• Soro

Abandoning Empathy

The sunlight looks warm against my closed eyes. I feel connected to this tree against my back. There’s a shiver across the field, up my spine, and I giggle back. Drake’s on the other side of the field, also giggling. Co’s rambling, flat against the grass, staring at the sky. Roy’s speaker is bouncing notes from leaf to leaf. Emily’s running, laughing, yelling, blazing a trail wherever she goes. Will’s eyes look like everywhere he looks, he’s never been so interested in anything before.

Clearly, it kicked in. Music is reverberating through my bones. The trees are swaying and waving their branches at me. Every bit of blue sky that passes between each leaf creates new colors that I’m not sure I’m really seeing, but maybe I just never noticed. I went to school, and found Will. Will had a class with Roy, Roy got us a job, and that’s how we found Co and Emily. Drake’s just along for the ride as Will’s little brother, but we got him a job too.

After months of studying together and working together, we formed a close-knit circle. Every day was a team effort, and every night was a party. We had fun jobs, good futures, and great times, so the memories are hard to forget. Looking back, greed, and jealousy seemed to be the thing that really ruined us. But sometimes I wonder if in reality, it was me, trading energies, but not equally exchanging what was given to me.

Drake’s high for the fourth time that night. He’s kind of off, but alright. Every time he gets near me, I start laughing. I think I can’t stop cracking up because he’s sitting too close to me. His thoughts are too close to mine, I can feel it. He’s odd and so am I. Some of us just happen to hide it better. Since he’s the baby of the group, I feel like I can help him. I understand being like him: looking a little weird, talking a little funny, being bullied. I understand how sometimes things come out the wrong way when you say it, and no one understands, so you close yourself off, tired of trying to communicate. I figured some of it out, and thought maybe he could too.

I told him “focus on yourself, and with a capital F, forget everyone else, because they don’t matter”. I wish I could remember that. Co’s starting to cry, she told us her story so I knew why. Back then I thought I could feel her pain. Her heart’s still broken, but she’s almost done. She’s wondering how someone who was supposed to love her so much could have been so cruel: being abandoned, being told you have no drive, being led on to believe that you found your future. She thought she made a family, instead, she was left behind.

I had no clue what she was going through, but I was going to find out soon enough. She tried so hard, but nothing changed. She was better off being cold than getting hurt again. I think she joined our group to avoid feeling alone. Roy somehow has the audacity, and the ability to be flirting with both Emily and Co. Acting as our self-proclaimed ringleader, he brought us together when we were looking for adventure. I saw pieces of Roy because I saw them in me: always having an angle, looking out for yourself, even feigning interest to gain trust. I understood growing up hurt and trying to make sure no one ever has something against you again. We both knew it, but the others didn’t. He told me one day “I feel like you’re the only one who sees through my bullshit”, so we made a secret agreement of not playing the other. I told him it didn't matter as long as we had trust… but we didn’t.

I won in the end, and he lost his friends. I still wonder if it was really what I believed in that made me do it, or if I was just looking out for my own goals. Emily’s running back and forth between us: talking, laughing, yelling, then running off somewhere else. She did everything at a hundred miles an hour with no time to think or stop. She was as crazy as she was amazing. I was infuriated at every step but infatuated at every other. I kept my distance but stayed aware of every moment that I could be a part of.

I wanted to feel what she felt, and be just a little more like her. I wanted that same kind of energy. I just had to wait for her to come down. I was chasing her the whole time, just trying to keep up. I got what I wanted in the end, and even then I knew she’d break my heart. While I have no regrets, I’m exhausted to this day, and I don’t know how to come back.

Will’s examining these little glades we’ve found, carefully studying insects and sketching them as they sit on their leaves. He likes to pick up on the small things. And so he saw little things in me. I’ve never had a better friend. At one point when I sit with him, he tries to ask about the things that keep me to myself. Why in the moments that nothing’s going on, I look like I’m worried. I refuse to open up. He has his own secrets so he feels it next to me. At the same time, he looks up to me. Out of all of our friends, he believes in me the most. He thinks I’m smart and talented enough to make us better places.

That faith is all but gone now. Me, I was just trying to keep my cool. I had a good year and was trying to keep that up. I left my past for the second time. I was working hard, and working out, even practicing my S’s. It had been so long since I had felt that I achieved the best version of myself. Will and Roy believed in me too. We had similar goals, and I showed them the dream, and how to get us there. I made everyone believe I had a game plan for us. But the cards came down, and real-life turned around. They didn’t know I was a fuck up.

I tend to do well and get lost at how to finish what I’m doing like I’m scared of my own success. And now I sit here, no longer the person that I want to be. More so, I feel like a regression into what I hate most about myself. I wonder if my success came from the people I had around me, but I had given them up for love.

Drake was left behind: No one wanted to carry him along anymore. Roy’s schemes were revealed and so he left and took Co with him. I had Emily for a moment until my insecurities became too apparent, and so I also became too much to carry along. Will and I live together, but he’ll be on his way out soon. He’s sick of my shit, and so am I. Now I lay in my room, trying to find that better version of myself, wishing to go back to when we all had each other in the glades, blissfully happy, and productive.

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