Big Bang Theory
He has a black belt. Not the karate kind. Or the car-ah-tay kind, which is actually the same. It is the hold-your-pants-up kind. It’s not fancy and shows its age, with scuffs and the gold color rubbing off the buckle. It has six holes; six holes; six lengths; six variations on tight; six ways to keep his pants up. It is buckled in the third hole, but the next hole over to the right, his right, was worn; stretched out recalling a thinner time. When he moved the belt didn’t, like it was frozen in place. Or stuck by the conflicting pressures of gravity fighting for the pants and the ever expanding nature of the universe so clearly illustrated by this one waist. I had read a book about that. The that being the expanding universe. The Big Bang. It had started very small, a pin prick of light or smaller. Denser. Hotter. It was too much to contain and at some sudden moment it let loose and everything rushed out like the deepest, longest sigh of relief. The universe is still exhaling now.
He exhaled and shifted. His stomach pushed out, the buttons on his shirt closer to me than before. The movement made his shoes squeak softly, audible only to him and I. His shoes were invisible now, hidden by pant cuffs and beneath the heavy, wood desk. He had been leaning back, reading the note from the teacher again, rubbing his brow, mussing the dark hairs there; back and forth. Now he is leaning forward, eyes still pointed at the paper as he puts it on the heavy, wood desk, but not reading, his glasses have been taken off leaving dents on the bridge of his nose. The hair that makes up his eyebrows is darker than the hair that is struggling to cover his head. It can’t compete with the hair poking out of his nostrils. That hair is darker even than mine and mine is black except in the sun. In the sun it glimmers with color, like raven feathers.
When he leans forward, putting both hands on the heavy, wood desk, the suit coat he is wearing gets pulled at the shoulders. Not uncomfortably, but noticeably. I notice. It is the gray suit coat, not the darker one that he wears the most but the lighter one, the one where if you look really closely you can see that in fact the coat isn’t all over gray, but has tiny, tiny dots of gray floating over a lighter gray backdrop. One of those tiny dots, even though I only have seen them; only know they are there after inspecting the coat one forgotten afternoon months ago when he had draped it on the back of his chair and left me alone giving me an opportunity to jump up and run around and using his very glasses, left on the heavy, wood desk, is just barely visible. But those tiny dots are still bigger than all cosmic matter before The Big Bang. That puts things into perspective.
He exhales again, louder this time. This time it isn’t just half of a breath but something else, an unnamed part of speech. He is uncomfortable. He is uncomfortable because he has read the note. Not that he needed to. Whatever it said was certainly conveyed to him while I waited outside the door and the teacher and he spoke. Talked about me. Told each other the things that involved all three of us, which in the scope of all of the cosmic matter is not really a lot. Especially now that everything Banged out and away from everyone else and we are getting farther away from each other all the time. But apparently that doesn’t excuse raven-haired boys from expanding principals.
“Evan, stop that.” I snap to attention, the bubble of spit on my lips popping, spattering onto my chin. I sit up slightly straighter. It takes effort to pull myself out of the hallow in the chair. This chair is not made for little boys my size. It is not made for little boys at all.
“Evan,” he starts again. He uses my name a lot, reassuring himself that he has my attention. He expresses some desire he has for me, for the future, for a future me. I make sure the make a note in the journal I keep in my imagination, transcribing word for word: “For the Future You, need to prevent these situations from arising.” It was cryptic, but it must be assumed that Future You, that is, Future Me, had the key. Future You, that is, Future Me, receives a lot of notes like this. I certainly had no idea what he meant. From what I could see there was no substance in the message at all, but that was where the brilliance of the code lay, I was confident. I nod some, showing him I’ve taken his memo and it will be delivered. He smiles, only lifting his lips in the corners, and only for the shortest of moments. It may have been a trick of the light.
We stare at each other in the quiet. I am content in the quiet, let it wash over us. I sink into the hallow and listen to it lap at the corners of the room and splash between the blinds. If you listen past the clock and the voices in the lobby, you can hear birds chirping outside and, distantly, the kindergarteners at their recess. I am comfortable noticing the colors changes in the plain white walls. Here it is clean white, but there, in the light, it is yellower, sunnier and over there, in the shadow of the file cabinet it is closer to cement. The part where the walls touch the carpet resemble a wet pool deck in the summer in the sun when all the kids are swimming and I am waiting by the edge, testing the water.
I am alone in my comfort. I hear shoes squeak again, on the other side of the heavy, wood desk, he has moved, leaning back again.
Finally, although it hasn’t been that long at all, especially on a cosmic scale, something changes and we don’t have to wait much longer. There, in the hall, is the fast clickclickclickclickclick of high heeled shoes, hurrying. I can’t hear it, but I know that there is a knee length skirt that is whispering softly in harmony with all the clicking. When she walks, she is music. I can hear her keys. She has so many keys. She has so many things to unlock. The ringing keys are getting closer. She rounds the corner, I picture her coming into the office, somebody is holding the door for her. Someone is always holding the door for her. She sings “hello” and “thank you” to her someone at the door. Four syllables and they are in love with her. Everyone is in love with her. She is so close now. He across, behind the heavy, wood desk is visibly nervous. He fidgets. He puts his glasses on and takes them off. He stands up, standing straight, pulling in his protruding belly, to the relief of his black belt. He loves her, too and when she knocks quickly on the door twice before coming in, he hiccups in excitement. When she opens the door and glides in, it is all he can do to keep his composure. His palms are sweating.
She challenges The Big Bang. The Big Bang means that everything is always, always expanding away but not with her. Things come to her, people come to her, she holds the universe in.
“Principal Spivey, sorry I’m late,” she apologizes. She is one of those people who is always in a hurry. She was always running late, even when she was on time. Today she is a few minutes early, apologetic all the same.
“Quite fine, uh, quite fine, Mrs. Weiss, uh,” the principal responds, flustered already. She breezes in, stops next to me, and squeezes my shoulder. Just a pinch, three fingers. I watch her with my peripherals. You have to look at her that way, just like you can’t look directly at the sun. Her skin is light, tanned, healthy. Her cheeks are a little red; sun kissed, still sunburned from a beach trip over the weekend. You can see how long she was in the sun in her hair, too; the baked golden brown. She has bright eyes, green and alive as a field after it rains. Those eyes are watching me, too. She knows she has to look at me through the sides of her eyes, same as for her, but for a different reason. She is too bright to look at, but not me. I am like like a dim star in a dark sky, you can’t look right at me or I disappear. That is how she is looking at me now. Sizing me up. Which isn’t much of a task, me being so small. My skin is light, too. But the sun hasn’t kissed it. On the beach trip, I stayed in the car until I had to come out and sit on the blanket under the umbrella. I ate a hot dog with mustard. I traced shadows into the sand.
“I, uh, hope that, uh, we, uh, can come to a conclusion to the, uh, uh, well, the uh,” he tries. But while she is looking at me though the sides, he thinks she is looking at him and he can’t get the words out.
“Principal Spivey, please take a moment,” she sings-says, comforting him. She is going to ask why I am here, in his office again. She will make the joke about him seeing me more than she does. Her laugh will sparkle and his will wheeze. But we all know why I am here.
“Your son is not only a distraction in class, but he is becoming a danger to the other students,” he finally gets out. It all comes out in one whooshing breath, putting new strain on his black belt.
“Danger?” She asks, disbelieving, insulted. “He’s nine. Don’t be ridiculous.”
I didn’t mean to upset the class or have them call my mom but I was already drifting off, caught in the force that has caught up all matter. I want to explain to them that we are all expanding away from each other. Right now we are farther apart. I want to tell them that.
But I don’t.