I was happy to put distance between the folks and me, but Xander was a whole new ball game. I was really going to miss him. I hadn’t worked up my courage to tell him how I felt. I didn’t have words to explain how dear he was to me. I was afraid to think of what would happen if he said that he was not interested in a relationship. On the eve of my birthday, I went to bed as usual after waving a goodnight from my window. My mind was full of the party and the people I would meet.
A knock on my window woke me up from my reverie. Xander smiled and waved. I was really surprised. It was midnight.
“What are you doing? What happened?” I asked in a whisper as I opened my window.
Taking my hand he pulled me outside and on to the rooftop. It was a clear night. I shivered. My sleeveless cotton nightgown stopped a little below my knees. I could feel a breeze on my bare feet. Xander was still tall and it was difficult for me to make out the expression on his face. We sat down on the parapet and enjoyed the moonlight night.
“I will miss you.” He said as he looked at the sky.
I had goose bumps listening to him. My hair flew in the gentle breeze and a strand touched his face. He looked so handsome and so solemn. I could not decipher what was going through his mind.
“I won’t be far, I will email everyday….” I said trying to console myself more than him. He gently touched the strand that caressed his face. I felt a shot of awareness shoot through me. It was nothing like what I felt before.
“Will you miss me?” he asked.
His hand softly touched my hair. I had left it open without any pins or bands. My hair was my pride. It fell like a soft sheen covering my shoulders and stopping at my elbows. I loved the way it felt when I twirled my head. But when Xander touched it…it felt like electricity was passing through it. Some thing had changed between us.
“You know, I will” I replied.
I raised my hand to tie my hair in a bun as I usually do. His hands stopped me. His finger locked through mine.
“Leave it as it is. It looks beautiful” he said as he came closer.
My heart stopped. I looked at him with questions in my eyes ‘what did he want to say?’ He held my hand for a while and then making up his mind, he took out a book which looked like a diary and handed it over to me.
“What is it?” I asked.
Was he going to show me a picture of someone he loved? Lately he had begun to quiz me on what a girl my age would love and what would be an ideal date and so on. With a heavy heart I would answer his every query with total honesty while wishing all that planning was for me.
With a smile he replied “A gift for you to remember me.”
‘If it’s a collection of poems on some babe….I will knock him off the roof’ I thought as I open the clasp and turned to the first page. Within it laid a picture of Xander and Me playing. I looked at him. His eyes searched my face. I smiled.
“Who took a picture of us?” I asked curiously.
“My mum” he confessed
“I didn’t want you to know, but I really valued our game every evening. I felt like I was looked on as a person. Not as someone who was grieving. You made me forget everything else when I am with you”.
He rubbed my hands. I shivered.
The next page was a typical scene at my house. My brother was playing on the sofa while I looked comical trying to focus on something which looked like algebra. Xander was standing behind me with a grin on his face while he was looking at me.
“Your mum took this pic. She wanted to capture the essence of a day when you and your brother were engrossed in things that didn’t involve broken furniture, loud words and brawls” He said.
“ So why are you in the picture?” I asked poking him in the chest.
“The looking good factor!”
I gave him a solid elbow on his rib. “Oww!!” he cried and retaliated by pulling my hair. We laughed for a few minutes before browsing.
The next couple of pics were taken in from various places, parties, games, etc. One particular picture caught my attention. It was the last picture in the book. It was taken after a game between us. Both of us were sweating and smiling at each other. Our profiles were beautifully captured against the backdrop of the wild green grass that was not mowed down. The picture suggested energy, attraction and affection.
There was a question written below:
When I close my eyes…I see your face and once again I am reminded of the fact I can’t help missing you …could there be more to this friendship?
I was at a loss for words….I felt shy. I looked at him and blushed. How did he guess? does he feel the same? my heart pounded. His look said everything. The shy smile, the sigh of relief and the soft touch to smoothen my flying hair…
He took out a pen from his pocket and wrote below the question
P.S. I Love You.