Cold winter air makes his breath look like clouds. Snow crunches under his feet, he walks slowly, not because he is afraid to slip, but because he is not in a hurry to get where he needs to be. Hands pushed deep into the pockets of a warm, leather jacket, ears covered with a woollen hat, but the lobes are still red from cold. It’s almost dark already, in the middle of the day, in the city that God has forgotten in the country that God has dismissed.
He is alone, as always. Alone with his thoughts, his own voice in his head, offering commentary to the most basic tasks such as walking home from the bus stop on a school day in December. There was nothing basic about this day though. Life had changed around lunch time.
Someone had shown up at school, someone new. A photocopy print of the kind of Ikea advertisement they would show in other countries, mediocrity and perfection all in one beautiful Swedish design. A cliché that is real, and painful because it’s good. The kind of person that isn’t native to the small failure of this town, where everyone is a loser, an outsider, an outcast.
His eyes are trained on the blond hair and the flannel jacket, the mouth is moving, some other stupid kid is talking too, and then there is a fast movement but he sees it as if it is a slow motion. A fist lands on a nose, he can imagine the cracking sound of the bone, the stupid kid clutches his nose. Red drops in the mushy, grey-ish snow. Never has there been a more effective introduction than this.
The blonde head turns, strands of hair bounce with the movement as it is pulled towards the school building. Blue eyes, defiant and full of life, they have a spark, a spark that nobody in this entire hellhole of a city has ever been able to replicate.
In that one second his life changes. He knows it immediately, as the blue eyes have already looked away without even seeing him, disappeared behind the darkness of the wooden doors. Mediocre perfection at its most beautiful.