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Your Life Is a Map With No Compass

Chapter Two

The very first time I saw Zack, he was crying. We were at Ben Warsley’s house, the kid who lived up the street from me and would never stop talking about how his Daddy was a professional racecar driver. He was a snotty asshole, but he had a functioning x-box, which was a far cry from the piece of shit that was hidden at the back of my closet. So I put up with all of his one sided conversations in exchange for the pleasure of playing World of Warcraft without the entire system crashing every five minutes.

Anyway. I had gone over to Ben’s house for yet another round of good ol’ gaming and Nascar statistics, just because Alex was back in England hanging out with all of his hot cousins and Rian, the guy who I had only met a month ago and was already best friends with, was at some drum exhibition. It had been all right, mostly, for the first two hours, and then I’d heard crying.

And there he was. Standing at the top of the stairs, wearing a pair of vans, black skinny jeans, and a band t-shirt. My exact outfit. He looked at me for a few seconds, his head cocked to the side, before giving me the slightest smile. “Uh, dude?” I whispered to Ben, who was focused intently on our Halo game and hadn’t noticed Zack at the top of the stairs.

“What?” I snuck a look at this mystery boy, who was rubbing his eyes with his fists like a toddler and hopping from one foot to the other.

“Who’s that?” I nodded slightly to the boy, who had shrunk back into a doorway once he realized that Ben had noticed him.

“Oh. Him. He’s nobody. Just some retard that my mom babysits. I mean, he’s fucking fourteen and he needs a babysitter. What a fucking fag.”

I didn’t really understand Ben’s logic. How does needing a babysitter make you a fag? Bus still, I wanted to know more about him, so I asked another question.

“What do you mean he’s a retard?” I looked back up at him, to see tears sliding down his face as he listened to our conversation about him. For some reason, I felt the need to run up the stairs and sweep him into my arms, comfort him until he stops crying. But that’s stupid. I didn’t even know him.

“He’s, like, is a total crybaby. He freaks out when something isn’t perfectly straight, and he had a total emotional breakdown when my mom drove him home in a rental car when our normal one was getting fixed. And my mom says that we can’t make loud sounds when he’s here, cause he has sensitive ears and he’ll freak out or something. He hurts himself too, washes his hands so many times that he makes them bleed. And he never talks in a loud voice. He always whispers, like he’s afraid of himself or something. Such a fucking pussy.”

I could hear Zack crying now, full on crying, but still rooted to the exact same spot as before, rocking back and forth on his heels and sucking on his fingers as he sobs. “But hey, watch this,” Ben said to me, his eyes full of evil and a wicked grin on his face. “Hey Zack!” he yelled up the stairs as he walked over to the window, where he’d thrown the remote in anger after a particularly ugly game of Assassin’s Creed, that I ended up winning.

I watched as the boy stepped forward to the railing of the stairs, wrapping his scabbed up knuckles around the tan wood, a scared look on his face. “Y-y-yeah?” he whispered, trying as hard as he could to hide behind the stacked laundry baskets that were sitting on the top steps, waiting to be brought downstairs.

“Listen to this.” And with that, Ben turned up the volume of the TV to full blast, the sounds of gunfire and animated aliens screeching ringing in my ears. I watched as Zack’s face crumpled and he clapped his hands over his ears, even more tears falling down his face as Ben just laughed. “You’re such a whiny little bitch, Zack. No wonder you’re mom leaves you here all afternoon. I’d hate to have to see your tearstained face every minute.” Ben shouted over the TV. “Look at him, Jack! He’s so fucking stupid.”

But that was the thing. He didn’t look stupid to me. He just look sad and defeated and in pain. And when he looked right at me, he didn’t look like a pussy, he didn’t look like a fag. He just looked misunderstood. And when he ran back down the hallway, his hands still over his ears, to try and get away from the TV and Ben’s merciless laughing, I followed him, because, even though he was different, he was just like I was. Lost, and confused, and misunderstood.

We’d been inseparable since that day, both of us latching onto each other like we were the only thing keeping the other alive. It was hard, at first, to get used to him and his eccentricities, his weird habits, his autistic personality. It was hard to learn everything that I had to watch out for, all the warning signs of a panic attack and all the OCD triggers that would have him washing his hands for days, all of his strict routines that would soon become a part of my everyday life. But I was okay with it; I was okay with helping him count to a hundred so that he would calm down, or waking up at 8:30 because that was the way that Zack liked it. I was okay with it, because deep down inside, under all of the layers of things that he couldn’t change, of disorders that would be with him forever, he was just like me. A crazy kid with a taste for Blink and Disney movies, a kid who was just as confused about life as I was, a kid who pushed all of life’s stupid bullshit to the side to have a good time. A kid who would forever and always, be my best friend.
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Eh, I don't really like this. I'm supposed to be doing homework right now, but I felt like I kind of needed to update. This feels like more of a oneshot instead of a chapter. Whatever. Anyway, I have 18 fucking subscribers! Makes me so happy! And please, comment more. You don't know how happy it makes me to come home from a shitty day at school and see all the nice things that you guys are saying. Much love to: