Failure to Listen

Jason slunk into the far corner of the party room. I don't know why I came to this dumb party, he thought. No one here likes me anyways.

In the center of the room were several people, most of them between the ages of sixteen and eighteen. They were all laughing and joking amongst themselves. They were all having fun.

A tall, blonde girl walked up to Jason. She was the greeter. She met anyone and everyone at the door as they came in and was always there, constantly encouraging outsiders to join in on the main attraction.

"Hey, Jason is it?" she asked, gesturing at the depressed sixteen-year old in the corner.

"Yeah," he said gloomily.

"Well, I'm Ashley and you should join the party!" she said, enthusiastically.

"I'm here, aren't I?" he muttered.

"Well…yeah, but you should talk with people!" she said, plopping beside him on the rough carpet. "What's going on in your life? Tell me!" Jason gave her a disgusted look, but she didn't seem to notice.

"Hmm…doesn't sound like you're talking much," she said. "Tell you what, I will walk to the opposite side of the room really slowly, and then come back. By then will you know what's going on in your life?"

I don't believe this…he thought. She actually expects me to talk.

Ashley didn't wait for him to answer and, using Jason's shoulder to support herself, she stood up to do exactly what she meant to do. She walked in slow motion, just like a cartoon, across the room.

Jason shook his head. He couldn't believe what was happening. He didn't have any friends, and his older brother, Brian, had just been arrested for the third time. Previously it was for pick-pocketing, but now it was more severe. This time it was for kidnapping a young girl and demanding massive amounts of money. The young girl was still missing. Jason's parents had been divorced for five years, and they always fought over custody of Jason. He was a popular person at home, but definitely not at school, hadn't been since he lost his best friend in a car accident at age five. Still, Jason wasn't going to just befriend a peppy blonde just because she felt the need to make people talk. I mean, sure, she appeared nice, but who knows what she's really like? Nobody knows what I'm like, Jason thought.

He looked across the room. Thankfully, Ashley had found another lonesome depressee to pick on, but she was constantly eyeing him and mouthing the words he would always dread, "I'll be right there." Of course she wasn't right there, and Jason took advantage of that situation. He stood up and walked down the hall. Maybe there was less action in that room.


Nope. Just a bunch of shoes clouded up the northern entrance. There was no big crowd in the middle of the room. Nothing that appeared to be fun. Although a seashore painting on the wall, just to the right of the front door intrigued Jason. He stepped forward and examined it. He wanted to touch it, but he resisted. The waves seemed so real, so clear. The sunset appeared to magnify itself the closer Jason moved to it. He closed his eyes and put himself in that sunset. He felt warm. He felt loved. He felt a part of nature, part of a family.

"Jason," a girl's voice was heard in the back of his mind.

"Jason," it called again.

"Jason!" He opened his eyes, and was forcibly spun around by none other than the greeter, Ashley.

"I've been looking all over for you!" she said, attempting to hug him. He pushed her away quickly.

"Listen, miss greeter girl—"

"My name's Ashley," she said, nodding her head rapidly.

"Ashley—whatever—I don't want to talk to you. You have to accept that. You can't make everyone speak, if they don't want to. You're invading privacy. You're invading my privacy." Ashley's gleaming smile fell into a concerned frown. She looked to the ground and twiddled her thumbs. Jason attempted to leave the room once again, but was stopped, once again, by Ashley.

"Jason," she said.

"What?" he asked annoyed.

"I've been trying to talk to you all night," she said sincerely. He rolled his eyes. I wish she would just go away! He thought. "Why did you leave?" she asked. There had been a sudden shift in her attitude, whether Jason realized it or not. He shrugged and crossed his arms, sighing dramatically.

"You're not listening," she whined, pulling his arms apart.

"What are you talking about?" he asked, throwing his arms in the air. "I have heard every little word you have said tonight and—" Ashley put a finger to his lip. She was a forceful sort, especially when she was trying to make a point.

"Exactly. You've heard. You haven't listened. I'm sorry to bother you. I just came in here to tell you that your mother is here to take you home. Have a good night, Jason." Then she was gone. She went back into the other room and mingled with the lonesomes in the corner. At the moment, Jason did feel some sort of guilt at the situation, but he shook it off, slipped on his shoes, gazed at the painting once more, and headed out the door.

I listen! He thought.