Boy Meets Boy

Page 40


I leave the scroll of words and definitions at Noah's locker at the beginning of the day. At the end of the day, I find a scrap of paper in my own locker. Noah has given me a word of his own invention.
literogratumerriment—thanks for the words
On the third day I give him space.
It's Saturday, and I decide to leave him alone. I put a letter in his mailbox wishing him a good day. I don't want to overwhelm him with everything. I also want to give him (and myself) time to think.
On the fourth day, I give him a song.
Zeke has come down to the dance hall because he's going to favor us with some tunes for next weekend's dance. I explain my situation to him, and he offers me some of his troubadour vibe. He asks me how I feel about Noah, and I tell him all my thoughts— from the goofy to the sublime, the ridiculous to the tried-and-true. I give him materials of longing, materials of hope, and, like an expert quiltmaker, he sews them together into something grand and entire.
The whole dance committee (all but Kyle, who's opted out of the day) pauses to listen, then breaks out in applause when Zeke is through. Triumphant, he gathers us in his notes and leads us from the school gym into the streets, proud pied piper, swaying and grooving to his strum until we are all on Noah's doorstep, a parade of well-wished well-wishers delivering a song. Amber pushes me to the front, next to Zeke.
“But I can't sing,” I whisper to him.
“I think he'll know it's not from me, even if I'm the one who sings.”
We call up to the bedroom. Claudia comes to the door, shoots us all an evil glare, then says Noah is in his studio. We prevail upon her to get him. Finally he comes to his bedroom window.
Zeke's voice fills the air with sweetness.
there is a once
when I never think twice
you give me that, boy
you give me that
there is a kind
which is much more than nice
you give me that, boy
you give me that
and now it's time for me to reveal
all the parts of me you've helped become real
to feel
there is a go
that turns into a stay
you give me that, boy
you give me that
there is a dream
which goes its own way
you give me that, boy
you give me that
and still sometimes I feel so much fear
there are parts of me I want to make clear
from here
there is a true
which never rings wrong
I'll give you that, boy
I'll give you that
there is a word
in search of a song
I'll give you that, boy
I'll give you that
let me give you that
I promise
I promise
to give you that
a dream, a song
a never of wrong
a once, a twice
a much more of nice
a love, a love
a floating of love
I'll give you that, boy
I promise
I promise
to give you that
Throughout the song, Noah looks at me and looks at Zeke. When he looks at Zeke, I study him like you study a baby, waiting for its next expression. When he looks at me, I quickly look away. I cannot hold his glance, not until I know he's meaning for me to have it.
When the song is over, Noah smiles and applauds. Zeke bows slightly, then leads everyone back to the gym. I am the last one to go, watching Noah fade back behind his blinds. I walk slowly, wondering what to do next.
He catches up to me and touches my shoulder.
“You don't have to do this,” he says.
I tell him I do.
“I'm showing you,” I say.
“Okay,” he says.
We leave it at that.
On the fifth day, I give him film.
I use money I've saved to buy twenty rolls of film, some of them black-and-white, some of them bright outdoor color. On the top of each container I write a word from a quote I'd found from an old photographer: Whether looking to mountains or studying the shadow of a branch, it is always best to keep your vision clear.
In order to give the film to Noah in a creative way, I need willing accomplices. Tony, Infinite Darlene, Amber, Emily, Amy, Laura, and Trilby are more than happy to help. Even my brother gets into the act, offering to be a delivery boy after I tell him my plan.
Each accomplice gives Noah the film in a unique way. Tony starts it all off by calling Noah's cell phone and leaving a riddle that leads him to the first roll, which I've left sitting atop seat 4U in the school auditorium. Infinite Darlene makes fake-fur stoles for her containers and delicately hands them over throughout the day. Amber creates a Kodak-sized slingshot and fires the rolls into Noah's bag when he's not looking (and sometimes when he is). Emily and Amy draw faces on their canisters and give them to Noah as a family unit. Laura places the film in mysterious places where she knows Noah will find it (like stuck to the bottom of his desk). Trilby paints her canister the school colors. My brother, bless his heart, simply walks up to Noah and says, “Here, my brother wanted me to give you this.” Perfect.
Even Ted offers to help. He still looks a little unsteady—rumor has it that he's looking for a rebound from his rebound. I've already distributed all the film, so I promise him he's my #1 sub if anyone falls through. Neither of us mentions Joni, but she's there in our every encounter.
It still feels strange not to have Joni on my side. (It's not that she's joined someone else's side—she's just left the field entirely.) I wonder if anyone's told her what's going on. I see her in the halls, always with Chuck, never really looking at me. At this time last year, she was helping me hang signs for the Dowager's Dance, telling me when I'd taped up the posters crooked and helping me fix them. If I could get a sense from her that she missed me—or, at the very least, that she missed our past—I would feel better. But this total shutting off makes even the past seem sad and doomed.
On the sixth day, I write him letters.
I know I only have a day left. I know when he leaves me a note thanking me for the film that the time will soon come to talk to him, to see if I have a chance. But instead of confronting it right out, I decide to write him back. At first it starts as a note, telling him I'm sure he'll put the film to good use. Then it turns itself into a letter. I can't stop writing to him. I barely pay attention in any of my classes, pausing only to notice images and incidents that I can share with Noah in the letter. It isn't entirely different from when I was writing him notes in class, before everything happened. But it feels more intense. A note is an update or an entertainment. A letter is giving of a part of your life—an insight into your thoughts beyond mere observations.