By Venus Wright
There was a boy in his math class whose mom was losing her battle to cancer. Miles was his name. Miles sat two rows in front of Jackson, who took note of the way that Miles often said nothing unless spoken to. How his eyes followed conversations rather than being involved in them. All of their peers had stopped talking to Miles as much, either afraid to upset him or afraid of the topic of cancer and death.
Mr. Duvane hadn’t gotten to class yet so people were standing and chatting around desks in groups. Jackson stood at his friend Spencer’s desk with Max, when he noticed Amanda approach Miles from the corner of his eye. Amanda and Miles had never been friends, Jackson had never even seen them speak to each other before now. Not to mention that Amanda had a way of making fun of her peers for her own benefit. He tuned out the conversation with his friends and eavesdropped on Amanda and Miles.
Amanda leaned down slightly towards Miles at his desk, where he was previously doodling. She taps him on the shoulder and gestures for him to take his headphones off. Miles looks around with his eyes, confused.
“Hey, Miles, I just wanted to see how you’re hangin’ in there.” She said in an all-too-sweet voice.
Her lips turned into an upside down pity smile.
Miles doesn’t say anything, just looks at her.
“This must be a really hard time for you,” she stressed the “really” a little too hard, “I just can’t imagine what it would be like to lose my mom like that! She just means so much to me.”
Again, nothing from Miles, except eyes that should have told Amanda to fuck off.
She pauses and looks away for a second. She takes a short breath before speaking as if to a child, “Was it stage four? You know, when she was diagnosed?”
Miles closed his eyes now. But Jackson had heard enough. Pretending to care about someone’s mother who is literally on her deathbed is beyond fucked up. He walked up to Miles and Amanda, who leaned away upon Jackson’s arrival.
Jackson stared Amanda in the eyes as he asked, “Miles, you wanna go to the vending machine with me real quick? That way Amanda can’t get off on your grief?”
Jackson then turned to look at Miles, who wasn’t smiling, but his eyes were. Amanda got pissed off real quick, eyebrows raised and mouth agape.
“God, I was just trying to be nice,” was said defensively. She turned and walked back to her gaggle of followers, their eyes all flipping to Jackson and Miles.
“Come on, we can explain to Mr. Duvane later.” Jackson said lightheartedly, “we both know she’s full of shit.”
Now Miles smiled.