You’ve been thinking about Gino. A gentle cough brings you back. There’s chalkdust on your dark blue jeans. You’re not on top of your game. You’re talking about phonetics; how important it is to be clear when you pronounce certain words; how some mistakes are less important than others. You turn to the board and write for everyone to see; /t/ kissed; /d/ loved; /id/ regretted. The past seems so simple now. You tell your students you’ll talk about irregular verbs next time: drink, drive, run.
On the first day of your new job, he’d seen you walking in the centre looking lost; he’d fallen into step, helped you navigate the winding backstreets. You’d warmed to the place immediately; adored him soon enough; loved his English, the way he stuck his tongue out to say truth, mouth, breathless but it sounded like forever; at night recklessly running his lips over your pale skin until you both crashed into silence.
Lucy is running running running down the corridor throwing open the classroom door, breathlessly shoving her phone in your face. You’re reading the black and white words of the local news, closing your books, gathering your things; you cannot hear the ‘r’ at the end of the word. That’s not what he is. All that’s left are commas and a sudden full stop on the road; you’re sitting on the kerb, feeling the heat of the tarmac on your thighs. As you’re falling asleep that night you bounce the word bambino round and round until it’s a small ball that rolls away.