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One Treasure of the World
“Well,” she sighed while pausing to choose her words carefully, “he’s… one of my quieter students. I realize that he is a bright boy, but if he would apply himself more to, well, everything, he could really pull his grades up and improve.”
* * *
“What did the teacher say?” asked a small voice, aimed at a mother entering into the well-proportioned, white kitchen.
“She said that you’re a smart lad, you just need to apply yourself a bit more,” responded his mother, setting her purse down on the kitchen counter.
Do teachers ever say anything else during conferences, he thought to himself. Without having any verbal response for his mother, he went quietly up the stairs, located just outside of the kitchen and up to his room for the night.
Olive closed the door to his room and put his back to it. He closed his eyes and covered his face with his hands. His short, shaggy brown hair sagged sorrowfully over his ears, down his neck, and shadowed his eyebrows. When he dropped his hands to his sides and opened his eyes, the rich, dark green glow seemed to splash wildly, like the waters of a storm. His brown fleece sweater, with its black lining and trim, protected him from the chilling autumn season. His light blue jeans with holes at the knees and frayed edges cascading over his brown shoes kept him blending in with the masses of the world.
If one were to look for Olive in a crowd, he could not be found. He made himself quiet, not that he was naturally this way, but because he felt as if he had nothing else to look forward to, nothing else to love. He had his problems, but he felt that they were typical, even cliché. He hated that, and he hated even more that he had problems in the first place.
He moved across his 15x15 box-room to his window that overlooked the driveway leading up to the garage door directly below him, out of sight. Sitting on the sill that ended a few inches below his waist, he ran his thin fingers over the leaves of a green plant, potted in that typical orangy-colored clay. Carefully, he poured water from a plastic bottle onto the plant and its black dirt. The fact that Olive could control the life of this plant, whether it thrived or dried up, made him feel powerful. Having a say that mattered in anything doused him in a blanket of fulfillment and warm pleasure.
* * *
The loud ring of the school bell signaled the beginning of first hour. Olive was one of the few students already seated at his desk. As other teens moved to their seats, the teacher scrolled through the attendance, name after name, finally coming to his. “Olive Earth?”
“Ah..? Oh, here,” he said, after a start.
“I saw your mother, yesterday, at conferences, Olive.”
“She mentioned that,” he said as he focused more on his doodling in his lined notebook while slouching in his chair, uncaring and unconcerned. He knew what was said at the conference. Why was she smiling about it like she was happy with the meeting?
Wow, this class is still going? He had zoned out shortly after responding to his droning math teacher about attendance and was just coming back to reality. Baffled that the bell had not yet rang, he went back to his art.
When the bell had finally gave in to his silent plea to sound out it’s cry, Olive stood up from his desk in the middle of the ordinary, plain classroom, and left with the other students, not even listening as the teacher called out the class’s homework assignment.
As he walked to his next class, clutching his notebook to his chest like a medieval soldier gripping tightly to a shield that protected from arrows, he passed a girl. Her brown chestnut eyes glimmered as she flowed past the crowds of people, as if they didn’t exist. Bright brown hair bounced with each flawless step the angle took. His eyes could not help but wander to her full breasts and well shaped thighs, legs, and other amazingly beautiful body parts. Then, suddenly, her perfect voice interrupted his thoughts. “Hey, Olive,” she breathed quietly to him as she passed by with a weak smile. Ex-girlfriends…They’re all the same. F**king b****. He sighed and kept walking without a word to the perfect woman.
“January try to talk to you again?” asked a student, while digging books out of his locker. Olive leaned against the closed blue locker next to his friend as he answered, “Yeah,” while thinking nothing but negativity about the girl. “Who the f**k names their daughter ‘January’?”
“You didn’t mind the name for the two years or so that you dated her,” mentioned Eric as he stood up and slammed his locker. The two friends began to walk together down the hall but their conversation barely had a chance to rekindle before the boys spotted Eric’s girlfriend walking towards them. Olive smiled his fake smile, trying to reassure his friend. “I’ll see ya later, mate,” he said as he turned around and headed the long way to his next class.
Olive made it into his Senior Seminar class just as the bell tolled out it’s annoying ring. Sitting down quietly, he noticed “Career Day” plastered on the white board in the front of the room and many fathers standing around awkwardly, waiting to give their speeches about their lives. Men spoke almost all hour about successful jobs, and amazing wives and children. Every story came down to that and nothing more in Olive’s eyes. Of course he was happy for them, but he wasn’t impressed. When no fathers were left to speak, Mr. Forn looked at his checklist and addressed his class, “It looks like that’s everyone except for,” he paused to look at list of students and records, “Mr. Earth. Will your father be presenting today or tomorrow?”
Olive’s eyes narrowed with a certain amount of disgust as he looked at his teacher, “No, of course not.” Mr. Forn made a mark on his clipboard and the class continued undisturbed.
After leaving second hour and breezing through a boring third and fourth hour, the lunch period seemed to spice up his day a little. Olive sat with Eric and that girlfriend of his, conversing happily with them while greeting other friends as they passed by. The three of them talked about their boring Monday and how their weekend had gone. They discussed teachers and homework and their plans for tonight. They joked and laughed while simply enjoying one another’s company. When that stupid bell rang decided to end his lunch time, Olive went to his fifth and sixth hour classes, walking through the motions uneventfully and nonchalantly.
* * *
Sitting on the tiled counter in this kitchen, Olive spoke to his mother, while his eyes rested on the floor. “I lost points in class today because I didn’t have a father to share his career with everyone.”
“Why, that’s silly. Did you tell your teacher?”
“Tell him that I haven’t seen my father since I was a child and get an “excused” for the assignment? That just sounds stupid…It’s demeaning… But I’ll say something to him tomorrow, I guess.”
* * *
Why don’t you just get over this stuff and live your life. You hold on to how things used to be or how they could be. It’s stupid. All you do is complain, Olive. Everything could be so much more enjoyable for you if you just choose to make it better.
Olive cocked his head at the email as he moved his curser to the “Reply” button and clicked it after reading Eric’s message to him. After thinking for a few moments about what his friend had to say, he began to type in the blank text box, letting his thoughts flow out.
You’re right. I’m just having trouble letting go, I guess. I’m not sure why I make everything so hard on myself.. You and her seem so happy together. I’m happy for ya, mate. Hm.. I wish that January and I still had that. I just want to fix all of this crap that I’m putting myself through. It’s unnecessary. It’s stupid. You’re right.
Olive tapped the “Enter” key as he leaned back in his chair. He really did want to get rid of his petty problems, for he knew that’s all they were. He knew that it would be tough, but everything would be so much easier if he would simply erase all of the drama in his life. He didn’t need this stress. To his surprise, Eric responded within a few minutes.
Just let go. What’re you waiting for?
He got up from his computer and went to the window sill. As he watered the flowering plant, he ran his fingers over the green foliage. Olive quickly bit on his lip as he turned his hand over to reveal a bleeding fingertip. He sucked the blood away while mouthing the simple, “Ow.”
Olive went out his door and down the stairs in search of a band-aid when he came across his mother slaving over paperwork of all kinds. “What’d ja do?” his mother asked, looking up from her work.
“Eh. Cut myself on that plant. I may keep it alive, but I most definitely can’t control those thorns.” He paused suddenly and, thinking about his words, began to head back up the stairs.
“Oh. Uh, nothing,” he muttered, putting a smile on his face. “G’night, Mom.”
* * *
The loud ring of the school bell signaled the beginning of first hour. When the teacher called that name, “Oliver Earth,” he smiled, raised his hand a little and successfully voiced, “Right here, Mrs. Evan.” He even managed to answer a couple of questions from his new seat at the front of the class. When that bell rang, Olive got up and went to his teacher. “Here’s the homework that was due,” he said to her. “Thanks for tolerating me this year, Mrs. Evan. I really do appreciate it. I think it has helped me out a bit.”
He left his class just in time to pass that amazing girl from yesterday. Walking up to her, Olive spoke as clearly as he could, ignoring that nervous twitch of his. “Hey there, beautiful.”
She smiled. That was a good sign. “Hello, Olive. I’ve got to get to class. What’s up?”
“I just,” he paused for only a moment before forcing himself to go on, “I want to make this work between you and I. If not as a couple, at least as friends. We spent a lot of time together. You were my best friend, and I don’t just want to throw that away. You mean a lot to me, January. I’m sorry for being such a d**k for the past few months. Forgive me?”
Without a word, she hugged him, wrapping her arms around his waist just like she used to. “I’d like to make this work. I’d like that a lot. And, of course, I forgive you.” She smiled, hesitated a moment, and kissed him on the cheek before walking past him in the direction of her class.
Olive rushed off to Senior Seminar, trying to beat the bell. He ended up being late, but he sat down after apologizing to his teacher while explaining to him about the situation with his father and how being “excused” from an assignment because of his lack of a father bothered him. Mr. Forn nodded apologetically and even understandingly and made another mark on his clipboard, but this mark came off as a good one in Olive’s eyes. He was happy about this one.
Just like most days, third and fourth hour breezed by, though Olive did try to participate a little more in each of them and all of his teachers seemed pleased with his obvious efforts. At lunch, Olive sat with a few different friends, by mainly with Eric. Olive was smiling happily as he told his friend about how his day was going and how happy he was. Then there was that bell again, telling Olive to head off to fifth and then sixth hour. Again, all he could do was try to listen a bit more and voice his opinion during the discussions. He was having a rough time doing all of this, but he felt good about the changes. He felt good about having a firm control over his life.
* * *
“He’s adjusted a lot over these few months. He’s made a lot of positive changes and I’m very pleased with how he’s doing in my class,” expressed Mrs. Evan as she spoke openly, without pausing or stumbling over her words. Olive’s mother listened intently; hanging on the teacher’s every word as she continued to speak. “He’s a bit more talkative now with the class, which he’ll have to work on. I’ve only had to send him out into the hall a couple of times for talking too much, but he really has turned around. His grades are better and, if I’m not mistaking, it looks like he’s been walking one of my other students to her classes. January? I’m sure you’ve met her. Oh, she’s a sweet girl. The two of them get along so well. Olive tells me that he and you have been spending more time together, as well. Well, good for the two of you. You truly have a good son, Mrs. Earth. I’m proud of him. Really, I am.”