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In seventh grade, everyone made fun of me. I was socially awkward, and naturally weird; the weirdest kid in school. I had a few other misfit friends, and we liked going to the library at lunch time to goof around.
One day, as we were headed to the library, I noticed someone walking in who I'd never seen before. It was extremely odd because, as I mentioned, everyone made fun of me. When the entire school is bullying you, you don't forget their faces, or their names. However, this kid was different, because until that day I had no idea he even existed. Even stranger, everyone else knew him. For the duration of this story, I'm going to call him Riley.
My memory is a little hazy, but I'm pretty sure Riley was on crutches. He may have missed a lot of school which would explain why I hadn't met him. There's a lot I can't recall, but I'll never forget what happened in that library.
Everyone was being silly, and it turned out that Riley was a pretty funny kid. He was doing some kind of physical comedy, and we were all laughing. Suddenly, he fell to the ground and started shaking. We assumed he was still being comical, so we continued to laugh and point at him... but he didn't stop shaking. The librarian ran to him and told us to get out of the way. I didn't understand what was happening.
After lunch I had gym class, and we all went outside. Everyone was talking about Riley. There was a rumor that he was taken to the hospital, but I still didn't understand what was going on. All I knew was that he fell down. Now I know he'd had a seizure.
In my next class, the rumors about Riley were starting to scare the other kids. We were interrupted by a faculty member giving us the grave news. Riley had died of a heart attack. The boy I'd met just an hour or so before was now dead. And the last thing he would remember was other kids pointing and laughing at him. I felt guilty and confused.
Everyone who was close with Riley, as well as everyone who was in the library at lunch time, was taken to the principal's office to mourn together. I was shocked at how many kids were there. Why did he know so many people that I knew, but I never knew him? I'd never even heard anyone mention him before.
The whole room was crying, but not me. I just lowered my head in an attempt to seem upset. Someone put their hand on my shoulder, thinking I must be devastated by what happened. I didn't belong there. I didn't belong with people who knew him, and were truly crushed by his death. All I could think about was Riley shaking on the floor of the library as I laughed and pointed.
The following day, everyone in my homeroom was sobbing and consoling each other; everyone but myself and the kid who sat in front of me. It was the most surreal experience of my life. I could be wrong about us having school the next day, but I assume it was to let everyone mourn in solidarity. After all, everyone knew him but me.
I knew Riley was dead, but somehow it just didn't register properly. I knew I was supposed to be sad, that I was supposed to cry, but there was nothing. The kid who sat in front of me, I'll call him Matt, turned around and looked at me with a nervous smile. He wasn't crying either, and for a moment we connected. Throughout the day, I realized that we were the only two kids who weren't in tears.
Matt was the nicest, most well-liked kid in school. As popular as I found out Riley was, Matt was even more so. He was always kind to me even when I was being picked on by other kids. He would still laugh along with them, but never joined in. I thought we might become friends since we were the only two kids in the entire school who didn't cry. I guess it never happened.
In eighth grade, I was still as much of a loser as I was the year before. Don't ask me why, but I went to a school dance. I think my misfit buddies had said they were going, but then they didn't show up. That might explain why I was clinging to a group of kids that weren't my friends. They were all from my catholic education program, and Matt was with them so I felt a little more accepted. He was the only one I felt comfortable talking to. I kept bringing up a funny thing that happened in class that day since I couldn't think of anything else to say. He would laugh along quite convincingly.
The group kept casually walking away, and I walked with them. Suddenly they started running, so I ran too. They ran out of the gymnasium and through the halls as I followed blindly. I thought we were just having fun, but then I heard Matt say something like, "He's coming!" It turned out they were running away from me.
Later that year, Matt died of a brain aneurysm. I was the only one who didn't cry.
Written by Umbrello