Today I want to tell you part of a story.
Imagine the scene, eighth-grade year, the last year of what be the school that this barely even teenage kid had devoted seven long years to. This kid was by no means a stellar student or popular. He had to deal with all the crap that comes with not being particularly liked, but at this point, he was more than happy to have others to share that dark spotlight with. Truth be told, he was more concerned with keeping his head down and out of the way than with trying to stand out. Let me tell you, that’s hard for a kid who’s a bit too zealous with asking questions and answering them especially if that boy has a tinge of awkwardness that follows him around like a cloud. Either way, the year was almost over, high school was on the horizon, but a great debate about the future seems to lurk around every corner. He seems okay but underneath it all, he’s being crushed by the weight of a decision that ultimately isn’t even his.
You see, his parents are divorced and separated by miles and miles of road which was perfect for the moment. Great until it becomes time for something to spark a change. To ignite a wildfire through their lives. Their sin, love for their children and pride. It would send earthquakes and aftershocks in the future, but neither of them knew that at the time. All they knew is that there was a wind blowing and change coming and they wanted was the favorable wind.
With types of fights, the large hand of justice looms overhead and intervenes for the sake of “the children.” Setting up arbitration and evaluation to determine what is right and what is good, the decision is quick, but the process is not. A member of that hand comes to observe and report what should be and what is. Writing notes and recommendations about where this future should go, and what direction it will take. I wonder what they saw though, especially for this boy. Did they capture all the loneliness he felt? Did the capture his alienation? Did that hand understand what it mean to be him and how that all he wanted to do was escape into a different world that might be able to understand him a bit better? He even wondered if they were looking.
Adding on top of this multitude of problems is youth. You see, the poor kid started developing a crush. A crush on a girl who didn’t go to his school but was the first one who he felt gave him the time of day. Someone who seemed excited to talk to him or wanted to hang out. This was all new to him, he needed guidance so unlike what he is used to, he sought help, unlike he’s used to, people wanted to help him. For once in his life he felt like this might work out. A seeming oasis from his tribulation, he felt like with his peers helping him he didn’t have to be alone.
But that’s just the setup for the final act, the set up that would ultimately fall like dominos one by one.
So here we are, the beginning of May and the final piece that comes to play is set up. Courage and love. The boy finally works it up, after much thought and deliberation he hatched a plan with his peers to finally chase after what he wanted. To ask a question of the girl he didn’t know the answer to. He decided it would be at the annual school festival, he knew she would be there. At the annual school festival, so would everybody else.
So there we are, a morning of the day that he is nervous. Adrenalin takes hold as he makes his way alone to the school. Fun, games, and people all around. Laughter, and noise filling the air along with the smell of baked goods and grilled meat. He was there that he knew there was no backing out now, he felt the power of the world behind him, and he couldn’t let them down. So by the time the afternoon came, he found the girl wanted to question. By the late afternoon, he was ready for what he thought the answer would be. But hardly ever are expectation and reality something that goes hand in hand. It was then he found out she had a boyfriend, it was then he knew thing weren’t going to work out. It was then things began to crumble. It was then he needed help.
Where did he go for it? He went to his peers. Some offered a small condolence, but the boy searched for the people that helped him. He searched for the ones who spent all this time helping him along the way. But what he found was nothing, not a care or a word. What the boy didn’t know is that the kid of the moment became old news. He was no longer interesting, so there was no need to care.
This is when he began to fracture, this is when he began to see the breaks within. He put on a tough face but after it all, he walked home through the night, tears flowing from his eyes wish it would all just go away.
The domino had fallen, sending rest of them falling down the line. The cogs began turning, and the world changed slowly. Soon enough the decisions by the looming hand of justice were being made. For high school, it chose for him. For his schedule, it chose for him. Where he would be living, it chose for him. This looming hand was determining the course of his life. What again was it that he wanted, after it all, he didn’t even know anymore.
His parents bumbled and blustered, even though the spent all that time beating and bruising each in the court room never really got what the wanted. Each decision wore away a bit of the boy, who at this point was already broken. He felt like a rock in the desert slowly being eroded away, day after day with no end. Soon, all that was left was void, a void where he threw all his emotions and feelings. He felt empty, and this made him content.
After it all they made him go see a therapist, in hopes of reducing the damage they had caused him. But it was too late, the kid had built himself a mask, a mask to show the world what they wanted to see, a mask that would save him the trouble of having to worry about being exposed because if everything seemed alright, then nobody asked questions. If he could mimic human life, then he can live in this void forever. The therapist thought the boy was fine, the boy thought the therapist needed someone to talk to so they talked about him. Soon enough the boy was out to clean bill of health but just as empty as ever.
As the dust settled the kid wore that mask, and for a long time, all he felt was nothing.
That’s not where the story ends for the boy, there more to come. How those events will shape the boy. Events that helped set him down that spiral downward.
Again, this isn’t the end of the story, just a part. So if you could wait until next week to hear the end and what happens to the boy with the mask, I’ll be there to finish it.