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The Secrets of the Popular
I had seen him around school all of the time; it was no secret that he was the most popular boy in school, and it wasn’t hard to tell why. He was a sight for sore eyes; tall, muscular, long brown hair, bright blue eyes, just about every girls dream guy. He seemed nice enough, definitely a well-liked guy. But those were the exact reasons why I had never spoken a word to him in my life, why I never even had any urge to speak to him.
When you are a girl like me, a boy like him means nothing to you. You see him, you know about him, but he is nothing more than a figure in the distant that you always hear things about. But here’s the thing: I chose to make it this way. I chose to hide in the shadows, unseen, unnoticed. Life was better this way, easier.
All of these things added up to the reasons why I thought that I would never speak to this strange boy with the many unknown secrets.
And yet, here I was, sitting in the music room, behind my drum kit, speaking to him, alone, in an empty room, completely one-on-one.
“Hmm…that’s strange,” a deep voice said in a whimsical tone. I had just finished pounding on my drum set, creating yet another random piece of music to file away in my collection. I was lost in thought, ticking off the notes that I had played in my head and memorizing them to write down later, when the voice suddenly appeared from nowhere. I glanced around the room, only to see him sitting on a small stool in the corner looking at me with a small smile on his lips.
I stared blankly back at him.
“You know, I have played drums all my life, and I have never heard or seen anyone with as much talent as you.” He said this simply, like it was just a natural thing to say to a person who you have never even been introduced to.
I was slightly speechless, and unsure of what to say, and yet I answered.
“It’s just what I do. It’s about the only thing I’m good at.”
“Oh, I highly doubt that,” he murmured quietly rising from his stool that he was perched on in the corner and walking smoothly over to me.
“Do I know you?” I said abruptly. I saw a curious, and a little bit hurt, look slide quickly across his face, and disappear in the fake emotions that I saw him plaster over them. A blinding smile, a few adjustments with his eyes, and suddenly he had the look of happiness on his face. But I saw the look in his eyes. The sadness resting deep inside of them.
“Not really, no. But I would love to get to know you.” He said, using a typical line. But for some reason, I did not think that this was just a simple line, I saw the flash of sincerity in his eyes, the wanting and longing to have someone besides his normal crowd to talk to. Someone more down-to-earth, someone not controlled by the high school world.
I answered quietly, picking my words carefully, “Okay. I would too. I think we have a lot in common.” I tried to make the double meaning in my words come across clearly, and I saw the look of intuition in his face, and I knew he understood.
How strange it was that I could learn so much about this boy in such a short amount of time.
For weeks on end, we talked, we laughed, we even played drums together, but only in the comfort of the music room. I enjoyed his company, although the whole thing was strange. We never talked about important topics, but almost all of our words conveyed secret unspoken messages that needed to find a way to be said. We both understood what was going on, but it was never spoken.
I spent most of my time with him observing. Observing him, the looks on his face, in his eyes, and by doing all of this, learning his true thoughts and feelings. I was slowly learning how badly he hated being popular, how badly he hated how everybody assumed his life was perfect, and that he was fine all of the time. Because he wasn’t, he hated his life, and I see that now.
Throughout the weeks that I got to know him, I saw each day of high school weighing heavily on his shoulders. I saw the bags under his eyes growing darker and more profound, I saw the way each day his eyes looked darker and darker, losing some of their brightness with each coming day. I saw his life getting worse, more depressing, and yet, I didn’t help. I didn’t confront him about it. I didn’t ask if he was okay. Because I didn’t know what to do; I didn’t catch all of the signs in time.
One day, when we were saying goodbye to each other, something seemed drastically wrong with him.
He took me by the shoulders, and stared straight into my eyes, and said, “Look, I have to go now. It’s time for me to go. I’m sorry, but I have to go now. Forgive me?” His seriousness could have been a joke if a joking smile had spread across his mouth at the end, but no smile came, and I knew that he was being dead serious.
I looked straight back at him, trying to find the hidden emotions in his face. There was a mix of emotions across the planes of his face, but the most prominent: confusion.
I whispered my response to him, mostly because I was afraid, afraid for me, and for him.
“Okay. I understand, and I forgive you. I promise, I forgive you.”
Relief flooded his features, but then the same confusion rushed back in like the tide.
“Good. I’ll miss you, I really will.”
“Me too.” And just like that his arms were around me squeezing me tight, and just like that he was gone.
So I followed. I knew something was wrong so I followed cautiously. To my surprise, he didn’t walk to the parking lot to find his car and return home, as he should; instead, he went to the cafeteria. Not just the cafeteria, but the kitchen part of it. The door slam shut behind of him with a loud slam, and I soon followed after him. I flung the door open only to find the scariest sight I had ever seen.
Broken glass, and plates were flung across the floor of the kitchen. Knives sat carelessly strewn across the tile floor. And in the middle of all of the horrifying damage, was a boy. A boy with the sharp shreds of glass sitting precariously in his hands, his knuckles white from gripping them so tightly, the blood trickling from the many deep cuts on his hands. The look on his face said it all. He was done. I was done; it was all over now. It was time to give up, to let go, to move on. And yet, I did the most irrational thing that I could have ever done; I went to him. I comforted him. I gave this strange boy that I knew almost nothing about reason to live. I threw a lifeline out to him, hoping and praying that he would grab on.
He grabbed my lifeline and hung onto it for dear life.