Hearts Before Tongues


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Hearts Before Tongues

I never spoke to him, not really. If he had trouble with the classwork we had to do, he'd simply tap my shoulder and show me. Sometimes, he'd actually say my name to grab my attention if I was too busy focused on something else to notice that he needed me.

I actually liked the way he said my name. It just sounded so exotic coming from his lips. I guess you could say that sometimes, I waited for him to say my name. It was practically all he said. All he could say, actually.

I learned that he came from China a few months before classes began, which is barely enough time to learn a language, let alone high school level English. His sentences were always choppy and his tenses were always off and he never participated in class. I hope our teacher never penalized him for that because I always forgave him.

I asked him once how to say "I love you" in Chinese. It was Valentine's Day and I wanted to show him that there was at least one person who cared about him in America. He couldn't understand what I was asking him for because he kept shaking his head. But at the end of the day, when I got home, I saw in my notebook, a row of characters I'd never seen before. It took me a while, but I figured out what they meant.

The other day, I heard about his accident from the school announcements. They said he'd been hit by a car and died at the hospital. I remember turning my head to look at the empty seat next to me, knowing his lips would never speak my name again.

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Thanks for Reading

This was a prompt for the 2015 Flash Fiction contest. 

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