✚ Chapter Thirty-Seven ✚

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Healing Gabriel: Chapter Thirty-Seven

(*)Gabriel's POV(*)

Evan wasn't at school today. He'd texted me in the morning saying that his mom was making him stay home "against his will" because he was sick. He hadn't specified how sick he was, but I assumed it was pretty bad if his mom was making him stay home today after she'd been letting him attend all those other days with that awful cough. But, really, how sick could someone suddenly get in a little under twenty-four hours? Plus, he couldn't be that bad if he was acting like a wisecrack.

Needless to say, with Evan not at school, I felt incredibly awkward throughout the day. Especially during lunch; lunch was the worst without him, I'd discovered. For starters, I'd figured 'no Evan' meant 'no seat for Gabriel at the popular table,' so I didn't even bother walking up to the lunch line in fear of risking the chance of getting made fun of by my 'supposed' friends. I mean, without Evan here, they could all agree to turn against me, and what was I going to do about it? What could I do about it?

Nothing, of course. So I made my way to the only other table available, which just so happened to be the juice and crumbs covered one towards the back of the cafeteria. I cringed at the sight of it; sophomores could be such slobs. I used an extra napkin to wipe down a small area of the table in front of me and sat on the bench, my books on my lap, my hands folded on top of them. After nearly fifteen seconds of staring down at the tabletop, a diminutive, moving black dot caught my attention. It was circling a bread crumb that was probably three times the size of it.

Poor little ant, I thought. It wasn't its fault the bread was too big of an obstacle for it to conquer, no matter how hard it tried. If only the crumb had been made smaller; maybe then the ant could join the rest of its colony, its friends, its family, and prove that it was just as strong and capable as the rest of them.

It struck me, then, that I really was the freak everyone had convinced me to be over the years. I was sitting in the corner of the room, by myself, watching an ant and actually empathizing with it. If someone else had been in my position, I would have laugh at them.

No, you wouldn't've, the little voice in the far back of my mind chimed.

Long time no hear, I thought back. Oh, and look: I was having a conversation with the freaking voice inside my head. I was definitely a freak; I would seriously laugh at someone if they were in my position, now.

You would never do that. You understand what it's like to be ridiculed, especially for not being the social norm. You would never laugh at people the same way they laughed at you, the voice reasoned, and somewhere, the conscious part of me agreed, but at that moment, I wasn't exactly there. I was back at that place, in that room, sitting so close to a little boy who couldn't have been over fifty pounds of skin stretched taut against bone--next to Sixx.

"They're cruel," I spat out after Sixx had told me what he had done to him--that he had taken away the very last iota of dignity less than a select few of us were allowed to have. And now Sixx, the one who'd deserved those final bits of gravitas more than any of us here, more than me, was lying on an excreta-covered floor as vast amounts of blood leaked between his thighs, in far too much pain to even fathom about sitting up. "They're all cruel," I continued, every inch of me shaking from fury, "and I'm going to be cruel back, to each and every person I ever meet. I'll never forgive anyone, any of them, humanity. I can't, it's all cruel--they're all capable of so much cruelty, and I'll show them how it feels to be us."

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