Cam looked up at Zack, then down at the floor. They were both dressed the same, red sweater, white shirt and black tie. The school uniform. If Cam had been standing he would have been several inches taller than Zack, but Zack stood over him and gazed down.
"Cam, c'mon," Zack used his pleading voice. Cam glared at him, pushed his hair off his forehead and looked down again.
"No, Zack. No. Don't you get it? I'm not going with you to class, to the movies after school, to your house, nowhere. Now leave me alone,"
Zack shook his head and walked away slowly, out of the dim and dusty library with the long old windows set deep into the walls. Cam wasn't mad at him, he knew, but life in general. He'd watched things pile up on Cam in the past few weeks and knew that he was heading for one of his slumps. Girl rejection, failing tests, getting caught at little things he should have been able to get away with, his parents coming down on him about the tests and the detentions, Zack could see it coming alright.
He headed to class himself, Algebra, a real snooze class. And Cam would be skipping, and getting in more trouble. But that was the self-destructive way Cam could get when he was pushed to the wall. He always made the bad situation worse.
In the class Zack squirmed through the roll call and the silence after Cam's name was called. The teacher, an almost painfully thin man with softly graying hair, looked right at him.
"Zack, where is your friend?"
"Who? Cam? Uh, haven't seen him,"
"Oh no? Because he isn't on the absent list which means that at some point today he was here. If you know where he is I would suggest you convince him to join the class, unless he wants consequences beyond a detention,"
"Well, I might have some idea of where he is…"
"Then I would suggest you go and get him, so go,"
Zack stood up, walked slowly from the classroom back to the library. Cam was where he had left him. He didn't look up or acknowledge him in any way.
"Cam? I'm talking to you, can't you at least talk back?"
"What Zack? What?"
"I was sent to get you for Algebra class,"
"Well, I'm not going. Didn't I just tell you that?"
Zack sighed. This had happened once before, this slump, and he hadn't been able to get through to him then, either.
"Look, Cam, the teacher said the consequences are going to be a lot worse than just detention unless you get to that class so I suggest you come with me,"
"Jesus, Cam. Can't you see that you're making things worse? Now come to this stupid class with me or I'll drag you there,"
Nothing. Cam just looked at his black school shoes and the dusty wooden floor. Zack had had it. He grabbed Cam's sleeve and pulled him out of the chair. Cam stumbled then shook free from Zack's grasp.
"Alright, God, I'll go with you. Quit pulling me,"
The teacher smiled thinly at Zack and frowned at Cam, but Cam hardly seemed to notice. He sat at his desk, his chin resting on his hand, and stared into space. Zack didn't like it. He didn't like it at all.
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 6 7 8 9 0
"I'm worried about Cam," He said to the girl with the long brown hair and apple cheeks. Mary. She smiled at him.
"I'm sure he's fine. Everyone gets upset once in awhile,"
"Yeah, but this is different. He's not just upset, he's beyond that. I'm worried, that's all,"
Mary tilted her head and smiled at him again.
"That's sweet. You're a good friend,"
"I guess," But he didn't feel like a good friend because he didn't know what to do or how to help him. He'd have to figure out a way.