On the 27th Day of Christmas Raffi Boyadjian gave to me…
It was the last class before Christmas Break dismissal as I sprinted to the room. The bell had already rung and the large wooden door was swinging shut as I squeezed through. Ms. Rampus always locked it after the bell and if you weren’t in class on time, you were out of luck. My wrist caught on a garland outlining the doorframe, ripping it and a small wreath above the door to the floor. The class laughed as I sheepishly tried to put them back up. Ms. Rampus sighed deeply.
“Just sit down!… Take out your writing assignments and pass them to the person behind you. Those in the last row, bring yours to the front.”
I passed my paper to Jerry behind me, who passed his to Saro. Seta came down from the back of the amphitheatred class and handed hers to Mila at the bottom of the row next to mine. She flicked my ear as she returned to her seat.
“We’ll start with Seta’s story. Mila, please stand and read it aloud.”
“Quiet Seta! Mila… “
I sneered at Seta. She flipped me the bird.
“Heiko! Face forward!… Mila… remember to sound out the words.”
“’De Leh-chayr-oos Elf’ by Sey-tah Ah-noo-shee-ann.”
As Mila read, I sat transfixed by the cadence of her awkward accent; hypnotized by the rise and fall of her voice, her metallic lisp pushed through glinting braces that caught slivers of afternoon sunlight breaking through half drawn blinds. Her rust colored hair peeked out from under a Santa hat and danced on the shoulders of her pink and green Quiet Riot t-shirt, stirred by the warm breeze that blew through the classroom, carrying the scent of her cinnamon shampoo. I breathed deep. How my chest burned with asthma and capricious desire – a burning that only ventolin and clumsily metered poetry could soothe.
It struck me as strange that I be so gripped. I’d never paid attention to the Slavic transfer before. Sure, I found her accent cute and her deep dimples impressive, but my attention tended towards the curvier girls. She was built like a toadstool. Big red head and pale, skinny body. Yet here I was, enchanted, as she chewed on the English language like gristle…
“Heiko! What’d you think of Seta’s story?”
I looked over at Mila, who was fiddling with the rubber bands in her braces.
The class snickered.
“Well!… Seta. You have a fan.”
As Jerry prattled, I screwed up my courage and scribbled my affection on the back of an old hall pass and wrapped it around a broken candy cane I had in my pocket. When the coast cleared, I threw it at Mila. It returned half a minute later, without the candy cane:
Sory. I only gong wit manely man.
I blushed and stuffed the note in my shirt as Mila picked peppermint candy from between her braces. I thought…
“… Seta’s not THAT ugly.”
Raffi Boyadjian emigrated from Frankfurt, Germany as a young child. He lived in Los Angeles with one very thoughtful dog and another that was pure id; both greatly loved and greatly missed. He now lives with his wife and young daughter. He’s a graphic designer by trade, a composer by heart, and a confounding writer. He’s looking forward to getting another dog; preferably male, to restore gender equanimity.
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