You sat in the back of your math class with an irritably bored look on your face, casting frequent glances up at the teacher, who was in the front of the room explaining stuff that you had absolutely no idea about, and down to your partially unfinished history homework, which was partly hidden in your desk. One advantage of sitting in the back of this class was that you could've done your homework in peace without anybody, even the teacher, to disrupt you. And you were quiet all the time, which only added to your sense of invisibility. Throughout the whole year you had been focusing on your homework so frequently that you didn’t even know all the kids who were in your math class.
You lifted your head and took a quick glance at the clock it the front of the room, your heart sinking when you realized there were only ten minutes left of class. I have to finish this homework! you thought crossly as you drifted your gaze back down to it, trying to drown out the teacher’s endless chattering with your thinking.
It seemed like only two minutes passed until the bell rang and everyone in the room began to gather their things and head out the door. You sighed as you closed your history textbook and quickly stuffed it in your backpack before the teacher could've gotten any ideas. You took the piece of paper that held your incomplete homework and shoved it inside your backpack as well before you zipped it up and flung it over your shoulder, taking some books in one arm and walking towards the front of the room. You were just going to have to finish your homework at the start of the next class.
Just as you were about to head out the door with the rest of the other kids, you felt a hand place itself firmly on your shoulder. You froze, your body stiffening in surprise and annoyance, thinking that the teacher had discovered you doing history homework and wanted to speak to you. Or maybe it was about your failing grades. But you already knew you were failing, so you really didn’t need a reminder.
“I never knew you were in my math class, _____.”
At the sound of a familiar voice, your eyes slightly widened and you whipped around to stare directly into the eyes of Arthur, who was looking back at you with a tiny smile on his face.
For a few seconds you were silent as you had forgotten what to say, and all you could've done was pathetically stare at him with your mouth slightly open in surprise and confusion. How long had he been in your class and you weren’t aware of it?! Why weren’t you aware of it?
“A-Arthur...I...I-I, uh....” you paused and mentally facepalmed when you realized how stupid you must've been sounding. Finally after a few slightly awkward seconds you cleared your throat and took a deep breath before you met Arthur’s gaze calmly and confusingly. “I...I never knew that you were in my math class...either.”
Well, that sounded dumb.
Arthur frowned and replied, “_____, are you even aware of the people who are in your class?”
You were stunned for a moment before you cleared your throat and met his gaze confidently. “O-Of course I am! Why wouldn’t I be?”
The frown on hiss face was still prominent. “Well, I'm sure that if you had actually paid attention to what was going on around you, you wouldn’t have acted like you’ve never seen me before when you had bumped into me last week, and you most likely would've noticed me in your class a day or less after our encounter instead of now.”
“Oh...” you murmured as you lowered your gaze down to your feet and rubbed the back of your neck with your hand a bit uncomfortably. “I guess....”
“What were you doing today in class, anyway?” Arthur asked you a bit curiously.
You were silent for a few seconds before you replied quietly. “I...I was paying...attention to what was being talked about.”
“Oh, really?” You were able to hear Arthur’s voice edged with disbelief as he crossed his arms and stared at you though slightly narrowed eyes. “So tell me what was being talked about.”
You were silent for a few long, awkward moments, and when you reluctantly lifted your head to look up at him you found him staring at you with his gaze filled with doubt. That was when you realized that there was no point in lying to him when he already knew how inattentive you were throughout the majority of your classes. You sighed before you once again dropped your gaze down to the ground. “Okay, I wasn't paying attention.”
“So I thought,” Arthur replied simply. You weren’t able to detect anger in his voice; just the concern of someone who wanted to make your life better. “And why weren’t you paying attention?”
“Because I was doing homework,” you mumbled, dropping your voice so that your teacher wouldn’t have heard you. The two of you were still in the math room, after all.
“And why were you doing homework?” Arthur asked you.
“Because I didn’t finish it from the night before,” you replied in that same tone.
“And why didn’t you finish it the night before?” he persisted.
You lifted your head to look up at him a bit irritably. “Why are you asking me all these questions?”
Arthur looked back at you unflinchingly, his gaze just as hard as it was before. “Because I want you to understand why you do what you do.”
“I already understand why I do what I do!” you replied indignantly. “You would think that if I go through the same procedure, the same ordeal every single day, I wouldn’t—”
“No, _____, you don’t understand.” Arthur cut you off abruptly as he placed his hand firmly on your shoulder, once again causing you to stiffen at his touch. You hated being touched, especially by people you didn’t really know all that well, but you didn’t dare pull back as you stared into his intense gaze. But the hardness that it held just seconds ago was replaced by sadness, concern, and pity, and after a few seconds of silence, Arthur continued quietly, “_____, if you understood what you were doing, if you understood the consequences it had, if you understood the kind of negative impact it has on you, you would've tried a long, long time ago to stop it.”
“B-But I do understand what I'm doing!” you retorted as you stared back at him angrily. “I know I procrastinate, I know that my life is a mess, I know I'm failing, I know that I'm—”
“_____, if you understood what was happening, you would always try your hardest to get rid of your problems and you would want to make your life easier,” Arthur interrupted, his voice slowly rising.
“What are you talking about?” you asked loudly, staring at him with a look of frustration. “I do want to make my life easier! More than anything, I want to stop procrastinating, get rid of the mess that my life is—”
“So why don’t you?” Arthur’s voice had risen to almost a yell as he grasped both of your shoulders tightly and stared at you with a look of anger. “If you want to make your life better and get rid of all your troubles so desperately, why don’t you ever try to do so? Why have you just so simply allowed yourself to put up with this for three years and continued to let your life collapse like this? Why don’t you ever try to do something good for yourself or your grades or your life for a change?”
“Because I can't!” you cried as you roughly shoved Arthur’s hands away from you, causing him to take a step back. “I told you before that I can't. Every single time I try, I fail. I fail at solving my problems. I fail at solving my work. I fail at taking care of myself. I fail at everything!”
Before you gave him time to reply, you spun around and stormed out the door, making your way down the hall to your next class as anger flamed inside you. Why is it so hard for him to understand that I can't solve my own problems?! you thought frustratingly. Why can't he just leave me alone?
“_____, wait!” You were able to hear Arthur’s voice behind you, but you ignored him as you continued walking swiftly down the hallway, trying to focus on nothing but getting to your next class.
But you hadn’t been aware of the fact that he had been running to catch up to you, and your eyes widened in surprise when you felt him suddenly grab your arm and spin you around so that you were facing him once again. “Let go of me!” you said irritably as soon as you recovered from your brief fit of surprise, actively struggling to break free from Arthur’s tight hold on your arms.
But instead, he continued to stare at you, his gaze filled with determination and concern. “_____, stop and listen to me,” he demanded.
Judging by the tone in his voice, you figured that you had no choice but to obey, and reluctantly forced yourself to relax and look up to meet his gaze with a bit of irritation. He had gotten uncomfortably close to you, even though he wasn't really that close, and you took a tiny step back just to put more space between the both of you. “What?” Your voice wasn't very welcoming as your gaze burned into his. “Why can't you just leave me alone?”
“Because I told you before that I want and am going to help you,” Arthur said to you, his voice hard and firm. “_____, no matter what you think, you can solve your problems. To you it might seem like it’s impossible, but there are people somewhere in another part of the world who have faced even greater challenges than you and were still able to overcome them. All you need to do is just plan your time and believe that you can fix your problems. Thinking that you aren’t able to make your life easier won't help you at all.”
“It’s easy for you to say,” you muttered as you lowered your gaze down to the floor. “You don’t know what it’s like to procrastinate all the time, fail every class, and practically sleepwalk through the day every day because you’ve gotten less than five hours of sleep.”
“Yes, well, I know what it feels like to go through something else that had a negative impact on my life,” Arthur replied a bit bitterly. A few moments passed in silence before he finally removed his hands from your shoulders, and you took a big step back, thankful to be rid of the awkwardness of his touch.
“_____, can you promise me something?” You lifted your head and found Arthur staring at you, the look on his face once again replacing with concern. After you gave him an intent gaze, he continued. “Can you promise me that you would go home after school today, do your homework immediately, and go to bed early?”
You were silent for a few moments before you shut your eyes tight and clenched your fists in frustration. “I can't promise anything!” you said a bit too loudly. “Don’t think that I’ll be able to fix my problems all in one night!”
“I don’t think that at all,” Arthur murmured. “But I want you to at least try and start to fix some of them.”
You opened your eyes and lifted your gaze to look at him and found him staring at you with a frown prominent on his face. “I don’t know,” you said simply. “I can make some kind of an attempt, but don’t get your hopes up.”
With that, you turned around and walked towards your next class, which you were already late for, not even bothering to turn around and take one last look at Arthur.
Come on, you can do this. You tapped your pencil impatiently against your desk, your lamp on, trying hard to focus on the text in front of you. It was 5:30 pm; you were in your room, your science textbook open in front of you. The atmosphere was unusually quiet, your laptop was off, and you squirmed in your seat, trying hard to focus.
Why was it so easy for you to concentrate in the library but so hard for you to concentrate at home?
You switched your gaze back and forth from your textbook to your clock, which read 5:30, to 5:45, and finally to 6.
“I can't do this!” you cried as you slammed your textbook shut and stood up from your chair quickly, not even bothering to wince as you heard a loud bang when it collided with the floor.
You turned around and stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind you, prepared to watch TV and make yourself dinner.
Who does he think he is? you thought angrily. If he thinks that I can try to stop procrastinating, he still doesn’t know me at all!