Chapter 7: To Care is To Surrender

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September 20th 2015

After English Noah ran out so fast I couldn't get a chance to talk to him. I didn't see him again till lunch but then he was with his friends and I was with mine, so it would be awkward if I tried to talk to him then. When it finally rolled to fourth period music, I was so excited. But because of the crazy thunderstorm our teacher's car was wrecked, so he had to deal with that and class was just dismissed to either go to the study hall or library for private work. I lost him then again- for a little guy he sure can run. So I gave up trying to find him for the rest of the day. I'll just wait it out, he'll come to me eventually or we'll have another English lesson. Whichever comes first.

Now I know, you probably want to know, why it means so much for me that I talk to him. I honestly don't know, nothing has really mattered to me for a while now- so maybe just the fact that something does is why it consumes me. Yeah I admit it - he interests me. There's something familiar and comfortable about Noah. I just want to figure it out. He's my little enigma.

The rain only increased as the day progressed, so, after a quick private practice shooting hoops in the gym, I was headed home. I slowly drove down the winding road out of school, in the rain everything was too slippery. Then I saw a little silhouette huddled under a tree for shelter. I drove towards the figure, not caring who it was- they needed to get out of this storm before they got hypothermia. I rolled down the passenger window. "Hop in" I commanded. 

"It-it's ok. I'm just waiting for the storm to pass" I heard the silky voice before I saw Noah huddled into the ball. It was so sad seeing him so small. 

"Noah - get in!" I demanded, "Or I'll come out there and get you myself!" He shook his head but seeing that I wasn't kidding when I started opening my door, he quickly scrambled into the passenger seat. I could see him look at my '75 black mustang appreciatively. This car was my baby - one of the last good memories I had with my dad. We had spent day and night on this car, building it up from the old, rusty frame it once was to the beauty it is now. That was the summer before he was diagnosed and the whole world came crashing down.

I turned on the ignition and glanced to see how Noah was holding up. He was tiny in comparison to the larger leather seat. He squirmed around, trying to get comfortable but his wet shirt just clung to him awkwardly. I watched him shiver uncontrollably as the seat pressed the shirt more and more into his back. "Take off your shirt and put on this." I said, shrugging out of my varsity jacket. He did as I suggested and I could already see the difference just by taking off the wet clothes. He looked cute in my jacket, a couple sizes too big. He wrapped it around himself absorbing as much warmth as he could muster. I had already turned up the car heater to the max but Noah was still shivering slightly. I could only imagine how cold he must have been out there all alone. 

"Th-thank you" he stuttered as he shivered, it was adorable. First 'cute' now 'adorable' - what was wrong with me?

"No problem. But you shouldn't have been out here in the rain. Now would you mind telling me where you live so I can take you home?" He quietly mumbles the directions to his house. Then we sit in a comfortable silence as I work up the courage to ask. 

"Okay, this may seem strange. But have we met before?" I ask him hesitantly.

" Uh this morning when you ran into me. Or how about when you borrowed my pen?" Noah bites back.

"No I mean like, before you joined this school. I keep getting this weird familiar vibe. Maybe you came to Virginia before?"

"I haven't been here for years. We arrived here the day before school started so I couldn't have seen you before ..." he then starts to bite in his lower lip as he thinks about whether or not to mention something. I'm just going to stay quiet in hopes he does speak."Is that why you keep staring at me? I keep feeling eyes on me all the time. Is that you -?" 

"I might have stared at you once or twice without your knowledge. But half the time I can't find you at school so it's definitely not all the time..." I feebly try to lighten the mood.

He begins to concentrate on this knowledge as he furrows his brows together. He speaks mostly to himself. "If it's not you then who is it?" I can see the worry on his face. So before I know it. I'm asking
"Does this person bother you?" 

His attention now is on me as he squares his eyes. "Why do you care?"

Why? That is a good question - I've been trying to figure out myself. I put the car into park in front of his house as I work up the courage to answer him. Here goes nothing...

"Contrary to popular belief. I'm not like those others guys. I care about this, because I care about you!" His face just takes in a mask of pure disbelief. Then he's glaring at me.

"How can you care about me?- you don't even know me!" He yells then storms out the car to his home. I reverse out of the driveway and mull over this fact. How can I care? I keep thinking about this as I drive towards my house- not home- my home died years ago.


I slam the door shut behind me. How dare that practically stranger say he cares! He can't care about me - no one does - no one can!

I sink to the floor with the door pressed behind me as support. I can't take this - any of this anymore. All my life I have just wished I was normal, so many times I wished I didn't come through the concussions and the head injuries - that one would be enough to keep me down. That never happened, so here I am. People claim they can care, but it's once you let them care that you let them have the power to hurt you. They stop caring, so you stop caring. I know that now : that this is a world where every man is for themselves. To save yourself you'll throw anyone else under the bridge. I would, because I know people would do it to me. People have done it to me.

I feel the weight of today and everyday before crash on my shoulders. These days have been good - too good. I should brace myself for that. For the fallout. It happens: it always does. No, I won't cry. Crying makes you weak- you can't be weak. Life keeps going so you just have to too.

I'm sitting here as a soggy mess in Damian's jacket that reeks of sweat, cinnamon and musky cologne. I peel myself off the floor, heap my book bag on my shoulder and climb up the stairs. He may not care about me, no one may care about me. But I will. I prepare for a hot shower and wash away the whirlwind of a day I had down the drain. I set my emotions back into place. I won't let Silver get the best of me again. I need to remain calm- because calm is all I have now.

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