By Chef Snowstill
I thought to share this here. When I was young, my family and I moved into this neighborhood mostly resided by rich families. It was quite a difference seeing rich kids interact with each other compared to my old school that have very humble kids from humble working class homes. I tried to stay in the background. I did not like attention. I just like to be left alone.
My only friend was this girl, an outcast among the beautiful and the popular. She was a sickly girl, spoke with a stutter, but amidst her imperfections she was very nice and innocent. We ate together during lunch, sat together at the library during study time, and walked home together. Since we had different classes those were the only times we get to see each other.
Anyways, this was not about her or me, but about Paul. He sat behind me in English class. We never spoke to each other except for the occasional nod or smile. I tried to be nice and I tried not to be close to him. He had his own friends, and I was satisfied with one. There was no seating arrangement, but once you sat on one chair, you’re stuck there for the rest of the semester. I sat down first ten minutes before the bell and Paul claimed the one behind me as he just barely made it in class.
In the middle of the semester, as our teacher read lines after lines from Romeo and Juliet, I heard a conversation behind me. I could not help but listen. It was a girl and Paul. She spoke to him so sweetly while Paul was so gentle as if I had Romeo and Juliet behind me. It was adorable and much more interesting.
When the class ended, so did the conversation behind me. Closing my books and stuffing them in my backpack, I was curious to who Paul was talking to. I needed to see who was his Juliet. Given the opportunity, I turned around to put on my backpack and found out that the people who sat around him were all his friends and they were all male.
Dumbfounded by this revelation, I could not understand how was he able to talk to this girl. We were not allowed to move around in class while the teacher was doing his one man play so where or who was this girl?
For days, I found Paul only with his group of male friends. There were a few girls that would linger around them but they were spoken for by his friends. Paul was not interested in any of them. He never once approached a girl or placed an arm around a pretty blonde’s shoulder. He merely regarded the girls equally as if they were his own male friends.
“So you like him?” my only friend asked me after noticing that I kept staring at Paul.
“No,” I replied. Of course I didn’t, he was not my type. I never told her what I heard during English class since she might think I’m a weirdo. She would never understand. She never had. I once spoke to her about this horror movie I watch and she merely looked at me like I was from another planet. Afterall she was a very logical person while she called me the dreamer.
English class once more. He smiled at me and I acknowledge it with a nod. We all sat down and settled because the teacher started handing out our test papers. I was prepared of course since I wanted to keep my straight A’s.
“I know you like me,” said the girl behind me.
“Of course, I’m talking to you, aren’t I?” he told her.
“Then why did you smile at that girl in front of you. She’s ugly. She’s a witch. You would not date a witch, would you?” she said somewhat sinisterly.
“You don’t know her. You know you’re the only girl for me,” he told her.
“Prove it, honey. Prove that you like me a lot. You got that sharp pencil there. Poke yourself with it,” she said.
I could not believe my ears. Why was this girl making him hurt himself? This relationship wasn’t turning out to be a good one. It wasn’t healthy. Paul would not do this just to prove to a girl. He was a good athlete and a very good-natured boy. He never bullied anybody. Everyone liked him because he was a friendly boy.
“Paul!” the teacher called out. “What are you doing?”
All of us were startled by the teacher’s loud voice and immediately got up and ran to where Paul sat behind me. I turned around and was shocked to have found him continuously stabbing his left arm with the pencil. The teacher caught his arm before he could do more harm. Paul’s face was blank, he did not feel pain, but was staring intently at his arm.
“Paul!” the teacher said once more and this snapped him from this trance. He looked around at all of us that stared at him. He then looked at his arm and let out a loud expletive, in pain.
I did not know what came over me and I volunteered to take him to the school nurse. The teacher sighed in relief since he could not leave the class in the middle of a test. He also trusted me, I was one of his A students so he let me escort Paul out.
The two of us were quiet, except for his occasional groan trying to endure the pain. Upon nearing the nurse’s office, I had to ask. I had to know who she was.
“That girl you talk to in class, who is she?” I asked him. He looked at me puzzled at first and when I asked once more his face turned that into fear. “I could hear her. I could hear everything.” I told him.
“No, don’t,” he said trying to shut me up. “You don’t understand.”
“She called me a witch.”
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“Don’t be, I’ve been called many names. I’m used to it,” I told him honestly.
The two of us stood in front of the nurse’s office and when my hand went on the handle to open it, he put his hand on mine to stop it.
“No one can stop her. If I love her enough, she will leave everyone alone. I’m going to end it all.” With that statement, he opened the door and went in the nurse’s office to get his wounds treated.
That was the last I saw Paul. He never showed up in school the days following that. A few days after, we got news that Paul died. He committed suicide, stealing his father’s gun, walking in the middle of a field behind his house and shooting his head with it. No one knew why he did it. He was a popular kid in school, his parents doted on him, and he never had any enemies. No one knew why he killed himself.
Why was I the only one who knew? Why did he try to ‘end it all’ by killing himself? I could have helped him.
A new year rolled along and everything was as it was before. There was a memorial erected in Paul’s memory and everyone hoped no one would do the same thing. As I sat here alone in math class, I had almost forgotten about that mysterious girl. I had chosen to sit at the very back. I never liked anyone sitting behind me anymore. I need to see everything.
The bell rang and the teacher started her lecture. Opening my textbook, I concentrated and followed the teacher’s instructions.
“Do you like me? Because I like you,” said a girl’s sweet voice somewhere in class. I could hear it and no one else. I scanned the room and found no one leaning towards the seat next to them.
“Of course, baby,” said the boy. Then I found him, Jason. His gaze transfixed on the first page of his textbook. There was nothing interesting on it just the title and the editor’s name. His hand gripped tightly on his pencil shaking like a drug addict going through withdrawal.
Oh no! Not again. Why did she have to come back? What do I do? Jason and I did not interact. He was one of the ‘snooty’ kids. You ask why did I not try to help him? How could I when the poor sap refused to talk to a middle class kid.
My family and I moved once more in the middle of the school year. I never knew what happened to Jason or who that girl truly was. I only had my single friend to ask but I lost contact with her after she moved herself. She sent me a letter before she moved, sending her thanks for being a good friend to her, for watching over her whenever she got sick at school or for keeping the bullies away. She mentioned that ever since I became her friend, no one wanted to be near her. If it meant her safety, she did not mind having a ‘witch’ for a friend.
But I have never been a witch. Oh well, that’s high school and their stereotypes.