He smells of cigarettes and washing powder, and his hair is always too long. There's something sad about him, but I can't decide if it's real or just my own post-romantic nature creating tragedy as it does. He can be cruel, so cruel. His words, though stuttered and clumsy, are said with that shallow sort of laughing disdain that can make you sink to the stature of a child.
I don't think he's happy. He laughs too loud at things that aren't funny, and often. No one worries about him. No one worries because he can be cruel, and laughs too often. Maybe he isn't sad or tragic. He'd speak in that careless drawl with that quip of sadism, and you'd hate him. He's not tragic at all.
You'd began to get used to him though, like I am; even comforted by him. You'd begin to like his comfortably stuttered words, and the way he gives his whole body over to a laugh, even if it's forced. You get used to him never saying sorry and acting different around everyone else.
He stands at the lamp post besides the bus stop smoking for about five minutes, every day before school. The smoke curls and murmurs, formless, just like him. He lets his fingers whisper through it, shifting its shape, but never breaking it. I stand with him, every morning, watching him cloud his lungs. I once tried to walk on without him, but his smoke-filled croak of a voice sounded, said he liked it better when he had my company, made me stay. We don't ever talk. Occasionally I glance at him, and he stares back blankly. It feels like that's conversation enough. The silence is broken by the snarl of his heel crushing the cigarette on the pavement, and we walk.
A girl asked to join us once, on our smoking stop. He told her it was dull and that we didn't talk about anything. I don't know if he actually thought it was dull, but his noncommittal reply makes me think that he doesn't want to share our five minutes.
One day he drops his cigarette, half smoked, and grabs my hand, breaking into a run. I ask him where we're going but he doesn't reply, and I think we're just running for the sake of it. He takes a sharp left down a small path between two houses, pulling me behind him. Then we reach a fence, and beyond that is a field. We walk to the centre, and he smiles wide, throwing his head back in a laugh. I laugh too but I don't know why. We do this a lot now. We spend the rest of the morning in the field. He smokes cigarettes and walks along the top of the fence while I pick at blades of grass. We talk about everything and nothing, and when we finally return to school there's grass in our hair and pockets.
By lunchtime he's forgotten, and he's that boy again; the cruel one. I don't mind. In the afternoon we both sit on the bus, far apart. We both look out the window, watching the grey blur of the city. Of a morning it's beautiful, in the afternoon it just seems bleak and irrelevant. I'm reminded of something he once told me from the top of the fence, smoke pouring from his lips as he said, "Avoid the world. It's just a lot of dust and drag and it means nothing in the end".