You couldn’t place him. You knew where he was, his location. He was right next to you or at a desk across the room. You knew he had been to the library that morning. You knew he had been in the grocery store last week. The fact is you always knew where he was. But this was different. You couldn’t categorize him.
You couldn’t look at him, thinking that maybe he was once a boy scout or now in a band. You couldn’t even say for sure that he seemed to like any band or any particular kind of music at all. His hair was an uncertain color. (Was it blond or brown?) You could never remember the color of his eyes or even if you’d ever actually seen his eyes. His clothes always seemed dark, but you would never call him goth or emo or serious. He just was not those things.
As to what he was, you couldn’t really say anything more definitive than, “He’s this boy I’ve seen around,” but even as you say that, you shift uncomfortably. You have this sensation that you haven’t really seen him more than a handful of times, really. You just know where he is, where he’s been. You’ve certainly never spoken to him.
You thought, once, that you’d speak to him. Say hello, casually, as if you greeted strangers all the time. You waited for him to come in to the classroom, sitting right by the door so as not to miss him. You had a book open on your desk that you weren’t reading. It was just so you didn’t look like you’d been… doing exactly what you were doing. Waiting for him.
And then, all at once, you knew where he was. You were more deflated than surprised, because you always knew where he was.
And now you knew he wasn’t.