Liam Thomson, Staff Writer

The noise of the school filled his ears. It was all he heard: gossip whispers, clattering shoe heels, rustling papers, and creaking doors. For someone else, it might have felt good to live in the moment, but not for him-he was stuck in the moment. He was a warden in his own prison.

He continued on through the school’s halls, looking around at what might have been refuge at a time, but was now a place of inhospitality. How he viewed the world brought not sorrow, not joy–just apathy. Everything–the bricks, the stucco, even the green grass–seemed duller, fogged, as if he was seeing the world through a veil or screen, limiting what really was and what he wanted to see.

His footsteps trudged and shuffled along on the stone-cold concrete, a plain rhythm of scrapes and pounds, scraping and pounding, scraping and pounding. Everything seemed like that now–ever since his parents had gotten the offer, he had been afraid to change.

But he had changed, and his character was starting to show through. He had become rougher, meaner, and more sensitive, something he thought about as he stared at the visibly endless walls of his high school, wondering if it was ever going to get better. He already knew the answer.

The bell rang, directing him toward his last period in an almost autonomous routine. He walked in the door, not replying when his teacher said hello, not even looking at the pretty girl he had admired for years now. He barely heard the end of passing period, nor the teacher take roll.

The class seemed to go on for an eternity. He wondered if this was how people lived in the underworld. His head drooped, staring at normalcy: the sheen of fake wood and the dull carpeting. When the bell rang, he didn’t bother to say goodbye. Nobody cared.

He got to the door first, taking brisk, wide strides. Everyone looked surprised at how he moved just then and, frankly, he was surprised also. That little bit of energy, after so much lethargy, seemed to break loose in an effort to get away from it all. In one second it was there, the other it was gone; he slouched at the door, opening it and walking out into the surprisingly crowded hallway. 

The door started to close, nearly crashing into a student. In another blazing fury, he rushed to the door and caught it. And caught it still.

After the student had walked away, surprised, he wanted to close the door. Get away from the cause of his suffering and just go home. But something held him back. Something inside of him wanted to stay, to give back. Perhaps that little bit of energy had helped him transform back from beast to man? He didn’t know. But the fact was simple: it astonished everyone in the room that he caught the door and held it.

And he continued to hold it, for all of his peers who walked by, holding no hatred of any. At one point, the girl he had idolized for so long stopped and said, “Thank you.”

Those two words were what he had pined for. Hearing her light voice and seeing her dazzling smile was all he needed. Some of that energy came back again, taking the same form, only more extreme. He felt it inside himself, radiating around the group of people. He made eye contact with her and smiled. When she waved, the reformation began. Students were streaming through the door, now thanking him and giving compliments. He felt the moment that came after could last forever.


The boy’s sister was waiting nervously at home. She was on edge about how her brother had been acting, how he had taken the news. She wondered how to help him, trying every way she could, but he seemed closed, shut off from her soothing remedies. 

All this culminated in extreme nervousness when the door suddenly burst open, with her brother in the frame. He sighed and walked forward. And then it happened.

The two siblings were locked in a deep embrace, something that had not happened since their parents took the offer. She knew that something finally happened, some miracle by God or otherwise, that changed him enough to do this. Letting her go, he stood up and said two words that she would never forget.

“I’m sorry.”

She stared at him with sympathy, with sorrow, with a flurry of emotions as she hugged him again, hearing him repeat the words. “I’m sorry, I was upset about the job, I should have been kind…”

She let him go and said, “What happened today?”

He said something that surprised her. “I held open a door. Just like you did for me.”

And he smiled.