I wrote this fiction piece last semester and had the honor of it not only being published in Mercy College’s 2019-20 literary journal, “Red Hyacinth,” but for it, I won the Valerie Lewis Editors’ Prize for most innovative fiction piece in terms of content, form, and style.
So, I figured I would share it with the world.
Three Little Birds
I dream about it constantly. The feeling builds up while I walk down the hallway, approaching the doorway to my right. I enter the room and put down my things. I prepare myself to act like I’m in my own world so that it doesn’t seem obvious. But again, I can feel his eyes on me as I walk past his desk to grab supplies from the closet. My nerves take over. I turn back around and brace myself, avoiding his gaze. Then I nervously find my way back to my desk. It only takes ten seconds, but to me, it’s an hour. The entire time I feel as though I’m under a microscope; shaking while I walk, certain that everyone knows my secret. I sit down in my chair and sigh in relief as if I’ve just accomplished a backbreaking task. Time passes by, and class finally ends. As I grab my things to leave, I feel a strong hand grip my elbow and turn me back around.
“Natalie, there’s something I’ve been wanting to tell you.”
My heart beats wildly out of my chest. We’re the only two left in the room and he still has his hand on my arm, only now he’s caressing it.
“There’s something I need to tell you, too,” I say with sudden courage.
And before we can get any other words out, he reads my mind. His hand slides around my waist and he aggressively pushes me back against the wall. Our eyes remain locked on each other’s and we’re moving in sync now. Our lips finally meet in a rabid passion, and it’s better than I ever imagined. Then, of course, my alarm beeps in and kills the mood.
I just can’t help myself. It’s human nature. I mean, so what if I’m madly and unconditionally in love with my teacher, right? He’s 32 years old, and I just turned 18. It’s frowned upon, not illegal.
He probably thinks I’m a freak. Actually, I’ll bet he doesn’t even remember my name. He’s been my art teacher for a handful of years, but I’m always so awkwardly quiet that he must forget I even exist or just not even want to bother with me. How could I blame him though? I know everything about him and he’s never had to tell me a thing. That sounds pretty stalkerish if you ask me, but it isn’t, I swear.
I’ve been drawing and painting and sculpting in this room since I started my high school career, and I know this place like the back of my hand. I know that Mr. Andrews, or David rather, likes to be early to class. Not because it’s expected of him, but because of the three little birds that sit on the windowsill behind his desk every morning. He turns his chair around to face them and he sketches them while he sips his tea. I’m usually early, too. I’ve become addicted to watching his morning routine while I work. It soothes me.
His hair is so perfect; dirty blonde and long enough to slick back. There’s one strand that falls out of his do and into his face every time he looks down. He dresses so classy – a modest man. He’s tall and his body is proportionate and chiseled, but he doesn’t try and show it off. I only notice it because he rolls his sleeves up while he teaches; he works up a sweat when he sculpts. He’s not afraid to get dirty, and I love it. Every time he makes a mistake, he chuckles to himself and carries on. I wish I had that kind of patience. He’s a kind soul; I can see it in his big hazel eyes. He seems so mysterious, but he’s happy. At least I think he is.
This is sick, but I can’t hold it in anymore. She’s just so different from anyone I’ve ever encountered. She keeps to herself, but I know her better than I know myself. What a cutie when she was younger; her innocence beamed like the sun, and her talent was unmatched. Now she’s 18. Her birthday was last month, and she thought she was being slick by not saying anything to the class. I knew it, though. Quite honestly, I had been counting down the days until she would be even the slightest bit older – old enough to justify the fact that I’m undoubtedly in love with her. I know how that sounds, but this feeling comes so naturally. I can’t just turn it off, and I really don’t want to.
Wow, where do I even begin? For one, she likes to get to class early to put extra time into her work. It has become a habit of mine, now, to arrive early too, just so I can admire her. Every morning, I sit facing the window behind my desk with my sketchbook open in my lap and a cup of tea in my hand, while the same three little birds sit on the sill outside looking in. I can only imagine they’re as captured by Natalie’s beauty as I am. While she sits at her desk working diligently, I sneakily turn my chair around and sketch her in her element. Whenever she looks up, I turn back to the window and pretend to be sketching my feathered friends: the best wingmen out there, no pun intended.
Her long blonde waves and dark blue eyes are something out of a painting. She ties her hair back loosely while she works, and it falls down her back to graze the seat beneath her. She’s impeccable inside and out. I don’t think anyone has ever inspired me more. The work that she produces always tells such a story that I wonder where on earth she could have come from. I want to know all of her, but I just don’t know how. If I approached her, she would think I was insane. I don’t even care about losing my job; I care about her, though. I just wish I didn’t have to care from afar.
It’s half past seven now, and I just sat down at my desk. There he is, sitting in his chair in a blue and white pinstriped button-down, glasses on and pencil in hand. I want to break the silence, but I enjoy the silence we share. Class won’t begin for 45 minutes, but I know this sacred time will fly, as it does. I can’t help but notice, out of the corner of my eye, as he unbuttons the top button of his shirt for comfort. I sigh in my head and wonder if he hears me. I need to at least act like I’m getting something done. Our latest assignment is to portray parallelism using cool colors in a canvas painting. All my work is inspired by David. My art is the only outlet I have for my deep-rooted infatuation with him. But he exudes warmth; there isn’t one thing about him that gives off a cold air. So, I’ll imagine my world without him in it. That, to me, is the coldest of cool.
There are 45 minutes until the start of class, and I wish that I had the ability to call it off. This time I share with Natalie is of utmost peace. I could live like this forever, where silence shared with someone is just as powerful as engaging in something loud and fun. I love the way the bridge of her nose slopes flawlessly to a rounded edge. Her full lips purse while her imagination goes to work, and I wonder what’s going on in that beautiful mind of hers. So, I draw. I draw her exactly how she looks right now, as I always do. Her light pink sweater is cuffed to her elbows, and her black fleece vest is zippered to the bottom of her breast. Her worn jeans are tucked into a brand-new pair of rainboots that muddied during her morning endeavors. I change the scenery every time. Today, she’s sitting at a picnic table in a clearing with a wooded overhang. Her focus lay in her sketchbook. Three little birds sit on a limb nearby, but she’s too engrossed to notice them watching her.
The classroom is full now, and I haven’t stopped working on my canvas. Mr. Andrews walks around the room and observes the students while they work. He’ll peer over our shoulders to either constructively criticize or give his approval. I’m always nervous for him to see my projects; the last thing I want is for him to think that I’m terrible. But, no matter what I do, when he gets to my desk, he gives his approval before he even gets a chance to take a good look.
“Very nice, Natalie,” and I remember again that he does know I exist.
“Thank you, Mr. Andrews,” as we exchange a coy look.
Class dismisses at its usual time, and I’m still at my desk using up my free period to continue my painting. At least that’s what I’m trying to tell myself. Truthfully, I’m here to savor whatever time I have left with David for today. He’s sitting at his desk, as usual, and he’s elbows deep in papers. I love to watch him do his job studiously. At this point, I’ve forgotten how to be nonchalant, as I hold my stare in his direction. I always prepare myself to quickly look back down at my work if he happens to look up from his while I’m staring, but this time it’s different.
I have a copious amount of tests to grade, but I can’t keep my focus with her in the room. Asking her to leave is out of the question, so I’ll grade what I can to keep busy while I sit here, and I’ll take the rest home with me tonight. I try to keep my cool since she’s right across the room, so I find myself counting the amount of times that my eyes wander around, just to make sure I’m not looking too much. It’s painful. It really is. Every time she looks up, I always make it a point to act like I’m in the middle of something important. I never let her know that I’m watching her. But for some reason, today is a bit different than usual.
I’m still staring at David and I don’t intend to stop. My mind is running off to crazy places and I let it. I love the view from here and I’m overwhelmed by how gorgeous he looks today. Out of the blue, he stops what he’s doing to peer over the top of the paper in his hand. For the first time ever, our eyes formally acquaint. Normally, this is where I’d startle, but instead, I’m looking him right in his eyes. To my surprise, he’s looking right back.
I suppose this was bound to happen sooner or later, but I didn’t think it would be today. My normal assumption would be that she might think I was some sort of predator for looking at her the way I’m doing right now, but instead, she’s looking back at me; really seeing me. No words have been spoken in the minute that has passed, until she breaks the silence with a graceful giggle, tucking her hair behind her ear bashfully. She stands up and gathers her belongings. She slings her bag upon her shoulder and looks angelic doing it.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Mr. Andrews.”
I can’t believe we just had a staring contest, and even more than that, I can’t believe I didn’t faint. I’m trying not to push my luck, so it’s time to get up and carry on with my day. Thank goodness no one else was here to see that; only those three little birds. I push in my chair and head for the door, though a shift in the air stops me dead in my tracks. I feel a strong hand grip my elbow and turn me back around.