NEW 📗Story: Radio

Introducing Moise

Sunday, Aug 25, 2019
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Moise was a fat kid who went to another school. Zelda only knew him from the tram, where he carried a criminal stigma because of his rumoured gang affiliations. He was a second-generation Vekllei boy of immigrant Greek heritage. There were a few ethnic gangs in his area, and most immigrant boys that didn’t do well in school quickly found other causes to fight for.

Zelda quickly antagonised the boy by offering him to her own bullies. She would point out his weight and he’d point out her clumsy Vekllei language skills and apparent lack of intelligence commonly attributed to foreigners, and so the arms race began.

Bullying did not come naturally to either of them, since they were on the receiving end most of the time and were not particularly manipulative. She would tell Moise he stunk, he would say she was skeletal and unattractive, and they’d seethe about each other that evening. She would make fun of him for eating a chocolate on the tram, and he stole a hairclip and wouldn’t give it back.

One day she was walking behind him after alighting the tram and had set to whacking him with her bookbag, demanding the return of her red pencil. She kept pushing him. In a fit of anger he slammed her against a garage door repeatedly, where her head bounced against the corrugated steel and nearly knocked her out. He left her incapacitated on the pavement, and fled.

He buzzed her apartment the following evening after school, seeking to apologise. She weighed her own crimes against his attack, using unique Zelda metrics that gauged physical and emotional violence somewhat improportionately. She accepted his apology.

Thus began the kind of awkward and unconventional friendship that Zelda seemed to attract. With entrepreneurial zeal she rarely displayed, she struck a deal with Moise — he would teach her to fight, and she would help him lose weight. He did not have much experience talking to girls, which was both revealing and endearing, but it helped that Zelda was socially maladjusted and not particularly girlish. On weekends he would take her to the nearest park, they’d lay out a blanket, remove their shoes, and he’d show her how to use a bigger opponent’s weight against them. During the week, she’d meet him at the tram station and they’d go for long walks until he was red and puffing. Zelda liked making food, which seemed to be the one thing she was good at, and soon after began preparing his school lunches, which she’d pass surreptitiously on the morning tram.

Although they grew close, they both recognised her condition would make any romantic relationship inappropriate and so they remained each other’s quiet soulmates as he went on to film school and married. Moise’s wife, an incredibly patient woman of enormous spiritual strength, would soon learn to tolerate Zelda’s presence at their life occasions. Although Zelda would often think about what might have been if she’d only been normal, they remained close for the rest of his life and she would remain a close family member and guardian of his children for decades after his passing.