you laughing Lee?” And hearing my alliteration and the impossibility of not laughing when you question someone else’s laugher, I startled giggling uncontrollably.

              “What are you two laughing at?” For the first time that evening I noticed James looking at us quizzically as we rolled back and forth on the couch clutching our stomachs.

              “I honestly don’t know.” I got out as I took a breath from laughing so hard.

              “That’s the best part.” Lee said, finally catching his breath.

              “Laughing at nothing is the best reason for laughing.” I agreed, my last giggle escaping my lips.

Lee bent down his face nearing mine, his eyes bright and glistening, “You’re crying,” he said reaching out to wipe away a tear rolling down my cheek. His thumb was gentle and light against my cheek, his hand lingering, cupping my face. “You’re really something aren’t you.” He spoke softly into my ear. I stared back surprised, but I didn’t move my face away.

“You are too.” I whispered.

“Well aren’t you guys cute.” James said grinning at us from the chair, his feet propped up on the ottoman. We broke away immediately. Looking down at my lap I flushed embarrassed yet slightly annoyed with James for being in the room.

“Don’t let me stop whatever’s going on here.” He said, grinning wider and more obnoxiously.

“Nothing’s going on.” We both said glaring at him. I noticed Lee’s voice was defiant and assuring like he wanted nothing to be going on. Which I guess was justified because he had a girlfriend. A girlfriend, I scolded myself. The rest of the evening was painfully quiet. We had both scooted to each end of the couch, as far away from each other that we could get. Lee even went to sit at a table on the far side of the room his back facing me. I couldn’t shake the feeling I got whenever I look at him; warm shivers raced down my spine and my brow was slick with nervous sweat. I kept on imagining his hand cupping my cheek, his face so close that I could count every other faded freckle on his nose. I shook out my shoulders and my eye caught James’. He wriggled his eyebrows at me, and I glared back intensely, hoping Lee wouldn’t notice the tension in the room. Thankfully his mom walked in, James’s that is, announcing our departure. I got up quickly and packed my things, slinging my backpack over my shoulder, and winced at the weight.

“Do you want me to carry that for you?” Lee said, surprising me. “It looks awfully heavy.” I noticed slightly amused that he was even surprised by his offer.

“I’m fine, thanks.” I said curtly, brushing past him, trying to reach the car as fast as I could.

“Bye,” I said turning back to catch one last glimpse of him, but he didn’t hear me for he was busy saying good bye to James, laughing as they did their special handshake. I chuckled at this middle school ritual and ducked inside the car. As we drove away, I couldn\'t help smiling all the way home.