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Never Stop This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

I have a schedule. Every day, I go to school, hold onto whatever horribly confusing curriculum they throw at me, then get on the bus, and go home.

On the bus, it takes exactly forty-three minutes to get home. During those forty-three minutes, the fluffy-haired boy in the fading blue bus seat next to me has all the time in the world to annoy me.

He spews annoying jokes, laughs at them, and reads continuously, pointing out funny bits of a story I haven't read, that you need to read to understand. His summaries are not accurate.

Every day, he throws paper airplanes, and hoots and hollers, and sings, and laughs, and I am caught between hating him, and laughing along with him. I usually choose the latter, it prevents arguments.

Through these days, though, I find myself continually avoiding one key subject. The future, or more pointedly, his future. I do not want to think about that boy's ­future. I do not want to think of him ­maturing, his hair growing longer, his old jokes running out.

I do not want to think of him in the hands of some girl, or the way he will look when his heart breaks. Black tuxedo, his hands holding a bunch of roses as the girl closes the door, leaving him alone in the cold, the tears burning his cheeks.

I do not want to think about whether he will get a good job, what he will grow up to be.

I do not want this boy to leave. I want to listen to his silly jokes for all my life. I want to see him sit there, intensely scanning page after page for some unknowable answer. I do not want to know if he ever finds the answer to what he's looking for.

I want him to stay right here, in the fading blue bus seat next to me, his hair on his face as he reads, shifting his viola case, and reading some more. I do not want him to grow up, grow old, grow away from me. I do not want to think of his future, my ­future, any one's future, but the truth is, there is all too much to think about. All the different choices. So instead, I fluff his hair, and hand him another book. I hope he never stops reading.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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