Note: Zach uses the word "deserve" a lot throughout BYS. That's a main difference between him and Gentry. Zach believes in a structured world order where people get what they deserve if they do certain (right or wrong) things. Gentry believes that no one deserves everything, and that people should take whatever they can get (that's why he thinks people don't "deserve", but "want" things.)
The lunch bell blared through the cafeteria, and Zach slid his barely-touched meal into the trash. Then he pulled himself out of his seat and slung his battered black backpack over his shoulder, starting to wind through the crowd. He stopped abruptly by the events board.
A pink Kennedy Knight GSA flyer stared back at him.
Come to the GSA! Make Friends and Stop Social Injustice!
It fluttered loosely on one corner, but stubbornly clung to the wall (apparently, someone had tried to rip it off. But it didn’t work, since he always taped down all the edges.)
Zach looked away. He had stopped attending three days ago. An inkling of vanity hoped they would notice.
“I deserve better than this.” He thought grudgingly to himself, as the lunch hour stampeded past him in a mad dash for class. No one was particularily eager to return, but during lunch you were not allowed to run or Mrs.Nasty would yell at you.
The edge of the poster flapped, but remained stubbornly glued to the wall.
“Why don’t they want me. I was a good member, even better than Mikey. Better than Casey.”
An array of striped backpacks and fake-fur collars stampeded by.
“I’m the best damn gay in this school, why don’t they want me. That makes no sense.”
He finally narrowed it down to the diving board he hadn’t rigged. That had to be it, because there was an answer for everything. And that had been important; you had to show your colors and carefully choose which bridge to burn. You had to pull one for the team, you needed to sacrifice. But his mind still burned with the reasoning that this was the wrong team and the wrong sacrifice. Well then, where was the right team?
“I don’t know. I don’t fucking know.”
But if there was one thing he did, it was that he didn’t need them anyway. He had been alone in Estonia, he had been alone in the Swim team, and the GSA was no different. Loneliness was a part of life, and it hurt. But this motherfucker wasn’t going down, hells no. What didn’t kill him made him stronger, and what made him stronger ensured he wouldn’t get killed. The fact remained that with all the ups and downs, he was still here.
A navy of one in a big blue brick ocean, tired of fighting but too stubborn to surrender.
Once the janitor looked away, he would retreat to the bathroom stall to rethink, re-strategize…
Gentry sailed past him, trailing just a little behind his lunch group. He exchanged a fleeting look with Zach, who them abruptly turned away and headed for the door.
But before he could move one step he was yanked back by the waistline of his jeans.
“Fuck off.” He growled under his breath.
Gentry shoved Zach against the edge and wordlessly slipped a note onto the table, pushing it towards Zach. He then pulled away, rejoining the herd and catching up with the lunch group before they noticed he’d been gone.
The note lay on the table, an immaculate white square.
Zach palmed it, crumpled it up, and tossed it in his backpack.