The Kid in the Back

I never really gave much thought to him but, then again, who did? It doesn't matter anyway, the fact is, now I wish I had. It's funny; I don't even know how to feel about it all. I mean, of course I feel sad, I think, but I guess I just don't know how sad to feel. If he was a nice kid, maybe I should feel more upset than I do now. If he was a jerk then maybe less. I really don't know if he was either.

There have been a million 'what if's and 'why's scurrying around in my brain for a while. What if I had gotten to know him better? What if I was his best friend? What if I were his worst enemy? How would I feel then? Why am I giving him this much thought? And of course, why do I even care? It's not like I knew him very well. He was just that kid. You know, the kid who sits in the back by himself that no one really cares about or talks to. That kid who always kept his head down and tapped his pencil annoyingly sometimes. I'm not even sure if he had a single friend.

Now that he's dead everyone is acting like they were his best buddie or something. They're all crying, saying he deserved better, saying they miss him, things like that. It's just something to occupy bored minds. In a week no one will even remember his name. Probably not even me. For some reason, that fact makes me mad.

There was a memorial service for him at school and I saw a few kids tossing round a football before it started. My first thought was "Hey, don't you know someone just died? Can't you show a little more respect?" but as I thought more I realized that it wasn't their fault that they didn't care. I think the kid would rather want them acting the way they were then pretending to be upset, but then again, who am I to say what the kid would want and wouldn't want? I knew nothing about him.

I wonder if he was and interesting person. A genius, maybe, or an amazingly talented artist. I suppose I'll never know now. I also wonder, from time to time, if he knew me or if he cared about any of the people who were pretending to mourn him now. Would he feel happy that he was finally getting attention or would he be angry about being a fad? Would he be angry with me, or people like me who never gave him a moments notice until he died?

For all I know he could be up in heaven wondering the same things about us. Did he wish he had gotten to know us better, and would he regret the fact that he didn't? Maybe he didn't care at all. I bet he's sitting up their laughing at our anguish. After all, we deserve it. We ignored him. We didn't really think he mattered and took him for granted, thinking in the back of our minds that he'd always be there.

I'm trying to be genuinely sad but it's difficult. Should I feel guilty for not feeling worse? Is that even my fault? Well, I may not be devastated over the death of some kid I barely knew but I do think that somewhere, deep down, I know I'll miss the kid in the back of the room. Perhaps when I glance at the empty chair, or even if it gets filled, I'll know that, just maybe, a little part of all of us is missing. Or, at least, I hope I'll know.

Nikki BLP