It was cold. The sun was shining but the temperature was below freezing. The little black alarm is buzzing, the sound echoing throughout the room. The blankets begin to move, an arm stretching towards the nightstand, knocking over the empty glass before hitting the snooze button. It was time to wake up, time to get up, time to face the misery that is his life. He sighs then slowly emerges from his bed. For several minutes he sits at the edge of his bed, slightly hunched over, defeated before his day even begins. Today will be good. It’s Thursday.
He has been standing at the corner of Union and Florence for 15 minutes. The bus is late. Again. He’s freezing, his toes tingling, his body trembling, his nose a bright shade of red and to make matters worse, here comes Alex strolling down the street. Not today. Not today. Not today.
“Hey there buddy!” his thoughts interupted. Alex wraps his arm around him and says, “How’s my favorite retard doing today?”
“Hello Alex” he mubles while staring at the ground.
“You know, it’s cold out here. You should really wear a coat.” Alex chuckles.
The bus finally arrives. Alex dashes through the doors. He slowly follows behind him.
“Look he’s wearing his green sweater again,” a loud voice shouts followed by laughter. He keeps his head down and walks to his seat. Today will be good. It’s Thursday.
He walks through the doors and sees Mr. Washington and greets him with a smile. It’s time for calculus. His favorite class. He loves numbers. He knows numbers. They give him a sense of solace.
“Does anyone want to discuss last night’s assignment?”
His hand shoots up, eager to explain to his new discovery. But before he could open his mouth to speak there is a knock at the door. A new student. His excitement plummets. He sinks into his seat. His happy place is being invaded. He closes his eyes and takes ten deep breaths. When he opens them again, he sees her, the new student. She’s sitting right in front of him. His heart starts to race. Suddenly she turns to him and says, “Can I borrow a pencil.” Without breaking eye contact he reaches into his backpack then hands her a pencil. His only other pencil.
As he walks towards his bus he hears footsteps quickly approaching from behind. He closes his eyes and braces for impact but instead instead of a blow to the back of the head, it’s a gentle tap on his shoulder. He opens his eyes and slowly turns around. It’s her. The new student.
“Hey! Sorry! I just wanted to return your pencil and say thank you.” He looks around then looks at her then looks around again. She extends the pencil, smiles and says, “I’m Thea by the way.” He looks around then looks at her then looks around again. “Andrew,” he says as he reachers for the pencil.
“Thanks again Andrew. Hey! Did you know that Andrew is Greek for strong.”
He nods his head. Ironically, since before he could remember he’s always felt weak.
He’s rocking in the corner; his eyes shut tight, his legs pressing against his chest and his hands over his ears while yelling, “Amelia!”
His room door swings open, she rushes towards him, falls to her knees and wraps him in her arms. “Shhh. It’s okay. I’m here. It’s okay Andrew, I’m here.”
It broke her heart to see him like this, especially since he wasn’t always this way. He didn’t always have these episodes. Not until their mom died. It’s been six months since then and every day at this time he collapses. Literally.
He’s sitting at the table, chipping away, watching the small specs hit the floor.
“Andrew. Please stop. I know it’s not the best table but it’s ours.”
“There are 37 pieces. 37 pieces of chipped paint on the floor.”
“Well, could you pick up those 37 pieces, please? I just finished cleaning the kitchen.” Ameila snaps as he walks towards the pantry. Just as Andrew finishes picking up the pieces of chipped paint, she surprises him with a big red bag. “I know it’s not Christmas yet but I just got this today and know how much you need it.”
Andrew’s green eyes light up, for the first time in a very long time. He reaches for the bag, tosses the tissue paper to the side, looks in and smiles.
“I know it’s not brand new but-”
Andrew pulls out the gently used coat and tries it on. “It has a hood…the zipper works and no holes! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!” He wraps his arms around her, lifts her off the floor and swirls her around. “I have the best big sister ever!”