As I drove to the library I felt hollow inside. James... had been talking to Zoe. And if he was in any way interested in Zoe, he wouldn’t want to be talking to me in the future.
Seeing the two of them at his car in the parking lot had shocked and hurt me. Having volunteered to be James’ guide, I had almost felt like I was taking him under my wing. It was wrong of me to think of it in such terms but he had almost been mine. And I had thought that he would grow to like me. In fact, I had even seen a faint tinge of light pink beneath the iciness in his aura, suggesting that he was softening, that I was getting through to him. But there was no chance of that now he was hanging around with Miss Popular.
I resented her for taking away the person who could have become my one true friend. He wouldn’t need me to show him where things were anymore - the timetable was the same everyday and Zoe would gladly point out anything he needed to keep his friendship (more like keep him under her thumb).
Why couldn’t people just be kind to each other? If people all had bigger hearts, I wouldn’t be lonely, James wouldn’t be icy and Zoe wouldn’t care about stupid popularity. Because they didn’t, I would probably be lonely till college, James wouldn’t find someone to help him with his problems and Zoe would continue to use her popularity to make sure people like me were considered lesser beings. And for a moment it didn’t matter that James and I were psychic - these were the normal sufferings of high school students. Anyone who was different, regardless of whether that was because they had supernatural powers, was shunned and anyone who was beautiful or rich enough held the power. What a world.
In my normal spot in the library I completed my homework dully, detached from the meaningless words I was writing, blind to the significance of the numbers my mind was processing without me really paying attention to what I was doing. Afterward I was too numb to attempt to travel to the fantasy world between the covers of the latest novel I was reading. I drove home, shared a silent dinner with my parents, and then went for a long walk with no particular destination before taking a bath and going to bed.
The next day I saw James in registration period. I was mildly surprised but had no hopes of having misinterpreted the exchange between him and Zoe the day before when he said a quiet, almost shy “Hello” to me.
“Hey,” I said back, equally quiet, sad to look at his aura and see pain that I wouldn’t be allowed to try to heal.
Zoe wasn’t in our class so he could have said more but he didn’t, walking off to find a desk instead of sitting beside me again. I wondered if it was because he wasn’t used to talking to people or because of Zoe and popularity.
People noticed him walking away from me and decided that made him less scary than he had been yesterday; girls and boys greeted him as he passed and one boy, Kevin, a star football player invited him to sit with him. There weren’t any free desks so James accepted.
‘I wonder if he notices that not having much to do with me makes him someone to be less wary of,’ I thought to myself. I didn’t try to fool myself that the second he realized he would ignore social convention and befriend someone else who did the same (i.e. me).
Behind me some girls were giggling. Now no longer scared of him they could appreciate James' physical attractiveness.
‘You’re going to have a bunch of female admirers, buddy.’
I didn’t dare look behind me for the rest of the period, for fear of seeing James soaking it all up, a typical high school guy despite the psychic powers. For the first time I wondered what it was he could do.
‘Guess I’ll never know now,’ I thought resignedly.
The bell rang and I stood up slowly. I took a deep breath, steadied the wavering walls preventing me from running out and crying in the girls’ bathroom, and walked out. It was almost certain that James’ greeting had been the last words he would address to me.
‘Hi again, Loneliness.’ I hoped that my constant companion would continue to be gentle with me, after a moment where I thought he would actually go away.