Claudia Young (Interlude)
The story of how Claudia Young and I came to be a couple is as good a story as any. So I'll tell this story within a story, if only for myself.
It was on the school bus that I fell in love with Claudia. Hear me out.
I was rudely snatched away from my train of thought moments ago when the left-rear wheel of the bus, directly above which I had foolhardily sat down, found itself tackling a spine-crunchingly deep pothole. I don't pay road tax now, let alone over a year ago, but if I did a self-indulgent rant about George Osbourne's frivilous spending of my hard-earned money would have surely ensued.
Desperately I had tried to recapture my thoughts as they floated further from my head, having been forcefully bounced out of it by that jaded crater previously, now being tainted by the general laughter and chitter-chatter that normally fills the bus' foosty cabin and drifting toward the open vent windows that whistled furiously like a band of brass kettles reaching climax as we cruised efficiently at thirty-miles-per-hour or so. However, I soon realised that this would be an impossible task as I caught sight of Claudia Young, by no means for the first time ever though definitely in a way I had never gazed upon her before.
She and I shared a bench in Chemistry class throughout our GCSE term. Our teacher, Dr. Wickes was and, though I see so little of her these days, probably still is a shambolic wreck of a woman, possibly an alcoholic or narcotic drug user, and definitely a victim of institutionalised bullying. She comes from Nottingham, is a vegetarian by choice and partial to shying away from actually teaching by sharing painfully dull insights into her life. She has a cat named Caliugula, also. Subsequently we both failed that exam, as did an unhealthy majority of the class. Dr. Wickes' many failings in life have provided a goldmine of banter for Claudia and I to spoil ourselves in. "If it wasn't for Dr. Wickes we might never have become so close" Claudia said to me once.
So back on the bus and to Claudia. Though, I remember, her lunge for the nearest solid fixture, as the bus sent us in transit, was really rather clumbsy I couldn't help but be thankful for the surly drivers' premature accelaration - due to an ill-temper with his unrewarding and menial occupation, I imagine - as her support of choice happened to be my left shoulder, as it went. That single touch confirmed my suspicions. She wasn't just an average-looking girl who was only sufficiently interesting and funny enough to merit my attention. In those fleeting moments, Claudia went from the former to, in essence, all I ever wanted. When did she get so pretty? Her hair wasn't blond; it was golden. Her skin wasn't clear; it was a subtley, yet beautifully, painted canvas. Her lips weren't pink; they were velvet ropes prohibiting the riff-raff - an embodiment of exclusivity. And a whole list of other mawkish descriptions that would have even the most horrendously sweet romantic reaching for the sick-bag. Her lips though... they would soon became all I could fixate upon. When she talked, eat, drank or chewed idly on a straw or a pen I had leant her. I was cheiloproclitic.
"Sorry, Miles". She stroked my forearm three times as she said this, once on every syllable, elbow-to-wrist-to-elbow-to-wrist. As she sat on the other side of the aisle to my left next to her friend Lillian, I was overwhelmed with a soft tingling sensation underneath the skin on the back of my entire well-postured spine, like an egg had been cracked above the crown of my head and was now trickling down through my hair, onto my neck, shoulders and back. The sensation reverbed through me for almost the entire duration of that commute, as I watched her side-on, intermittently sweeping her hair behind her ears, the tingle became a buzz everytime. It was like a drug; it was euphoric.
For the next two weeks I danced around her, unable to be as comfortable with her as I had always been, and she noticed.
"You've been terribly off with me of late. What's the matter?" she asked during one of Dr. Wickes intense pre-exam cramming sessions.
"Nothing, I'm fine. No, in fact, I'm spectacular. Must be exam stress. Sorry"
"Well, alright, but if there's anything you want to chat about then do. Anything at all."
I could feel her eyes burning through me, to the point of embarrassment, as I stared intently and strenuously at Dr. Wickes eratic scribblings on the whiteboard as she incomprehensively explained the nature of Covalent Bonds. I want to talk to you about everything, Claudia Young, but even I don't have the necessary eloquence to tell you how I feel.
"I'll bear that in mind, Claudia."
The awkwardness of that conversation soon turned to silent tension and I could barely look at her for the rest of the lesson. The breakthrough came, however, as the class was drawing to a close. Kneeling down to pick up a shatter-resistant ruler I had dropped on the floor, I was met by a calf to the cheek and a giggle from above deck. Hitting can be used as a flirtatious device. Still on the floor, I grabbed Claudia's black-tight-clad leg and pulled myself upright. We were both aware that I had my hand on her leg as she sat on her high stool and I stood, teeming over her by four inches or so. Everyone else in that room might as well have not been there as she put her left hand on top of mine, and then took my right one.
"Do you still want to talk, Claudia?"
"You know what."
"Then say it."
"But you already know what. Everybody knows, you've heard them talk."
"You're nervous, and you shouldn't be. Now say it."
"Claudia, will you be my girlfriend?"
"Yes, I will."
The wave of relief that swept over me was more of a misty tsunami, and for the first time since that fated moment on the school bus I felt energised again. Two toothy grins played across our respective faces and I kissed her on the cheek twice then once on the forehead as she stood up an draped her arms around my neck.
For two weeks we were submerged in exams and study timetables that would make even the harshest tyrant cringe with sympathy, and resultantly had very little time together, but as Claudia's art exam finished our courtship began. I would like to think of myself as a realist, though a surealist's self-perception is subsequently invalid, but it took a heartbeat or two for me to fall in love with Claudia, a sentiment I had, and still do, scoff at. But this one's different. On that day I met her in town and we walked for who knows how long. We held hands and strolled, slowly, elongating every step, neither of us truly knowing what we were doing but thriving off the unspoken uncertainty that was evident. By evening time we had settled on a bench near the coast, huddled close for warmth on the clear, cool night. With my fingers I drew a sideways figure of eight on Claudia's shoulder blade as she nestled her face against my collar bone and throat. When she spoke her lips parted and sealed around my skin on every syllable. The tingling sensation returned, though it rarely left when she was in my company. I put my hand on her shoulder, departing from the infinite circuit.
She looked up at me and without hesitation I kissed her. From here we had the greatest three weeks of our lives, I'm sure, doing all the things boyfriends and girlfriends do and generally adoring one another's company.
I wish to leave this story here, though I cannot stress how magical our time together was. After those three weeks, times were tough and I've never really reflected on them with any convictive depth, nor do I ever wish to. All in good time, though