Yearbook Pictures 01

I'm the kid who only ever gets the one shot taken during yearbook photo time at school. I'm the kid who always wears t-shirts and doesn't have the special haircut and looks like they do basically every day on yearbook photo day. Yeah, that's right. I'm the kid whose parents never buy even the basic packet.

It doesn't matter, though. The only reason kids get their parents to buy any of the packets is so they can have wallet-size photographs to give to their friends and acquaintances. Since I have neither, I'd just sit around with a ton of pictures of myself and no one to give them to. Yeah, I really need that blatant reminder of my social ineptitude.

It's not that my parents wouldn't buy any of the photo packages or anything, its just that I ask them not to, and they're cool with it. Relieved, I think is the better word. They honestly don't have the money to spend on something as frivolous as school pictures. They don't even have the money to get me a yearbook at the end of the year, which is why I don't care how I look in the pictures. Why should I worry about my appearance when I'm not even going to see it and no one else would even care to look?

So I tell myself I don't care and ignore all the people in line around me as they in turn ignore me and do stupid things like fix their hair and straighten their clothing.

When I finally get to the photographer, I look up at him and fantasize that he is my secret lover and we have to keep things quiet so no one else will find out. It's fairly easy since the guy has classic features- brown hair, slightly wavy, and a face that probably looks amazing when he smiles. I wouldn't know, as the first thing he notices is that I don't have any filled out forms clutched in my hand, which means no extra money for him. So he tersely tells me to sit down and angle my body to the right, and boredly instructs me to smile, which I do not follow. He snaps the photo anyway and calls out, "Next." As I walk away, I pretend that he is angry because he found out about my secret affair with the school's art teacher.

The rest of the school day passes in a blur that isn't worth mentioning, all the way up to sixth period art class. Art class is the only reason I attend school on a regular basis, but it's not like I'm a phenomenal artist or anything. I scrape by okay, but I really could care less about it. It's the teacher that holds my attention- Mr. Staff. Mr. Staff is amazing, and utterly captivating to boot.

In every project I've ever had to complete in art, I've always incorporated Mr. Staff somehow. It's the only way I can focus on him without anyone thinking I'm weird. I'm not the only kid who does it, either, as Mr. Staff is a favorite subject among many of the students. What makes it particularly odd for me is that I'm the only boy who does it.

I can't help but be completely attracted to him. He's gorgeous- black hair, natural, blue eyes, again natural, completely beautiful in every sense of the word. And unattached, if the gossiping girls who sit at the table next to mine have the correct information. He doesn't wear a wedding ring, though, so that's always encouraging- for them, not for me. The only way I'd ever get close to Mr. Staff is in my daydreams, of which I have many. They're the sole reason why I, a person with a 120 IQ, only earn mediocre grades in school. I pick a fantasy and sit at the back of every classroom, always somewhere to the left where I have proven as the place teachers look least. Once class gets under way, I make sure it's safe for my mind to drift and then it does. It's the only time I'm ever truthfully happy.

My life isn't bad by any means, at least compared to the ones I see of kids on after school specials. My parents don't drink excessively, they generally leave me alone unless I've done something to gain their attention, like puke in front of them, and I have a place to call my own (my bedroom- my sanctuary) and food to eat (even if it is nonfat, imitation yogurt and granola because my mom constantly thinks she's fat). I have nothing to complain about. The problem here is, I have nothing to be entirely thrilled about either.

There was, for a while, that annoyingly popular song that stated, "Well, if you're bored then you're boring," and I think it's probably the closest I've ever come to a truth in my life. I'm always bored, so I must be boring. That has to be the reason other kids generally ignore me. I don't go out for sports, I don't care about the war on drugs, and I definitely don't belong anywhere near the speech and debate club. If there was an after school club on daydreaming, I'd be president, but there isn't, so I make up my own and live it in my head. Mr. Staff cochairs it, naked, alongside me.

I'm not entirely invisible in school, however. There is this one guy, Fitch, who sits at my table at lunch and sometimes wants to swap food with me. You know, his bruised, soft apple for my peanut-butter-without-the-crusts. I always say no but that never deters him from trying the next day. He knows my name and stuff, and sometimes asks me how I'm doing, but other than that we never really speak. I think he, like me, is just looking for solidarity in numbers. Even the outcasts gotta band together, I guess.

Then there are the other kids, who pay attention to me in a way I wish they wouldn't. They don't do anything too terrible, but I guess they can sense I'm not going to fight back so it's easy for them to pick on me. They, however, do not know my name, or at least they never feel the need to call me by it when they body-check me into a locker or tug on the strap of my backpack until I fall flat on my ass. I am usually referred to as "Freak," "Goth Boy," "Weirdo," or other such uninspiring tagnames. It doesn't really bother me because I know that what they're doing isn't personal- it's all part of the hierarchy of the school. Someone has to be on the bottom of the food chain.

However, if you've gotten this far, you probably want to know my name. It will definitely make this whole process go a lot smoother. Well, my name is-

"Roan!"

Close.

"Thurston Roan!"

Oh god, I knew that voice. I snapped my head up from where it had drifted to rest against my chest, not realizing that my daytime mindwandering had turned into a midafternoon snooze. Mr. Staff was staring at me from across the room, looking stern and, if I dare to believe it, a little hurt that he had caught me sleeping in his class. He knew I loved his class, so I guess maybe the hurt expression could be genuine.

"Thurston, could you kindly summarize to the rest of the class the details of the new project I just assigned not three minutes ago?"

I could feel the hotness of embarrassment already creeping up the back of my neck. I tried hard to keep it from staining my cheeks, failingly, and shook my head in the negative. "N-no, sir, I cannot."

"You cannot why?" Mr. Staff had a very commanding voice that could sound cold and clinical at any moment's notice. It usually got that way when a student had disappointed him. This was the first time he had ever directed it at me, and it made me want to roll into a ball and weep uncontrollably or bow down and kiss his shoes or some other such submissive gesture.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Staff," I said nervously, abjectly, as I took in the rest of the class.

Everyone was staring at me, a mixture of expressions across their faces. Some even looked surprised, like they hadn't previously noticed I was even there. The girl that sat closest to me turned to her friend and whispered loud enough for me to hear, "Who is that guy again?" I couldn't, however, hear her friend's answer.

My eyes cut back to Mr. Staff as he spoke once more. "Mr. Roan, if you'd be so kind as to see me after class." He ran a hand through his wavy black hair, pulled back by a pair of expensive-looking sunglasses, and turned to finish whatever it was he had been talking about and that my classtime nap had somehow interrupted. I shrunk down in my seat as fast as I could without dripping into a puddle on the floor and hoped fervently that I hadn't been snoring. Not that I have any idea whether or not I actually do snore. I don't even allow myself the much-needed indulgence of daydreaming the situation into something else. I felt that bad.

to be continued