Len – A Character Sketch

The following is a character sketch written as part of a series of artistic challenges to take place through out February. It is an awesome idea Dez had and I look forward to what is next:

It was hard not to watch him as he moved across the classroom. Thick, black, hair stuck out from underneath a well worn baseball cap and curled slightly around his ears. You wouldn’t know it was his first day in a new school. His ease was impressive. His crooked smile even more so.

It’s funny what you remember the most about a person, even after all the time that has passed.

Len was more of a man than a boy when he came to our school. I guess most 18 year olds are more men, at least physically, by that point. Built strong, as my grandmother would say. It was the end of our senior year when he, and his family, moved to our little backwoods area from the big city of Lexington.

As he moved down the aisle, he nodded his hellos to those paying any attention to him. Sitting himself down into the desk beside mine, I couldn’t help but smell the faintest hint of cologne and see the off color patches on his denim vest. The flannel shirt underneath was wrinkled, but clean.

I looked at him constantly throughout that class period, stealing glances when I thought he was writing notes in his composition book. The stubble growing on his face was the same color of his hair, with flashes of red throughout. His blue jeans were torn at the knees, and his tennis shoes were plain and scuffed. His accent, when he answered questions, was not nearly as pronounced as ours, but light and charming.

It was after answering a question that he caught me looking at him. I knew then that I had blown it, as only a 17 year old can know that kind of devastation without proof. My chance to meet someone who didn’t know me, who I wasn’t “just a friend” to, was over before it had started.

Red faced, I looked down at the floor. Then – for a reason I still can’t truly explain – I looked back up and he was still looking at me…waiting…and smiling that crooked smile that I was already falling in love with.