Apple Of My i

i. and mine, the distant sea

I had been watching him since the beginning of English. I assure you, though, that I wasn't – that I'm not – staring. Just watching. Observing. Analyzing. Anything that wasn't staring. I watched how his silver hair hung on his shoulders, how his sea foam eyes glistened with emotions I do not recognize. I observed the way he laughed when he was with his friends (that were also popular), the way a small, annoyed smile would pull at his lips when someone professed their love for him, the way he would flash a tired grin at his friends at the end of the day when he just wanted to read in the library…

Yes, folks, Riku Nagakami reads after school. I often see him in the non-fiction area of the library when I go there after the dismissal bell has rung, his aquiline nose buried in some History or Science book. He thinks that he can hide his Riku-godliness by putting on a pair of oversized glasses, but he obviously can't. Some people, though, are just stupid enough to not notice him. Or maybe, I just notice him too much.

…No, I'm not a stalker. I'm not some hormone-driven teenager desperate to get laid, either. I'm…I don't even know what I am.

But I'm not a stalker. Just remember that.

"Miss Izumiko, who is your favorite poet?" I glanced up at our English teacher, Marluxia-sensei (whose sexuality I have doubted ever since he marched into the room, designer clutch in hand) asked. He was a huge fan of poetry, randomly quoting either Shakespeare or Frost or cummings or Pablo Neruda in every other sentence.

I opened my mouth to answer, but a certain flame-haired girl smugly told the whole class, "'I am nobody, who are you?' I believe it's Emily Dickinson."

Nobody in class got the joke except for a handful of people. Kairi Watanabe was one of those smart, gorgeous popular types. Yes, those people are rare to find. She wasn't mean, but she could be a little bit tempestuous from time to time.

Oh, her jokes sucked, as well.

But she'd been right about my favorite poet. Emily Dickinson. I'd fallen in love with her work ever since my parents bought me an anthology of all her poems for Christmas last year. I love all her poems equally, and I'd even bring that little book to bed.

Realizing that I was still standing with all of my classmates looking at me, I flushed. "Kairi was right. My favorite poet is Emily Dickinson."

Marluxia-sensei nodded eagerly, "I love her, too!"

….Maybe I was just hearing things but I could have sworn I heard him say 'girlfriend' at the end.

I took a small glance at Riku, who was smirking at no one in particular. Perhaps he enjoyed my embarrassment? I clutched my loyal Mongol # 2 pencil tighter, feeling its cylindrical shape mark itself into my skin.

Marluxia-sensei just continued droning on about how much he loved Emily Dickinson.

The library seemed quite silent today. I mean, it was usually quiet, but today…it just seemed dead. I plopped down on one of the red velvet sofas and started drawing. I let my hands take charge, and for a few minutes, I didn't think. The pencil lead possessed me and everything I was and everything I wasn't and just made me draw.

Anything. Everything. Nothing. Light. Darkness. People. World. Sadness. Hope. Dreams.

Anything and nothing that could have been drawn was sketched into my trusty white sketchbook. The sketchbook that was filled with wishes upon stars and far-away dreams that would never come true. The sketchbook that was my life, my hope, my…everything.

And yet, this sketchbook meant nothing to me, sometimes, on days like these. On days when rain kept on falling and when reality came crashing back down, ripping my dreams from me and fragmenting them into little ions of oblivion.

This sketchbook meant nothing to me when I could just spend my days watching Riku, for he was the light – the candle – that never went out, even when we were nebulas away. I could see his silver aura from millions of light-years away, and he was the first person I would want to see when the End would come.

But of course, my sketchbook meant the world to me on days like these as well, for Riku was the land and I was buried deep, deep, deep, deep below – where no light can shine and where I cannot see him.

Life. It's too much of a paradox, sometimes.

"Hey," I looked up from my sketchbook only to bore my oceanic eyes into familiar sea-green ones. Riku. When did he get here? More importantly, when did the sun set?

"The library…It's about to close," he continued, gently, as if I was vulnerable and would break at the sound of his voice.

"Oh." Oh? How lame. For the first time ever, the object of my affection has actually spoken to me and I say 'oh.' Great.

"I was trying to call your attention—" He looked for my name in his subconscious, "Namine, but you were so engrossed in your drawings I thought you'd be able to tear apart your sketchbook…"

"Well, anyway, I should be going. Goodbye," He muttered, before exiting. I just sat there like some idiotic statue, and was only able to regain control of my limbs after he had left.

"Wait!" I had wanted to say, but no words came out of my useless mouth. He had dropped a piece of paper - crumpled - on the floor: a love letter from Kairi. I reached out to get it, and read it silently.

The moon is distant from the sea

And yet with amber hands

She leads him, docile as a boy,

Along appointed sands.