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Starting in the Middle, the Whisper Shouting Begins

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(Let’s be dramatic, because if it’s not dramatic, it’s not fun, right?) Let's not give her or him a name, because giving someone a name automatically puts a label on them. Instead, they will simply be 'they', because labels can be real, but are they really useful?
Let's start from the beginning. Not the very beginning, because that's where everyone starts, and not from the almost very end, because that's where everyone who doesn't want to be like everyone else starts their stories. But not in the middle. The middle is too confusing, like dropping you in a random country and hoping you can find your way out. No, we'll start at the mid-beginning, mid-middle area, so as to confuse but amuse you none the less. But first, a little backstory. So I guess, in fact, we are starting at the beginning. But don’t tell anyone. That removes the element of drama. And drama, as you may have noticed, gives the story character.

Because of them, I am alive. I don't mean, oh, yes, they totally saved my life. I mean I am living because of them.

Living: enjoying oneself.... well, living.
There isn't really any other way to describe it. Living is not just surviving. Living is surviving, but with something to live for, and wanting to live for that something.

Surviving: day to day....well...surviving. Not really living, not yet, at least. Lots of people survive. Not many decide to go beyond surviving, to reach the upper limits of humanity, to truly live.
And I didn’t either. Not for a while.
But then came the rainy day. Or maybe it was a sunny day. But it was definitely a day. There was a fight, as most life changing moments start out. There was a fight, and I couldn’t take it in the room where the fight happened. I couldn’t take the hostility, the pain, the anger. So, naturally, I left.
I called them.
I said, hey, do you want to hang out? Are you busy? They said, not really. I’m not busy, I mean. What time and where? I said, how about here, and now? (obviously I was more specific, but hey, this was a while ago, and who can remember details, let alone feel comfortable explaining them?) They said, sure, be there in about ten minutes.
I waited. Five minutes. I sat on the swing.
I waited. Seven minutes. I absentmindedly kicked my feet.
I waited. Ten minutes. I checked my watch.
I waited. Thirteen minutes. I sighed.
I waited. Fifteen minutes. I debated on whether or not to call.
I waited. Twenty minutes. It was getting dark.
I waited. Twenty two minutes. I stood up.
I walked away from the swing. Twenty five minutes. I left the park.
Thirty minutes. A call. I answered it.
She said, hey come home now.
I said, I’m coming home now mom.
She said, did you have fun?
I said, sure. I lied.
She hung up. I walked.
The next day. At school.
I said, why didn’t you ever show up?
They said, sorry. They said, but didn’t mean it.
Weeks pass. They talk to me occasionally. I talk back. But I never ask to hang out. Eventually, they move away. I never hear from them again. A year or maybe even two passes.
A call. He said, hey listen can we hang out? Or are you too busy? I said, I’m not that busy right now. What time? And where? I said.
He said, how about now? And the park?
I nodded, but obviously he couldn’t see that over the phone. I said, sounds good. Be there in ten.

In my mind, I watch him wait. Three minutes, five minutes, seven minutes, ten. I watch him start to leave. Outside of my mind, I turn the corner leading into the park. I see him, and start to jog towards him. He is not alone. But I can tell he is alone. I reached his side, in the middle of a group of kids who looked like his friends. I’m guessing now that they weren’t really. Actually, I know this now.
I said, hey what’s up?
He said, not much.
Some kid said something stupid. Other kids joined in. Kids are stupid like that. Not all, but these kids were most definitely like that.
He flinched. Those stupid things said were directed at him.
He said, I’ve got to leave now.
He left.
I left.
I didn’t like those kids. I didn’t want to spend any time with them. Any time I didn’t have to.
I walked to the edge of the park. He crouched down. He curled up. In an alcove, hidden from view from the other kids. I had known something was wrong as soon as he left, but now I was sure of it. It was getting dark. I would be past my curfew. (but let’s be honest, I’m a rebel. So curfews....okay, so I’m not so much of a rebel.) But I was sure I could face punishment for a missed curfew in order to help my friend. I walked up to him. I nudged him. He didn’t look up. I sat down next to him. We sat there for a while. I had a bag with me. I pulled out some of the contents of that bag. A newspaper. Only the comic section, though. I picked through the comics, he absentmindedly picked parts of the bark off of the tree next to us, never looking up. There was only my breathing, his breathing, the turn of the pages. The laughter of the kids in the park. The kids I do not like. The kids I did not like. The kids he does not like.
Eventually, the silence deteriorates. I ask what’s wrong. He says go away. I ask again. He responds in the same manner. I poke him. He shifts away. I look at the top of his head, buried in his arms, and I consider leaving. But I don’t. I ask what’s wrong. Again. Nothing.
I hand him the comics. He does not take them. He is very, very upset. I do not know why. But I hoped I would be able to find out.
Eventually, the bark wears away, and with nothing else to do, he picks up the comics.
The time must have seemed longer than it was, because the sky had not darkened that much. The kids were still there, after all. I could still hear them.
I looked at him as he looked at the comics. His eyes were red, and I was surprised at how silently he was able to cry. I patted him on the back. The kids roared with laughter once again, and I saw him flinch.
Of course. How stupid could I be?
I said, is it those kids?
He nodded. Every day, he said. And I hate it, he said.
I nodded. I said, I know how it feels.
He shook his head. Every day, over and over. And I’m stupid enough to fall for it every time. He said.
The tears, once gone, returned. I wanted to give him a hug. But that would be weird, for the both of us, so I didn’t. Instead, I patted him on the back. And I stood up. And I left.
I did not look back. I looked ahead. Behind me, a bullied boy sat, thinking I’d left him forever. Like the others did, I would learn later.
In front of me, a laughing group of kids pointed in the direction of the boy. And laughed, and chortled, and snickered. They did not see me. They were too absorbed in their own ‘games’. I joined them. They smiled at me. They thought I was back to hang out. With them. I started yelling. And yelling. Not yelling, really. Whisper shouting. The worst type of yelling I can muster. I do not remember exactly what I said. (If I did I would not share it with you.) But it did involve some very close calls with some very choice words. And it did involve a group of children staring at me, speechless. And then I left them, too. And walked back to his small hiding spot. I gave him a pat on the back. I said, keep the comics. And I left. I walked home in the dark. The dark is scary, let me tell you that. And I looked behind me. And a figure stepped out of the darkness. I screamed a little scream. I told you, the dark is scary at night, away from home.
The boy smiled. And hugged me. And then, he went home. And so did I. I remember my time of need. I remember them. They, the person who failed to help me. And in a way, they did help me. I guess. Every once in a while, I’m going to need the help of another person to cope with things. And every once in a while, people aren’t going to understand that. But when others need me, I understand, and try to do everything to be there. Because I understand how it would feel to be ‘abandoned’, or without help, or even without a nice pat on the back.
I don’t see them anymore. And they were a pretty big jerk, I realize now. But if I saw them, I would probably give them a big hug. And smile. Because they helped me by not helping me. And that is, in a way, what I wanted.




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