Addicted to a Stranger's Pity This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

March 23, 2012
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Find the time to find me.
Find me here.
I need to hear.
I want to feel.
Can you see me?
I’m right here.
There is no peace.
There is a mutual tension.
There is no happiness.
I feel no pain.
I hear no cries.
I see the blue sky, but I long for a clouded dream.
Colors and promises suddenly fade. I cannot love.
Don’t be afraid, I’m brave.
I can see the time, watching it run past.
It does not bother to carry me along.
I’m obviously invisible. You aren’t.
Do not waste your precious time here. I’ll be okay without your pity.
I don’t feed off your pity.
I have lived without it – I don’t need it now.
I’m perfectly fine. I promise.
Find the time someplace else.
But can you see me?
It’s okay. I’m invisible.



I get it, I’m an underdog. I never understood sports or drama club. It was never my thing. I didn’t care what other people thought of me. I have my own opinions and I respect others. Nobody likes me though. I can’t see why. Delinquents like me say I’m a catch. I can believe that, no doubt. But, I guess I’m okay with being a loser. It means I can be creative. I can be myself. I’m not forced to be like everyone else. I like being me…to a certain point.
“Just a little insight will not make this right, Mrs. Hassallman. I cannot explain why he chooses to do such...moronic actions.”
“I don’t understand, he was doing fine last semester. What happened?” spoke a stern voice. I lay my head against the glass, peering through it.
“I still can hear you”, I mumble. I slam my head against the wall in frustration and glance around, watching as different people walk by, staring. I glare back in aggravation, visibly making them uncomfortable. I chuckle under my breath and pull out a pad from pocket. I begin making small sketches across the paper, unaware of what my hand is actually crafting. I don’t rush when I’m drawing, but as I watch my hand make the strokes, I can finally see how apprehensive I actually am. I put my hand into a fist and carefully press it into my forehead.
“The only option is to suspend him.” I sigh. It isn’t as bad as he makes it out to be.
I relax and sit up, looking around. There sits a girl, young and innocent. She holds the hand of an older woman, arguing with the secretary. She snuggles her drawing pad against her chest, gazing over at me. I smile at her, but the mother sees this, pulling the little girl securely to her side. I make eye contact with the mother and try to apologize for whatever harm I might have caused with my eyes, but she just looks at me with pure abhorrence in her expression. I look away...this familiar bulge of pain forming in my chest.
“That’s the fourth time this year!” my grandmother exclaims, my principal shushing her. I lift my head to listen more closely.
“I apologize, Mrs. Hassallman, I don’t make the rules,” he speaks a little more quietly.
That’s my cue. I shake my head and chuckle, jumping to my feet. I knock gently on the tinted glass, pushing the door to the side. “Mr. Carr, could I join you?” I say sarcastically.
He gives me a look of pure resentment. He hates me. All I have ever done is cause him trouble, but it’s actually quite amusing. He lets me push his buttons which sets the little steam engines off in his head.
He pushes his bifocals up his crooked nose and pinches his forehead, his face turning a beat red. I grin down at him and raise an eyebrow, but then I glance down at my grandmother. She watches me with narrow eyes; like Mr. Carr actually told her the truth.
“Mrs. Hassallman, could I speak to your grandson alone? I would like to discuss the consequences with Justin before we discuss them with you.”
My grandmother scurries past me in a hurry, avoiding my stare. “Grandma?” She looks back, standing up straighter. She barely reaches my shoulder, but her cold stare makes me feel like the world has turned on my back. She’s honestly the only thing I have ever been afraid of.
I swallow, trying desperately to come up with yet another lame excuse to ease the tension. Confused by ever thought disturbing my mind, I try to tell her the truth, but the nasty taste of it swaths my tongue, so instead I bite down hard and sought for the more comforting lies. She rolls her eyes and shuffles away, turning her back to me. My shoulders fall in dismay. I have finally broken her respect and trust for me.
I quietly click the door shut and saunter across the room, shielding the mask of pain that must be disfiguring my face. I walk up to the very edge of the desk, looking him straight in the eye, mimicking his icy glare. “Steven. How can I be of service to you today?”
“Justin, sit down. I’ve had enough of your crap.” He picks up a piece of paper and hands me it. His bifocals slip down his thin nose again. He ignores it this time. “You vandalize school property twice, you pick stupid fights with your older schoolmates, now you’re caught using and selling drugs on school property? Do you even know what this means?”
“Another suspension?” I say lazily, falling down on the sofa. I lay my head back and look at the ceiling. “I’ll go and get my things. How long am I out for this time?”
“No, Justin. You’ve gone past the point of no return. I have no choice but to expel you. I already have spoken to the superintendent.” He stares me down with those narrowed gray eyes.
I sit up and glance at him. “You’ve got to be kidding. Steven, come on.”
He holds up a hand. “Nope, you’re expelled.”
I stand on my feet, grabbing the doorknob.
“Sorry, Justin. I honestly tried, but you brought this upon yourself.”
I glance at him from over my shoulder. “What a load of crap.” I leave the room hastily, slamming the big door as hard I could. “Whatever,” I mumble to myself. I pass my grandmother, but I don’t stop.
I don’t know where I’m going, but I know I’m going. I’m going far. Freedom is all that runs through my mind. Freedom, finally.
* * *
I’m careful as the train journeys by off into the distance. Under my feet I feel the rumble of the engine and the clatter of wheels against the iron tracks. The smell of coal congests my lungs.
I reach my hands out from body and feel the tickle of the wind. My heart is racing, beating as fast as a spirit can be influenced by love. I cannot catch my breath, but a weight is lifted. The bitter taste of freedom is unexplainable. Happiness does not depend on the position we are put in, but the freedom that we acquire. I don’t understand the intoxication an individual gets from just a bit of independence. It’s quite entertaining, but I guess I have yet to feel that intoxication because at the moment, all I feel is alone. Am I really alone though? I’m unsure. But the world is here. That’s close enough.
I can feel the breath of the wind against my face; everything unravels. The train is right there, I could touch it. I pull back my arms in a rush, screaming against the cry of the engine. I sigh. The train races off.
I can still see the smoke from the engine. I watch it as it fades into a cloud and disappears in the blue skies. The sound of cars, I can hear them again. The hundreds of cars above me shake the earth under my feet. I concentrate on the steady beat of the ground, watching as the trees on the other side of the highway dance with the wind and how the clouds move with the music of the world. Funny how everything beats together and if you listen close enough, you hear that steady beat right inside you. It’s merely impossible how something may seem, but it’s probably the most genuine thing about this dreadful universe; just the steady beat rocks the entire earth yet cannot even keep two hearts in the simple beat of love.
I want to be a teacher someday; funny how that is though. I hate school. Well, it could actually go to hell for all I care. I want to teach someone who can’t fend for themselves. I know their place. I understand their anger and hatred for the world, but I can also see the beauty in things. I have been broken by endless shattered dreams and agonizing sleepless nights thinking of how my life could be so much better. I am torn and scarred and no one cares. No one can see the tattered child they made me, but no matter what, they always follow me into my dreams.
That is not what even matters. I’ve been put down and shoved against walls enough times that I understand. I’m not worth it to anyone. I don’t care anymore. I wonder for miles and miles looking for a release – waiting on every corner for an answer; to be recognized as an individual. But as I wait, patiently postponing my life to hear that call from another lonely soul, I give up. It’s no time to feel self-pity or say I am not good enough. I’m better. I have a mind, I have goals, I have potential. I’m definitely no star, but I have touched them. My skin has burned with the fire. I have felt it in the palm of my hand – have you?
* * *
The streets are especially quiet today. I wonder around, my hood a cocoon around my face. I keep my hands stuffed in my pockets and cautiously watch others. I keep an eye on the sky. Time is no longer useful – just an illusion. I have erased everything from my mind. Nothing matters anymore.
I find a pair of stairs in the ground. The metro does not belong in the middle of Detroit. It does not belong in the middle of the road. I look down. I lower on my hands and knees. I cannot see a single soul. I yell for an answer, but I only hear the echoes of my own voice. I sound tired. Instead of turning, I begin to descend down the stairs, but I keep my head turned, constantly looking over my shoulder. I finally glance back, but I stand on the roof of an abandoned apartment building.
I recognize this place now. I shut my eyes, as if to wake from a nightmare. It’s quiet up here; a good place to think. I tend to spend a lot of time here.
I run a hand through my hair and open my eyes. The city is dark. The stars are bright. I smile against the wind.
Lose yourself tonight and let the stars move you. It’s a mad world and it dares you to dream, I hear a mad voice say. “Challenge accepted,” I mumble, dropping to the ground. I hang my legs over the edge and look down at the busy world, moving on without me. It reaches up sometimes and tries to pull me back into its pits, but I shoo it away like dust on my shoulder. I laugh at its pity for me. Please, you do not move me.
It’s kind of beautiful, the world. I don’t want to return at the moment, but maybe I’ll go back one day.
But for now, I’m just going to dream.





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