November 25, 2008

When the Autumn Leaves Blush

As dictated by Faranza Syns

When The Autumn Leaves Blush
Faranza Syns

Sean Hayes had fallen in love.

Or maybe it was that chicken curry he had eaten this morning with that stale bread. His latter theory was proven when he was found by his classmate, bent over a toilet bowl. He had been heaving and retching at an alarming rate that no one dared to move him. Not one inch.

Misery twisted every limb in his body -- it ached at places he never knew existed.

Funny how similar love and food poisoning could be.

One of his sympathetic, soft-hearted female classmates approached him and touched his shoulder. Sean was sprawled, unmoving, over the toilet seat. "Sean? Are you okay?"

"I feel like barfing again."

She scurried back, arms opened wide, pushing back against her other classmates as if she were protecting them from the force of his words.

What the hell were they doing here anyway? he wondered, his cheek laid down on the cool ceramic surface of the toilet bowl. This was the boys' toilet.

He felt his stomach heave again and he quickly turned his face towards the hole of the toilet. His retching was so loud in his ears that he could not hear the cries of disgust and the moans of misery his classmates seemed to be cheerfully eliciting.

But he did hear the feminine mewl of "Eww... that's so gross!"

Die. He was dying. That was the only answer. Maybe this was God's sign that he had only a few more days to live. He only wished that the retching wouldn't be so horrible. Or so embarrassing. Sean felt the stinging tears come to his eyes as he stared at the floor, his head resting against the ceramic bowl.

Why must there be a crowd? Viciously, he swiped at the tears. He could not even die in peace, could he? During his funeral, the only thing people would remember would be him with his head down a toilet bowl.

Not a nice image to bring to your grave.

"Hey guys, come on, leave him alone," he heard a girl say. It was not one of his classmates though. He stroked his abused tummy and reached up blindly to flush the toilet. A hand reached there before his did and flushed the toilet for him.

"We don't wanna—” one of the boys began to object.

"Shh! That's one of the Dorwoods!" another voice hushed him hurriedly in an overloud stage whisper.

Though Sean had his head bent down, he could hear the rustle of a skirt, then the sound of someone squatting beside him.

"You guys had better leave now, he needs space,” said the female voice again, her tone gently coaxing yet firm and nearly imperious.

There was the sound of murmurs, then suddenly, it was all quiet. He felt a gentle hand run down his back comfortingly. "You okay?"

He half-expected a replay of the scene with his classmates. Angered, although grateful, he reached out to push her away.

He couldn't even nudge her.

Instead of falling back on her backside, the girl grabbed his hand and held on tight.

It was comforting, he realised with sudden shock. She was trying to comfort him.

"I called the nurse. She had to wrap up some stuff at the infirmary. Can you wait a while?" She was still rubbing his back. God, this was so embarrassing. A girl was seeing him this weak. Acting like a sissy, crying on a toilet bowl. But he couldn't help it. He felt so miserable. His stomach would not settle and his whole body felt hot and cold alternately. He wanted to move and stand up. To show her that he could handle a little bit of food poisoning. But he had wasted most of his reserve of energy on vomiting his guts out.

And then, Sean Hayes cried for the first time in front of a girl. He sobbed uncontrollably, his whole body shaking and rocking and...

Wait, he was not really shaking.

He stopped long enough to realise that the girl herself was crying on his shoulder.


"Don't cry, you idiot!" she yelled. She hiccuped and sobbed. "If I see someone cry, I HAVE to cry along!"

Sean raised his head a little to stare incredulously at the girl. He shook his head as if trying to clear it, then felt dizzy. But the incredulity of the situation was mind-boggling.

"It's a--hic--natural re-re-reaction... in me. I just ha-have to c-cry whenever I see someone c-cry..." she let out a mewl of distress as she continued crying. She was crying and heaving and hiccupping on his shoulder.

The girl wasn't crying because she was worried about him. She was crying because she HAD to.

He blinked. Then, the humour in the situation caught up with him, but not enough to penetrate the cloud of misery shrouding his brain. He felt like laughing but settled for a smile instead.

This was one weird girl.

"I...” he began, croaking. “I need to get up.”

She paused in her crying, then looked up. Sean rubbed his temples as he looked away. Although the situation was actually laughable, he had still cried in front of a girl, and it was downright embarrassing.

"Okay,” sniffled. “Oh, wait a second." She got up from his side, and went to the sink. He heard the water run and envied her chance to compose herself. She could wash her face before the nurse came, but from how weak he felt right now, if he walked, he might just topple over, hit his head on the toilet bowl and really end up dead.

"Here, take it." She held a handkerchief in front of him. It was wet. Gingerly, he grabbed the scrap of cloth from her hand and stared at it as long seconds passed. "I uh… I need to use the loo for a while," she suddenly said nervously. "I'll be back." Then, she seemed to take in that it was the boys' toilet she was in, and an adorable blush came over her. "I-I..." she let out a distressed sound and looked away from the urinals on the wall. Sean really felt like laughing suddenly.

He stared as she marched forcefully into one of the stalls and closed the door. He could imagine her cringing in there. The Boys' toilet never was a candidate for "the cleanest toilet of the region" award.

She must be sitting quietly there, counting the minutes it would take for him to compose himself. Sean smiled, and wiped his face with her handkerchief.

If his nose wasn't so plugged up with his vomit, he knew he would be able to appreciate the scent clinging on the hanky. Pretty. It smelled pretty. Sean stared at the scrap of cloth, and grinned lopsidedly. He never knew things could smell pretty.

Before he could form his next thought, the door to the Boys' Toilet was thrown open with a resounding bang.

Somehow, the sound echoed in his head. And travelled down to his stomach. The instantaneous urge to splay out his innards was hard to resist.

He was once again draped over the toilet bowl.

"My God, Mr. Hayes!" the nurse’s voice hit a discordant note.

He doubted he was God. Maybe the nurse who threw open the door violently was having hallucinations. Great. At least when they asked him if he really did have his head down the toilet bowl, he could say the nurse went actually cuckoo in the head. She was acting all gaga anyways.

"Ms. O'Connor!" the nurse’s strident voice made a second ear-splitting appearance.

Sean heard a choked sound. Then, the now familiar sound of distress came out softly. He lifted his head and looked sideways. There she stood, looking as guilty as sin.

"What are you doing in the boy's toilet?" the nurse questioned, her voice ringing shrill.

Sean moaned. Wasn't she supposed to be worrying about the matter of his life and death? Why the heck would she ... care… if... God, why did his head feel so drowsy?

"Nurse," he heard the girl say faintly. The voice sounded firm, despite its dwindling clarity. “Mr. Hayes is sick. I was just here to help him."

"Why were you in the cubicle, then?" the nurse demanded piercingly.

There was a long moment of silence. "I was puking," she answered with a straight face.

Sean nearly laughed at that. If only he could just lift his head and take in a deep breath that he needed to produce that laughter.

"Nurse, hurry!" the girl urged.

O'Connor, huh? She sounded like some colonel, ordering people around. Then, delicate fingers touched his arm.

"I really was puking, you know?" came her soft, slightly amused voice.

Sean smiled weakly as he felt strong arms scoop him up. He turned his head and saw the school gardener’s face peer down worriedly at him.

He shifted to look at the girl, his eyes clouded with worry. "It's ok, big guy," the girl whispered. "It's ok."

His eyes grew heavy. He was going to shut his eyes. Just for a minute.

A cool draft of wind chilled his nose. He opened his eyes, his movements languorous. A stray leaf landed right on his face. He groaned, unable to summon the energy to swat it away. A small tinkle of laughter trilled over the sound of leaves being crushed beneath hard-soled shoes. The offending leaf was miraculously removed.

"You okay?" the girl questioned, a pretty smile curving her lips, painting her face in the most tender of ways. Pretty. How he wished he could find a better word. But hey, in between retching his guts out and being saved by a girl, he didn't have time to refer to the dictionary.

"Pretty," he croaked.

"Hmm? Oh!" the girl looked up. "Yes, the leaves are pretty, aren't they?"

Sean chuckled to himself, smiling weakly.

"It's one of the reasons I love the fall,” she smiled up at him.

He heard the sound of car door being pulled open. Gently, he was placed on leather seats. He tried scooting further in, to make place for the girl.

Only to get the door slammed at his face.

Wait, wasn't she coming, too? The sudden panic set his body to moving.

"Whoa, there, boy. Easy now."

Sean paused. "Isn't she coming, too?"

"She's... well, no."


"Sit tight, now, Hayes. You're sick as a dog."

No, he wasn't. Well, he was sick, but he wasn't a dog, that is. With face contorted, he looked out the window.

She had a leaf in her hand. Her beautiful, tender smile washed over him as she waved the leaf at him. He waved back. A funny feeling disturbed his stomach. Alarmed, he clamped his mouth shut. But nothing came up.

As the car pulled away, he stared at the fading figure of the girl.

Funny. Love really did feel like food poisoning.

Sean leaned back against the cushioned seat and a weak smile curved his lips. Maybe food poisoning really wasn't that bad.