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“Night,” Zeke whispered, “Stay awake.”
“I am awake…” Night mumbled, lifting his head a little to prove it.
“Barely.” He smirked, “I don’t want you to get in trouble.”
“Then quit talking…”
Zeke shook his head, “Do you even know what we’re doing?”
Night’s heart skipped a beat, “No.” He scowled, a bit ashamed.
“Me neither. She hasn’t told us yet.” He teased, laughing.
Night sneered, “Not funny.”
Night nodded with a yawn. He had to admit, it was hard. Sleep was just impossible lately. And it wasn’t even cold out anymore.
“Okay, “The teacher began, waiting for the class to settle down, “Today I’m going to give you an assignment that will test your writing abilities and expand your inner thinking. I want you to write me a self-reflection paper. Tell me who you are. No need for personal details, but don’t be cheap. You’re getting graded on insight.” With that, she returned to her desk, “You have the rest of the period to work on it, and I want it on my desk tomorrow.”
Not surprisingly, the voices picked up again, sparking conversations old and new.
“So… we have to write…” Night hesitated, “about ourselves?”
Zeke shrugged, “Guess so.”
“What am I supposed to write?”
“Who are you? There’s a good start.”
A monster, “Easier said than done.”
“True.” Zeke nodded, “But this might be fun.”
Zeke, the ever optimist… Night sunk into his chair. Self-reflection? His reflection scared him.
“I’m sure we can whip something up that’ll please Mrs. White.” Zeke continued, heading his paper, “Lie.”
“I’m gonna have to…” Night mumbled.
Night cursed himself for speaking so freely, “I’m not interesting.”
“Personally, Night, you’ve got to be the most interesting person I’ve ever met.” Zeke chuckled.
“How do you figure?”
“I don’t want you to take this the wrong way… I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but it just seems like you hide so much.”
“You really feel that way?” Night felt the blood drain from his face.
Zeke shrugged, “I’m glad I’m not a new kid…”
Night relaxed a bit. Not exactly the reason for his secrecy, but then again, the truth didn’t matter. Not when the lie worked. Night said nothing.
“What are you writing about?” Zeke asked.
“I don’t know yet…” Okay, so that was truth.
“Well, what’s important to you? I’m writing about my family. They mean a lot to me, so they ought to be at my core or whatever, right?”
Night winced at the family idea, “Pass…”
Zeke chuckled and continued scribbling on his paper.
Night lay his head down again. What’s important? Food. Air. What do you want out of life? A house. Or a bed. Or at least a blanket. Describe your personality. Liar. Suicidal. Monster. Yeah. Great paper.
“Are you okay?”
“What?” he blinked, “Oh. Yeah. I’m fine.” Lie number… Oh J****, he’d lost count.
Zeke nodded somberly, “Read what I have so far.” He asked, an attempt to raise the ambiance.
Night complied lethargically, taking a few moments longer than necessary to look over the words.
“Sounds good, Zeke.” He said with a small smile.
“What do you have?”
He shrugged sadly, “Nothin’ yet…”
“Well, get with it! You can’t copy this assignment, Night.” Zeke teased.
Night sighed, ignoring his happy vibes. Lie, he’d told him.
Just get yourself a grade…
Night pulled out a paper and stopped at his name. He hated his name.
What would a credible lie sound like?
Shallow and conceited, he told himself.
He wasn’t sure if he could be shallow and conceited. He’d never even had birthday cake.
He sighed, “I hate this…” then added in his native tongue, “Thoughtless b******s. I can’t do this… I can’t even lie on paper. That’s not right. It’s not the same as lying verbally. Words are spoken once then forgotten…”
Zeke looked up, “Huh?”
Night blinked, “What?”
He laughed, “Night, you can’t write your essay in Gibberish.”
Gibberish? Oh… right. Oops. He couldn’t think of a comeback. How much had he said?
“What language was that?” Zeke inquired with a smirk, not convinced it was complete nonsense after all.
Night blushed and shrugged. He didn’t really know what it was called anyway, or if the ancient language even had a name. Before he could think of a lucid reply, the bell rang and the period was over. Quickly, Night gathered his books and left the room, not bothering to wait for Ezekiel. He wasn’t in the mood for interrogations.
Night successfully avoided any further thoughts that tainted his self-esteem the rest of the school day. Now, however, back in his glade with nothing to do but think, it was inevitable.
Part of him wanted to write this paper. As much as he was tempted to blow if off and never complete it, he convinced himself otherwise. He was legally an adult now. No one could tell him he had to go to school anymore. But he couldn’t shrug the idea that perhaps a journey to the soul, as cheesy as it sounded, was exactly what he needed.
A demon didn’t belong in the human world. But an accused traitor didn’t belong back home, so he had no choice but to accept things for what they were.
Perhaps that was a good character trait to record. Accepting. Adaptable. That certainly was true. How many times had he been uprooted and coped? All he had to do was omit a few details from the essay. Good.
But he had to be something more than adaptable. It wasn’t very insightful.
He sighed, pulling his knees up and laying the notebook against them.
Adaptable and wants a table. Yeah. No.
He stared at his name on the otherwise bare page. Night. What did Night mean? The wind whirled through the clearing, turning the pages of his notebook, tousling his hair, and making him shiver.
Night is cold.
Not insightful. Just the obvious.
He sighed inwardly and closed his eyes. Night… Night… God, I hate my name. I hate my everything.
Hate. That was a big part of him. Always had been. Plentiful. Copious amounts of it all his life. His mother. His father. Especially his father. He frowned.
Although most people had hated him.
Because… Night is… pointless.
He whimpered, resting his head on his knees. An emptiness ached in his chest.
Definitely not… insightful. Enough.
Maybe he should write it out as he went. Explored the scary thoughts more? He shuddered at the thought.
If he ended it now, he wouldn’t have to go to school tomorrow. Or worry about the essay, for that matter.
He sighed. He was too lazy to pull out his knife, let alone do anything with it.
He supposed the essay was a good distraction. He added the date to the top of the paper.
There. He’d written something.
The date was not insightful.
But, he thought, It’s not my fault. It’s too hard to concentrate when you’re hungry.
There. That justified it.
Night is adaptable, wants a table to write on, and is cold, lonely, hungry and worthless. Mrs. White would love it.
And so would the school counselor. He scowled. Now he was referring to himself by name? He wasn’t even worth ‘I’…
Perhaps a few minor alterations. Change lonely to abandoned. No, friendly. Wasn’t his fault no one wanted to talk to him. Omitting the table-less, cold and hungry parts, he could work with it. Worthless could be insecure. Eww. Never mind, just forget that entirely.
What matters to Night? No, what would matter to Night?
Family. If, of course, they existed. And they hadn’t starved and beaten him. He’d love a family. Then again, if he’d had love all along, he’d underestimate it like everyone else. In all reality, it would mean nothing. Right?
Night hates being alone. He is lonely so much of the time… Even around Zeke. He supposed that if he’d had someone to talk to and had been properly socialized, he’d love his friends even more. But if he’d been raised normally, he’d be used to high school drama. So that would mean nothing too.
And if he wasn’t so starving for attention all the time, he’d value the time spent alone more. His time. To think. If thinking wasn’t so painful.
If Night had a home with a bed, maybe material things would have less value. So maybe he’d be like everyone else and want all the newest things. He could say that was important, even though texting in the answers in English class was a pain in the a** at the present. Homeless Night simply couldn’t grasp the importance of some things. Pretend Night would love them.
“Lame essay Night is lame…” he muttered to himself.
But he shrugged, and began writing.
The next morning, Night set the paper on Mrs. White’s desk. He slid into his seat next to Ezekiel, who greeted him with a smile.
“You actually did it?”
“Yep.” He said solemnly.