The Reading Boy

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

He needed an escape, so he read. Never wrote.

Submitted: September 27, 2017

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Submitted: September 27, 2017



He was the reading boy. He read. That’s all he did. When he read, he could forget his father’s sickness, and how it wasn’t going away, how his brother left at the first chance he got, then got killed by a drunk driver. He could forget how his mother came home from 12 hour days, with bags under her eyes, and the sense of weight of someone who was in a dark place, and couldn’t get out. His father had become sick, and that’s when he started to read. That’s how he coped. He read.


He went to school, never raising his hand, never talking. He knew how he was perceived. People made fun of him, thinking he didn’t notice. He did. He noticed when he walked through the halls, and whispering pursued. It seemed like the whispers followed him everywhere. The rumors about his brother, the pity, the shame, it was like gifts his brother gave him when he left. But when he read, the “gifts” went away. Reading made the world stop spinning, and time froze. But, in ways, it was the opposite. Time sped up, and it could go from late in the evening to early in the morning in what felt like seconds. Weeks could fly by when he was consumed in a good book. That’s why he read. To escape reality. A book was much better than what he was faced outside of one.


As much as he despised his brother for leaving him, he understood. The reality of his home wasn't a good one, and if his situation was any different, then he would leave. But everything was so fragile, so delicate, that leaving might affect more than his relationship with his parents. He felt like he was their lifeline, and if he left they would be pushed off a cliff not knowing how to swim. He saw what happened to his parents after his brother left. They called the police, in denial that he left on his own. When the police located him, or rather, his file, they explained to his mother what happened. They offered to arrange a meeting with the driver, who was in custody. They declined. His mother took time off work. His father was more sickly than ever. There was silence in the house. A car alarm or stray dog’s bark was the only thing that connected them to the outside world. Then one day, his mother broke. They were sitting at the dinner table, eating whatever she had microwaved for dinner. Suddenly, she ran into her room. His father slowly got up and followed. He heard yelling from the back of the house. She yelled at him, asking why his father wouldn’t talk about it with her. He walked toward their room. He saw his father just stood there, not knowing what to do. They both just watched. He never again wanted to see his mother like that. He couldn’t live knowing that he made his mother that way. So he stayed.


One thing he would never do was write. When he read, he noticed the little details, things he could never think of on his own. The phrasing, the synonyms, the plots, it was all an expertly crafted piece of art that couldn’t be replicated without mistakes, unless crafted by a maven. The magic of the books were lost in his stories. The only time he wrote was in class, and even though the students were encouraged to share, he never did. No one forced him, and even though there were subtle prompts of encouragement, he declined profusely. But, on occasion, when he met with the teacher, he had to share. So he did. He shared about three of his stories total with her. She never criticized him, only read in silence. Then she would send him back to work. Those meetings made him hate writing so much. As much as he loathed his writing, he wanted feedback. He wanted to have that reassurance that, even though he thought he couldn’t write, someone else might think that he could. He heard her talking to others, telling them what to add, what to keep, how to depthen their pieces, but, as always, there was a shroud of silence around him. And so, he didn’t write.


One day, he woke up with a new feeling. He didn’t want to get up. He wanted to just hide in a hole, and never leave. He had possessed this feeling for a long time, yet it was always under wraps. He slowly got up, and went through his day, slowly falling into a pit of his own despair. The days were longer, and the only thing he thought about was writing class. That was the one thing that stood out each day, the one thing that was changing. His teacher had started having daily meetings with him. He never asked why she was so interested in him, if it was a good thing or not, why they started, if they would ever stop. Their meetings consisted of her looking at his newest portion of writing, saying thank you, and he would head back to his seat. Something about the meetings made him want to write more, write better stories, but, at the same time, he just wanted to give up. But those daily meetings grounded him, made him stay.







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