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Not Wanted Here
The light shines through the one huge window that takes up most of one wall, making the blandly-tiled floor a strange collage of shadow, at the same time bathed in light and shrouded by the darkness. I don’t know why I was there, or why anyone else was there. But suddenly, there I was, in the middle of the band-room, swathed in that same strange blue light that hung over the place like a thunder cloud. Everyone was frozen around me.
I inhaled sharply as the eerie calm shattered like a crystal glass that had just been hit by a deer shot.
People were screaming all around me, their voices ringing out in what moments ago had been pure and utter silence. I ducked as items were hurled around, probably missing their marks widely. Loud curses filled the room, angry shouts of my fellow classmates suddenly off their rockers.
Adrenaline spiked in my blood, urged on by my furiously pumping heart. Wasn’t there supposed to be a teacher or something? Why couldn’t anyone hear this? Why couldn’t’ somebody save me from these animals?
I hate you!
You want some of this?
My head was spinning. I had nowhere to go. I was trapped. I couldn’t really concentrate on anything at all now. The noise was all-consuming and all-powerful. Nothing could oppose it. So maybe it would be best if I just gave in, started screaming and yelling and kicking and biting like everyone else was doing right now. Give in to the chaos that had overcome my otherwise peaceful friends.
And there he was, sitting right in the middle of it, his calm eyes focusing on something else.
I was so afraid that it literally gave me a headache, which I suppose is strange because it should be the noise doing that.
And he reached calmly beside him and touched an old guitar that I hadn’t noticed before, but I guess must have been there the whole time. And he put it in his lap, his eyes still unfocused, and began to play.
The silence literally made my ears ring.
The song started out slow. It was just a few chords, really, laced together artfully with a random note here and there.
Everyone stared at him as he played, edging a little bit closer until they were in a circle around him. Somehow, I ended up inside the circle with him too.
The melody became enchanting. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and I think that I will ever hear again. It was amazing to me that his fingers could move like that, so quickly and without missing a note.
And he was looking at me. Me. My heart leaped a little. He barely ever said two words to me, but now he was playing so beautifully, and he was playing to me. There was no one else here, really, but me and him. Together.
A dazzling smile lit up his lips and the song got faster and happier. It was like heaven to me. I would not trade this moment for the moon. I would not trade it for the sun. I would not trade it for the rest of my life.
Everyone was staring at him, mesmerized. I guess that I must have been too. I must look like such an idiot!
But he kept smiling at me, so sweet, so I guess I was forgiven.
I reached over to another guitar that was suddenly by me, and without pausing to think that I didn’t even know how to play, I started up a similar tune.
The song that I played was really only a few loose notes here and there to accent the song that he played. And despite my total lack of musical talent, it actually didn’t hurt the song that he was playing. We were playing together now, kind of like how I had wanted somewhere deep inside. I never wanted it to end.
But as the song progressed, I realized that something was wrong. Slowly, ever so slowly, his smile began to drop. The song got slower and sadder. Then he was glaring at me, and I remembered why this wasn’t real. I wasn’t good enough for him, so he hated me.
Of course he hated me! I mean, what was there to like? Did I really think, did I really believe, that I could have a chance with him? He was so perfect! And I. . . .I just couldn’t match that.
His dark eyebrows framed his angry eyes like the broken shutters of a window, letting me know that I was not welcome here. His lip turned up in a sneer that I had seen on the King of Rock n’ Roll many times in portraits and photographs.
This is why I hate myself.
My fingers trembled as I continued the song, trying to hold on to some part of the magic that we had had only moments before. But it was slipping fast.
He put down his guitar in an exaggerated movement, laying down beside him where it had been. He crossed his arms and leaned forward and stared at me, daring me to continue.
My fingers tried uselessly to find the right notes. I was failing. I knew that. But I kept playing anyway, kept trying to hold on to that song that had been so beautiful at one time, though I couldn’t really remember when now.
Now I realized that everyone in the circle was now staring at me. Not just staring, but glaring. Everywhere I looked, seeking comfort, I was met with the same cold, hard expression. Nobody said a word, the eerie silence broken only by the dying song that I conjured fleetingly. Everywhere I looked, there was somebody to meet me with the same message.
You are not wanted here.
I wanted to cry. I wanted to sob and run away, far far away from these people who hated me so much. But I just kept playing, though the magic was long gone from my fingers.
He was still glaring at me, his eyes colder than all the others because of the warmness I knew they were capable of. The time, only moments ago, when he had looked at me so kindly as he played his magic song, was now like a ghost, mocking me as it drifted away, always just out of reach.
My song drifted off as my fingers slid from the neck of what was more like a monster than a musical instrument. It slid off my lap in front of me, stone dead.
I looked around desperately, though for what I was not sure. And everywhere I looked, I got the same message.
My eyes locked with his, and his message filled me up like ice water, shocking and painfully clear.
You are not wanted here.
I woke up with a start, the slow hum of my fan trying to clear my head for me. It was only a dream, I told myself. It means nothing, I told myself. It’s just random images and sounds formed by my subconscious in some sort of sick game. It was just a most improbable dream.
But the next day, when I went to school and I saw him in all his perfection, when I looked so foolish and ugly in comparison, when I told no one of my dream, when he said “Hey. How are you?” and I knew that he cared somehow, I couldn’t help but hate myself, because on every smile on every face, for every inside joke they never tell me, every word they say behind my back, and every time I look at him wishing that I could be something more than the math nerd to him, something that could actually deserve him some day, some way, I always get the same cold response.
I doubt that they even realize what they’re telling me. It’s just a knee-jerk reaction to seeing someone as imperfect and terrible as I am. They see me, blink, and look away, and though they never say a word or lift a finger against me, their message is all too clear.
You are not wanted here.
Park City, Utah
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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"History is the fiction we invent to convince ourselves that events are knowable and life has order and direction." --Calvin and Hobbes
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"This too shall pass"