Harvey woke to the sound of his alarm. He was in bed, gasping, and looked around the room. What was happening?
As soon as his brain grasped that all that had happened was that he had woken up, he hit his alarm and collapsed back into bed, pulling the covers over his head. He didn’t want to be awake. He wanted to crawl under the covers and forget about the world, never emerging to face the day.
The door opened and his mother entered, turning on the light. “Harvey, did you hear your alarm? You don’t want to be late on the first day.”
Harvey blinked. He didn’t care about junior year. He didn’t care about high school. He didn’t care about graduating or getting a good job or anything. All he cared about was falling back asleep.
“Harvey, get up!”
He grumbled. “Fine,” he said, and then pushed past his mom to get ready.
“I made pancakes,” Aunt Rose said. Harvey grabbed a plate full of them and dug in.
“Where are your manners?” Rose asked, but Harvey ignored her. It was easier that way. The sooner he ate, the sooner he’d be at school and the soon he’d be at home and the sooner he’d be back in bed.
“Are you excited to see all your friends again?” his mother asked.
Harvey nodded, grateful that his mouth was too full of pancake for him to answer.
“Tell them we miss having them come around,” his mom said. “We’d love to see Paris or Angelica again.”
“Sure,” Harvey said.
It was easy to lie. His parents didn’t need to know that he hadn’t had a serious conversation with Angelica or Paris – or anybody at his school, to tell the truth – since he’d started high school. They’d all gone their own way, doing bigger and better things, and he’d watch them with a sort of nagging jealousness… he wasn’t talented like them. He couldn’t even ignore the realities of the world like they could. Listening to them laughing and having fun made him feel guilty for not doing more to save the bees or the ocean or the rainforest. No, it was easier to be alone, to stay away, to keep his head down; that way nobody had to know what was going on in his head.
It was better that way. For everybody involved.