Desmond Staples awoke with a steady, rhythmic tapping. As he got out from under the covers to investigate the cause of the tapping, he quickly realized he forgot to turn his ceiling fan off before he fell asleep. Cumbersomely, he left the warm comfort of his bed to flick the switch of his fan off and as he did so, he noticed the time on his clock read "11:11"
"Well, that's ironic," Desmond thought to himself as he crawled back into his bed, but he thought little of it past the initial recognition. The rest of the night was spent sleeping, and not that Desmond minded that fact. Most of his days were spent busy with schoolwork or house chores, without time to rest or to enjoy time with his dwindling number of friends and the guarantee of being able to sleep for seven hours often kept him going throughout his day. That's why when his alarm sounded that morning, like every other morning before then, he was weary to leave his bed and to leave his dream world and step into cold reality.
"Desmond! Get down here already, your breakfast is getting cold." Desmond was used to hearing his mother yell this line every school morning, as he rarely could ever force himself out of bed in time to receive a warm breakfast. "I'll be right down mom." Desmond listlessly replied to his mom's prompt while he searched for a shirt to put on. As Desmond flopped down the stairs and turned the corner into the kitchen, he saw his mother smile and look up at him.
"How was your night honey?" she gleefully declared in an attempt to cheer up her obviously still half-asleep son. Desmond's mother always had the habit of trying to cheer everyone up, even though some of the time she was no good. She still had yet to get the notion through her head that no one person can make everyone happy. She just turned forty-seven last month, but if anyone asked her she would reply that she was thirty-seven, and many people would believe it. She looked admirably well for her age, even with her work clothes on and her small name tag which read "Mary Kate" which was lazily pinned in the middle of her shirt. She had been living with Desmond alone in their house since he was fourteen, and she always thought that she had done a marvelous job in raising a nice young boy.
"It was fine mom, what did you make for breakfast?"
"I made pancakes and sausage Desmond, and now eat up quick! You have to leave for school in twenty minutes."
Desmond was used to eating quickly and in turn, was used to
getting ready quickly. Perhaps one of his favorite qualities
about himself was his ability to get ready in the mornings so
quickly. It took Desmond merely minutes to take a shower, brush
his teeth, select his attire for the day, and attempt to style
his flat, naturally straight hair into something that looked half
decent. That day he accomplished his morning preparations
unusually quickly and figured he had enough time to check the
weather for the week. He turned on his computer and decided to
glance at his reflection in the mirror quickly as the computer
booted up. His reflection glared back at him with an expression
of gross indifference and the signs of too many long days
apparent on his face. Desmond wouldn't be considered what one
would call a handsome kid, but he did have some nice qualities
about his appearance. He used the home gym in his garage quiet
often, and as a result he started to notice his muscles were
becoming stronger and more tone. Desmond was also very fond of
his bright green eyes, which seemed to shine even in the dimmest
of light. He was about five and three quarters feet tall, and his
brown hair fell sloppily atop of his head. As he leaned in to
examine the image in the mirror closer, he was startled by the
beep of his computer alerting him that it was prepared to perform
its programmed duties. Desmond slouched down at his desk chair
and spun around to face his computer and quickly jabbed at the
keys until he found the weather for his small town of Laporte,
which he always fondly associated with the mountain view that was
just out of his window. The forecast looked charming, high's
near the 60's all week with little or no cloud cover to accompany
the slight breezes, it seemed like the perfect week. With the
knowledge of good weather, and another cry from his mother to
leave for the bus, Desmond got up from his chair, found his
backpack, and trotted down the stairs and out his front door. As
he walked towards his bus stop only two blocks away, Desmond
looked back upon his house. He always had thought of it as nice,
but then again he thought of himself as someone not used to nice
things. The faded white paint and ageing wood that covered the
house reminded him of his mother, a very proud and successful
lady in her time, but who fell to pieces after the death of her
husband, and event that still brings tears to her eyes if so much
of a murmur of the tale passes through her lips. The house also
had a long driveway that lead to the main road that would
curiously flood from time to time, even in the absence of heavy
rain fall. Desmond always thought this flooding was due in part
to the small stream next to the driveway that seemed to have a
mind of its own, and overflow its banks at will. There was a
charm still about the house that always kept Desmond content
about his living conditions there. Although it was separated from
the rest of his town, the small spilt-story house had a very warm
and comforting feeling about it, which was aided in effect by his
mother's knack for decorating and the quaint feeling that old
houses give new residents. Desmond was usually content with
himself to come home, and spend time alone there even when he
couldn't keep his mind of off certain things. On the large oak
tree that stood next to the house, there used to be a tire swing
that Desmond would spend hours on. Before his father died, they
would spend countless summer nights together, laughing with each
other as they shared funny stories while Desmond sat in the swing
and his father pushed. But after Desmond started high school, him
and his mother decided it was time to take that swing down, even
though that was against the still childish instinct and
remarkably strong emotional ties Desmond held to that swing.
Amidst his daydreaming about his long gone beloved memento of his
father, Desmond realized he was nearly at his bus stop. As he
arrived, he noticed the two other members of the stop already
appeared there before him, as they usually do.
Desmond never actually talked to ether of the people at his bus stop. Frankly, one scared him too much to talk. He wore the same black, torn shirt every day and smelled routinely of old cheese and played his death metal music so loud, it sometimes scared the birds of off nearby trees. The other was an extremely shy, young sophomore girl. Desmond never could understand how the scary man, and this sweet, innocent looking girl could ever be brother and sister. He also yearned desperately to try to talk to this girl, but since he was junior he did not share a class with her and only rarely saw her in the hallways. He did though sit next to her table at lunch and through brief clips of their conversations he learned that her name was Lillian and that her boyfriend wasn't a very nice boy. Although he would never admit this to anyone, Desmond always had thought Lillian was the most beautiful girl in his school from the moment he first saw her. But after a full year, he still had not talked to her besides an incident where he accidently tripped her as she was walking on the bus, for which he blushed very red and quickly apologized. It wasn't that Desmond was shy; it was just that he didn't know Lillian very well and he didn't want to be creepy around her. As his familiar list of possible ice breakers with Lillian swirled through his head, the old yellow school bus arrived at its destination to pick up the three pupils and transport them to their place of study. The bus ride was always a boring one as the bus was deathly silent and catatonic, a fact that Desmond hated. When he was around people, especially Lillian, he wanted people to be talking and to be happy. But with the silence on the bus, he was overcome with a senseless numb fear; a social paralysis Desmond creatively dubbed it, where he was unable to say the words on his mind and only sit there in anticipation of someone starting a conversation with him, or for the bus to finally stop and let them off at the school yard. Once the latter had finally occurred, Desmond scurried off the bus and attempted to catch a lasting glance at Lillian. When he looked over the bus railings as he approached the steps down to the pavement below, his and Lillian's eyes caught each other. Desmond quickly adverted his stare and hastily proceeded to move his way into his familiar high school.
Laporte high school was what Desmond considered to be a typical American high school. It was built roughly thirty years ago to accommodate the cities' booming population of teenagers. Its outside walls were formed by laying brick upon brick until the structure stood two stories tall. The surrounding campus was breathtaking, with a small lake nestled behind the school and a stunning view of the Rocky Mountains practically encompassing every angle of the school. The surrounding ground was always soft with rich, green grass that stayed perfect nearly all spring long. The school itself was a dull red color, a color that was acquired by its outer brick work, that matched perfectly with the color of the sky when the sun set over the mountains on brisk autumn nights. The more Desmond thought about it, the more it came clear to him that his school was probably the most beautiful place in town and he spent hours every week staring out his classroom's windows trying to find more proof for his statement. As he entered school, Desmond scanned the crowd of people congregating at the foot of the main staircase to see if he recognized any familiar faces. Desmond soon realized that he wasn't acquainted with any of the people in the small mob, and he slowly proceeded to his locker. As he walked down the halls, Desmond tacked on his familiar non-flashy manner in which he carried himself. He always walked fast, and never said hello to anyone in the hallways: mainly because he had no one to converse with. He also kept his head low, and tried to do his best to stay out of the hallway affairs that plagued nearly every passing period. When Desmond arrived he shuffled shyly around the group of freshman that flocked to the locker next to his every morning as if to make sure each member of the team survived the treacherous journey to school. Desmond had contempt for the freshman. After all, they still had not reached the two month mark of attending high school and they still had much to learn. Desmond quickly gathered his books, and made a small smirk on his face as he further enjoyed his talent of getting ready unnaturally fast. With his psychology books in hand, Desmond voyaged through the halls heading to his first hour class, on the opposite side of the school. He arrived just before the bell signaled him tardy and took his seat without a word. Desmond took attendance of the class in his mind while the teacher called names out loud. "…Phyllus….Roscoe…..and Villarect" Everyone was here today, and the teacher then started his lecture.
"Today class, we are going to study the idea of learned helplessness," the professor stated in his loud, clear voice "which basically refers to a human or animal who, by some means, has become unable to help themselves even when the opportunity for their own self aid is clearly presented to them." Following a twenty minute lecture on the history and experiments of learned helplessness, Desmond found himself quite adept at this new concept, and fixated his attention on his blue notebook rather than the already stale topic of his class. He carried around this notebook usually wherever he went, save for the occasional times he would go out with his friends to enjoy a Friday night at the movies. When he was bored in class or home alone for a long stretch of time he would write short poems and attempt to draw pictures of things to go a long with those poems in this notebook, and over time it had become a large monument to Desmond's poetic skills and in a way, Desmond's best friend. But he never thought he was a good writer, or a good anything else, and he only continued to write because when he was jotting down simple rhythmic lines it seemed to give him a peace unparalleled to any other. Currently, Desmond was trying to write something about the color blue, which happened to be both the color of his notebook and his favorite color when he was interrupted by a question verbally jabbed at him by his teacher.
"Now Desmond, can you tell me what psychological disorders learned helplessness is commonly attached to?"
"Uhm…," started Desmond as he racked his brain for any information it may have picked up the past few minutes "depression and catatonia?"
"Very good Desmond, I am glad to know you are paying more attention than it appears." Said the professor, with obvious disappointment in his voice from being unable to catch a student mid-daydream.
With class nearly over at that point, Desmond along with his other class mates packed up their books in anticipation of leaving this class and all sat anxiously in their chairs. After a few moments of tense silence, the bell finally spurred students to rise up and move into the halls. As Desmond exited from his class, he was greeted by his best friend.
"Hey Dezy, what class did you just come from?"
"Oh hey Mark, I just got out of pysch." Mark Buchan was in essence, everything that Desmond was not. Mark was the favorite to win the Homecoming King honors for the fall dance and he represented the school in three different sports, all of which he excelled at. Mark was slightly taller than Desmond, but with a much stronger build and a softer, more handsome face. He was also more socially adept than Desmond, and he was one of those kids that everyone loved to be around. Desmond is friends with Mark only because they met each other at a very young age, when their fathers used to be friends. If it not for that, Desmond very well could have been without the great friend that Mark was. Desmond respected this fact and was grateful for every moment he could spend with Mark.
"Pysch? Nice dude, but hey I have to go downstairs; I'll see you around ok?" And with that, Mark was gone. This limited social interaction was the highlight of Desmond's morning. From there, he went to gym then to history and English until it was eventually time for him to eat lunch. After a painfully slow English period, Desmond quickly rushed out of the room, barely noticing his teacher shouting reminders of the essay due the next day. With freedom from his class, Desmond navigated through the halls until he reached his locker and retrieved his favorite material of the day: his lunch bag. The simple brown bad symbolized a lot to Desmond. It triggered the happiness that laid in the potential of just being able to catch a glimpse of Lillian at lunch as well as the possibility of him being able to learn more about her mysterious life. Desmond soon arrived at his lunch table and as he walked over to his usual seat he noticed that Lillian was not at lunch that day. Needlessly disappointed at the fact that he was unable to see a girl he has never spoken to before, Desmond sat down and ate his lunch in a silent frustration as the other boys at his lunch table talked about the football game at their school last Friday.
"Did you guys see that catch Maysfield made at the end of the 4th quarter?"
"Of course! How could anyone of missed that? It won us the game and it was simply amazing!"
At that point, Desmond could have chimed in and pointed out the catch was made possible only by an even more amazing throw made by the quarterback, Mark Buchan, and that Maysfield simply was at the right place at the right time and he did not deserve nearly as much praise. But since he was swept with the disgusting feeling of disappointment, he kept that piece of knowledge to himself and quickly finished his lunch and gathered up his books. With no reason to stay in the lunch room any longer than he had to, Desmond decided he would roam the halls of the school until it was time for him to report to his next class. As he exited the small, loud, and poorly decorated lunch room he noticed that the hallways were unmonitored, something that he was not expecting. With no resistance in his way, Desmond meandered through the hall silently and alone. Then, something else that Desmond had not expected occurred. As he walked past the girl's bathroom, he heard a loud sobbing and the sound of a young girl's voice apparently talking to herself.
"Yeah, yes….I found out today… I know Claire but I can't, you know that…Why? Because I love him…"
Then the sobbing intensified briefly and just as violently as it increased, it suddenly stopped and an "I have to go" was heard through the drying tears. Seconds after the crying had paused Lillian walked out of the bathroom with her cell phone in hand and she looked straight at Desmond who had firmly planted himself outside of the bathroom, unable to move in a curious awe.