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Jeremy woke in the morning, far earlier than he liked. 4:25 a.m. was after all, ridiculously early for a 16 year old young man; particularly one who had stayed up the previous night until 2 am getting his homework done. He constantly worked, at school until 3 p.m, PetCorp from 3:30 to 6, and on him homework until the early hours, waking early to study and finish any homework left for this time. In fact, absolutely nothing was unique about this morning, except for one thing. Jeremy felt worse. Even worse than he had when his mother died or ever since, when his father had begun to push him so hard. Pushing Jeremy to succeed had become his father’s favorite past time it seemed. He pushed him to work hard in school, to earn his own money for college and spending.

But that was not all that was causing him pain. Things happening to others, people he did not even know, killed him inside. A young girl dying in the hospital, because her blood type is so rare. A child in a third world country, dying of hunger and thirst because there was no clean water, and no food. These things brought about greater pain for Jeremy than pain from his own life. But the worst pain, was that which was caused by nothing. Something nameless, seemingly real one moment, and all in his mind the next. A pain that made him wonder if life was worth it, if all this pain could ever amount to anything. A pain that crippled him at times, and bouncing back became more and more difficult.

Arriving at the building was painful, but walking up to the door was excruciating. So Jeremy stood, waiting for the fist clenched around his chest to squeeze hard enough to kill him. The hoard of jubilant teenagers meandered to the various classrooms surrounding him. The force of the tide pushing and pulling against him were so enormous, he was sure that if he stepped directly into one he would be flattened under their various shoes. Jeremy stood, until finally the surge of students began to taper, the bell ringing to signal the beginning of class. Snapped out of his trance, he ran through the menacing building, full of the malicious and the virtuous; but mostly, the indifferent. As he rounded a corner he skidded to a stop, opening the door and collapsing into his seat.

“Good of you to join us Mr. Mailer.” Mr. Petroff continued the lesson on advanced algebra. Mr. Petroff continued, the students did not. Many stared at him, suppressing giggles, others glared and still others ignored him altogether. He was a nonentity at the abyss of adolescents known to the rest of the world as Grover High School.

The lunch bell rang at one point, but Jeremy hardly noticed, save for the scraping of 29 chairs against the floor and the loud chatter of the chairs previous occupants. Jeremy slowly walked out of the room, away from the world he knew. The world of following the rules, letting people trample all over you, and accepting it. Jeremy walked away.

At the top of a building, the tallest in the city, he sat, watching the cars and trucks shoot past. Perched on top of the building, he looked down, thinking about each person in the world. How much pain each person had to feel in their lifetime, and wondered how much pain each one could feel before he or she would crack. With that thought a small smile grew on his face, and he felt the wind run through his hair and whip against his face.




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