He’s Barely Alive

They didn’t know he could hear them. Night after night they’d sit in the kitchen and talk about him. “What’s wrong with him?” “He just sits around all day dreaming.” “He’s barely alive.”

He was sick of overhearing. He was sick of the worried looks and the forced smiles they gave him when he walked into the kitchen to get a glass of milk or a snack. He knew they’d be shaking their heads when he was gone.

He tried so hard to be what they wanted him to be and he failed. He was not the athlete his father envisioned. Nor did he have an artistic streak her mother pined for. He was just him. Not the overachiever his parents, two overachievers themselves, expected would come from his mother’s womb.

They never asked “what is it you’re dreaming of son?” Which was probably for the best; he didn’t know.

Until he did. He stayed closeted in his room as before. His parents didn’t realize it, but he was more alive than he had ever been. Numbers. He saw numbers. Each morning he awoke with a brain full of numbers and calculations. His world suddenly made sense. His world.