Sunflower

By KMD

Once upon a time, there was a Garden and a Light…

1.

It started when Jason noticed him; sure, he had seen him, but he'd never noticed him.

It was not obvious that he was a him when Jason's eyes nervously skittered over the junior classman's petite form. Sacha, as Jason had heard him called, was thin and clutched his books tightly to his chest with both arms crossed in an 'x', keeping his hazel eyes on the ground. He wore Technicolor clothing that only served to make him look dim in comparison, as his skin was pale and his waist length mass of hair was bleached an unhealthy shade meant more for albinos than beautification. His hands shook, and he looked like he was struggling to keep from crying when someone purposefully knocked him out of the way and sent a folder and the papers in it to the floor.

He appeared more like an anorexic girl than anything else, but Karen had been with Jason during one of his first sightings of the strange boy, and she had muttered harshly, "He's such a fucking faggot."

Jason knew he was in trouble when he couldn't tear his gaze away from the fucking faggot struggling to get his schoolwork together, feeling nothing but the desire to help him.


2.

Karen owned Jason.

It was never acknowledged out loud, but it was well-known fact. She was the head cheerleader, and he was captain of the football team. Their romance was a natural thing, one written about and displayed in many a teen novel and movie. It was only fate created in cliché that she had approached him, entwined their fingers, and declared they were boyfriend and girlfriend without first attaining his consent. He hadn't protested, though, and that might as well have been a yes.

Jason thought of the relationship as a chain. As long as Karen held that chain, he was her King, and when he was her King, he was King of the high school population. As shallow as this was, as much as he hated to admit it, he liked the position and had sacrificed parts of himself to maintain it. Though he still strayed into territories that could break his crown, it only took one sharp tug to send him flying back to Karen's side.

And it was not a horrible thing; Karen was a beautiful girl. Her candy-colored curls were always straightened to a glistening caramel perfection, and her eyes were a honey brown color to match, almond shaped from her partial Japanese descent. She was the quintessential pretty girl, just as Jason was the quintessential handsome boy. They were, of course, meant to be.

Still, Jason found he was unable to keep his eyes on Karen when a certain boy walked by, wearing lime green tights and a pink and black checkered dress.


3.

Jason and Sacha's first exchange of words occurred during history class, when they had been seated next to each other by a particularly sadistic teacher, who had been known to purposefully set those of different social groups together, claiming to be 'ending the segregation in high schools two students at a time,' while really just preventing superfluous chatter for his own selfish purposes.

Sacha was quiet, but came off as cold when he didn't even look over at the teenager next to him, instead keeping his eyes on his history book. Jason was simply not the kind of person to start a conversation no matter what the situation, but was forced to when his pencil dropped to the floor near Sacha's heeled boot.

"Can you get my pencil for me?"

"Sure," and so Sacha angled his body downward, using the desk for support. Jason noticed the way his hand trembled from such little effort, though was drawn back into reality by the same soft, effeminate voice. "Here you go." Their fingers briefly brushed as the pencil was passed between the two, Sacha's cold and Jason's warm. They met gazes briefly, and with this Jason was both stunned and captivated-

He saw that Sacha was somehow brighter than his orange blouse and make-up, glowing from the inside, eyes sparkling with life that had otherwise physically died. The epiphany was long lived and Jason spent the rest of the period glancing back and back again, to assure that it wasn't a fluke, a lapse in judgment.

He didn't know if he was disappointed or relieved when each new look only brought him more fondness for Sacha, but a part of him wanted to voice his discovery, to smile and tell Sacha how he shone. Instead, he was silent.

The Light saw the need in the Garden; its purpose was only to serve and naively, it obsessed.

.


4.

Jason was a poet at heart, and his hands were those of a painter. His thoughts came in abstract forms, and his views on the world were reflected through stained glass jars, only making sense to those who perceived similar whimsies in the mundane tosses of existence. This was one part of himself he had locked away, hid when he went to practice and lost himself in the feel of the game. One part of himself he knew would be labeled abnormal.

This side of him was trapped behind a mask. The mask smiled when Karen kissed him.

The face behind the mask wondered why Karen's eyes didn't sparkle like Sacha's.


5.

Sacha had become ubiquitous.

Jason did not know when or how it happened, but it had. It was not that Jason was seeing Sacha anymore than usual- they had a similar schedule and often had passed each other in the halls or been in a class together. It was that Jason was now looking at Sacha, scanning the crowds for Sacha, thinking about Sacha, dreaming about Sacha, unable to escape Sacha. In one way, it scared him. In another way, it was intoxicatingly wonderful.

Perhaps the same fate that had chained Jason to Karen was now rusting the chain, slowly weakening his inhibitions and driving him to the point where he was nearly ready to just go and talk to Sacha. Of course not where anyone could see, but still it -whatever 'it' was- was going somewhere, and Jason wondered if Sacha felt the same way.


6.

The cafeteria truly was an awful place, so Jason was not lying when he mumbled in Karen's ear, "I can't breathe in here," because the gossip was suffocating him, and the smells were overwhelming. There were too many people crammed in too close together at too few tables, and it was enough to make even the sanest person feel claustrophobic.

Karen sighed, because she was proud to have Jason. She was so proud that she could kiss him and hug him and hold his hand and call him hers. She even secretly liked that he was just a little off, just a little too much of a bleeding heart to be a 'normal' boy. Still, she was not fond of the times when he would leave her for such trivial things or the times his oddness just made him jittery and unpredictable, "If you must." A dramatic wave of the hand and an even more dramatic sigh let Jason know he was free and so he fled as quickly as possible.

The doors opened and crisp autumn air hit his face. He breathed deeply through his nose, taking in the scent not tainted by girlish giggles and immature insults. Stretching his arms above his head, he started to scan the grounds, taking in the few trees scattered in the yard, the dying grass, the chain link fence guarding the far left, and finally, Sacha.

Jason paused, and upon closer inspection, it was definitely Sacha, the teen leaned against the section of the fence farthest from the school, yellow dress and purple tights standing out strongly against the primarily brown scenery. It was only natural Sacha ate outside. Most people without friends did, as there was not a table for them to sit at without being verbally or physically abused. Usually when the weather started to cool, though, they at least banded together and took the table closest to the special education corner, where teachers were always at hand to play peacekeeper.

'Maybe he has no one,' Jason thought, and this made his heart pang with a mixture of pity and guilt, the force that finally drove Jason to do something he would both love and regret for the rest of his life.

It did not take long for him to get closer, nor did it take long for him to kneel a good two feet from Sacha, who was not eating. Instead, he was smoking a cigarette. He held it delicately between two spindly fingers, angled to face away from the school. Jason swallowed thickly, before he managed a painfully casual, "Hi," said as if they had spoken everyday of their life.

Sacha's eyes widened, but only for a second. He did not look suspicious as his features relaxed into a pale imitation of a smile, "Drop your pencil again?"

Jason offered a laugh, and Sacha let out a quiet, nervous giggle; the moment, though it was not memorable, was perfect.

And thus one sunflower bloomed in the Garden that had always been barren and it, elated by such an apparition, could do nothing but admire the Light for such a gift; the Light had never known such importance.