Subconscious Desire

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Short recollections of man about a girl in his school days.

Submitted: October 19, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: October 19, 2018



Subconscious desire


I don't regret the things that I've done; I just regret the things I didn't do when I had the chance.


It would have been foolish of me to say it was friendship. By all accounts we were simply seatmates, drawn together by the silly whims of our homeroom teacher. Two students would share a table—long tables comfortable enough for two—and our teacher, the self-proclaimed matchmaker, saw it fit to pair us together, saying with humor that we look cute as a couple. It was the first time that we landed in the same class. Up until then I had only known her from a distance. Neither of us had ever spoken to one another before, which made me somewhat uncomfortable given my shy disposition. She had an intimidating presence to begin with, and it almost reduced me into silence. Thankfully she looked not too comfortable herself.

At first there was an awkward air that restrained our characters to show. A week or two later, however, like two pieces of puzzle that were finally fit together, we found ourselves comfortably settled and soon conversed in the most casual way as though we were longtime friends.

Our souls were revealed upon our faces, and our hearts through our words. Just about anything under the sun was a welcome topic, and we talked in such offhand manner that, at one point, even sex was our subject. But what surprised and fascinated me indeed was her passion for sports. A lot of disagreements sprung whenever we talked about it.

“I’m telling you, Sugar Ray Robinson is the greatest boxer of all time,” she once insisted on me, with that radiant face full of fine features. 

“What about Ali?”

“Ali's great, sure, but he’s not as great as Robinson. I mean, c'mon, 173 wins, 108 knockouts, with only 19 losses? That record speaks for itself. And mind you, about 10 of those 19 losses came when he was already in his 40's.”

"But Ali fought in the golden era of heavyweights and basically beat everybody. Liston, Foreman, Frazier, Norton, the list goes on."

"True. But let me ask, do you know how many hall-of-famers are in Robinson's resume? Well, I'll tell you—ten! He holds the record I think. Also, do you know that Ali had actually idolized Robinson? I'm serious!" she added impatiently when I gave her a doubtful look. "Heck, if it weren’t for Robinson, there would have been no Ali."

The boldness of her manner—emphasized by those challenging eyes—would sometimes overwhelm me and have me retreating.

"Okay okay, you win," I said with a smile. "Robinson is the greatest boxer of all time, as you say. You can't deny me this though—that Ali is the best heavyweight. Let's agree on that at least."

"No, that title belongs to Joe Louis!"

Boyish traits defined her charms. She wasn’t sassy with her wear like most girls I saw around the campus, and yet she outshined them all. Unlike those who put on cosmetics and chic clothing, she was quite the simple girl; but at the same time her simplicity also provided beauty. I once brought the topic about her poor choice of clothes, and her response was, “I’d rather feel good than look good with what I wear."

Well, it didn’t matter either way, because her face alone could dominate the casual observer.

"You're one to talk, mister fashion guru," she complained to me nonetheless. "You who always wear white."

"What's wrong with white?"

"White is the epitome of plaineness."

"Maybe if you put white on other people it'll make them look plain. Not me, I make white look good." I gave her a playful wink, to which she snorted.

"For white to look good on you, you ought to be dark-skinned. Coz, you know, color contrast—opposites complement each other."

"So you mean to say, since I'm fair-skinned, that black would suit me better? Or would you rather I get myself a tan?"

She looked at me and thought of this for a minute. With humor, I returned her attention by showing a little model pose. As she opened her mouth to say something, she hesitated and let out a sigh instead.

I chuckled. "Well?"

"Oh nevermind."


In her subdued moods—especially when I caught her daydreaming, which often happened during Algebra class—she carried with her a very somber expression, but of sweet serenity nonetheless. A hand would curl under her proud yet delicate chin as she positioned her head toward the windows beside. It was a pleasure to view her in that picturesque pose, matched with such peaceful countenance, the window and its outside view of trees, clouds, and blue sky as her background. An artist would have been delighted to draw her—at those moments I dearly wished I was one.

Her soft, angelic face, in contrast to her strong personality, drew admiration among girls, while her smooth skin and graceful figure inspired lust among boys. She was, I admit, beautiful. But for some inexplicable reason, I never saw her as how the others did, as any normal teenage boy would. Perhaps she was too beautiful for my own taste. I only enjoyed her company—no more, no less—and I had a strong notion she felt the same way about me.

It would be hopeless to explain, to accurately describe our relationship. I just knew that despite the intimacy we shared, at the end of the day there was a mutual understanding between us, an unspoken arrangement, that we were nothing more than seatmates. Once outside the classroom, we became two different people. I had my own group of friends to mingle with, and so had she. Odd as it seemed, it was the natural order of things.

One day, when the dreary weather seemed to reflect her mood, she said to me, "I know this might sound cliche." Her nonchalant gaze remained beyond the windows as she spoke. "But have you ever thought about the future?"

"The future?"

She nodded. "The future."

"The future huh. I guess I do think about it once in a while. Why do you ask?"

"Nothing. It's just that I've been thinking here—"

"Wait, you're not having some kind of existential crisis, are you?"

Unaffected by my teasing question, she went on and asked, "What are your thoughts, when you think about the future?"

"Hmm, that's a tough one. For starters, I've always wondered if there'll ever be another Star Wars movie. It's been ages."

"Silly, that's not what I mean."

"I know. Geez, so serious today. What are my plans after high school, is that what you mean?"

"Not really."

"I'll tell you if you tell me yours first."

For a minute or so, none could be heard save for the usual chatter inside our homeroom class. I glanced at her profile. All the while she sat there unmoving, with her cheek propped by a hand, making me unable to get a view of her expression.

"My parents want me to go to college," she said eventually. "As you know, I have a bit of detective fetish, so I'm thinking of taking criminology. But... I'm not sure which university I should take."

"Just take the one nearest your home, problem solved."

She turned to me at last. It slipped my notice at the time, but now, years later as I relive these memories, I know there was something different about her eyes. "And you?" she asked, then added when a hint of smile showed upon my face, "If you give me another half-assed answer, I'll not talk to you for the rest of the week."

It was a threat I took into serious consideration.

"Honestly speaking, I don't have any definite plans yet. I haven't given it much thought. The only future I'm worried about at the moment is," I shrugged, "if there'll ever be another Star Wars movie."


In the end graduation day arrived and the inevitable parting was due. Not a hug or a handshake, or even a word of goodbye was exchanged between us. However, in the midst of all that celebration, something peculiar happened:

All ceremonies had ended, to the delight of everyone. Like me and all the rest, she busied herself over the occasion. We were separated from hearing range, about several meters apart, engulfed by a mass of animated people along with their noises. Here and there pictures were being taken. Exclamations and laughter circulated from one end to another. I’m not sure if it was by accident, or if my eyes unconsciously sought her figure; nonetheless, for a brief yet slow moment, across those blurry shapes which divided us, our eyes met. Within that interval I noticed her lips parting, inaudibly forming a few words which I failed to decipher. Whether they were directed at me, I couldn't know for sure because, as quickly as it had appeared, her beautiful face vanished from my view, drowned by a sea of other faces.

It was the last time I saw her—that is, until eleven years later, when we met again under different circumstances. During that span of eleven years her existence easily faded from my mind, melted down like ice under a scorching sun. Her vague message—if indeed a message, or perhaps mere imagination, as I had often wondered—was simply dismissed as something irrelevant. Looking back, I realize how cruel I had been to my memories. Now I could only remember those times with a wistful longing.


A phone call from an old friend started it all. If not for that call perhaps I wouldn't be here writing this.

“Hey, it’s me,” said a familiar, jolly voice from the other line.

“I can tell."

“Remember Sonia, the girl you were sittin’ with in high school?”

My heart skipped a beat. “How can I forget?”

“You got that right!” He laughed, the good-humored Barney. “It’s a shame I never had the chance. While you, bastard, of all people, had all the chances you could get. Any teenage hormone would have loved to fill in your shoes. Ah this bastard, up to this day I still don't understand why you never took the chance, when clearly, Charles, clearly she was into you.”

“That’s what you think.”

“That’s what everybody thought, supposed, assumed, believed or whatever, and probably still do now.”

I gave him an irritated sigh. “Give it a rest. The subject is old. What did you call for anyway?” I tried to make myself sound casual, but in truth I was eager. Hearing her name again after so many years sparked something inside me.

“Being evasive again, like always. I’m used to it, Charles, but I won’t give in this time. I insist upon an answer. If you weren’t banging Stephanie then, I would have thought you were gay. There's something you're not telling me man, I know there is. Think about— etc. etc.”

It would be a waste of time on the reader’s part, and effort on mine, if I were to relay all his blabbering. Indeed, my patience almost hit its limit while he told me this and that, this and that. I had to make defenses, too, over his attacking questions. Finally, after some time, the onslaught subsided.

“Well, anyway,” he said, “Jackie-boy rang me up a while ago. He insists that we come—though he himself doesn’t want to. He didn’t say it but I know for a fact he doesn’t. He hates this kind of stuff. His high school sweetheart is the only reason why he's bothering about it. Hell, I think she's the one and only reason why he's functional as a human being. The guy is a goddamn slave to his wife. You see, Eleanor urged him to urge us, and being the loving husband that he is, of course he didn’t have a choice—and being the loving friends that we are, we don’t either. I never really was close with that Sonia, but we’ll go right? I reckon alot of people from that class would too. More or less it’ll be like a reunion, after ten years. Ten, is it? Or eleven?”

“W-Why—what’s the occasion?” I couldn’t contain the excitement in my voice anymore.

“Ah, haven’t I told you yet? That girl, Sonia, she’s dead. Tomorrow's her burial.”


Throughout my reminiscing, one particular memory stood above others, a scene that kept coming back to me so vividly, replaying over and over in my mind. I was within that crowd again, celebrating yet feeling indifferent to the celebration, and there she stood at other end, beautiful as ever, with a look as placid as the moon, her serene eyes directed into mine.

Back then I hadn't the slightest clue what those lips were trying to convey. The words dawned on me one day as I was driving in the autumn sunset, with the radio as my sole company. A slow, melancholic music complimented the peaceful atmosphere. It was my first time hearing this song ('It had to be you' by Dinah Shore), yet the lyrics felt strangely familiar.

I wondered around... and finally found... the somebody who... could make me be true... could make me feel blue... It had to be you...

“ had to be you..." was what Sonia had been saying, as our world began drifting apart.


Lately, I often find myself thinking about those bygone days, and there's a question lingering each time, which almost tortures me. I wonder how my life would have turned out—or both our lives for that matter—if I had taken that chance.


© Copyright 2019 Sidney Karton. All rights reserved.

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