His name was Nicklas and at 8 years, he was a class ahead of me. He had the typical Swedish features; piercing blue eyes that were the first thing you’d notice from afar, as if they were sparkling gems. That, and his ash blond hair with long and wispy bangs that were as playful as him. We weren’t in the same class, but he’d find his way to me on the playground during breaks, and catch up with me after school to walk with me home. Mind you, this was in era where children were innocent, so to me, all of this was inconsequential. But apparently, I was the only one who thought so. Girls started taunting me with claims of us being ‘in love’. I didn’t know what on earth they were alluding to, but I understood it to be something disgusting that I had to fight tooth and nail to distance myself from. When he approached me during breaks, I would be self-aware to a fault, and embarrassed of being seen near him. I didn’t have the heart to be rude, but if there was anything I was good at , it was being silent. It didn’t seem to offend him, as he sought me before anybody else when we went on a joint school trip; not that I was popular. I was awfully shy, which made it so much harder to understand why he was so stubborn ; I even asked myself once if he was stupid!
He held my hand and offered to hold my bag. To me, I didn’t see any foul play but kindness, but I was sorely anxious that I would be taunted again. Despite my reservations, Nicklas’ kindness put me at ease. I don’t remember much from the trip, but that it was a fishing trip and it was rainy.
Sure enough, my luck didn’t last long as one day on my way back home, he creeped up behind me to jump me and we both fell to the tarmac. My cousin and best friend found it extremely funny as they doubled over with laughter, reviving the taunting remarks I thought had died down. I became infuriated, as if I had been stabbed. Not by them, but by Nicklas. He had brought me to the attention of people, when being inconspicuous was a skill I had perfected. It was his fault that I’m feeling this, it’s his fault that the kids are saying mean things that I don’t even understand . I stood up infuriated and made remarks that would bring home the message, and ran away from him to join my bullies, to prove to them.
He didn’t show up during breaks, I know because I would absent-mindedly scan the playground, out of habit or perhaps concern?
That summer would be my last in the small town I was born in, and we were headed for the big city. I don’t know how I did it, but I found his number – I think in a class list given to parents. It was the first time I had used a phone, and I was so nervous because I was afraid my parents would catch me. I dialled the number and his mum picked up. I froze. I don’t know why I called. I was afraid of asking if I could speak to Nicklas, I was afraid that perhaps he was mad at me and would tell the kids at school and they would all make fun of me. Nicklas’ mum must have thought I was a prank caller because it was dead silent on my end because she cleared her throat and said out loud ‘ Hey Nicklas, we’ll call the police when your dad comes back to catch these pranksters’.
I hung up before she could say anything, frantic. I took her threat literally and imagined that the police would come knocking any minute, looking to whisk me away.
I avoided him like the bubonic plague and we moved to another city soon after. I never spoke to him again.