HalosA Story by Lydia
What is it like to be able to see people's feelings in the form of coloured halos above their heads?
I was huddled against the cold, wondering if I should step out of the classroom to give my wretched lungs some respite, when she stepped in. If there was another Seer in the room I reckon he would’ve seen my halo burn bright above my head.
Should I smile at her? Should I wave? Would that creep her out?
Too late. She’d spotted a friend and gone to speak to her. I slumped against my chair and watched her discreetly.
She had quartz-black hair and a tinkling, fairy laugh. Her halo was neutral - a tender sky blue. She was feeling happy, relaxed, because she liked the girl she was talking to. Probably her classmate from last semester.
My to-be classmates began streaming in - I almost smiled at the lack of hunks in this class. Her halo wouldn’t be glowing red for them, for sure. I’ll be able to concentrate my energies on making her notice me.
Class started when the teacher walked in. He recognized me and smiled. His purple halo glowed. I smiled back. I’m sorry, though, that I hardly paid attention to him after that. I was entranced by the girl with the blue halo above her head.
My name is Arnie. People call me Mr Intuitive, or Sir Sensitive, because I predict others’ emotions better than anyone else. They think I’m observant. But I know better. It’s hard to miss them when people’s feelings are flashing at me all the time. Sometimes the glare is so bright that I squint, and my teachers ask me if I want to move to the front so I can see better.
Why halos, you ask? Beats me. People say halos are for angels. In my view, everyone has a halo, but no one’s an angel.
Well, perhaps no one but her.
I wonder what her name is?
The teacher is making us introduce ourselves. I move to the edge of my seat. The girl’s friend is telling us about her five-year-old Schnauzer. I tap my foot on the floor, impatient for her to end.
The girl’s halo is a scorching orange. She’s nervous. It’s her turn next.
‘Hello,’ she says, ‘my name is Adie.’
I lap up her words like a cat with a bowl of fresh milk.
When Adie is finished, her halo switches back to blue and she smiles with relief.
She’s the one, I think.
It’s game time.
It’s the third lesson and I still haven’t talked to her. I’ve smiled at her once, and I know she saw me because her halo glowed firetruck red - then she turned away and it slowly faded to blue again.
I was enjoying the warm fuzzy feeling of having made eye contact when a crushing thought occurred to me. She was alarmed by my smile. I cursed myself. It was a bad move, a bad move!
As if sensing my need to redeem myself, the teacher - bless him - asked the class to stand in two rows and face one another. I waited for her to station herself and shoved myself into the spot opposite. The chances that this would be a pair-exercise were good.
I’d just claimed my spot when the halo of the girl beside me glowed pink. I looked down and saw her batting her eyelashes at me. I thinned my lips and looked away, back at Adie, who was rocking on her heels with her halo burning red.
Wait - red?
I stared at her, but Adie kept looking at the teacher as though clinging onto his every word.
Something was wrong. Attraction red was soft and feathery, mostly pink. Not burning like a rampant fire.
The teacher numbered us. Adie and I were both sevens.
‘Now, I will say a word and call a number, and that pair will have to shout out the past-tense of that word. The faster of that pair wins points for their group. Got it?’
The class murmured excited yeses.
The game commenced.
In other circumstances, I would’ve smiled at the way people’s halos flashed red when their number was called, but I was too troubled by her halo. Hers was red even if our number wasn’t called.
‘Essen, number seven!’
My brain slapped into action. ‘Gegessen!’
My voice echoed around the room, alone. She hadn’t made a sound.
The teacher smiled at her. ‘You’ve got to be faster there, Adie.’ She gave a sheepish smile and nodded.
Her halo was fading slowly to blue again. I breathed more easily.
More flashing halos as the teacher called numbers. It was like watching a pinball machine game.
‘Stehen, number seven!’
Both our voices burst forward. ‘Gestanden!’
The teacher raised an amused eyebrow. ‘Hm, both voices in harmony.’
The class roared with laughter. I laughed with it, feeling lighter than I had in ages. Then my spirit crumpled. Her halo was brick-red again. She’d laughed at the teacher’s comment but was now hopping on the spot. Twenty odd years of reading people’s halos and their actions told me one thing: she hadn’t liked the teacher’s comment. She hadn’t liked the notion of harmonizing with me.
She hated me.
My mind whirred. What should I do? I couldn’t give up! She was my Traumfrau, my dream girl. As pair number nine struggled to remember the past tense for Schlafen, I decided it was time to say Hi. Perhaps all she needed was to get to know me a little better.
The lesson ended and she joined her regular group of friends to walk out together.
‘Where’re you going, Arnie?’ asked the batty-eyelash girl, noticing I’d grabbed my bag and positioned myself in a kick-off stance.
‘Uh, canteen,’ I said. ‘I’m hungry.’
‘So am I!’ she chirped. Her halo glowed yellow. ‘I’ll go with you.’
‘Uh, it’s really alright, my parents are fetching me later.’
Her halo dimmed to a sombre shade of indigo. ‘Oh.’
‘Gotta rush, bye.’ I sprinted out the door.
Adie was already way ahead, standing by the lift. I sprinted forwards, then slowed down a few paces away. I gulped air to stop panting. I walked up to her, just enough for her to see me, and made my move.
‘Hi,’ I said, hoping that the smile on my face didn’t look too eager.
She jumped. Her halo flashed red again. Darn that colour, I thought.
‘Oh, hi,’ she mumbled, meeting my gaze for a split second. Then it was gone, and she was staring through the glass lift doors as though the leaden weights inside were a marvel of creation.
The doors dinged open and we filed into the lift - me first, because I knew if I didn’t secure a spot in this lift she’d run off before I could take the next trip.
We were separated by a minute girl with a ponytail. Her halo was an uncomfortable brown. So was everyone else’s - it was not pleasant to be squashed like sardines in a cramped, humid box. Only Adie’s remained a piercing red.
The lift landed and the doors slid open, drawing in a rush of cool air. The people got out. Adie was out so fast she was halfway across the square before us when I managed to squeeze out of the crowd. Her legs were moving like clockwork, precise and mechanically fast. As she got further and further, I watched her halo regain its peaceful blue glow. Getting away from me gave her solace.
Rage seized my mind. I turned and kicked the wall in hopes of dislodging a few bricks. Then the wall was bathed in glaring shades of red from the halos of the people around me. What a frustrating colour!
I stormed to the nearest cafe for a coffee to calm my nerves and soothe the sizzling crimson halo above me.
What was it about me that disgusted her so? It certainly didn’t disgust batty-eyelash girl.
I gulped my cup of coffee and waited for the buzz to come.
Arnie doesn’t give up, I thought. Arnie tries and tries until he gets what he wants. Next week, I thought, next week Arnie will try again.
It is a week later and I’m waiting for her to come into class. The room is already half full, glowing with a multitude of colours - green, orange, purple. The batty-eyelash girl has taken a seat beside her newfound friends - her halo had glowed red when she first saw me, and I know she is still angry for last week. Then it regained its soft, pink glow, and I know she still wants to talk to me. I look away. I have no time for distractions.
Adie’s clique is gathered on the opposite side of the room. There have been male additions, though none of them pose any obvious threat.
My breath catches when Adie pushes the door open and peeks into the room. She smiles and joins her clique. It takes a couple of seconds for her to acknowledge my watching her. When she turns my way and our eyes meet, her halo flashes red and her eyes dart away. To a bystander it may look like she was simply scanning the room. But I know better.
The teacher arrives. ‘Today we will be playing a game,’ he says. ‘I will divide all of you into five teams and paste three passages on the board. Each team will have four runners and one scribe. The runners will memorize the passages and dictate what they memorized to the scribe. The team with the most number of accurate sentences wins.’
I cross my fingers as the teacher numbers each of us from one to five.
Please let me be in her team, please let me be in her team.
I am not in her team.
The game starts, and I’m assigned the position of the scribe. Adie is one of the four runners for her team.
I have three sentences on paper - I’ve turned out to be quite good at this - when I hear the same fairy laugh I’d fallen for so many weeks ago. I stop straining my ears to make out my team member’s sentences and cast a glance over to her team. My heart stops.
I see pink. Feathery, soft pink.
And they are coming from the halos of Adie - sweet Adie - and another boy.
He has plain features, is well-shaven, and is wearing a T-shirt that proclaims ‘I have been to Deutschland.’
An exasperated voice calls out to me. ‘Arnie? Aaaarnie?’
I feel my heart snap into beat again. ‘What?’ I almost shout.
‘My sentence! My sentence is...’
And I’m forced back into the task of scratching words onto the paper in my hideous writing, but all I see are the pink glows of Adie and the boy’s halos.
For the next few lessons I am a ghost. I drift into class and watch with growing bitterness as both their halos deepen in shade, from the pale coral of starting attraction to a serious, rosy sheen. This transition had been amusing to watch, before, when the girl involved wasn’t the one I loved.
Thus is the life of a Seer: seeing your love fall for another and having the wicked truth flash in your face, leaving flickering auras that won’t go away until twenty blinks later.
‘Arnie, are you alright?’
I look up into my teacher’s concerned eyes.
I shake my head. His halo flashes a leafy green - as I see above almost all nurses’ heads - then regains its royal purple.
The teacher casts a caring glance at me and returns to his lesson.
I cast a glance at Adie and the boy, and feel bile rising in my throat as I see both their halos, each shimmering a radiant rose.
I knock evenly on the door plastered with cedar paper.
The teacher’s purple halo flashes to leafy green. I am his patient now. He directs me to sit and clasps his fingers together.
‘So, Arnie, what’s wrong? You used to be so - focused.’
I wonder how many rehearsals it took him to get that sentence right.
‘I’d like a change of class,’ I say.
His halo flashes red, then slides into a darker shade of green.
‘Why? Is it my teaching methods? You know you can voice any opinions -’
‘No, no - I just...’ The truth wouldn’t cut it. I had to lie. ‘The time slot doesn’t suit me.’
He raises his eyebrows in surprise. ‘Three to five doesn’t suit you?’
I grumble inside. It was a stupid excuse. But it was the one I had to stick with. ‘Yes. I get food coma. After lunch.’
‘Well, if that is so...’
My ears perk up a knocking at the door. The teacher’s halo glows a surprised orange.
‘Come in,’ he calls.
Adie’s head pops around the door. She isn’t pleased to see me.
‘I’m sorry I’m early,’ she says. ‘Do you want me to come back later?’
I jump to my feet. ‘It’s alright, I think I might be going now.’ I scold myself for my rudeness, but the red halo hovering over her head pains me.
The teacher raises an arm. ‘Arnie, about that time change -’
Adie’s halo switches to a shimmering golden colour. I turn to avoid staring into her distinct happiness at my leaving.
‘Yes, Sir?’ I say.
‘I have another class from ten to twelve. If it suits you. I’d like all my students to be focused and ready for class.’
‘I’d like that. Thank you, Sir.’
‘I’ll see you in class, then,’ the teacher says.
‘See you, Sir.’ And, shielding my eyes from the blasted golden shine, I inch past her and exit the room.
A pair of wide, curious eyes greet mine.
‘Hey,’ says the boy. He is wearing the same T-shirt I have come to associate with evil.
‘Hey,’ I mumble. ‘Come to fetch Adie?’
His halo glows pink. ‘Yes. She wanted to ask some questions.’ There is an awkward pause until he remembers to ask, ‘What about you?’
‘Oh, asking for a time change,’ I say. ‘Food coma keeps getting in the way, you know.’
The boy’s face brightens. ‘I hope your new class suits you better,’ he says.
It strikes me that Adie might have told him about me. The pestering guy with the weird, crooked smile. My mind is filled with all kinds of impulses - to curl my fist and deliver it to his face; to give a loud battle cry and wrestle him to the ground. But one impulse wins out in the end.
‘You be good to her, alright?’ I say.
His halo flashes red, and I am reminded of how creepy that must have sounded.
‘I mean, no good guy should hurt a girl, right?’ I say.
His halo cools to a soft blue. ‘Right,’ he says. ‘I’ll see you around, then.’
I give a slight wave, and walk down the corridor.
© 2011 Lydia
Shelved in 1 LibraryAdded on March 22, 2011
Last Updated on March 22, 2011