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'I never really fit in much I guess'' He said to me, and he looked up, tracing his finger across the table.
There was something intimidating about his stance, maybe it was only the way that his eyebrows scrunched down, but half the time he looked like he wanted to punch somebody. 'I always felt like I didn't belong. You know? People would say things and'they would just go right past my head. It's not that I was dumb or'that I am dumb'it's just that I think slower than other people. I keep to myself.'
'So you excluded yourself from people because you thought you were slower than them?' I wrinkled my eyebrows, tapping my pen against the table. 'Didn't you ever just try?'
'Not really'I mean I was just a loner. It didn't hurt my feelings. It was just what it was.'
'So this is why you turned to drugs? You were unhappy with how things were?'
'Ok'.then why?' I flipped my eyes up to his for a moment. He was smiling. Maybe he was a little slow.
'I tried to kill myself a few times when I was younger.'
'Oh? So how come you're sitting here now?'
'Because suicide is for idiots' He said, and a small laugh escaped me. 'I tried to stab myself in the chest a few times, but'.you know that voice in your head and all, giving you the good and bad. Well yeah, it was basically screaming idiot to me. So I put down the knife' He waved his hands animatedly as he spoke, and part of me had to wonder how he could speak so calmly about this all. For someone with such angry eyes, he sure could hold a smile.
'Ok'back to where we were. Back when I asked you why you turned to drugs? You avoided my question you know?' I tapped my pen against the table rapidly. It was difficult to keep eye contact with him for too long. Something about his eyes just penetrated.
'Yeah well'.where was I? Oh yeah'being a misfit and all. Well'' He drummed his fingers against the table to match the rhythm of my pen. For some odd reason this simple motion made me nervous and so I stopped. 'People would tell me I was nice and smart. They'd act as though they cared, but then they just shied away. They obviously thought I was a weirdo. I mean I can't blame them. I'm just sick of labels is all.' He reached across the table towards me for a moment, and then, as though repulsed, he pulled back. 'Then she came along'gorgeous, smart, sweet. She had only my best interest in mind, but'.with her came them.'
'Ok, wait, stop. There's a girl in the mix here?'
'Are you going to listen to my story or not?' He said while rolling his eyes.
'Yeah yeah'' I said, scrunching my nose. 'I'm just impatient is all.'
'Alright, well'like I was saying - with her came them. They were three guys, all popular, and the second I started being friends with her they were talking to me. They thought I was cool'which was way different to me. Next thing you know I'm hanging out with them all the time.'
'I still have absolutely no idea where the drugs come into this at all. You know that's the reason you're here right? I mean not that your story's not fascinating, but I've got better things to do.'
He scowled at me for a moment, slouching down in his chair. 'Yeah well, postpone those better things then. This is more important.' He shot me a brief look but then grinned. I couldn't help but smile back. 'So I started spending time with them and then yeah, here's your drug story little miss impatient. Then they invited me to start smoking pot with them. I told myself I would never do that, that it was stupid, but yeah'I guess I don't have the best morals or something. The thing was'they smoked pot all the time around then, and they were my only friends. I didn't want to lose them for something stupid like not doing drugs. So I gave in.' I furrowed my eyebrows at him and he furrowed his in return. 'Don't judge me. I bet you'd do the same.'
'Sure'you say that now.'
'Ok, back to the story.' I snapped and narrowed my eyes at him.
'Something about it made me feel normal for the first time you know? I mean I didn't feel so out of place. When I was high I felt like my mind actually went at a normal speed I guess. I didn't feel so alone anymore.'
'Yeah'but how is that any way to live?'
'It was better than how I lived before.'
'Well anyways'I want to hear the consequences now. How am I supposed to tell this without some kind of lesson?'
'You didn't ask for a lesson.'
'I thought you didn't smoke anymore.' I said accusingly.
'Then why did you stop?'
His face shattered for a moment, breaking from the cold eyes and smile I'd grown used to. He gripped the arms of his chair and leaned forward, so close that I could almost feel his thoughts seeping into me. 'Her'
I could feel the hairs on my arms rising as he spoke, shaken by just how much feeling he could put into that one word. I was almost too scared to ask, almost. 'Her?'
'The girl - the stupid, amazing, most wonderful girl on earth' He pulled away again, his eyes sad but his lips smiling. 'She was furious with me. Because all that time in which I was getting to know them I was getting to know her to. She cleaned up my life, sent me to church, made me get a hobby, a purpose, and then I went behind her back and did drugs.'
'So she gave you an ultimatum?'
'Heck yes she gave me an ultimatum, but I was being an idiot. I mean'.these drugs were like medication for me, they made me think right, feel right or at least I thought that'but in reality they were just screwing me over.'
'Screwing you over? How? I mean I thought they were helping you not hurting you?'
'Helping me yeah, helping me be somebody else. I mean this is my mind, my body; this is the way it is. I can't speed it up, slow it down, change it in any way, because if I do'it makes me someone else.'
'How so, I mean it's still you right, no matter if it changes the way you think?'
'No, it's not me. It wasn't me, because if it had been me I would've been smart enough to give it up, but no.' He slammed his hand down on the table and tears formed in his eyes. 'She was the best thing that ever happened to me, she really was.'
'So'you didn't quit?' I let out a breath, shaken by his anger.
'Not then. Not then, because I was too sucked in. It took something awful to change my views.' He shook his head, staring down at the table. My heart raced and I could barely breathe as I whispered out to him.
His fists clenched and eyes narrowed, staring forcefully down at the table. 'When she found out she said to me 'it's me or them'. I couldn't believe she would just put me out like that, giving me up to chance, but I just didn't see. She was so screwed up, all that time. I was the one helping her, holding her up - the silly little girl with the smiles and the laughs, the right and wrong ' the girl who dragged me to church every Sunday just because she had hope in me. All that time that I thought she was helping me, I was the one helping her.' He put his head in his hands for a moment before starting back up. I wanted to reach out and help him, but I just wasn't brave enough, and even so I wouldn't have known what to say. 'Turns out her life wasn't so perfect'' He stared off wistfully and then started to speak again. 'I was given a choice and I made the wrong one. I looked her straight in the eyes and said 'Fine then, I choose them over you, because they do more for me than you ever will.' I have no idea why I did it. I knew it would hurt. I wanted it to.'
'Then what happened?' I asked, finally catching my breath enough to speak up.
'I left. The next morning I woke up and I knew I'd made a mistake. I was going to apologize to her, but'' He closed his eyes. 'I went to her house, up the stairs and into her room. I had my speech all planned out, what I was going to say, how I was going to make things better. Then there she was ' dead on the floor. I called the ambulance just in some hope that she wasn't dead, but no such luck. She overdosed on pills, ironically ones she'd taken away from me.'
'I'm so sorry'' My words sounded so weak next to that story, so ridiculous. What could sorry do anyways?
'Yeah well'.so there you go, you wanted a consequence, there's mine. I killed her, provided her with both the pain and the pills to do it. Don't you just love the irony of it all?'
I didn't respond, watching as he straightened from his chair and left the room. It only took me a moment to realize that I'd better go after him. 'Hey, wait a sec!' I shouted, springing after him. 'I just have one question!'
He spun around, turning to look at me. Something about him seemed different from the him I saw at the beginning of the story. His eyes which had started out so cold and empty were now burning with feeling. He seemed so much more'alive. 'You said you used to feel like a misfit yeah?' He nodded and I bit my lip thoughtfully. 'Well do you still? I mean'.not to sound as though you should have, but'why haven't you killed yourself or something? What's stopped you?'
'She taught me something in the short time I knew her, you want to know what it was?'
'No matter how perfect our lives might look, no matter how imperfect, we're all misfits. No one can live without problems and mistakes, without lessons. She gave me mine, and so now I have a reason to go on. I have to let people know that'it's ok to be different. I have to let people know to be true to themselves, because'.all she ever wanted was for people not to end up like her.' He turned down the hall and I watched him go, feeling somehow different from when I had first seen him.
He was right I guess, right about it all. I don't know where he is today, if he's still alive or if he forgot his goal to keep living on, but there's one thing I do know. I know it now and I knew it as I walked out the front doors of the building. We can call people names, exclude them, think that they're somehow different from us, but the truth is we're all the same. There is only one word we can use to describe all of us and have it ring true, misfits ' we're all just misfits ' and we'll always be this way.