Author's Note: Hi! Thanks for checking this out! This is a oneshot when I was feeling down about Mia Thermopolis-ish stuff, you know, being invisible and stuff. I only seem to be able to create one shots that way. Anyhoo, enjoy and review!
This is dedicatied to all my friends. It's entitled "Yearning for a Friend" because you might be in need of one too.
Yearning for a Friend
I was grumpy that morning—really grumpy. I was fuming. A few classmates of mine had left me—once again—to do our group project by myself. Again. I was outraged. Not only was I not willing to accept the responsibility of doing all our tasks, but I was also not feeling very well. I had just come from the hospital a few days ago from the Intensive Care Unit. I was lucky to be in school again and yet, I had returned to this abuse. So, I was angry. I took on the job with a raging heart and spirit, but I swore that I would not do any one else a favor like this ever again. I had worked late into the night cutting, gluing, molding and testing our Global Model over and over again. Finally, just about the time when the morning news was on, I had finished the work successfully. As the anchorman reported about a girl my age that had committed suicide the night before, I got ready for another lousy and abusive day at school. I decided that I was not going to take it anymore and tell the truth to our teacher. So be it if my classmates would hate me forever. We would all get the grade we deserved.
Marching up the flight of stairs leading to my classroom, I held the Global Model in my hands, still fuming about the entire ordeal. I entered our classroom and dropped my bag onto my seat. My classmates saw my work and were excited to see how it worked. I showed them how it worked. Oooh, I loved the look on their faces. They seemed so convinced that through this project, they would pass the requirement they needed to pass our science class. They didn't know, they would have no part of the grade I earned. No way.
And so it was done. I was able to hand in the Global Model and our teacher was highly impressed. She commended us said to give us all the highest marks on the work. However, after class I sought her out in the faculty lounge and told her of my frustration. With a frown on her face, she looked down up on her class record where she had already seemingly placed the highest marks beside my classmates' names. She told me that she did not like to fail them, but that she was glad that I had told her the truth. Don't get me wrong. I didn't just tell her that I had done the work myself. I had shown her the text messages they sent to me, commanding me to do the work on my own instead. After talking with her, I felt rather proud that I had done what I did.
That pride was short lived.
The next day after classes, my classmates had hunted me down. They grabbed my collar and dragged me down to a deserted part of the campus. Needless to say, they beat me up. No, actually, they didn't beat me. They mauled my body until I was numb and limp all over. If I tattle on them again, they said after that—looking down on my motionless body, they'd kill me for sure. Not only that, they swore to make everyday of my life hell from then on.
I won't lie and say that I was not worried or scared. Hell, I can't believe it, but I did not wish to go back to school again. Funny, isn't it? Funny how you end up the bad guy when you were only looking out for yourself and doing the right thing. I would not, however, give up easily. A few days later—a few days of running away and avoiding the goons that have made sport of hunting and mocking me—I decided to take action and seek counsel. Cautiously (and can you believe I had to be careful to watch where I'm going because of them?), I made my way to the guidance office to seek advice on the matter of getting things back to the way they were; of course, with the exception of punishing the goons for they way they've treated me. Thankfully, I did not even cross paths with any other human being on the way; except for one girl that I almost bumped into as I hurriedly turned a corner.
The guidance counselor greeted me as I entered her office. I told her that I needed her professional advice on something, and we began to talk. She advised me to find a companion to be with so that I would not fear them as much as they did. I agreed, but told her I was worried that no one would be friends with me now that I've become a nice sport for the bullies that were once just people I didn't bother with.
"I'm sure," she said to me, "that someone would be willing to. You're a good kid. Don't you have existing friends?"
No, I said. The truth was, I never really had the time nor was it my priority to make any friends. I had always been preoccupied with work, hobbies and studies that having a social life never entered my mind. I have four siblings at home and that already took most of my time in terms of dealing with other people; I didn't really think that it would be in my capability to deal with any more than that.
"Well," my guidance counselor continued, "friends have more important uses than you may think. You should try meeting someone. That's the best solution I can give you. If those boys still bother you, let me know and I'll deal with them."
I walked out with a worry in my head that wouldn't go away. A friend? Now? Where am I supposed to find one of those? I'd seem too eager or desperate if I squeeze myself into one of those cliques now. Not now that I'm only a few months short of graduation. Although I didn't want to admit it, she did make sense. Having someone, a companion, with me will lessen my chances of being killed; not to mention, I might like having a friend. Everyone else seems to like having them after all.
Since then, for the first time in my entire life, I have never been more aware of the number of people around me. For someone like me who spent most of his time alone and preoccupied with matters that I considered more important than social exchange, I never really noticed just how many people there were. I never noticed just how noisy some of them were, how silent, how rowdy, how giddy, how mischievous, how elegant, how sloppy, how fragrant, how neat, how stinky, how disorganized and how lazy people were around me. Not only that, I never realized until then just how many people I did not know; how many faces I could not even recognize. But finding a friend amidst all these people was hard. How was I to pick a friend? Should I simply go up to someone and ask if I could join in their conversation? No, certainly it was not as easy as that. All around me people were already grouped, all of them immersed in their own little worlds. I, honestly, thought I had better things to do than this, but this was for my own good and safety.
Unable to approach anyone, I decided to sit down on a bench, squeezing in to the number of people already seated there. There I sat, just observing everyone and their actions, thinking of how I could possibly join them. That's when I saw her.
Sitting on the almost-empty bench across from where I sat, was a girl reading what looked like Wicked (the spin-off story of the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz). If you were a simple passerby or someone preoccupied, you probably would have never seen her sitting quietly reading a book. But since I had been observing everyone, she suddenly stood out. She sat alone unlike most of the people around us that were in the company of friends. She sat perfectly still, her petite frame never moving except when her eyes that ran from one end of the page to another and her right hand that moved only to turn the page of the book. She seemed to me like the typical quiet type you see in movies. Her black hair tied with a hair elastic at the base of her neck, her bangs fell on her forehead never touching her, uncommonly, hazel eyes because her eyeglasses prevented the strands from doing so. Her slender legs were crossed, unmoving like the rest of her body. She blinked every now and then but otherwise did nothing. She looked normal to me, but there was something about her that compelled me to think that she may be the friend I'm looking for.
I took a deep breath and decided to talk to her. I stood and wiped my hands on my sides. What would I say to her? "Hi"? No. I sat back down again. I might make a complete fool out of myself if I did. I sat, looking down at my feet, wondering what I should say. I didn't have a clue. I glanced upward to look at her again.
But she was gone.
I jerked up. Where was she? Did she leave? I looked around for her, but she wasn't there. Perhaps she'd gone home. Great. Just great. I blew my chance. Geez. Well, I decided, maybe tomorrow I'd see her again.
I was to be disappointed by not seeing her there the next day. I went on with the conclusion that it was just by accident that she was alone that time I first saw her. She must have gone off with her own friends. I did, however, not leave empty handed. Over the course of the next few days I observed people a little bit more while dodging the bullies at the same time. I never realized how scarce loners where in school—I was probably the only one! And finding friends was a lot harder than I thought (which was hard enough when I started). Every group of friends was bound by something they all had in common. One group loved race cars, another liked fashion, another liked music, and another liked movies. There were even groups bound by the strangest things: like bacteria, politics (yes, it is strange to me), UFO's, worms, and even a group that was bound by their hate for rap music. I did not, however, see the girl I had noticed a few days ago among any of these groups. There were more groups, I know, but I expected to see her in at least one of them.
One day, I—out of curiosity—decided to go to the library to see some books about bacteria and what made them so interesting (or disgusting) to the group I had mentioned. I had gathered a few books on bacteriology and had just sat down to open one of them when I saw her. There she was, walking towards the exit of the library, clutching a book in her arms. At first I was not so sure it was, but after she turned her head to glance at the book case near the librarian, I saw her face and knew it was her. I did not call out her name because I, obviously, didn't know it. And there was just something about her that made me want to meet her. She was alone again. And this time, I would talk to her. Someone opened the door and entered the library and she was about to exit. I stood from my seat but I stood up so excitedly that it tipped over and fell to the floor. It made a loud noise and everyone there looked at me. I apologized, grabbed the books, stuffed them back into their shelves and jogged to the entrance. I got out of the library and looked around the corridor. She wasn't anywhere to be found. I ran down one side and, when I couldn't find her, ran down the other side. Still, I could not find her and decided to take a break. She was still in the campus. I would find her.
I made my way to the area where I first saw her. I sat at the exact same place I was when I did. I closed my eyes and leaned back my head. Where could she be? It's as if she knew I was following her and running away. No, that's too presumptuous of me to think that way. She didn't even know who I was. If only I knew who she was, then I probably would have other ways of trying to approach her.
That night, for reasons unknown to me, I couldn't stop thinking about her. I could not even finish my assignments or my dinner because of my thoughts always straying back to her. I kept picturing her face over and over again in my head and just how attracted I was to her. I'm sure it was not love. Goodness knows I don't believe in love at first sight. There was just something about her that drew me to her. She looked independent yet, somehow, lonely. Maybe she didn't have any friends like I assumed she did. Maybe I could be her friend. I didn't know why I thought these things, but all I knew was that I wanted to talk to her more than I've ever wanted to talk to anyone in my entire life. I might have seemed to be exaggerating because that was exactly what my older brothers told me when I explained it to them that night.
I had gone to them in hopes that I would be able to explain what I was feeling. They have, have had girlfriends and I thought that one of them might be able to explain to me, because this was certainly the first time I've ever felt this way about anyone.
"Littlest Bro," my eldest brother, who was engaged, told me, "its not love."
"I know that," I said to him.
"You said you don't even know her name," said the second eldest, "how can you be so drawn to her?"
I looked up at him, "haven't you ever been attracted to someone you didn't know the name of?"
The three of them looked at me, and then all muttered at the same time. "no."
"But I'm sure it's happened before!" I said.
"I'm sure it has," said the third eldest, "it happens differently for everyone. Maybe this is how it happens for you."
"You know," said my eldest brother, "you should just talk to her. You're never going figure this out unless you do."
And that's what I decided to do the very next day.
Now, I know it might seem like I'm desperate for the answer to my problem—not that it was really a problem—an inquiry, more like it. But if you felt whatever it was that I felt then, you would understand why I wanted to much to talk to her. Not only did I want to know her, who she is, but I also wanted to be her friend. Somehow, I've forgotten my old motives for finding a friend. This time, I knew I wanted that friend to be her and I wanted it to be her just because…because…because I did. I stayed up all night thinking of how to approach her, that is, if I saw her. And I decided that there was no other way I could approach her other than directly.
That day never seemed longer to me. The periods went by very slowly and everything was not going as quickly as I wanted them to go. I've never experienced this because I usually participate so much in class that I don't notice the time go by. Today, however, I could not think of anything else but finally introducing myself to her, no matter how lame or embarrassing it would be. Was it really this way? Did time really go slower when you know you want something other than what you had at that time?
Nevertheless, I made it! Right after the last bell I ran out of class, almost shoving a few people out of the way. I made my first stop at the library to check if she was around. I checked all the sections, but she was not around. I went to the only other place I knew, the bench where I first saw her.
There was a basketball game that day so most of the people had gone to watch the big game in the gymnasium, quite a distance to the place I was going. And, to my relief, there she was. She sat alone at the very bench where I first saw her, reading her book with utter concentration. I swallowed my nervousness and took a deep breath.
I was stiff with fear so my steps were robotic. Until I finally got myself to stand in front of her. At first, she didn't seem to notice me, seeming far too engrossed in her book to see.
I cleared my throat, "Uh, hi."
Her head suddenly jerked upward to meet my eyes. She looked startled to see me. She leaned back a little as if to distance herself from me, still with that surprised look on her face. I wanted right then to just forget about it and run away. She didn't seem to want me there. But I stayed put.
"Hi," I repeated, "I don't know if you know me, but I've noticed you for quite some time now and I can't seem to get you off of my mind." Yes, it sounded disgusting, but it was the truth. "Well, it's just can't help but wonder if maybe… I could…you know…be your friend, maybe?"
She just stared back up at me for the longest time. I don't even know if she heard me correctly. Maybe she was deaf? But she was probably just too surprised to answer. Perhaps she was too big of a loner to expect anyone to ever pay attention to her? She blinked a few times and looked down at her book. She was breathing quite heavily, it seemed. She looked up again and opened her mouth to say something, but before she could say anything, I heard someone call my name.
I turned around to find the bullies walking towards me.
"Hey! Wachoo doin', loser?" one of them asked, and balled his fist and punched his palm. "Waitin' for us to give you your usual?"
I was panicked. God, not now. Not now. Of all the times to ruin things, they had to pick this one. I looked back at her, and although she glanced at them, she looked back at me.
"I'm really sorry. I hope we can talk soon." I said those words to her quickly because I darted off and ran. The bullies ran after me. I closed my eyes thinking that they really blew my chance. I looked back at her and to my surprise, she was standing, watching me as I ran and…
…was that a smile on her face?
I managed to escape them, but by the time I made my way back to the benches, she was gone. I thought she would have waited for me, but I guess she didn't have time to. I decided to talk to her the very next morning, if I could find her.
But I couldn't find her. In fact, more days went by without me every seeing her, not even once.
Two months later, I had lost hope of ever seeing her again. I figured that she might have been a foreign student; I remembered her hazel eyes and thought that maybe she was not from around here, and the reason for her not having any friends is because of the language distance. But then, that would mean she didn't understand I word I had said. Perhaps she had already left and gone back to where the originally came from.
I was right. Although, not completely right.
It happened one Friday afternoon when I decided to tell my guidance counselor that the bullies had tried to attack me again and I eventually got to tell her about her. I told her how I felt, how attracted I was to her, how much I wanted to know her.
"I have a collection of yearbooks here, why don't you point her out to me?" she asked.
Of course! How stupid was I? The yearbook! I felt so stupid. She gave me a few of the recent yearbooks and I began flipping through them. Page after page my eyes darted from picture to picture trying to find her amongst the hundreds of faces. I even had to take a break because my eyes stung from moving too much. Until saw her picture in one of the last few pages.
"There!" I said pointing her out for the guidance counselor to see. I felt so triumphant that I had finally found her. And now, I even knew her name.
"Mallory Kingston." I said under my breath. She was pretty in her picture. Unlike during the times I saw her, her hair in the picture was untied, her bangs were swept at the side of her face and she did not wear her glasses. Nevertheless, she was not smiling as I expected her to be. I was hoping to see her smiling face as I did that day I was finally able to talk to her.
"Are you sure?" the guidance counselor asked, looking at me.
"Yep!" I said rubbing my eyes. "that's her!"
"That can't be her." She suddenly said. I stopped rubbing my eyes to look up at her. "What? Of course it is, I said so myself."
"Your eyes must be tired, that's all. Let them rest and then you can look again."
"No," I said, annoyed, "that's her. I know it's her."
Now she looked at me, worried. "Are you sure you saw her recently?"
"Yeah," I said. She shook her head. "It can't be her."
"Why?" I asked, half-shouting, "has she left the school already? Maybe she just came to visit. People do that, right? Why can't it be her?"
She paused and looked down on the floor. "Because Mallory Kingston has passed."
I looked at her for a while, arms crossed and asked. "What?"
"She's passed." She repeated. "She's passed away. She's…dead."
I was taken aback. Slowly, my arms uncrossed and all I felt was confusion. "What? W-when?"
She looked back up at me. "Surely you must have heard about it? It was all over the news a few months ago."
"I don't remember any news, lady." I said rather rudely, forgetting she was a guidance counselor. She gave me a worried look. "Yes, it was on the news. She committed suicide."
"Wha—why would she do that?"
My guidance counselor looked down onto the floor. "Mallory was a very sweet girl. She used to come here all the time. Unfortunately, she had no friends because some of the students found out something they shouldn't have about her parents. Her father had murdered someone and is in jail. That happened when she was young and when her father went to prison her mother took custody of her and they detached her father from their lives. That's why her last name is Kingston—that was her mother's last name. But a few months after that, her mother lost her job and had retreated to taking drugs and got addicted to alcohol. A year after that Mallory was taken by Child Services and was given to a foster home.
"They raised her…but not well. Her foster father beat her and that was why she came her often to find consolation. She told me all these things. She was sort of an outcast, perhaps that's why you never noticed her before. Sadly, not a lot of students go near her or sit with her, no one ever paid her any attention.
"But she was a lovely girl, she loved to read and was a fairly good student. She told me she wanted to be a pre-school teacher to treat children with love, love that she never seemed to receive as a child. I don't think… I don't think she could take it anymore though…it was probably too much, poor girl."
As I listened to these things, I couldn't help but feel depressed. Mallory's story was tragic but not hopeless. If she had had friends to help her through her ordeal, she might have not thought of killing herself…or someone might have been able to stop her.
I collapsed onto the floor as something else crossed my head. If she died months before. How is it that I saw her? That I was even able to talk to her? I was sure it was Mallory I've been seeing. I was so certain. But since I would sound crazy if I pushed the matter any further, I decided that I would just head on home.
Before I slept that night. I couldn't stop thinking of everything that my counselor had told me. Mallory… why could I see her then? Did I have some sort of gift? Was she waiting for me to talk to her?
Then I remembered her startled face as I approached her that day, how unbelieving she seemed that I talked to her. Back then I thought that perhaps it was because no one normally talked to her—which was, as I did learn, quite true, but it was because of something else too. It was because she knew she was dead. She was surprised I was able to see her despite of that.
And that smile…she smiled at me when I ran. She was happy…happy because someone finally noticed her. And not only that, she was happy that I wanted to be her friend too. But I never saw her again after that. If she wanted to be my friend as well, she might have stayed around, wouldn't she? I mean, thinking about it, maybe it wouldn't be so bad to have a spirit for a friend. I was attracted to her after all. But… maybe it wasn't like that. Maybe, she was happy enough that she met someone who noticed her and wanted to be her friend. Perhaps she didn't go straight to wherever she was now because she had that "unfinished business" here. She now had a friend—what she wanted most during her live on and after earth. Maybe now that her wish was granted, she would finally be able to rest in peace. Yes…
That was why she smiled at me.
Perhaps, I had found a friend. No matter what any one said about me or my experience with Mallory, no one can take away that small, hidden bond that I had with her. She might already be gone and I probably did not know her at all in terms of who she was as a person but that doesn't matter. She is still my friend. I know it. And she knows that I am her friend too.