Overflowing Heart: Part 2
The next morning seemed to come only seconds after I shut my eyes. I couldn’t wait to get on the bus. I was hopeful that Leon had found something to write down. The bus driver stared at me for a long second as I found my usual spot and took my seat. Leon’s house appeared after the next few stops. He donned his usual T-shirt, jeans, and old tennis shoes along with his trademark deep abyss of a morning stare.
Leon trudged down the aisle, flashing a huge smile as he spotted me. I scooted over so he could sit down beside me. He went into his routine banter of football statistics and endless griping about homework before pulling out a manilla folder that had been stuffed into his backpack. He was always a mess but somehow never lost a single sheet of paper.
“I wrote something for that guy’s assignment,” said Leon. “Trace tried to talk me out of it last night, but I did it anyway. It’s not much, but his idea makes you think. I hope he can use it. I still don’t think he would like our group, but I’m still curious as to what his answer is.”
I took the manilla folder from him. “Thanks, Leon.” I extended my hand to give him a high five.
Soon enough, the bus came to its final destination. Leon and I went to our lockers, and as I grabbed my books for my first class, I did a long search for Trace. The final class bell rang before I could find him in the hallway. I think he had agreed to help just so he could push Mike away. I’ll see him at lunch. No big deal.
Mrs. Perry’s English class was one of my favorites. We were reading The Giver as a class, and I found the plot both interesting and weird at the same time, however, my most favorite time of class was our last twenty minutes; she gave us all free reading time. We had to read, but it could be a literature of our choice. I had been dying during all of first block to snoop and read Leon’s response to Mike’s assignment.
I pulled out the folder as quietly as I could. The paper, although crumpled, was still readable. I had always loved Leon’s writings; he was so talented. I didn’t so much like sports, but our friendship was strengthened by our taste for the written word. I was taken aback by his words but was glad that he had opened up with such honesty.
My life could be described as being half empty. I have great friends, and I love academics (though my organization needs a little work). I can’t help but notice that sometimes I am missing a huge part of who I could be—my confidence, my mother is not around as much as I’d like. I don’t come from a lot of money. My heart knows that what I have just doesn’t seem to be enough. I don’t have much faith in anyone. I don’t trust that much. I’ve grown up half angry, longing for a full life. I feel stuck sometimes. I don’t want to exist as just half empty. I’d love to be more. I didn’t choose half full, because I haven’t grown up with the most positive attitude; nothing about my life has been happy for any length of time. I’d like to try something new for once. What could there be other than what I know? How could life even be seen as half full or more?
I was submerged, deep into Leon’s words as the bell rang to signal the end of class. I stood up from my desk and put the paper back into its folder while being lost in thought until lunchtime. I found Leon sitting at the same table outside as the day before; it was quite the surprise to see him having a conversation with Mike and enjoying it.
Mike turned to face me. “Hi, Nick!” He waved excitedly.
“Hey, how’s it goin’?” I replied.
“Great! Leon was telling me that he got his response done. I am so glad you decided to help. Mike paused for a minute. “Is there any way I could take both of your parts home today? Mrs. Clark told the class today that anyone who turns theirs in early gets extra credit, and the best one gets their essay published in The Coffee House Digest.” Mike looked around, hopeful. “I am not counting myself to win, but I love extra credit.”
I sat down at the table with Leon and Mike. “Here you go.” I reached for both Leon’s and my folders that held both of our papers.
“Have you guys seen Trace?” Leon asked.
“No, I haven’t seen him,” said Mike. “Have you, Nick”?
“No. It’s not like Trace to miss school. Don’t count on him to have written his part though,” I replied, with a slight chuckle.
Mike stood up. “Well, if I have to, I can be extra creative. Mrs. Clark will never know the difference. I have done that on many an assignment before.” Mike looked pensive. “He still has until Friday at least. Thanks again, you guys.”
With that, Mike walked away with his notebook. I sat down to join Leon at the table.
“Where do you think he could be?” said Leon, shooting a worried glance.
“He never misses. Even when he’s sick, he comes to school.” I thought for a moment. “But I am sure he has a good reason, ” I assured him.
With that, the bell to signal the end of lunch and the beginning of the afternoon block of classes rang. As I headed back to my locker and into my PE class, I couldn’t help but think that something was up with Trace not being at school. I saw him online last night after I finished homework. I saw him commenting on other people’s posts. He talked to Leon last night. He seemed fine. Maybe there was some kind of emergency.
I still did not see Trace the whole rest of the day. When I got home that evening, I ate my dinner, silently wondering why Trace had missed the day. I was full of thought as I went to bed; part of me wondered if he was okay, while the other part just wondered that if he had done his part of Mike’s assignment, what would he say?