I felt terrible. To be honest, I wasn’t supposed to get this far, but when I noticed I had already taken his book and there was no turning back. Moreover, I was really mad and wanted to teach him a lesson.
I didn’t know what was so special about that book, but if I had got a reaction from him, it was important, no doubt. Even though I knew I was doing something terrible, a part of me wished to keep going on.
Mar was waiting for me at the entrance on the front side of the courtyard.
“Yeah, it didn’t take long”.
I didn’t like lying to my best friend, but if I had told Mar about my crazy plan she would have stopped me for sure, so I told her that I had to go talk to our literature teacher about some doubts I had on the project we were going to present at the end of the semester. I had also asked Mar to take care of my bag and the most important: Alexander’s bait.
I was curious to check it out and I decided to take it home. Yes, I had lied to Alexander getting him to believe that it could be hidden in the library, but I couldn’t take the risk of him finding it. All in all, though, I was pretty sure he hadn’t believed me anyway.
When I got home, nobody came to meet me, but it felt fine for once.
I opened my bag and took the small volume in dark green covers. It looked quite old. I gave it a turn and inspected the front golden words that twinkled with the light, but I couldn’t read them. They were written in a language I didn’t know.
I kept looking over the object and finally opened it. The first page was a simple black and white copy of the cover but, when I turned it, my eyes stepped on a group of lines written with a pen. The calligraphy was odd and I quickly understood that it was also written in the same incomprehensible language.
“Shame. I was hoping to know what it says…”
“You shouldn’t pry into other people’s things”.
Pipoh appeared so suddenly that he made me scream.
“Don’t scare me like that!”
“Why did you take it?”, he asked, aware of my crimes.
“You saw me?”
“I can become invisible, B.B., but I’m never too far away. So yeah, obviously, I saw you. And honestly, I can’t understand what has got into you”.
“It’s just that… he gets on my nerves”.
“So what?” the pixie insisted. “That kid’s life doesn’t concern you at all and what you did is wrong. You should be ashamed of yourself».
I tightened my lips and lowered my eyes, letting him lecture me.
“I just… want him to open a bit”.
“And you really believe that he’ll do it if you bother him?”
“I… I told the girls that I would demonstrate to them that he’s not a bad person but… he didn’t listen to me, so…” I hand-covered my eyes, knowing that it was the lamest excuse I could have come up with, and sighed. “You’re right, I shouldn’t have teased him like this”.
Pipoh sighed too and sat down on my desk.
“Oh well, what’s done is done, but I think you should give it back to him first thing tomorrow morning”.
I nodded in silence.
I was well aware that giving the book back to Alexander would exterminate all my chances to take him to the party… but my conscience wouldn’t rest if I carried on with that improvised and awful plan. Besides… that wasn’t the way to make friends.
“I’ll give it back to him tomorrow”, I stated, cringing on the chair and hiding behind my knees.
Next morning, convinced that it was the best thing to do, Bibiana met Mar on her way to high school and told her not to wait for her at the break. She didn’t tell the details and Mar didn’t ask either, even though she was kinda curious.
The couple of lessons before the break were hard due to Bibiana’s impatience.
She could have used a good pause and meet her friends. She could have tried to speak with Alexander during the next hour, when they had Language together, but she preferred the discretion of the library, where she knew she’d find him.
As she was walking along the corridor with the book in her arms, she thought about what to say. “Would it be enough to apologise? In any case, she was pretty sure he’d look down on her, but couldn’t blame him. She would have taken it quite badly in his place.
When she reached the library, she took a deep breath and opened the door.
There he was, at the back in his usual table, with his lemon tea and a couple of books beside him. He was quietly reading; his arms resting on the desk.
Bibiana stopped her pace for a second before carrying on. She was still wondering why she had played such a trick on him. She had been trying to convince herself that it was simply out of anger because of his personality and that it was also the reason why she tried to seek revenge... but she didn’t care that much, actually. In fact, if she thought about it, what hurt her the most was that Alexander didn’t want to get along.
Bibiana wasn’t friends with everybody; there were obviously other classmates she didn’t talk much to, but nobody had told her face to face that they would never be friends. Not until now. Furthermore, everybody accepted and respected her… except for him. Was that it? Was she unable to bear that somebody didn’t want her friendship?
She analyzed that thought and realized, much to her regret, that it was the most probable reason. Even if it was something stupid, she had that obsession with wanting to be cool with everybody, even though it seemed impossible… and she had just found the one resisting. If she didn’t count Jongleur in, of course… but the ginger head was another story; nothing to do with a simple classmate whose tongue was as sharp as a knife.
Bibiana sighed for the last time, then said to herself that it would be better to be done with it and get used to the idea that you can’t have everything you want in life.
She got closer and handed the book over to Alexander when she was in front of him.
He caught a glimpse of the movement and raised his eyes when recognizing the object. He looked so confused that the whole scene would have been funny if it wasn’t for the background in the matter. She answered to his questioning eyes with a whisper.
“I shouldn’t have taken it away. I’m sorry”.
He doubted for a second, maybe thinking that she was about to pull another prank on him, but, when he reached for the book and grabbed it, she let it go. Alexander kept the pose a bit more and, after briefly looking at her, he carefully examined the book on the inside and outside.
There weren’t more scratches, torn pages or any other damages the book could have suffered while in her crazy hands, which was quite suspicious, but, at the same time, a relief. However, he didn’t ignore the remorse in those eyes of green and knew that Bibiana was being honest. He couldn’t understand, though, why she had changed her mind all of a sudden, but, just in case, he put the book away, safe inside his backpack.
When he looked ahead again, she was still there, facing him from her chair. Silence lengthened a bit until the girl decided to add some words.
“Yesterday I behaved like a child. I was mad because you insulted me, but that’s not an excuse to do what I did and… I’m sorry if I bothered you. I suppose that book must be… important to you”.
Alexander breathed in without looking away, a severe rictus on his lips. He could have said a lot of things, but he preferred to stay silent. Bibiana, on the other hand, used that moment as a chance to keep on talking.
“So… I don’t know the language the book is written in, but I do like the illustrations”.
It was obvious she didn’t have much more to say and Alexander could have kept quiet with his arms folded, waiting for her to leave, but, for some reason, he felt like giving her brief knowledge a push.
“It’s a series of Polish tales”.
“Polish?” Her eyes went wide-open. “Wait… you can read Polish? I mean… Poland’s language?”
“Did I stutter? Where do you think I come from? Or do you also believe that the Jedynak surname comes from Euskadi? Because you may not be the only one”.
Bibiana blinked and, all of a sudden, her smile widened from ear to ear.
“That’s… so cool!”.
Alexander raised an eyebrow. Had he heard well or she had just shown admiration for him?
The girl rested her elbows on the desk and leaned forward, still smiling.
“And what’s the title of the book? What are the tales about?”
It probably was the first time that somebody was interested in something belonging to him. That resulted in such a surprise that even his eyes went wide open. For an instant, he was left mute, but his ability to react quickly prevented him from also feeling like an idiot.
“W-why do you care? You can’t read them”.
She turned her nose up but didn’t bother.
“Alright, then… Could you at least tell me why are they that important to you? I’ve seen the inscription on the first page. Who wrote it?”
Alexander felt all his muscles stressing. If there was a subject he wanted to avoid, it was that one. Memories threatened to fill his mind again and he scared them away with a head shake. He didn’t restrain, however, the rage he felt because of that. Staring angrily at her, he spit the words.
“It is none of your business, so forget it and leave. Now”.
Bibiana couldn’t ignore the change in his tone, nor the meaning of those words, so she knew she had stepped on a delicate matter. She bit her lip, aware that she had lost the chance to keep up with their conversation, and nodded before she stood up.
“Very well... Sorry to bother you”.
She then turned and walked away like nothing happened, neither noticing that his eyes were following her.
When she finally left the library, she sighed in relief. Alexander was definitely a hard nut to crack but, for a moment, she had felt that it was possible to have a normal conversation with him, which gave her hope. Maybe, just maybe, there was a way to deal with him.
Even though it had all begun with the really-nonexistent bet she’d done with her friends, Bibiana decided to make it her personal project. It wasn’t just that she wanted to be on good terms with him. She had discovered that Alexander was full of surprises and felt really curious about the person hiding behind the lone wolf. Something told her that it might be fascinating and worth the shot. After all, she might be the only one with some interest for him.
The school bell rang and she went to Language class. She knew both would meet there again, but she didn’t care because her moves were already used for the day. She’d made a decision. To tame that beast, she’d need some patience. Hopefully, she had plenty.