Meet Tom [#9]

And suddenly they were no more. No one left alive and Tom stood there, baffled with disbelief of this event. Was it real? Could he be dreaming? Some time went by as Tom stood there, staring at their bodies. It was real and it did happen. 11 years old today. Alone.

Born and raised in a small village, Tom was a quiet boy. He spent most of his days hidden from society, away from human interaction. Sitting in closed rooms, silent surroundings, reading a book or simply staring out closed windows. Tom never felt the need to go outside and play like his peers. He preferred darker places, places of solitude, places no one knew about where he could just be himself. Not being noticed was what made him happy. Not being seen by the judgmental people — especially those that tried too hard to talk to or connect with him — made him feel well. It made him feel uncomfortable to be looked at and he didn’t want that.

He walked head down, looking for small objects on the floor, avoiding eye contact. Everything other than the eyes were okay. A pebble, a feather, the cap of a pen, a crack in a tile, sand, sometimes even a coin, it didn’t matter to Tom, as long as eye contact was avoided. People staring at him, waiting for him to just talk or answer a question. Simple things to some, but for Tom a task beyond reach. Labelled a misfit, Tom had a hard time understanding human behavior and wondered often about motivation. Why stay? Why do they do that? What’s the point? What could they possible be talking about for so long? Tom didn’t get it. Tom didn’t want to get it. He wanted it to stop. Every day. Every day the same plans, the same people and the same noises. Voices on the streets, voices on the bus, voices in the hallway, voices in class, voices in the bathroom, voices and eyes everywhere. It felt like the world tried to communicate through a big solid wall. Compassionate faces, compassionate words, but his heart was past that.

Tom lived with his mother, father and grandmother in a flat. His bent down head, hanging shoulders and dragging feet made him almost a stereotypical depressed child. Maybe he was. He had every right to be and the stereotype is there for a reason. You would feel sorry for him if he stood behind you in the supermarket, if you’d see him ride the bus to school, he can take joy from your daily routine.

The day he turned 11 was one of the best days he had had in his life. His family went all out in this one. They saved money for a day trip to the Zoo where this year they would be able to see the baby tigers who for the first time were open to the public. Tom got up like any other morning and walked to the living room to find his mother, father and grandmother sitting there with great smiles. Tom didn’t see a present in the room, just a small decorated envelope. They started singing. Classic “Happy Birthday”. His father singing at the top of his lungs on this joyous day. Tom smiled from beginning to end and nothing could ruin this perfect day. Nothing…

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