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Jeremy Heere watched with an absent sort of interest as a spider crawled along the wall at the front of the classroom. It was just a little above the teacher’s head, and since there was absolutely nothing that caught Jeremy’s attention more (the classwork obviously wasn’t exciting), he ignored the teacher and watched the spider. It must’ve been only one penny big, but it was brown and black and fuzzy and not something Jeremy would want to go anywhere near.

Then the bell rang, and everyone got up, chatting and shuffling towards the door. Jeremy sighed and pulled himself to his feet, and immediately tripped over his chair. Falling to the ground with a bang, Jeremy lay on the floor, clutching his ankle in pain, mortified.

The few students who had not yet left the classroom yet giggled to each other, whispering and definitely joking about Jeremy. “Timber!” one of the students said, just loud enough for everyone but the teacher to hear. That, or the teacher just chose to ignore it.

Jeremy scrambled to his feet, face burning with shame. He quickly gathered his supplies and, face down, shoulders hunched- don’t look up don’t make eye contact- he scurried between the group and out the door.

Things couldn’t get worse, could they?

This was the tenth embarrassing thing to happen to him today, and he really was counting.

The spider, blue-tinted and so unnoticeable, crawled down to the floor and began a journey towards nobody knows where.


. . .


Michael Mell leaned against the wall, watching as Jeremy focused on the game he was playing at the time. Jeremy sat a paper cup of Sierra Mist he bought from the snack area on the cabinet, and his eyes were zoned in on the screen as he maneuvered the joystick and hit buttons just to survive longer than a few minutes.

“It can’t have been that bad.”
“You weren’t there, Michael,” Jeremy said bitterly, not tearing his eyes away from the game.

“Well, it’s not like I can possibly know anything; you won’t tell me anything! C’mon, man, you can tell me. I’m not gonna judge.”

Jeremy was silent for a moment. He paused the game. “Look, it’s just really embarrassing-”

Michael’s tone was kind as he interrupted Jeremy to say, “Hey, that’s okay! We all do embarrassing stuff at some point in our lives. Y’know, today, I-”

“Okay I’ll tell you,” Jeremy relented. “Just don’t laugh, please.”

“You know I’d never.”

Sighing, Jeremy explained what happened. “Okay, so you know how I signed up for the play? Well, I was practicing some of my lines, and then-” he paused, and something like hopelessness flickered in his eyes,“- then I accidentally said Christine’s name instead of her character’s. And the entire cast laughed at me.”

“That’s it?”

Jeremy shot his friend a glare as he took a sip from his soda.

“Sorry, sorry, go on.”

“...Well, no. That wasn’t just it. Christine just laughed nervously and- and y’know, stood up for me. And that was nice, but she also said something about how I’m a good friend, y’know? Something like ‘Jeremy’s just a good friend, stop making fun of him! It was an accident.’, and, well, at least I know how she feels about me.”

Michael, being the kind of person who is positive, all sunlight dripping from a storm cloud hiding behind the fluffy white clouds, the kind who decorates his shell in smiles and reinforces it with mindlessness, tried to cheer his best friend up. “Jeremy, it’s okay. This is better than before! At least she knows you exist.”

“But I exist only as a friend,” Jeremy whined miserably. “I love her. She just sees me as a dork who can’t even stand up for himself.”

But you can’t stand up for yourself. Michael pushed that thought away because that’s not what good friends are supposed to think of each other. “It’s still better than before. You can work with this! I’m sure once she gets to know you, she’ll be head over heels.”

Shaking his head pessimistically, Jeremy took one last swig of his Sierra Mist and resumed the game.

Michael watched him, slightly worried. He was worried, why couldn’t his friend look on the bright side of things every once in awhile? The amount of negative thinking that Jeremy let slip through his words every day was increasing by the week, and it was just making Michael uneasy.

After a few moments, Jeremy lost the game, and stepped away from the game, sighing softly. “I just wish everything was different.” His voice was quiet, because the black hole in his heart was making his chest heavy and it’s sort of hard to speak when your chest is insisting on crushing your lungs every lonely minute of every lonely day. All I do is lose, make a fool of myself, or do or say or be something stupid. I just want to win for once in my life. I don’t want to be a loser anymore.