Chapter 3: Rags and Riches
One Friday Nadine found herself in unchartered territory, the land of the geeks and book mongers. Tagging along was her best friend, they waited for Jeff to show up. “Nadine we have been all over the campus since Monday but your dream guy has not shown himself. It makes me wonder if he really exists” Maureen told her. “He does exist, but I only get to see him after classes, I have my doubts as well but if he says he is a student here then I believe him” Nadine replied. “Why not ask him to save you all the trouble?” her friend asked and Nadine shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t want him to think that I don’t believe him” Nadine said and Maureen laughed. “So tell me why are you doing this?” she asked. “Confirmation, I do believe him but I need confirmation” Nadine explained. “Well it boils down to disbelief” Maureen said and they both laughed.
A few minutes later the long wait was over, Nadine saw Jeff coming out of the building so she held on to Maureen and shook her. “There he is, look over there the one with the curly hair” Nadine whispered ecstatically. Maureen looked over and was surprised, “Wow! You didn’t tell me was into rock” she commented and giggled. “No I don’t think he is, he just wears that kind of outfit to gain less attention he says” Nadine explained as they watched Jeff stop and talk to a group of guys. Jeff started to laugh and ran his hands over his hair to reveal his face, Maureen started to giggle and grabbed on to Nadine’s arm. “He looks rugged but he is a cutey!” she screeched and they both giggled.
“Quick flash something shiny to catch his attention” Nadine told her friend as she pretended to be reading a book. “I don’t need to because he is looking over here” Maureen whispered and Nadine became excited. “Is he still looking?” she asked, “No, they are all laughing” Maureen replied. Nadine quickly untied her shoelaces and Maureen looked at her curiously. “Why are you doing that again? You have been doing that the whole week” she asked. “Hush, is he looking?” Nadine again asked. “Yes he is and he is looking at your shoes” Maureen said and Nadine giggled but tried to calm herself.
“We have been looking all over this campus for you two, you didn’t attend our meeting” they heard a familiar voice say so they turned around and there stood Anya Watson, the richest girl in campus accompanied by her high class posse. “Hi Anya” the two seated girls said in unison. “Hey Nadine your shoelaces are untied” said Bart, a tall handsome man who was decently dressed. “Excuse me?” Jeff said as he bent on knee and grab hold of Nadine’s shoe laces and started to tie them. Nadine’s face lit up and Maureen started to giggle.
Anya and the rest stared at Jeff and they started to laugh. “My God Nadine, you didn’t tell me you have a man slave” Anya said and the louder they laughed and people started looking their way. Jeff finished tying the laces on both shoes and he looked at Nadine, “Are they tied too tight?” he asked and Nadine shook her head and smiled at him. “He can speak!” Bart commented and again they laughed and giggled. Jeff stood up and bowed at Nadine, Anya poked her finger at his chest and Jeff looked at her. “How much did she pay you tie her shoelaces?” she asked and Nadine wanted to say something but Anya pointed a finger at her so she kept quiet. “She didn’t pay me, I tied her shoe laces because I wanted to” Jeff replied. “So you mean to say you are friends with her?” Anya asked and Jeff nodded.
“I can’t believe you stooped down to such level Nadine, that is so unbecoming of a heiress” Anya said and Nadine wanted to react so badly but she was scared of Anya, in fact everyone on campus was scared of her except one. “Keep your insults focused on me, keep her out of this” Jeff said and Bart moved forward but Anya shoved him away. “I can handle this Bart, I am used to dealing with people like this, and we have a dozen like them at home” Anya said and she again poked at Jeff’s chest.
“Look here, I don’t know how you were able to enter this University but you don’t belong here. Freeloaders like you don’t have the right to mingle with the likes of us, do you understand?” Anya said and Jeff took a deep breath and stared Anya straight in the eye. “How dare you even look me in the eye! Did you not understand what I just told you?” Anya shouted and Jeff smiled at her. “I wasn’t staring at you” Jeff said and Anya got irked. “And what do you call what you’re doing right now?” she asked. “I am looking at nothing” Jeff said and Maureen laughed but Anya looked at her so she stopped.
“You low life! What do you mean you are looking at nothing?” Anya asked and Jeff again smiled at her. “Standing before me seems to be a pretty young lady but my eyes fool me. I look past the physical layer and yet there is nothing I see worth looking at. It’s just fame and fortune speaking to me. Take away those and you end up with nothing, so I am staring at nothing” Jeff explained and Anya slapped him. “And the nothing I stare at suddenly I can feel, makes me want to believe if that ghosts are real” Jeff quipped and Anya slapped him again.
Jeff kept smiling and Bart punched him in the face so he fell down on his knees. Jeff stood back up and looked at Nadine who had a freight written all over her face. “I’m fine” he whispered and he again smiled at Bart. “Fight back you coward! Give me a reason to totally erase your face!” Bart shouted. “Anger begets violence, but I am not a violent person. I am not angry; if I am angry then I am angry at myself. Everything in life is connected and goes back to oneself. I love the little things…” Jeff said but Bart again floored him with another punch to the cheek. Jeff stood up and was visibly shaken, he looked at Nadine and bowed to her.
Jeff started to walk away but Anya ran after him and held out his hand, she took out a pen and scribbled some numbers on his arm. “There that is my number if you need work call me. We need lots of workers in our estate, I’m sure you can fit in perfectly” she said and they all started laughing.
Jeff looked at Nadine who had her head bowed down; he did the same and continued walking away. Nadine wanted to go with Jeff but she was afraid to do so. She has been in Anya’s group for four years and she could remember treating other people the same way. This time it was different for the person she liked was from a social group she once looked down upon. Nadine was not really a mean and discriminate person; she had to do it just to be accepted by her wealthy peers.
An hour later Nadine went to the river and saw Jeff in his sweet spot. She walked towards him and stood still, she was embarrassed to show face him and had second thoughts. Jeff saw her and removed the little twigs on the ground beside him, he patted the ground and smiled at her. Nadine sat down beside him still feeling ashamed of what her peers had done to him. “Don’t worry I am okay” Jeff said and so she calmed down a little.
“Are your people always like that?” Jeff asked and Nadine looked at him. “My people?” she answered and Jeff took a deep breath. “Yeah, your people, the rich and the famous, the kings and queens of the world, are you all like that towards my people?” he said and Nadine felt a little bit hurt but she could understand what his question was all about. “I am really sorry for what happened a while ago. I wanted to defend you but I was really afraid of Anya” she said but Jeff seemed not to listen.
“I just don’t understand why your people have to look down upon us. We are all human beings, the only difference is that you have lots of money and we don’t. I told myself after I graduate I would earn lots of money so I can buy all the things I want. Now, I don’t think I want that anymore because I might turn out like your people which scares me” Jeff said and Nadine just kept silent.
“They don’t have the right to discriminate just because we can’t afford the clothes that they wear or groom ourselves properly like the way they do. Look at me, do you think I like growing this long hair? Having a hair cut is expensive, I’d rather spend that money on food. I don’t buy flashy clothes or branded ones, I buy the cheapest clothes so I just won’t be naked. Do you think I like wearing this tattered jeans? I don’t but I have no choice because this is all I can afford, I have to survive daily so I don’t mind the stares or the discrimination really but there is a point where you just can’t take it anymore” Jeff related.
“So are you mad at me?” Nadine asked and Jeff looked at her and smiled. “Of course not. Everything in this world is connected and revolves around us. If I am mad at you, I am mad at the world. If I am mad at the world then I am mad at everyone. If I am mad at everyone then I am mad at myself. I like myself, so I like the world, and I like everyone” he explained and Nadine managed to smile. “And you like me?” she said and Jeff nodded his head and they both laughed.
“I like you too” Nadine said softly and Jeff held on to his chest. “That’s funny, my heart suddenly started beating faster” Jeff said and Nadine chuckled. “Nadine, what is it like to be wealthy?” Jeff suddenly asked. Ever since she was born Nadine had everything she ever wanted, she didn’t know how to answer him so not to hurt his feelings. “It’s quite dull and boring; you don’t have dreams because basically you have everything. Everyday seems to be a routine that you have to endure all over and over again. The worst part is when you have thoughts of losing everything, waking up one day having nothing left. You feel scared and useless; it makes you greedy, selfish and sometimes inconsiderate. Take away all the riches and you are right, I am probably nothing just like Anya” she related and Jeff sighed.
“Stay rich, you would not want to be poor like me. It’s true our life seems to be easier, we are carefree since we have so little or nothing to lose. The little things make us happy because that is what we only have. We do dream big too but not so often since not being able to achieve those makes us feel worse. Every cent for us seems to be worth millions, and even if we have money to spare we are still scared to spend it for our futures are not secured.
Imagining to have lots money makes us content, it provides us false satisfaction but eventually we have to open our eyes again. At night when we sleep we have to think about the next morning, think about how much money we have left and think about how to get more. Our lives revolve around a small budget, most of the time we just focus on the food to make us wake up the next day and to try again. There is no room for satisfaction, we just have to be contented even if we aren’t” Jeff related and Nadine closed her eyes as she could imagine how hard it was to be him.
“So it’s still better to be like you is all I’m saying” Jeff said and he closed his eyes.
Nadine stood up and stood in front of Jeff; she knelt down and placed her right hand on his left cheek. “Two slaps and two punches, this must be hurting” she said as she caressed his nearly swollen cheek. Jeff smiled and took Nadine’s other hand and placed it on his other cheek. “I know this cheek was unharmed but it’s getting jealous” he said and Nadine laughed. They stared at each other’s eyes and at that moment Nadine wanted to look away but she couldn’t.
“You’re still holding my face” Jeff said softly and Nadine smiled. “It looks like you’re going to kiss me anytime now” Jeff again said and Nadine laughed. “Maybe I will” she replied and Jeff smiled. “So you’re going to be my first kiss?” Jeff said and Nadine raised an eyebrow. “I said maybe” she clarified.
“I think I should close my eyes now” Jeff whispered, “Maybe you should” Nadine replied as she moved her face closer to his. Their lips touched barely and Jeff began to shiver, Nadine giggled and pressed her lips to his and they kissed. It was just a short kiss and as their lips parted each other they both smiled. “I think I should give Anya a call” Jeff said, “Why?” Nadine asked and Jeff started laughing. “So I can irritate her and she could slap me again. My cheeks would hurt and you could touch them again” he said and Nadine laughed. “Touch them? Really?” she said and Jeff grinned. “And so I could have my second kiss” he added and Nadine laughed louder.
“You don’t have to do that” she told him as she once again kissed him. This time it was longer, more passionate as they embraced each other.
At this moment the world of the rich and poor were united, the barriers have been torn down. Under the tree by the river, there was no distinction between rags and riches. Only two individuals embracing and joined by their lips. Love knows no boundaries and love conquers all, and so they say.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Chapter 3: Rags and Riches