In The Depths

Loneliness is like a deep dark void, with nowhere to go and nowhere to hide. As much as I try, I just get deeper into the depths of loneliness, and into the depths of my soul. I just want to get out. I don't deserve this.

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15. Adaption

Walking with crutches is like skipping on quicksand. Every step is a pain to my shoulders, every second adds stress to my one working leg. 

I find myself occasionally putting my left foot onto the floor out of habit, causing a jolt of agonizing pain up into my thigh and waist. I'm more than happy when Will asks me if he can try them out.

So, here we are, the trio of pubescent young adults sitting in a grassy field next to a playground. The grass tickles my palms as I lay down on them. The sky is bright blue with specks of white clouds smeared across the atmosphere.

"Leg's still hurting?" Harry asks from beside me. 

"Not really my leg, more like my hip." I sigh, carefully bending my knee. "It's so hard to do anything with this injury."

I catch Will taking a monster leap with my crutches, causing him to clumsily fall onto the grass. His cursing is anything but pleasant. "How do you manage?" Will stands up again.

"They're an excuse to be lazy."

Harry is humming something from beside me. I take a second to look at him. The sun lights up the bridge of his nose, the rays glassing over his lime green irises. As he closes his long eyelashes, his humming crescendos into the chorus of whatever song it is. I smile. 

"I don't think I can act," I say.

"Um, well," Harry stops humming and looks at me. "I called Francisco ten minutes ago. He should be arriving soon. You guys are going to talk about your acting."

"It would suck if I have to stop acting because of this." I point to my hip. "I mean, I just started, and it had to me who got shot. It's not like there's a crazy madman running around with a pistol every day."  

Harry's hand covers mine; I swallow. His palms are rough and hard, but his smooth fingertips are sleek with gentleness. We meet eyes, my ocean blues devouring his soft greens.

"Louis." His voice is dark, stressed. "I could have been the one who got shot, and you knew that. It would be me with crutches, not you. It's not like I had anything to loose like you do, Louis."

I tense up under his touch. He's angry at me for saving him.

He continues, "I don't understand why you would do something as stupid as to get shot voluntarily."

I feel a draft of anger loom over me. If anything, he should be grateful for having one less injury to worry about. But no, instead he is angry at me for saving his life. 

"Are you serious? I saved your life. You would have gotten shot straight in the thigh. I just got grazed by the bullet, but you would have been shot through the front and out the back. Blood would have been everywhere." I take a deep breath. "I feel sorry for you."

"Are you-"

A familiar voice drenches the scene like a pause button. "Hold up, you two bickering pancakes." Francisco smiles down at us, ugly Christmas sweater and all. His hair is carefully braided against his head and a small mustache forms on his lip, unshaven from this morning.

"Sorry," Harry mumbles, standing up. "We got carried away."

"Don't let the ocean of words pull you in." He pats Harry's back. "It's a strong tide."

"Um."

Will jogs up to us and drops my crutches next to me. I feel small compared to everybody else standing up, like a pebble rolling in a field of boulders.

"Louis," Francisco smiles and sits down next to me.

"Hey." I return the smile halfheartedly. 

"Alright, so this whole shot-in-the-hip deal is pretty much an anchor with an obsession of going downwards." Francisco fishes a red apple from his book bag and hungrily bites into it. 

"Your use if metaphors is intriguing."

He nods as the skin of the apple breaks from the force of his teeth. I wonder how he keeps his teeth so incredibly white. Maybe they just seem white against the natural darkness of his skin. Or maybe he only eats fruits and never has had a carbonated drink touch those pearly whites in his life. 

'It's going to be awfully hard going across the stage with a major limp. I can already imagine the pain you must be feeling." He eyes my hip. "Though the suicidal actions and injuries Javert receives will be a lot more believable, do you really think you can make it without crutches?"

Overwhelming silence settles in between us, taking its time before I open my mouth. "I don't know, but I really want to continue acting. This is sort of a once in a lifetime chance, y'know?"

Francisco laughs to himself under his breath. "I do know. When I was a kid in Ireland, people made fun of me. I was bullied immensely by the kids in my basically all white school because I was African-American. So when the school opened a drama club, along with a theater, I was all in. I thought exactly what you did: Once in a lifetime opportunity."

I imagine Francisco at age ten, with a red collar shirt that was too big for his thin structure. His shorts reaching past his knees, feet covered by huge high-tops. His hair would be curly and sticking out in every direction if not tamed by dreadlocks. I suppress a laugh. 

"So, let me guess. You started acting and you ignored all the bullying? I would assume acting was your utopia, like it is for me." I stare at him, focusing on his worn down face. His consuming eyebrows and set features tell me that he's been through many numerous traumatizing events, but still he pushed through. 

"Exactly. I once broke my arm in third grade, the day of 'The Wizard of Oz'. My green cast stood out against my rustic overalls. But my teacher told me this: 'It doesn't matter if you're cripple, or even brain-damaged, or even pregnant. I hope you ain't pregnant, kid. But, if you can act, you can act, so hopefully your wonderful acting will draw the audience's attention from your broken limb to your booming words.'" He starts to nibble on the core of his apple.

A spark of hope rises within me. This means that I have a chance, I can continue acting. "So I can stay in the play?"

"Does cheese come from a cow?" He smiles.

"What the Hell?" Will pipes in from a foot away. 

"Shut up, man!" Francisco yells. Suddenly his wise persona is gone, replaced with the humorous, sarcastic man one's grown to love.

He turns to me, and mutters, "Of course you can continue being in my play. I don't know why I didn't just tell you that in the first place." The swallows the core of his apple-to my disgust-and continues, "I have to go. I'm late for my Food Network Marathon." 

He blows Harry a humorous kiss and runs off without saying goodbye. 

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