"Hmm..that's a deep sigh." Rick was leaning by the wall beside the door still in his basketball uniform.
I looked at him, puzzled. I remembered my conversation with Ms.Kay. and it made me uneasy. I didn't expect to meet him right away.
"Guess you forgot." He scratched his head and stood upright. "Can you help me with English?"
I sighed again.
"Now's not a good time?" He smiled nervously, his hazel eyes glistening.
"Come on." How could I say no to you when you look at me that way? You dumbass.
Rick was the first classmate I brought home, let alone in my room. This was my private space not even my parents just barge in. He has been making me do things I don't normally do. I was getting annoyed at him, but more so at myself. I was planning to say no to him today but I couldn't. Why? I don't really understand myself anymore.
Rick sat at the edge of my bed, he placed his bag on top of the desk and pulled out his cellphone. He dialled and put his phone on his ears.
"Ray, I'll be home late." He said. "Tell auntie OK, thanks."
I sat down beside him and placed my bag on the table by the bed. I waited for him to finish talking on the phone.
"My little brother. I hate leaving him, but he needs to get used to it eventually."
I pulled the table and positioned it in front of us.
"Eventually?" I asked out of curiosity. "What do you mean?"
"My mom and dad are separated for a while now. We live with dad and his new girlfriend, we call her auntie. When the annulment* is settled I'll be in college, he'll be sent to a boarding school."
We were quiet for a moment, so I pulled out my English book and flipped a few pages just to break the awkward silence. I felt Rick shifted to my side and leaned closer.
"Should we start with last week's lesson?" I asked without looking at him, afraid that I would lose my composure.
"Ok so, verbs are either in the active or passive voice.." I started. I wasn't sure if he was listening but I kept talking anyway, so I could avoid his gaze. I could feel him staring at me. I flipped the text book to the next page but Rick caught my left wrist.
He traced his thumb on the length of my scar. "Mind if I ask about this?" He whispered.
This time, I turned and faced him, tears already starting to well in my eyes. I pulled my hand and clutched my chest. This guy melts my ice so easily. I haven't felt the need to cry for the longest time because I've found comfort in cutting myself. But Rick, his mere question, asking me to recall one memory I've had stored somewhere inside myself, makes me want to let the tears stream out of my eyes. I swallowed a lump in my throat and mustered the strength I have and held back my tears.
"You have a tendency to do that." He pointed on my arms in my chest. "when you're feeling."
Do I? I never really noticed. And feeling? What does he mean? I took it as a chance to change the topic.
"Isn't it nice? Living on your own?" I said.
"Huh?" He raised a brow at me. "Who likes living alone?"
I looked back at him.
"I do. I would prefer that than pretend to be living with a family you hardly see." I mumbled, surprised I was able to say that. "I don't even remember the last time I had dinner with them."
Rick looked up to me, his faced etched with concern.
"Alvin." His voice was soothing. "I understand you feel that way, but it's not bad to be selfish sometimes. I know you love your parents that's why you are hurt but did you ever tell them?"
He reached for my hands still clutched to my chest. He held them, our fingers intertwined.
"I don't know the whole story of what happened before but take care of yourself, I'll listen to you if you have problems. You don't need to hurt yourself. Not anymore."
I pulled my hand away, annoyed, angry. I couldn't tell. I just snapped.
"Why do you concern yourself with me?" I said sharply. "I'm here to tutor you, that's it."
I stared at him and almost apologized when I saw the pained look in his eyes.
"I-I..." He stuttered. "I'm sorry." His voice was shaking. He grabbed his bag and stood up. "I'm going home. I'll see you tomorrow at school."