Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Kyle in the Corner

So my friend Kyle is one of the people I've known longest. He lives in my neighborhood, he was in my kindergarten class, etc. etc. But somehow he's one of the people I understand least. Or, one of the people I've never been able to get close to.

A few years ago and last year he started out as the Nice Kid. The boy who'd always hold doors open for anybody and things like that without complaining or asking for a reward. He's still nice, but that's just not what he's looked at as. He's kind of weird, I guess. He goes along with everybody, but I've realized that I don't really know him. I know his name, sure, and his face, and the way he high-fives everybody.

But lately he's been sitting in the corner with his back to us at lunch. People have gone up to him. Once, Nash the Persuasive got him to sit with us again. But he's started just coming up to the stairs, sitting down with his back to us, and eating his lunch and leaving quickly. Sometimes he doesn't even go to lunch and I pass him in the hallway and he always finds time to yell my nickname and high-five me. I always high-five him, but sometimes he doesn't see me and doesn't see that I see the absence of a smile on his unprepared face.

I haven't really worried about him until now. Why is he doing that? That's what I've been wondering as of late, during nights when my mind is free to go anywhere it likes. It's just a part of life now that Kyle sits in the corner and leaves, and on the bus he doesn't talk and he's always doing math homework or something-or-other and being quiet. And he's hardly there at the bus stop in the mornings and I don't know what's up.

I walked home with him like I always do, since we get off at the same bus stop. I started talking to him, idle chatter basically, until the question came up.

"Kyle," I said, and looked into his eyes, "Why don't you sit with us at lunch anymore?"

And it was the saddest smile as he glanced away and I had to stare at the snow while his voice played around my ears: "It's just--you see--it's not--I--I feel like you guys are all too cool for me."

I wonder if I sighed, 'cause I might have. "Kyle, everybody feels like that. Especially lately, like I feel like that half the time"--true--"and you should've seen the way Orqua was talking to me two weeks ago. We all feel that. You just ... have to see."

Biting of the lip. Lately he's let his hair get down and almost cover his eyes, and it makes him look shyer and quieter than before. 

"Look, people won't talk to you if it seems like you don't want them to," I said. 

"I guess that's true."

"Try to sit with us tomorrow."


And I smiled and waved and parted in our usual way {a silly warning like "Don't drown in a bucket!" Actually, I probably said that}. I saw him walk away with his head down out of my window when I got back home, but I smiled to myself because I realize that's what I've been doing. Sitting in my own world waiting for someone to talk to me when I don't start conversations. 

Someone's going to talk to Kyle tomorrow. I know I will.

No comments: