by Lee Geist

He was sitting in the back of class, trying not to fall asleep. It was all he could do to put even a modicum of effort into the subject at hand. It's not that he couldn't understand the material, he just had a hard time understanding when he would ever need the information in his life after he graduated.

All his friends called him smart, and he always believed them until the start of the school year, when he realized that there are other people much smarter than himself. He didn't doubt that he was intelligent to a degree, he just wasn't as smart as people made him out to be. Though when he tried to explain this to others, about the only thing he got to stick was "there are different types of intelligence."

After an entire class period of staring off into space, it was time for lunch. Though he never looked forward to the food that was being served, he did enjoy the time spent with his friends. They talked of things that average sixteen year olds talk about. Girls, video games, girls, sports, a joke here and there, and girls. It was the one time of the day where he felt able to smile and laugh consistently.

But even though he was included, he felt like he was a nonessential. He was like someone at the very back of a mass gathering. He was there, but if he was to go away, not many people would notice. He knew it probably wasn't true, but that's what he felt like.

Outside of his circle of friends, he felt like he was alone. It isn't that he can't make friends, it's doesn't want to. He felt like there was something different about him. He almost felt more mature, but every time he thought that, he had to remind himself that he's bound to feel like that at this point of his life. He kept reminding himself that people everywhere were probably thinking the same thing as him.

After his one experience of enjoyment throughout his school day, he then wandered into class after class, just barely putting in the minimum effort required to get by. He just wanted to get home, away from the institution of education that only cared about results, and not about the condition of producers.

On the bus ride home, he talked with some friends at the back, yet he still felt like a nonessential. Lately, he didn't even bother talking to them anymore. He simply did something that included seclusion, such as watching his favorite series, listening to music, or reading.

When he finally got home, he fed the family dog and went to his room to play video games, waiting for the rest of his family to get home. They usually worked later than when he got home, so this wasn't unusual. When his family got home, he left the seclusion of his room to greet them.

Over dinner, they asked him how school was going. Truthfully, he didn't know what his grades were like, and he didn't care much either way, as long as he could pass. However, he said that he was doing fine, just to avoid the trouble of explaining himself. They then asked if he had a girlfriend. He said no, which was true. They then asked if he had any boyfriends as a joke. He laughed good-naturedly and said no, internally squirming at the thought of what would happen if they found out he was bisexual.

After dinner was finished, he rushed back into the safety of his room, where he planned on staying for the rest of the night. He didn't feel like video games, so he turned on his computer and went to a website for anime. He was self-conscious about his like for anime, always concerned about what his parents and people at school would say if they saw him watching it. He was like that with a lot of his hobbies and secrets. What would everyone say if they knew he was bisexual? What would everyone say if they knew he was infatuated with foreign cultures? They were all just minor things in comparison to the grand scheme of things, and he knew this, but he was still nervous about them.

He was most afraid of judgment. He wanted to be normal. He wanted to be uniquely normal. Though what made him unique made him feel irregular. And what he did to be normal made him feel like he wasn't keeping any of his uniqueness.

It was late when he laid in his bed. Running his hand through his hair, he thought about his future. He had high aspirations, yet he had little hope of achieving them. Yes, it would be great to fulfill a dream, but he thought himself to lazy and unproductive to be able to fulfill them. Whether or not he was too lazy and unproductive, it was up for debate.

He wanted to consider himself just average, comparable to the other normal kids he saw every day. But he knew that he couldn't fit in. He wasn't athletic, he couldn't get along with the popular kids, he hated his performance of any type of music, and the few friends that he did have, they were as outcast as him.

He didn't have a low self-confidence, however. He could easily make friends. He was smart enough to easily manipulate his communication to flatter anyone. Or, for that matter, talking his way out of sticky situations.

He even developed a technique for it. First, adopt an emotionless mask for a face, only showing emotion when it is expected. Then, speak calmly, and with precision. If the goal is flattery, start off with complimenting small, such as clothing or hairstyle. Afterwards, make clear what your intentions are. Ask them if they really want to go through the trouble of getting him in trouble. Tell them that he'd like to hang out sometime. The process can sometimes span several days.

It's not that he couldn't experience emotion, he even cried when his boyfriend broke up with him, a scant two months that felt like an eon ago. He just simply found it easier to disengage emotions from social encounters. He still felt emotion, though he has long since learned how to suppress them.

He does this to seem normal. He wants so desperately to feel accepted by everyone, that he doesn't realize it was this desire that made him an outcast. By trying to appear normal, he turns into the white noise in the back. He never realized that those few people who call him annoying far outweigh the vast majority of people that do accept him, even if it is indifferent acceptance. All in the name of normality does he tear himself apart.

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