Patrick tried to commit suicide, so his mother decides they should move to Chicago.
“Watch where you’re fucking going!”
I look up at the eight foot tall, four feet wide football jersey wearing bolder, who bumped into me and knocked me to the floor, “I-I um.. s-sorry.”
He walks down the hall, shouting to his friends, without another word to me. I sigh and push myself up from the hallway floor and look for my locker, number 317. I probably won’t use the locker much, because we have five minutes between classes, and mine are all pretty spread far apart. I might use it during lunch to switch out my books, but then I’d have to go to it again before catching the bus, and they don’t wait for stragglers running to the bus yard. As I fumble with the lock trying to get the combination right I hear my name.
“Some kid named Patrick, I don’t know but he’s been having a rough time so I need to find him!”
I turn my head in the direction of the voice, only to see a group of kids, mostly covered in black, going down the hall. In fear of it being coincidence, considering the fact that Patrick is a common name, I turn back to my locker.
“Patrick...Stumf?” the teacher looks up from the role sheet.
“Stump.” I correct her, “Here...”
“Interesting spelling...” she continues going down the list as I feel a pair of eyes on me.
I look back and meet a pair of deep brown eyes.
The brown eyes look up to the front, “Here.” before turning back to me.
“What?” I whisper, feeling uncomfortable.
“Patrick?” the boy grins and moves up into the empty desk beside me, “Hi, I’m Pete. I think our moms are buddies or something.”
“O-Oh.. you’re him.”
He raises an eyebrow.
“I just, my mom told me her friend had a kid my age.” I look down sheepishly.
“Oh, well she lied then.” he grins, “Unless you repeated two grades? Kindergarten, and Eighth.”
“No I..I didn’t.”
Pete nods, “So most of the seniors are seventeen, right? I’m guessing you are. I’m nineteen.”
I nod, “Yeah..seventeen.”
He smiles, “So how do you like it here so far?”
I shrug a shoulder, “I got pushed down by a giant, but other than that...”
Pete frowns, “Jerks. Hey, wanna sit with us at lunch? But I must warn you, I’m not inviting you to sit with hot cheerleaders or anything, mostly gay guys, and we do have two hot girls but they happen to...notice each other’s hotness.”
I cover my mouth to hide a small laugh and nod, “I’ll sit with you... it’s that or the awkward search for a mostly empty table or sitting on the floor..for once sitting with someone sounds nice.”
“For once?” he frowns, “Didn’t you sit with your other friends last year?"
The saddest expression covers his face when the only reply I can give is, “What friends?”
I walk from the lunch line and look around the cafeteria. As familiar as this feels, it also feels extremely unfamiliar. Instead of an empty spot, I am looking for a person. But with all of the people in this school, I’m having an easier time of finding an empty spot. He probably didn’t really want me to sit with him anyways, he just felt obligated. With a sigh I make my way to the empty table and set down the lunch tray. I pick up a fry and pop it into my mouth, choking when I feel a hand on my shoulder.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
I look up to see Pete grinning, “I-I couldn’t find you.”
“Well I forgot to mention, we don’t eat inside. C’mon ‘Trick.”
I raise an eyebrow at the nickname, but follow him out the side door of the cafeteria. We walk around the building before he stops under a large tree with a picnic table underneath full of kids chatting away.
“Guys!” Pete yells.
“What? Oh god please tell me you didn’t actually ask every new kid if his name was Patrick.” a very skinny boy, with light brown hair and square rimmed glasses asks, rolling his eyes.
“Why no Michael, it proved unnecessary as he was in one of my classes.” Pete grins, “Anyways, everyone this is Patrick, Patrick this is Mikey,” he points to the boy with glasses, “Gerard,” a pale boy with long black hair who slightly resembles Mikey waves, “Joe... and everyone else.”
One of the girls rolls her eyes, “So you’re the guy Pete’s mom is making him be nice to?”
I look down.
“Mary, that isn’t nice.” Pete frowns, “My mom isn’t making me do any-”
“Yes, she is. You told us. Patrick kid has been having problems so your mom wants you to be nice to him. Pretty much word for word.” she looks up to me, “I might seem rude, but I just want you to know what’s going on here. Pete’s mom is making him be nice to you, that’s it.”
I wince and turn around, walking back into the cafeteria to sit alone. As unpleasant as it was to hear, I knew it all along. I just wanted to let myself pretend I had a friend, at least one person I could trust. It’s best to stick with reality.
At the end of the day, I hurry to my locker, praying I can get everything I need and run to the buses before they leave. After swearing and hitting the locker, I finally get the combination right. I open it, and a folded piece of notebook paper falls to the floor. Curious, I pick up the paper and unfold it.
I’m sorry if what Mary said hurt your feelings. I might as well be honest here, my mom did want me to be nice to you. But that isn’t why I’m doing it. I don’t know what you’ve gone through, but I do know it hurts. I can see it in your eyes. Eyes like yours should always be shining with happiness, not darkened with pain. When I heard you laugh today, it was music to my ears, despite how quiet it was. A smile like yours should be ever present for the world to see, but instead you nervously bite your lip. I want to make you smile, and laugh, and lose the pain, if only for moments at a time, and THAT is why I’m being nice to you. I’d like to get to know you passed your fake forced smiles and shy mumbles. And I get a chance tonight, because my mom is having yours over for dinner, which by default means you. I hope that’s okay.
I look up from the letter, blushing lightly. Does he really care that much? I look up and groan, seeing the buses drive off out the window.