Saturday 13 February 2016

A Valentine's Day Story, Chapter 5 - The Friend

This is the fifth - and concluding part of a multi-part story. 

Previous chapters are available as below"

Chapter One - The Girl
Chapter Two - The Boy
Chapter Three - The Manipulator
Chapter Four - The Lady

[And at last, the end times. I don't know how well the end is foreshadowed, but I think it's a story that deserved a happy ending]

Chapter 5 - The Friend

The Biology Lab is one of the largest rooms in Midgard-Caledonia High School. The door opens at the bottom left corner, into the section where the rows of desks are lined up for the regular lectures. Towards the right are the laboratory tables for the actual experiments, and behind is the balcony that opens out over the basketball court–cum–cricket pitch. The party was concentrated in the lecture hall; the desks had been moved to form a closed area leaving the centre, a space of about fifteen feet by twenty to serve as the dance floor. At the top left corner two desks had been laid facing each other where a DJ sat with his equipment and collection of disks.

The DJ was silent, as he pretended to fiddle with the knobs on his mixer. The revellers were standing at the other end of the dance floor talking to each other in hushed tones. On the seat next to the DJ, a girl sat crying copious tears.

It was Rita Stringthing.

At the other end of the dance floor from her, a muscular bloke with a face like a chimpanzee was clasping to his ample chest and kissing a petite girl bearing a striking resemblance to Kylie Minogue, who clearly wasn’t resisting.

...who clearly wasn't resisting

For the second time that evening, the surrounding objects engaged in a well-choreographed dance. Only this time it was the wooden desks, not the school building and they did the quadrille, not the tango. With a muffled cry on my lips I disengaged my arm from Apollonia and staggered to where Pete-Pete was standing,

“Did she actually accept his disgusting proposal?” I asked in strangled tones.

“Yes,” he said in a tone that mixed disbelief and disgust, “it took a while but she did. I can’t believe it. Joshhound!”

By this time the clasping couple seemed to have become aware of my presence. Arabella stepped backwards out of the ape’s embrace and gaped at me in open-mouthed horror, presumably not entirely caused by the fact of my overbearing ugliness. Joshhound cast a wary eye upon me and stepped back a little, adopting a defensive posture. A few of the guys, including Raul Electrichny, the huge slogger from our Cricket team and Pete-Pete, now seemingly recovered from his adventures with Orange Soda, moved closer to us, ready to separate us if the fight got too violent.

“Jormund…I…it’s not what it looks like,” I heard Arabella say, “I didn’t plan for this to…don’t do anything silly, you two!”

It was my turn to ignore her this time. I advanced on Joshhound with as menacing a look as I could muster. The teacher's cane was kept leaning against the wall next to the Skeleton. I picked it up. Pete-Pete tried to pull it out of my hand, but I brushed him off. Raul told me to reconsider the matter, but I ignored the gentle giant’s advice. I caught Josh by the collar and was about to lay into him with the cane, when, to the astonishment, I’m sure, of everyone present, the music started at an eardrum-shattering loud volume. My hands, just like everyone else's, went up to cover my ears. The cane clattered to the floor.

...and was about to lay into him with the cane.

 “What the…!” I said, turning towards the DJ, to find myself looking into the jet-black eyes of Apollonia. It was evident that she’d told the man to start the music. As the strains of “Mr Vain” crashed into the collective conscious of the sixty-odd people gathered there, a few stray couples stepped onto the makeshift dance floor. Others started swaying gently. The trickle of dancers quickly became a strong current and I found myself being brushed on all sides and pushed backwards. A soft hand slipped into mine and led me to the side of the room. I watched in stupefaction as Apollonia dragged me towards the secluded corner where Rita and the DJ were seated. Ironically, though this was where the unholy cacophony originated from, the speakers themselves were placed some distance away, making it the quietest place in the room.

Keeping her hand in mine, Apollonia patted Rita gently with her free hand, and said in a low but clear voice,

“I know you feel terrible right now, Rita, but do go home and think about it. Three hours ago he was crying like a baby about his card to Pashiella having been thrown into the dustbin. And now he’s making out with the girl he knows was dating his friend. You’re a sensible girl, Rita. There’ll be someone better. Hell, it can’t even be that difficult to be better than him.”

The amount of contempt that she concentrated in that word ‘him’ would be impossible for me to condense into mere words. You needed to have been there.

The crying girl looked up and wiped the tears from her eyes.

“She was my best friend in the whole world,” she said between sobs. “It’s that which hurts, Apollonia.”

The haughty face of the Juno-esque beauty softened for a moment.

“That I cannot do anything about, sweets. Leave it to time.” And with an affectionate caress of the weeping girl’s cheeks, she turned to look at me.

“Well, Jormund?” she said.

I’d been through a lot in the last few minutes since I’d seen her stately figure standing by the railing of the wooden staircase when I’d turned the corner from the Rounders Court. But I had regained a measure of equanimity, or at least enough to answer her with a relatively even voice,

“Well, Apollonia?”

“Want to walk me to my house?”

I shrugged, and nodded. We slipped out of the Lab almost unnoticed and went down the stairs at a measured place, while she placed her arm gravely in mine, rather in the fashion of those people you see walking down the steps to County Balls in movies based on Jane Austen novels. We continued on our way out through the gate towards the Houses, me staring at the setting sun trying hard to quell the pain in my heart. Apollonia stared at the ground as we walked; what she had on her mind I don’t claim to know.

When we reached the main road, she let go of my arm and pointed westwards, in the direction of the beach.

“That way,” she said softly.

“Isn’t Victoria House over that way?” I asked, pointing north.

“Well,” she said, pausing for a while as we crossed the road, before adding, “It is St.Valentine’s day – no, that’s blasphemy, it’s Februata Juno’s Day – and all that, so I thought we could, you know, take a long walk along the beach, exit at the Mosque, take a right and walk through the Food Lane and take a left and stop at the Juice Bar and take a right to go to my Victoria House from the East Gate.”

I’d never heard of anything as stupid – it was the equivalent of going from New York to Boston via Seattle.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Apollonia, that’s the longest possible way…oh.”

Yes, sometimes the piercing light of realisation penetrates even the thick skull of Jormund Elver. For a moment I thought the surrounding traffic lights would commence the foxtrot, but they mercifully desisted.

“You don’t have to, I mean it’s up to you,” she said, lowering her gaze, “It’s just a beginning, that’s all.”

There come times in a man’s life when he feels overtaken by events around him; when he realises things have gotten out of his control and that the best course of action is to stop thinking about it and go with the flow.

I pursed my lips, took the perfectly-formed hand that she had offered and walked determinedly towards the Beach.


  1. Spectacular. Stellar. Splendid. Exquisite even. Hear, hear, Master Author!

    1. Thank you, Pritesh. Your words are very encouraging.

  2. Wonderful. Loved it. You write so well!

    1. Thank you very much, Debashis sir! Very flattered by your words.

  3. Hook, line and sinker. You're created magic with mere words, Perce!

  4. Wow, Percy, that ending lines. It is strong, beautiful and full of emotions. Sweetest possible end to an adorable story like this.

  5. My apologies for not reading this earlier. Percy, you have a style that is distinctly your own, the way you tell a story, the way you treat it is beguiling. Enjoyed your words, much more than the story--and that is saying something as the story is a darn good one.

  6. This truly is stellar. The nuanced characterisations blended with your beyond-excellent narration makes this series one of the most engaging and memorable ones till date. Kudos to you, Percy sir!