A Boy like Tom

A Boy Like Tom

Joshua Copperman

  1.

Sydney  finally yelled at Taylor, for what would be the last time: “If you really cared about me, you would stop following me!” Spencer breathed with a sigh of relief, before turning her head so she would never have to see Taylor’s surely tear-jerking reaction. She knew she had broken this poor boy’s heart, but then again, she could now focus on herself, for the first time in weeks.
I finished writing the chapter and turned off my computer before anyone noticed what I wrote. It was a new story, one based on my own life- like everything else I’ve written. I’ve been writing these pointless stories since I was three, planning to turn it into a fantasy-musical-movie-thingy. Those days have passed, because my life has never been that interesting- nothing close to the fairy tales I read when I was young. If there’s a call to adventure you’re supposed to receive, as my English teacher states, then I haven’t gotten it yet. Like the Disney films I saw years ago, I sometimes still wonder “When will my life begin?”
Personally, I hate talking like this- my words have lately become a never ending stream of cliches. I actually did say “If you really cared about me, you would stop following me-”  today, in fact.
The real Taylor is a boy named Tom that always followed me around to no end- a role usually reserved for girls like me. He just wanted me to notice him, have a friend, but he never knew how to make one. After he asked me out to the prom, I started to notice him alright, but not in the way he would have liked. People started to tell me that he cried until he could sit next to me in class, or even behind me. I always noticed he acted weird around me, but he acted weird around everyone- I never noticed a difference. In a way, he’s a bird flying behind the rest of the pack, the easiest one to shoot down. Perhaps I’m not the leader of the pack, so I shouldn’t be talking, but I practically am compared to Tom.

I didn’t really care much until today. After second period, I went into the girl’s bathroom, and vaguely noticed a shadow as I closed the door. I quickly opened it again, and noticed a whole figure this time. As soon as I blinked, it went away, and with paranoia surrounding me, I closed the door. Finally, I opened the door, and saw Tom right outside the bathroom. I freaked out, as anyone probably would if a boy was standing right outside their bathroom. When I left the bathroom, I couldn't find Tom. I started walking, pretending nothing had happened, but as I opened my locker, the reflection in the glass showed a nervous Tom walking behind me.
"Tom!" I called out. Great, I thought. Late for class again? We were the only two people in the hallway- it’s almost like my thoughts echoed through the floor.
Ellery. So glad you finally called my name.”  My eyebrow raised. I turned around, and there he stood, his eyes pleading for my heart. See what I mean when I say I’m a never ending stream of cliches? Anyway, Tom moved slowly toward me.
“Um, uh, I don’t know what got into me?” he said.
“You do realize that it’s wrong to go into the girl’s bathroom?” I angrily replied.
“I just… kind of wish I could be you- I mean, be with you every second of every day. That’s what you’re supposed to say to a girl, right?” Tom had a stutter that made every sentence go on for years at a time. I wanted to leave him alone, but I had to do something.
“What you’re supposed to do is not follow them around, Tom. Not follow ME around. Can I go to class now?”
Tom raced toward me. “I care so much about you, Ellery, you complete me. I love you so much. Please never leave me.”
Then I said it. “If you really cared about me, you would stop following me!” I got my stuff and ran as fast as I could. This time, there was nobody following me.
Which brings me back to this computer. Writing things down also help sort out my thoughts, and make me realize how stupid I was to leave him alone. Maybe I could have had some pity, or perhaps forgiven him. Perhaps having a normal life isn’t so bad after all. With that thought, I get into my black bed.
I go to sleep.
I lay awake for two hours, waiting for my eyes to close.
They try.
And try.
Why can’t I sleep?

2.

As I laid awake last night, I wondered about Tom.  But I can’t focus on him now- guilt shall never blanket me again. Now I sound like the writing in my story, that’s just great. Finally, my thoughts fly away as I hear Stacey’s voice.
“Ellery! I heard what happened! Are you okay?” She acted like I came out of the hospital.
“I’m fine. I did not die. I just sounded like I did.” My scream must have turned many heads yesterday- everybody else said the same thing. Just as I was about to go to class and have a normal day, I heard a voice with a guitar coming into my left ear.
You saw my face, you did nothing.
And then you only ran away,
So now only to myself I sing
Because I have nothing left to say.
I turn around, and I see that the voice belongs to Tom, nearly tearing up. He pauses, meets my eyes, and sings louder.
I dreamed that one day you would find me,
A day I wanted for so long,
But those dreams are now far behind me,
I only know that I’ve done wrong.
After he finishes the song, Tom says “Do you like it?”
Being the wimp I am, rather than say “Was that about me?” or “It was very poetic,” I run away. I did, in fact love the song, even if it wasn’t something I’d ever listen to in my spare time. What would I say? I could practically hear the thoughts in his head. “I have worked on that song since I met you, Ellery.”  “Singing a song for a girl works in movies.” “Why am I not in class?” No, Tom would never think that.
I entered the classroom, as Stacey helps me in.
“Stacey! I don’t need help? I wasn’t attacked.” I have to say.
“Really? That’s what Kendra told me.”
Tom walks in to the classroom, suddenly saying that “Don’t listen to Kendra! Everything she says is untrue!” Tom then started talking- no, tangeting- about her.
Perhaps I’m not the first person he’s followed into the bathroom.
“Well, Kendra told me that he beat you up and wanted to make out with you.”
Huh, I guess Tom’s right about something for once.
“He didn’t do that!” I respond.
“She also told me that Tom forced you to tell anyone that whenever they asked. Just admit it, I won’t tell anyone.”
What.
“Tom’s right- Kendra never tells the truth. Even when she does, it’s a twisted version of the facts.”
“You know Tom’s never right either? Remember the infamous spaghetti incident? He thought I started it!”
My voice gets louder. “You kinda did.”
“Are you siding with Tom or with me? Make your choice, Ellery.”
Stacey’s right. Why would I defend someone who followed me into the bathroom?
“Um… you? I’m just trying to prevent Tom from getting bullied.” I come closer. “No matter what, Stacey, I’m always on your side.”
She laughs, and says “That’s so sweet and clichè, Ellery. Just don’t defend Tom- he lives in his own world, where he’s the king and no one ever has to bully him, and he disappears all the time into this perfect world-”
I have to interrupt. “STACEY! Stop painting yourself onto him.”  Whenever she starts talking about Tom or even Kendra, she slowly starts talking about herself- that’s my way of telling her to stop it.
Of course, everyone looks at me like I’m crazy.
It’s hard to believe that anyone could paint themselves onto Tom- Stacey did get the first part right. He never seems… normal, for lack of a better term. That may be why  no one notices him. No one likes him, and up until yesterday, no one disliked him. Yesterday, Tom unknowingly threw himself into the real world, where people start noticing his problems and take him into a psychologist, where said psychologist turns his life into data- wait, that's also Stacey.
“Stacey,” I say, “You have your appointment with your psychologist today, right?”
I do. Just before I can respond, however , Mr. Madson silences the class. He begins to take attendance.
“Stacey Grant.” he says .
“Here…”
“Ellery Graper.”
“Here…”
“Tom Stalina.”
“Oh-wait-what-here.”
“Just wanted to make sure you were paying attention.”
He goes through the list, occasionally calling out random names to make sure they were listening. Afterwards, we go to class, as Tom comes up to me.
“Listen,” he says, “about yesterday, I'm s-s-so-so-”
“Yes.” I say, “speak up.”
“I’m s-s-so-so-sor-Soy sauce. Wait, I didn't mean to”
I walk away, ignoring the rest of his stuttered sentence. What could soy sauce possibly symbolize? Maybe I reduced him into a puddle of soy sauce whenever I walked by? Maybe I'm the… soy sauce to his life's sushi? Maybe he was hungry for lunch?
Realizing that absolutely none of that made sense, I went to my first class.

3.

I get on the lunch line, stretching for what feels like a million miles. All for a couple of hot dogs. Just as I get to the middle, I feel a tap on my shoulder. Guess who it is? Or rather, don’t.
“Sorry about the whole soy sauce thing.” Tom says. “I just wanted to say that I was sorry for yesterday.”
I pretend not to pay attention, knowing that whatever I say would not be true. “it's okay?” “I'm not even angry, I'm being so sincere right now?” “I like soy sauce?”
It’s hard to be honest to a boy like Tom, after all. When he gets his lunch, he’ll walk over and  sit at his own table, because even the outcasts don’t want him.  But who am I to judge what outcasts are? I am one myself.
After I get my hot dogs, I sit down next to Stacey and Cara. It's slightly odd sitting next to them, especially when someone sees two blonde-haired tall, skinny, frankly beautiful girls sitting next to an average redhead.
Why people are identified and judged by their hair color, I may never know.
“Do you think we're getting any other people today?” Cara asks me.
“Probably Tom. He's gonna leave after five minutes anyway, why don't we just let him set here?”
“Really?” Stacey has to contribute. “After yesterday? I don't want him to follow me into the stall!”
“He just opened the door to the bathroom, he didn't go in! He was misunderstood. I can't help but feel bad for-”
Cara interrupts me- “DON'T. Let's wait for David to come here, that's the only person I want to sit here.”
“Cara, you say that because you can't move a bone in you're body without having a man in your life.”
“Fine, Stacey, you're right. But most girls can't.”
Finally, I talk. “I can move every bone in my body without needing a guy to move it for me.”
“You ever heard of asexuality?” Cara asks me.
“Yes- but I can tell you right now, I'm not asexual. I do like guys- though most guys should not earn the honor of being called humans. Just not guys at this school. Or in this state. Or in this country.” I reluctantly answer.
“Are you trying to tell me you like british people?!” Stacey says, her blond hair unintentionally engulfing my face.
I put on a ridiculously fake British accent, and say “No, governor, I believe not.”
They stare at me.
“Your accents are why we're the lower social class, Ellery.” Cara says, breaking our short yet awkward silence.
“Really, I thought it was Stacey's overreacting. I thought it was your smart-ness. With all our flaws, my accents are the least of our problems.”
“You're not an outcast to me, Ellery.” Tom says.
I turn around, with Tom breaking our endless tangent of why I like british people.
“Come on, Tom, sit down.” I say, pitying him too much to say otherwise. “You don't have to just watch us talk. I'm sure you have something to say.”
Cara and Stacey are mouthing at me, and I try to read their lips. “Dough lets him knit hair?” They mouth louder. “Don't let Tim sit where?” I try again. “Don't let Tom knit your hair?” Thought that makes sense, I try one more time; “Don't let Tom sit there!”
I mouth back. It's too late. And I want to see what he brings to the table- no pun intended.
“Did you just say I can't debate? And why don't you intend for me to have fun? And how do you ring a table?” Cara says.
I assume they're just as bad as I am at reading lips, and I try to start a conversation with Tom.
“Wait, how do you ring a table?” Tom asks me.
“They were trying to get me to read their lips, saying that you shouldn't sit here. Then I said that I wanted to see what you brought to the table- no pun intended.” I reply
“Oh, no one wants me to sit with them. I’ll just go.” Tom murmurs. “I feel like Eeyore.”
“I'd go with Severus Snape, but whatever. I'm not in the mood for a literary allusion.” Cara says.
“Me neither.” Tom says, as he turns to look at my puzzled face. Compared to Cara and Stacey, I am very stupid.
“So, what’s you’re favorite song?” he asks, and we’re thrown into a frenzy.
We scramble for an answer; “Um, uh, I don’t know…” our collective voices drowning out each other.. Finally, Cara speaks,

“The Star Wars theme… I can’t remember the name.”

“There’s an exact name?” I ask Cara.
“The Star Wars theme is called the Star Wars Main Theme, Cara.” Tom finally answers.
“Oh. Thought so.” Cara says, though she obviously did not.
Stacey finally answers with “Some random song by Coldplay.”
“Which one?” Tom asks, “The Gold Rush? Don’t Panic? Paradise?”
“I can’t remember names of songs.” Stacey replies.
“I don’t care. Is it the one that goes-” and he’s off singing a random song that none of us had ever heard.
“Oh yeah,” Stacey says sarcastically. “That one.”
“Alright, now let’s move on to you, Ellery.” Tom says. Where he’s from, apparently, they don’t have sarcasm.
I think. And think. What was the last song I listened to? Wow, it was a while ago- I’ve never been one to keep up with music trends. Was it on the radio? Was it on one of my grandpa’s vinyl records? Yes, it was. We used to listen to that all the time… I remember the first thing that comes to my head. The last record I put in. An old song-
“Eleanor Rigby, by the Beatles.” I finally answer, but by then they are sitting in an awkward silence- the hundredth one today.
“So you do like british people!” Stacey says.
Tom turns his head to me. “Nice. I love that song.”
Cara tempts fate and asks him “So, now you know our songs? Can we know yours and then can you leave our table for, like, EVER?”
Without missing a beat- unlike me- Tom starts talking: “My favorite song is… well, it’s anything by Linkin Park. You know, they’re from Agoura Hills, California- where my cousin lives!”
“Huh, that’s weird.” Cara says, “Can you please go-”
“And they used to be called Xero, then they were Hybrid Theory, and then they changed their name to Linkin Park! They released an album called Hybrid Theory after they changed their name, like a self titled album but… not. They were going to be Lincoln Park, but the domain name they were registering on did not have enough space or something like that, so-”
“Ellery, can you help us?” Stacey whispers in my ear.
I’m sure the history of Linkin Park was very interesting. The way he was telling it, it was like a 5 year old telling about his time at the zoo, seeing . So I decide to tune in for 5 seconds.
“And then they won their first Grammy, for Crawling- a highly justified one, in my opinion.” he continues on. I tune back out. I tell Stacey and Cara that “I’m really sorry. I just didn’t want him to be lonely.”
“Why would you care for him? He followed you into the-” Cara says, before I cut her off.
“That was one time! But you’re right.” I force myself to say. But why would I force myself to say something against Tom? Why do I keep asking myself that? Why do I have so many questions for myself? I did call Taylor a poor boy, but that was from another perspective. The third person, bird’s eye view. The one that would actually follow Tom’s ramblings about Linkin Park. What is he up to, anyway?
“So they were all famous and popular and stuff, and then Rick Rubin came in and ruined everything! I can’t believe I still listen to them, but they’re still awesome-”

Nope.

“He’s kind of like a car crash- one that haunts you forever, but that’s literal in my case. So I watch the rubble from the crash, and I breathe in the smoke by accident. God, this metaphor is terrible.” I say to Stacey. “And why am I thinking while I’m talking?”
“That’s it! Tom, get the hell out of here. We stopped being interested in Linkin Park after their second album!” Stacey screams.
“Yeah, well, so was I.” Tom says, and slowly walks away. “I thought girls liked Linkin Park too.”
Suddenly, I remembered my “emo” phase in fifth grade. I remember listening to them.

They were everything to me. I memorized every song.

Guess I’m not so different from Tom. But I’m in 8th grade now.
He never grew up from fifth grade.
Poor boy.

4.

I sit down at my computer, and start typing.  What happened today? I start writing, sorting the events of the day out in my head.

Spencer listened to Taylor, even though he had hurt her the other day.

Linkin Park doesn’t make for a good story, does it? I try to think of something that happened that had nothing to do with Soy Sauce. Or perhaps I could write about that.
Taylor was thinking about his dinner when talking to Spencer, so instead of saying he was sorry about yesterday, he said soy sauce.
That doesn’t work either. I do wish I knew what he was thinking. His motivation for talking about music. His following me into the bathroom. His obsession that I totally did not just make up about Soy Sauce.
His apparent crush on me.
Perhaps his mind has some method to his madness, some reason for why he is so damn weird? But what do I know about him? I don’t want his mind. It’s too unaware of the world. Too right-brain and music oriented. For one thing, he’s a better songwriter than I am. Where his sound amazing for a 14 year old, mine are…
Thanks to gravity, I have to fall in love sometime,
That’s where everyone else gets all their rhymes
But that’s not where I should find my place
To hear words from someone else’s face.
Granted, it was part of my fifth grade phase, but that’s no excuse- didn’t Mozart come out of the womb composing? And isn’t Tom writing a song about me like every night?
I cannot play an instrument. If I could, it would be guitar- like Tom.
Why am I thinking about him? I thought I was able to not have a “man” in my life and still exist.
No.
I don’t love Tom. I don’t even like the kid. He means nothing to me. At least, I hope he doesn’t. I have to think about something else… I have to get back to writing.
I have an idea… Why don’t I get into his mindset? Write from his point of view? Perhaps I could understand him a little more. Perhaps I could see past his many imperfections. So I try. I close my eyes, and open his eyes. I imagine having his short blonde hair, his slovenly clothing, and his sad, sad face. I start writing.
I saw Ellery’s brown-red hair flowing as she went into the bathroom- a heavenly glimpse of her, one that could only be described in Shakespearean terms. Not knowing any, I stepped closer to her amazing physique, and thought of what to say to her. I never knew what to say to a girl as beautiful yet flawed as her, and yet I had to try. She went through the door to the girl’s bathroom. No, I thought. She cannot leave me now. So I walked closer into the bathroom, and closer and closer. I opened the door without thinking, and I realized what I had done. This girl was perfect- why would I ruin my chances?
Do I really have that big of an ego? And wouldn’t he go on a tangent about Linkin Park by now? To humor myself, I remember the only lyric I know.
Unfortunately, there was a Linkin Park lyric to describe my efforts- in the end, it didn’t even matter. They always have the perfect words to say, that band. Alas, my reputation as perfect (in my eyes, at least ) was tarnished forever, as she yelled at me and I ran away.
How I remembered that song, I don’t know.
My writing sounded more like Twilight than anything Tom would write. It didn’t sound like a boy; it sounded like me. Then again, I understand him a bit more. And my ego too.

5.

I pass by Tom the next day, and he starts singing another song;
We’re just parallel lines, and we’re searching for a paradise.
Together, yet so far apart.
So why must every day seem to break,
This hole where there should be a heart.
Knowing that listening to the song will just make me guilty about not liking Tom, I walk on.

*        *       *

On the way to class, Tom bumps in to Kendra. Their backpacks spill out all over the floor into a big mess.
“You’re picking that up, Tom.” Kendra says. “Right now.”
“Um, okay…” Tom says, and he gets down on his knees to pick up the million pieces of paper.
“I’ll pick them up.” my mouth says, and before I can take it back, I’m shoveling up everything from the floor.
“Tom, you should help. I’m just gonna watch.” Kendra speaks. Why is she so terse all the time? I wouldn’t put it past her to say “Me No Clean Up. You Clean Up Good. Now.” She’s possibly the world’s prettiest and skinniest cave person, but that’s not saying much.
“I will. But you’re coming with me!” Tom says. Suddenly, he grabs Kendra’s wrist, and pulls her down, landing on top of me.
“Ah yes,” Tom continues, “My past and present, right next to each other.”
I have no idea what that means. It probably has something to do with soy sauce. After I recover from having Kendra toppled on me, I continue sorting their pieces of paper. While looking, I see a piece of paper that says “I have to stop writing. I just got in trouble for writing song lyrics in library books.” This, I realize, goes to Tom, so I put it back in his binder. Next, I see a piece of paper with beautiful handwriting, saying “I have to sabotage Tom once and for all! I don’t care what happens, he cannot be allowed to come near me ever again.”

Quite a dissonance, don’t you think?

Kendra grabs that piece of paper from me before I can keep reading it, and puts it in her pile. “Why are you reading this?” she says. “I thought Tom was the only person that nosy.” With that, Tom stands up and leaves. I continue sorting, but in the back of my mind, I wonder what he’s going to do next. I pick up another notebook, which seems like it’s a graph paper notebook but actually has song lyrics printed messily, with chords written above. Only a few pages have math. So naturally, I put it in Tom’s pile.
The next one is the same notebook, only it has doodles all over. Lavishly produced doodles- ones that would not feel out of place in the Louvre. Where most girls (including me) draw cute smiley faces on the corners of our notes, Kendra seems to draw entire portraits of other people. I quickly flip through, being very nosy, and I see a picture of me, and a devil with the caption of “Tom #80” right next to me. She drew me more beautifully than I actually am, which is not much of a challenge. Meanwhile, Tom #80 is simply drawn, with nothing more than an angry face, a pitchfork, and a tail.
I put it in her pile, and realize that Kendra did most of the work.
“You’re lucky I like you, Ellery. I spent a little extra time on your picture.” Kendra says. She smiles, and walks away. I carry Tom’s backpack, ready to explain why I was late.

6.

I saw inside the mind of Kendra and Tom. Notice how I say mind. They seem to have the same sort of habit, and the same neglect of school. Tom is above it, however, while Kendra just doesn’t seem to care. Tom studies until the break of dawn, and Kendra just parties until the break of dawn. Perhaps they are the parallel lines- she may have been the subject of his lyrics this morning- not that I remember any of those lyrics. They both just want to gain acceptance, but only Kendra has acceptance. But who am I to judge people based on what they write?
Who am I to judge?
Who am I?
Who am?
Who- I’m going too far.
So as I sat down for lunch, I decided to sit with Tom, and sit with Kendra the next day..
“You mean you’re abandoning us?” Stacey exclaims.
“Just for the next two days. It’s for the story.” I say.
Stacey groans, and says “Fine. Just don’t do anything you wouldn’t do.” She pauses, and says  “That was the catchphrase I wish I had.”
I leave Cara and Stacey behind, and I go sit with Tom. He’s  just eating his hamburger quietly. No one disturbs him, and he doesn’t disturb anyone. I better not get into another tangent about him again.
I say, feeling nervous but relieved at the same time, “Tom, I’m sitting with you today.”

* * *

“I knew that was a bad idea- Tom’s now your first kiss!” Cara yells at me. I walk into the bathroom, kind of wanting to cry. Tom pulled me over and kissed me when I sat down, right on the lips, in front of the world. Lunch stopped, and as I pulled away from his lips, I yelled at him.
“I wanted to like you… I really did. But seriously? I… don’t know what to say. It’s just… ARGH.”
I’m not the most articulate person ever. But that’s not the point, is it?
I went on for a while, but then I finally said something worthwhile. “Just… leave me alone. I really hate to say it, because underneath all that lust, you’re quite nice, but Leave. Me. Alone.”
Nobody in the lunch knew whether to laugh or applaud. So they did  both. Either way, it would not make me feel less terrible. So here I am now in the Bathroom, watching my back to make sure Tom’s not there. He’s probably waiting outside, waiting to say something like “I’m a man, I can’t help it. I’m sorry. You’re everything to me. I want to spend the rest of my life with you by my side.
“Ellery! I’m sorry! You’re everything to me!” I faintly hear from the boy’s bathroom.  
“Dammit, Cara, I know it was a bad idea. “ I finally reply. “There goes my plan to sit with Kendra too.”
“Yeah… just sit with us. You’re safe with me and Stacey. Always.” Cara’s attempt at comforting me isn’t helping me at all- like when I tried to console her about David. Cara couldn’t bear not having David by her side, and it took her a while to get over him. I never helped, just spurting the clichés that I once did for her. Cara introduced me to the word Cliche, after David said that she was one. After that, I started to become aware of the fact that I spoke in words written by others in movies I had seen. But back to the bathroom;
“Thanks.” I lie.
“I know you don’t really mean that.” Cara says to me. “I said that to David when… when he broke up with me!”
She reduces herself to a pile of tears.
“It’s okay, Cara- you can do better than him.” I respond.
“No I can’t. I can’t, I tell you!” Cara cries.
“Of course you can. I mean, just be lucky Tom doesn’t like you.” I say, but I then hear a scream from the other bathroom.
“WHY DO I HAVE TO KEEP HEARING THIS?” Tom yells. “I JUST WANT ELLERY. I NEED SOMEONE ELSE TO TALK TO. I CAN’T BE FOREVER ALONE.”
“I mean, Tom is nice sometimes. ” I quickly add.
“Wait, what did I just hear? Ellery said something nice about me?”
“I like you, Tom! You’re awesome!” I keep saying.
“If only that like could be a love.” Tom replies.
“Should I say it?” I ask Cara, and she replies “Sure. Go ahead. Ruin your-”
“I love you, Tom! You are a terrific human being!” I finish.
“Yay!” Tom shouts, and I exit the bathroom.
It’s hard to be honest to a boy like Tom. So I took the easy route. I lied to him. At least I really, really, really hope I did.

7.

I walk home alone, turning around to see the last glimpse  of my school before I make a sharp right. I become tired, my feet dragging me along slower and slower until I finally enter my home, my apartment building.
“Hey!” the doorman says, “How was your day?”
I don’t answer, as I never do.
I take the elevator up to the 23rd floor, and finally enter my room. My parents are not home, as they never are. We used to have some kind of nanny, taking me to school, making me breakfast, and when I was 5, even tucking me into bed at 6:30 pm. I got older, and my parents became busier, and eventually the nanny left, as I could take care of myself. My parents never come home until 11:00, working every day, so it’s always just me, living alone. It gets very lonely in here.

Naturally, the first thing I do is go on my laptop computer and check my email. Tom sent me a link to a website, so I click on it. The top of the page says “Eleanor Rigby- The Beatles.” I almost close it, but then I imagine what would happen if I didn’t listen to the song.

Don’t you like that song? Tom would say.
I… don’t know it at all. I would say, even though never really talk like that.
YOU LIED TO ME! JUST LIKE YESTERDAY, WHEN YOU SAID YOU LOVED ME?
Okay, that might have been a little dramatic, but then again, so is Tom.
So I press play. The song starts, and I hear harmonies flying out of the speakers, asking the listener to “look at all the lonely people.” After the beginning, I don’t pay much attention until the last section of the song:
Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved
All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?
Not knowing the rest of the song’s lyrics, I don’t know what the writers intended it to be about.
It fits Tom, though- perhaps that is why he wanted to send me the song. To show how well it fits his personality. If Tom passed away tomorrow, many would call it a tragedy, but I doubt anyone would care after two weeks. But I would. I would care if anyone passed away, even if I didn’t like them. After all, didn’t someone have to know and love Eleanor Rigby?
Doesn’t someone have to love Tom? His parents? Does he have any friends?
Cara and Stacey do love me… or at least tolerate me. Even they cannot tolerate Tom. He’s the lonely person the Beatles sing about- he is a male Eleanor Rigby.
Why am I being so poetic all of a sudden? Ever since Tom followed me into the bathroom two days ago, I have become more introspective, questioning Tom’s actions as well as my own. Now I have come to the point where I am asking questions played on a vinyl record 50 years ago.
I look at the time. 4:30. I start my homework, attempting to forget my needless digression.
I fail.

Time passes.

I look again. 5:30. I then look down on my laptop.
I have done nothing.

More time passes.

I finally finish at 7:30, and I go back to listening to Eleanor Rigby. Normally I talk to Stacey and Cara now, but I cannot pull myself away from the song. I feel worse and worse for the lonely people every time I listen to it. Especially Tom.
Tom must listen to this song every night. But not like I am now.
I just listen to the strings, the beautiful harmonies  and the lyrics coming into my ears.
Meanwhile, Tom probably cries when he listens to this song. He knows he’s a lonely person doesn’t he? He knows he’ll never have me. He knows he never will have anyone, that he’ll die alone and be buried at a funeral where nobody comes. Except for me. I’ll come, if only because I’ve thought about him way too much.
I find there is no way for Tom to escape my thoughts- not that the real Tom would want to. It makes me wonder if Tom found a way to enter my mind.
That would be quite an interesting story- the one I would have been waiting for since I was three.
The fantasy musical thingy that I keep forgetting to write about..
But no, I’m stuck with conflicting feelings for an outcast.
The only way he could escape my head is sleep.
Though it’s 8:15, I find no reason to stay awake, so I walk slowly to my bedroom, brush my teeth, and finally sleep.

At night, I have a dream about Tom.
Ironic, huh?

I wake up. The sky is pure darkness as I get out of my bed. I walk into the bathroom, and close the door. Just as I’m about to brush my teeth, I look in the mirror and I don’t see my face. I see the face of Tom, that face I always avoid. I go closer to the mirror, and he does too. “No.” I mouth, and he mouths the same thing back.
Suddenly, he jumps out of the mirror, jumping out of the glass as it shatters into a million pieces. Then I realize; he’s jumping toward ME, waiting to grab me in painful slow motion.
I try to run away, but the door isn’t locked. Except there isn’t a door- there is only darkness. Before I fall inside, I see one last glimpse of Tom’s face before I disappear forever.

8.

I wake up. A blue sky replaces the pure darkness of my dream. I walk into the bathroom, hoping that I can see my own face again. I slowly open the door, and for a moment I don’t recognize my face. Are these my hands? Is this my hair? Do I look like this?  I slap myself in the face. Of course it’s me! Finally, I begin dissecting my dream. What the hell was that dream about? Is there a part of me just like Tom? That must be what it was about. But is it the part that spends hours on end listening to Eleanor Rigby? The part that used to listen to Linkin Park?
The part that I’m an outcast with two friends?
I ignore my inner rambling -maybe that’s the part- and continue with my day. I walk to my parents’ room. They’re asleep, so I have to fend for myself once again. I put in four waffles to the toaster, and wait. While I wait, I turn on my laptop. My email is waiting for me again, and this time I see Tom sent no less than 500 emails to me. Almost all of them say things like:
Do you like the song?”
“My psychologist says I’m like Eleanor Rigby- do you agree?”
“Helloooo? Do you agree with that or not?”
“YOU NEVER RESPOND TO ME! :-(”
There isn’t any text in the actual emails- just subject lines.
I’m glad he doesn’t know my phone number.
The toaster dings, and I quickly take the waffles out and eat. I check my blurry watch, and it says 7:30. I overslept yet again! I run to school, and almost forget my backpack. Finally, at what I think is 8:00, I come to school, and realize that I read my watch wrong- it is 7:00 am. I’m all alone in the halls of my school, and I do nothing until I notice a shadow lurking on the wall.
Who else could it be but

“Hi, Tom. I know you’re there. I’m doing ay(
She will eventually date Tom, but she won’t be happy. When she does realize she isn’t happy, she will try and break up with Tom. Ellery will then realize she can’t break up with Tom or else she will hurt his feelings.)

Joshua Copperman
Age 14, Grade 8,
Writopia Lab
Gold Key

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