The Library was a jungle, a wild fortress of books isolated from the blue-brick enclaves of Kennedy High. It was an island of quiet amidst the school, far from civilized rumors and pestering questions. There were all these silent corners, hidden from cement and walls people constructed around themselves.
But it wasn’t so much a physical place as an emotional place, a shore where no one could find him and he could be alone.
If he chose to be.
He let Zach into where he could perch aside and quietly watch him. Admire him. Love him, whether Mikey liked it or not. And he did love him; it was one thing he was certain of.
But the moment they were back in the locker room that place was far and gone, and they were far apart as the sun and the the sea. There was no other way— either you swam with the sharks or you drowned. Or, in Zach’s case, you were an unusually large piece of driftwood. Yes, driftwood.
Caught in the tumultuous ocean, tossed around in the tides, held down the breathless, heavy anxiety which tugged at his thoughts and weighed down his footsteps, making it hard to breathe every time the bell rang. It was this feeling which threatened to drown him, and weighed down on his mind whenever he packed up his books at the end of tutoring. It was the fear of leaving, of returning to the world outside. There was no way to justify his actions.
Not to them. Not to himself.
Which was why most days, it was like swimming against the current; and although Zach was no stranger to that, he had never swam against his own stream of beliefs. And there was no orientation if you didn’t know your position; when he loved Gentry and hated cheating, when he wanted change yet craved the familiar touch. His body said one thing, his mind said another, and most days Gentry didn’t say anything at all. Zach wasn’t used to thinking in any other way but the rational one; yet it was hard to be rational around Gentry. What was right always seemed to be what felt wrong, and what felt wrong seemed so right…
He felt like a stranger in his own skin, a hypocrite. How could you find yourself if you didn’t know where you stood? He didn’t know anything. Just that it was all wrong. That it all felt right. And that it all bore down on him, because it did not compute.
So he let his feelings run with the tides, only to have to reign them in and shackle them down around Mikey. But it was like trying to hide the sun, and every so often it would shine through a smile or a spark in his eyes, when his thoughts would wander…
Yet the rational part woke him up whenever the daydreams came down too hard, coolly reminding him that feelings weren’t everything. Feelings were like the weather, fickle as the sunshine.
And that feelings shouldn’t cause you to lose yourself...
Zach frowned and stormed past the others in the locker room, brushing past Gentry.