Spoilers: 1x03- The Kindness of Strangers.
CHAPTER 1: Of Vice and Men
He knows that years later he'd probably look back and laugh hard about this. The kind that produces a dull ache in the stomach, disables to get up or do anything but keep laughing, like a possessed man. He knows that in time, this won't really matter. He won't even laugh, probably. Because he won't remember any of this. Time's funny like that, he always thought. Erasing bad times, erasing good times. Everything becomes trivial as time goes by. What's his disaster comparing to a car crash? Or a plague?
What does it matter that he stays up every night, cries every night, trying to sleep, desperate to sleep. Because the next day is holding a hope, of a better day, or worse even, but something that isn't today. Something that he may know how to handle. Because he's no so young anymore, he just knows so, he should know to handle those things. Pressure is just another obstacle in the way of getting the things he wants, his mother used to say. You can conquer those obstacles, Jack; you just have to want it hard enough.
So he tries. Even though he doesn't really know what he wants, he tries. He really does. But as try as he might, crying and sleeping are not going very well together, only one can occupy his mind. He's not gifted, never has being. And multitasking, it's the privilege of the gifted.
He never tells his mom about it because what's the point? There are more important things in the world than his own private insomnia. And if him not bothering her with nonsense gets the world better, why should he matter? The world may be not a place for heroes, but he sometimes thinks that even if it was, he's not cut to be one.
The mornings that come after are never better. They start with a question mark- will this day change something? But even while asking that he doesn't believe it will, probably still thinks himself as special. So instead of getting up he often chooses to hide under the covers, a coward, hoping that the swelling on his eyes will disappear if only he could sleep a bit more. But when he wakes up again- it's even worse. He can hardly open his eyes, and though it's better in a way, who wants to see the world anyway, he knows it's wrong. But this is only intellectually speaking. The truth is, he doesn't give a damn.
But he gets up anyways. Because people are starving in Africa and women have fought for their right from the beginning of time, and are still misused. Because why should one night of one person make a difference?
He buys sunglasses and refuses to get them off. It's for the pose, but also because that way it's ok that he's crying at nights like a baby. Like Bobby used to do when dad left.
Not that it matters. He doesn't really want his dad to come back.
No. he doesn't really want to. And black sunglasses, well, they're cool.
And then one day he leans over a lake, gazing over the horizon, trying to see beyond, and the glasses fall over, splashing loudly and he's sure that somewhere in the grand scheme of things he just made an innocent fish die.
He wants to care. He really does. But black people have fought for the right to speak for ages, and are still being shut up, demarcation is yet to be properly defended and rights are yet to be engraved on stones. What does one fish matters?
What does one fight?
In that night he doesn't sleep, again. And that is weird, mainly because he didn't notice that somewhere along the way he started to finally falling asleep again. But now it was taken away again and somehow that seems fair. One should always appreciate things when he had them, and he neglected to pay attention when the world has given him a favor. So it's ok, it taught him gratitude.
Why does sleeping matter anyway? How many fires are murdering people each time that he sleeps?
He wishes he could say that now he learnt his lesson and that by now he's overwhelmed with gratitude for his father. He tries to be, maybe then he'll be back . But he knows it's stupid. And he's not a baby anymore. He's on the 8th grade, a grownup.
And grownups don't believe in superstitions, everybody told him. Even though dad used to knock on wood to deflect a bad luck and when grandma was still alive, she use to pray every Sunday.
And what God is if not a superstition?
"Jack, is everything ok?" Bobby asks. And he hates it that though his brother is younger than he is, he sometimes behaves much more maturely. But his brother is special. He always has been, while Jack has chosen anonymously. And in that moment he has an epiphany, the kind that he always saw in movies but never actually believed he'd have himself. Well, what did he know?
"Yeah, everything is going to be great. Go back to sleep." He grumbles but he can see that his brother understands his meaning. Just the way he understands that the burn to being special is the thing that separates Bobby from the rest of the world. Bobby doesn't know how to do compromising, like normal human beings. And Jack doesn't want anymore to be extraordinary, he wants to have a home with a white fence and 2 parents and a brother with whom he'd fight and make peace and fight again. And it will be ok to fight without being afraid that that said brother gets an asthma attack, not having to sit in the hospital all by himself because when the ambulance arrived, mom was making a speech far away, half stoned anyway.
But he'd still whisper to his brother that mom was on the next room, she just went to the bathroom, Bobby just missed her. Go back to sleep, little brother. Sleep. Bobby doesn't have to face the world, he's entitles to be special.
He has to be special. Because Jack is not sure anymore that he has the strength to be.
This night he sleeps like hasn't for a long time. He doesn't even wake up in the morning and misses the bus. But that's ok. Who cares about the stupid bus anyway, why should it matter that one boy missed a bus on the first day that he actually began to feel like an adult, when that said bus is contaminating the environment?
Why should it matter that now that he's alone in the house, alone with the noises of the crickets, and he'd never knew that they had cricket in the neighborhood, that he's tearing the paper in his hand. The rainforest are dying, and he's throwing away paper like it's nothing.
The next day he comes to school like nothing happened and when Mr. Chou asks him if he's enthralling to the challenge program, he shrugs and shows him the forged note.
Maybe years later he'd laugh about it but right Jack wants was to be normal. And in a world that no person matter, why should his choice matter, anyway?