There she sat with her dorky looking glasses, sitting in the back corner of the room with her head buried in a book as usual. She never talked to anyone. The boy in front of her flipped a fake spider towards her that landed right on the book she was reading. Instantly she jumped up, throwing down the book and jumping around frantically. The whole class erupted in laughter. I couldn't help it, I laughed too. It was funny. Realizing it was fake, she quickly sat back in her seat, looking down, hiding her face. I could only imagine the tears that she was probably blinking away. My heart reached out to her. Her book was still on the floor beside her desk.
I walked over, picked it up and handed it to her. She didn't look up at me nor bother to take the book. She just looked down at her shirt. I laid the book on her desk. "Don't be embarrassed. Look at it this way, you made the whole class laugh and brought joy to us all." She didn't budge. I wanted to say something more but I figured now was not the time, she was just too humiliated to respond.
When she stood, she was taller then every one else in the class. She had a clumsy walk and she was always looking down. Whenever she was in a class, she had a book open reading. I often searched for her at lunch time but she wasn't in the cafeteria. One day, when the lunch bell rang, I secretly followed her to find out where she was going. I should have known. She led me straight to the Library. There she found a back corner table and sat down with her head in a book. Something about her fascinated me.
Soon my friends started to notice how often I watched her.
"Hey man, is that your new girl," Mike mocked.
"You know, the reading girl with the dorky glasses. The class nerd."
"She's not a nerd, she just likes to read," I said a bit annoyed.
"You like her, don't you," he replied amusingly.
"I like everyone," I replied. "I just think people are mean to her. She needs a friend."
He laughed, "so why don't you go be her friend."
"I will," I said. "I'll be her friend."
That day, I set a goal, that I was going to meet her. At lunch time, I followed her to the library. She sat at her usual table in the corner. Then I grabbed a book and sat down beside her. She never even notice me, she was so engulfed in her book. I observed her wavy black hair, light brown skin and slightly slanted eyes. She smiled. Whatever she was reading was really good.
"Gosh, she's so beautiful," I thought to myself. I guess she could feel me staring, she suddenly looked up at me startled.
"I wanna be your friend," I blurted out.
I felt like the goofiest dude in the school. I couldn't believe it came out my mouth that way. She looked around the library. I looked around too to see what she was looking for. Then I realized, she thought this might be a joke.
"I'm alone, it's not a joke, I really want to be your friend" I said again more sincerely.
"I don't want friends," she said and put her head back in her book.
Wow, my heart was shattered. I didn't know what to say. I stayed there beside her till the bell rang. Then followed her back to class.
The next morning when she came to class, I placed a letter on her desk and watched as she read it.
"You fascinate me. You are so beautiful. You have a treasure inside. You need to share it with us. Why do you hide behind your books. Don't be afraid. Come out of your hiding place. Share the knowledge you have with in. And please, again, I request, be my friend. Sincerely, James."
She then took out a pen and wrote on the back of my letter, then sent it to me. I read, "I don't know how. I've never had friends." I looked up into her beautiful eyes and said, "I'll teach you how." She smiled.
Today is our anniversary. We've been married for 7 years and she's learned how to be the best friend any man could ever have.
Erica Ndaguba is married to a wonderful Nigerian man and they have 4 wonderful kids. They've been married 7 years. She's lived 6 years on the mission field and returned to the States 4 years ago. She used to teach ESL but now she's a fulltime housewife and mother.