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Sitting in one of the most boring classes in the world, Abby yawned as she stared at the clock. Why wouldn’t lunch start already? She came close to sleeping whenever she was in this class, and she was one of the most attentive people she knew!
The bell finally rang, and Abby gathered her belongings and headed to the cafeteria. She stuck her headphones in her ears, sitting with her friends after buying her lunch. She didn’t involve herself in their conversations, feeling like she was in her own little world. It was a pleasant feeling, like she inhabited her own small island, where she could be a spectator of the swirling entropy of the outside without being involved in the drama of it. In this show of normal chaos that she watched, she could give it any background music she wished, often corresponding with her mood.
Whenever Abby looked up from her food, she saw the boy she had a crush on. He smiled with his friends, laughing and messing around like a normal kid. She looked desperately at him, wishing to join in his laughter and cause that smile on his face. He wasn’t even in any of her classes, but her heart ached whenever she saw him in the hallway, or even at an assembly.
Abby noticed her friends tugging gently on her sleeve. She blinked sleepily as she pulled one headphone out in a half-attempt to listen to her friend, who was beaming as she was exclaiming how the boy she liked had asked her out.
‘Lucky…’ Abby thought blearily. She was constantly tired in school, having to wake up too early choosing to go to bed too late. She plastered a fake smile on her face, her mouth saying how happy she was, how excited she was to hear how it will go. Her friend beamed back, not sensing Abby’s detachment and disinterest.
There were few times that Abby felt the world open to her, and she usually supervised it like a spectator of an interesting sport. She didn’t communicate much, but had some fun when she did. Lunch was suddenly over, and Abby heard her friend chattering away in her ear. The boy Abby liked was nearby them, and she turned up the volume on her own voice, laughing with her friend and trying to draw attention to herself. The boy didn’t even look in her direction, and Abby turned to her face to the floor, her lassitude doubling.
Abby returned to the epitome of boredom, resting her head on her arms. She knew the boys never noticed her. She doubted he even knew her name. Abby was only able to rest during the most boring class in the world, wondering how many days were left before the change in semesters.
The day at school eventually came to a close, and Abby gathered her belongings and went to her locker, then began walking home. On the way, she was greeted by one of her best guy friends, who was accompanied by the boy she liked. She turned her face down and tried to just quietly bypass the two while hiding the blush that spread across her cheeks.
Her friend grabbed her arm, causing her to swing around to where he and the boy were standing. Abby’s mouth quickly began stammering out a weak excuse about nonexistent homework, and she tried to pull away. Her friend held her arm tightly with a laugh, asking what her rush was. Abby’s cheeks grew more and more pink as her excuses began to die away, and the boy she like raised an eyebrow.
Abby’s friend commented on how he didn’t think Abby and the boy had been properly introduced yet. Abby stammered how yes, she believed she’d seen him around. The boy also added that Abby’s was not a new face to him. Abby’s face was now a deep red.
“Wh-what?” she stammered, the world unfolding for her, as it rarely did.
“Yeah! I know I’ve seen you around,” the boy told her with a grin.
“O-oh,” Abby said.
“Abby, right?” the boy asked.
“Yeah,” Abby replied quietly.
“Well, then, Abby,” the boy commented, “I’d like to talk to you sometime.”
“Y-yeah,” Abby said. The boy and Abby’s friend soon left, and a slow grin spread across Abby’s face. ‘I talked to him,’ she thought, ‘I actually talked to him!’ As Abby hurried home, the world slowly began closing up, although the cheeriness of her spectating was doing a duet with the music in her ears. She lightly tapped her leg to the beat of the bass pounding through her head, the smile plastered on her face. The cheeriness lasted until Abby fell asleep.
When she woke up, the world was dark and once again closed. Her music was her closest companion throughout the rainy day, and there was a point where the boy waved to Abby in the hall, and a smile instantly flashed across her face. In her next class, the rain tapping on the window seemed to dance and shimmer as it fell to the ground. Her happiness lasted until the end of the day, once again.
The next day, Abby’s eyes were half-closed as she wandered the hallways in the morning, and she noticed the boy with some girl that Abby didn’t know. He was giving her a close, lingering hug. Abby’s eyes widened, and her fists tightened around her books and her legs quickly sped up, and she rushed away down the hallway. Her skin bristled as she became jealous over nothing. Her rage flared, then weakened away and melted into sadness.
Abby sought out her friend in the hallway and began whimpering about her condition, even though she still felt detached from her surroundings. Her friend began lecturing her on how it’s never what you think, and Abby whined back disbelievingly. She began to go on and on about how the boy never noticed her, and how she was surprised he even knew her name, and how she just wished he’d notice her. Abby’s friend suddenly burst, and Abby’s world became clear with the painful realization that every word her friend spoke was true.
“Well, maybe join us humanoids once in a while!” her friend exclaimed. “We don’t all inhabit Planet Abby! Come down to Earth for once!” Abby’s eyes welled with tears at the truth of her friend’s words. A short silence followed her friend’s outburst.
Abby’s friend sighed. “Look. There is too much drama in this school. Join in it once in a while. I know how withdrawn you can become, and trust me. It doesn’t help your cause.”
“But what if I can’t?” Abby whispered sadly.
“You can,” her friend replied. “All you have to do is get used to it.” Abby nodded with a small sniffle, then rose and went to the library. She sat at a computer and put on her music. The boy she liked came in and sat at a computer next to her, causing her heart to pound. He asked what was up, and she felt far too nervous to reply. She remembered what her friend had said, and tried to focus in on her situation, ignore the music, and reply.
“I-I’m fine,” she told the boy.
“Just fine?” he replied with a smile. Abby nodded, and told him how tired she was. He said it was understandable, and maybe she was coming down with something. Abby laughed and said how she hoped not. He turned back to his computer, and Abby withdrew, back to her music. It was only then that she noticed how her focus was lost, and the world returned to its dull, gray, spectator’s sport.
On her way home, Abby passed by her guy friend again. They said hi to each other, and Abby relayed the news of how she felt that day.
“Try taking out a headphone sometimes,” her friend commented.
“No, no,” Abby replied. “I can’t go without my music.”
“I don’t think you get it,” her friend told her. “Let the world be its own background music. Maybe it will get you out of your shell a bit.”
Abby then grumbled how she didn’t have a shell, just as she sank back into it. Her friend raised his eyebrows disbelievingly, laughing and agreeing with her skeptically. Abby then proceeded to walk home, and as she was crossing the street, a car flew towards her, screeching to a halt just as it hit her.
--- --- ---
The next day, Abby was resting in the hospital with a broken leg and a scraped face. She was dining on Jell-O and pudding when her friends came in. One was exclaiming how sorry she was for yelling at Abby, and the other commented on how he thought she looked more battle-worn. Abby said she was fine, she was fine. She would be out of the hospital in no time, and her parents had just gone down to get some lunch in the cafeteria.
Her friend then remembered something, and reached into his pocket. He gave her a CD and a player, and told Abby that her parents knew how much she loved her music. She would play it whenever she wanted, now, and wouldn’t have to worry about interactions with others. She smiled sadly and accepted the items. They eventually had to leave, and Abby’s parents soon returned.
Later that day, Abby was being prepared to be discharged. Her parents had gone out again to discuss things with the doctors, and there came a knock on the door. Abby called that it was open, and the boy she liked put his head in the doorway. Abby’s heart began to pound, almost in time with the throbbing music playing behind her.
He smiled when she told him she would be getting out that day. He told her that he meant to come earlier, but wasn’t able to, and so on. Abby then remembered what both of her friends had said. Abby leaned back on the bed and placed her music on pause. She removed the CD from the player and put it in the case. She sat back up to see him with a slightly bemused expression.
“Bad song,” she explained with a brief smile.
“Ah,” he said. He stopped, and took a deep breath. Abby noticed how she could focus, put all of her attention on him, her world. This opened the earth to her, and she began catching small, subtle things: the beeping of monitors, the shuffling of feet, the glitter in his eyes.
“I…” he began, then stopped. “I don’t really know how to say this, but here goes. I have the biggest crush on you. I’ve tried to make you notice me, but I don’t think you ever have. It’s just…well... This car accident, well, it’s made me realize what would happen if I didn’t’ tell you, and I couldn’t bear that thought. I would be really on cloud nine if you wished to go out with me.”
Abby blinked. Is this what happened when the world opened up for her? Is this what she was missing?
“You don’t know,” she began, carefully choosing her words, “how much I’ve wanted you to see me, to notice who I am. I think I close myself off, and I don’t want to come across as closed-off and secluded, but I think I do. I would love to go out with you.” A grin spread across the boy’s face, and he hesitantly stepped forward and put his lips on Abby’s. Abby was caught by surprise, but kissed him back, savoring each moment.
When they broke apart, Abby murmured, “Excuse me,” then left the boy’s side. She hobbled to her CD case and picked it up, proceeding to drop it out of the hospital’s third-story window.
“Bad music,” she explained, beaming.