Our school is positioned so in the morning, when the sun rises in the East, the buildings block out the sun so the pitch is freezing. In comparison, the west side of the school is nothing upon nothing upon nothing but pitch. By the time afternoon rolls around, you'll be smoking on the soccer pitch if you stay out there.
Except he doesn't seem to mind.
He stands, in the sun, for twenty minutes every day at exactly two in the afternoon. Who cares if you have class? He'll stand there, without fail, every day. Even if he wasn't in school (which was often, I have to say), he'll climb over the closed fence, his fragile looking arms shaking as he falls down the other side onto the pitch in a heap. He'll drag himself out there and stand in the sun, baking and roasting beneath his beige sweater and white, strangely polka-dotted trousers. He wears a beanie all the time, a grey one. I've never seen his hair, but people have told me it's actually a very nice brown.
His name is Lucas, or so I'm told. I've never spoken to him, just watched him from a distance as he stands out there. My classroom is conveniently positioned so I see him every day. My seat is conveniently placed so I can see him sneak over the fence. No one else knows he sneaks over the fence, because they can't see him. He'll fall on the ground first, before getting up and brushing his trousers down as if he's dusting off his dignity.
I sit in the very back of the classroom, on the left by the window so if I just strain my neck a little more, I can see his little figure climb up the fence and fall and get up. And I'm sitting there the day his little figure doesn't appear.
"What are you looking at?" My teacher demands as she approaches my desk. I jolt, looking up at her stern face. She scares me.
"Well then, pay attention." She snaps, strutting back to her desk. Her high heels make tight little taps against the ugly concrete floor, like little knives striking each other.
School ends with a shrill ring of a bell, and I walk past the pitch. I'm not on it just quite yet, but I can feel the heat radiating off the grass into the shadows where I'm standing. All around me are little whispers, I can barely hear the words, but I catch his name over and over again: LucasLucasLucasLucasLucasLucasLucas.
"Excuse me?" I tap the shoulder of a senior who looks at me with very pretty blue eyes. "What's going on? Why is everyone talking about Lucas?"
"Oh, man." Her blue eyes soften into pity. "Did you know him?" I hesitate.
"Sort of," I admit.
"He's been checked into hospice." The senior's still looking at me. "The cancer's become terminal."
I don't hear anything else she says and when I wonder why, it's because I'm walking away from her. My feet are moving without me knowing.
The hospital isn't far and the hospice wing is still open for visiting hours. I walk in, asking for a Lucas. The nurse wrinkles her nose at my vagueness, but she beckons me to follow her and we go down the long, long corridors of the hospital, breathing in hand sanitizer.
He lies there, in an uncomfortable looking hospital bed. Tubes are hooked up to his nose and throat, ventilators and heartbeat monitors flanking his bed like robotic guardians. He looks like he's asleep, but he opens his eyes when I approach him.
"You." He murmurs sleepily.
"Hello." I say. I don't know what else to say.
"You're the girl who always watches me on the pitch."
"What are you doing here?"
"I didn't see you today, so I thought I would see where you went."
"How kind." He mumbles.
We talk for a few more minutes, and I ask him why he's always on the pitch.
"I didn't know how much time I had." He says, chuckling slightly. "Clearly, I thought right." He gestures to himself. "I always really liked the sun, and the school pitch has the most amount of sun out of anywhere in this town. So, I went to enjoy the feeling of sun on my skin, face." He smiles bittersweetly. "I thought hospital stays always made me smell a bit sicker. A step closer to death, you could say. Sunlight was the only thing that could get rid of that."
He smiles. "Thank you though."
"You came all this way to see me," He says. "Thank you. You even brought the sunlight with you."
He taps on my shoulder. My tan lines are visible there. "The sun is in your skin."