You know what sucks about being labeled "gifted"? People treat you differently. They always ask you what your opinion is as if you were God. Everyone looks up to you and never at you. Like somehow you are on a different playing field as them. It's annoying, and lonely. I've felt this way since I can remember. I'm the smart kid. Do you know what the atomic number of krypton is? No? How about the equation for a free fall? Well, I do. I just remember all this crap. It comes to me and sticks to my mind like hot glue, burning. If ignorance is bliss then call me agony.
I've always hated school. You'd think I would be happy there, but I'm not. I wait for the bus with the only two real friends I have, Kyle and Daryl. Kyle is on the chess club, or should I say kyle is the chess club. He once beat six people at the same time. He has a higher IQ then anyone I've ever met and knows more about politics and religion then anyone who ever lived, but he doesn't talk much. Daryl on the other hand doesn't stop talking. He considers himself a badass and who am I to say other wise, he did set off the school fire alarm from his home computer. I have no idea what his IQ is, he refuses to let a test tell him how smart he is. So, here we are. The three geniuses.
We found each other through the school ranking system. I received a printout of my transcript back in sophomore year and down at the bottom it said I was ranked third in my class. So I set out to find the other two who were above me. That's how we met, and we have been friends ever since. When I'm with them I don't feel like the smart kid in the room. It feels amazing.
"You still don't see it?" Daryl said starring intently through his black sunglasses. He was dressed like some kind of dark defender of the night or some crap like that. A long black trench coat, black shirt, black jeans, and black shoes. The sunglasses were completely useless seeing as how it was 5:00am and there was no sun out yet, they just completed the outfit. "It's driving me crazy."
"No I don't see it. I mean I get what your saying but it's... well, paranoid." Daryl shot me a glance that instructed me to shut the hell up.
"I'm right though, aren't I? Isn't it just a tad bit odd that a brand new office building opened up across the street for no reason?"
"It didn't open for 'no reason'. They just haven't put up the advertisement for whatever business is rolling into town."
"Okay, so..." Daryl placed his hands together and stuck out his two pointer fingers, forming a triangle. He placed his finger pyramid against his chin. "Lets just say I'm the owner of a business and I'm 'rolling into town' as you say. I don't advertise before the building is built? I don't have signs, commercials or anything drawing in customers? And on that note, have you seen a single car go to that building? No. You haven't, and yet, look! The lights are on right now. Who turns them on?"
"I agree with him." Kyle mutters from behind the book he was reading. He sits in the grass and glances up at Daryl. "Your insane." I smile, attempting not to laugh. Daryl just stands there and ponders a moment.
"Oh yeah. That's me all right, 'insane'. Well my good friend there is a fine line between madness and genius."
"I wish it was a little less fine. You cross it too often." Kyle goes back to his book. Daryl raises a finger in the air and opens his mouth for a come back. He pulls the finger back slightly and grinds his teeth before finally dropping it. He never was very good at insults.
The bus pulls up to our stop and opens it's doors. The yellow lights flash in the warm Florida morning. Another day of riding the bus. Technically, being seniors, we should be driving to school, but we can't really afford cars. Besides, the bus is just fine. Daryl pushes the two freshmen girls out of the way, like a gentleman. He sits in the window seat on the left side, third row back. Same seat for four years. Kyle and I wait for everyone else to get on first before entering.
I sit next to Daryl almost everyday. The seat next to him is never taken, mostly because everyone thinks he's an ass. I pull my legs up and push against the seat in front of me so I'm in a half formed fetal position. The most comfortable way to sit in a bus I might add. Kyle slips away to the back and sits alone. He drifts off to sleep listening to soft acoustic music. Daryl's Face is practically pressed against the window starring down the new office building. His fierce gaze could be mistaken for an overwhelming hate if you didn't know the object of his concentration was a building. I just shook my head and put my earphones on.
. . .
The first four periods of the day float by in a haze of lectures and pointless assignments before the clarity of lunch. The bell rings and I'm out the door of Mr. Johnson's Physics class. I fly down the stairs and make my way to the courtyard. I throw my backpack against the cement pillar and plop down next to it. My high school is a "smart school". It's designed to reduce the need for electricity with the hallways all being out side and the abundant amount of windows in the classrooms. In the middle of the courtyard I can see into every hallway, first and second floor. I scan for Daryl and flag him down. He drifts through the halls like a phantom. He never speaks or smiles to anyone else. Always concentrating, on what we don't know.
"How was physics?"
"Easy. Mr. Johnson keeps going off on his rants. Todays lesson started with understanding the Galilean principle of relativity and, somehow, ended with whether or not there is life on mars." Daryl nodded with amusement.
We walk until we find Kyle sitting at our usual table in the patio. He turns a page of a book comprised of Chinese proverbs. Our little philosopher. Compared to Daryl and I, Kyle was a stud. He has smooth brown hair and a clear complexion. He's been working out since he was fourteen and it really shows. When I first met him I found it odd that he wasn't on the football team and found it even more strange that he was single. In fact, he could probably get any girl in the school if he wanted, but that's just it, he doesn't want to. In the time I have known him he has shown no interest in anyone at our school. He sits alone, eats alone, studies alone and goes home alone. He never speaks to anyone except Daryl and me. It's just odd.
"Hey Kyle." I sit down next to him. He turns his page and reads for a brief moment before closing his book. Daryl sits across from us and places his bag besides him.
"Hey guys." His book quickly shoved into his bag on the table.
"So, you were saying about Mr. Johnson?" Daryl looks at me completely uninterested.
"Oh yeah." I talk anyway. "He was saying that although life on earth could not survive on mars that doesn't mean there isn't different types of life. A type that fits the environment."
"Interesting thought." Daryl pulls out a notebook and places it on the table. He takes the yellow number two pencil from behind his ear and proceeds to twirl it while he processes the information. "So, a different form of life, eh? What do you think about that?"
"It's possible." It's not possible. The only way we have ever seen life form is on this earth. We have no indication that it can happen any other way.
"I agree, it's possible. I mean, just think about the bacteria they found at the bottom of the ocean. They were sulfur based, were they not? If it's possible that life can extend beyond carbon then anything's possible." I didn't think about that. Good thing I just agreed with him. If I had tried to fight this I would have lost. I can never hold my own against him in an argument. He always seems to know just a little more then me about everything. It's rather annoying.
"Yeah exactly. I guess Mr. Johnson may have a point." Daryl stops twirling and writes something in his notebook. The reflection of quickly scribbled words reflects off his sunglasses. That notebook will someday be worth millions I can just feel it. It contains Daryl's every thought. Whenever he gets an idea or hears something noteworthy it gets recorded into that book. Unfortunately, though, he doesn't let anyone read it. He keeps it on him at all times. Daryl closes it and packs it safely away in his book bag.
"What you guys want to do today after school?"
"I don't know." I never quite know how to answer that question. In all reality, I want to do nothing at all. I want to go home and sit and not think. No more solving problems or answering questions. I can't say that though, because the question is asking for an activity, which is the opposite from what I want.
"How about you?" Daryl looks away from me, obviously dissatisfied with my answer. He waits for a profound suggestion from Kyle. Kyle doesn't even acknowledge him for a few moments but Daryl persists with his gaze. Kyle eventually just shrugs slightly. "Okay then. I'll figure something out."
For the rest of lunch we eat quietly. Kyle reads. Daryl writes. I think. Next period I have to go Mrs. Timberland's class. I enjoy that class more then any other. It's philosophy. Talking about what reality really is is what I love to do. Exploring the depths of human thought to find truth. Kyle believes there is some sort of Supreme Being out there somewhere. Daryl believes nothing else exists except what we can see. I'm in-between their views. Sometimes I know there is something out there and other times I feel so alone. I once believed that life had no meaning, but when I meet Kyle he said that it did. I asked how he could be sure and he said that if it had no meaning we would not search for one. Upon further questioning he explained that if we were born without eyes we would not know it was dark, thus our need to search out a meaning suggests that something in us knows there is one. I liked the idea. It made sense in a "Kyle" kind of way. He is my personal spiritual guide.
. . .
The bell rang and I went about my day. I drifted through the haze again. More teachers, more tests. Now I sit and stare at the clock. Mr. Ruben's class, ninth period. I'm almost home. According to the black rimmed, bold faced clock I had another five minutes before freedom. I just hope no one talks to me.
"Hey man, how you doing?" I know what your thinking and no, my name isn't Midas. That's a clever name that this kid Ruddy and his friends have decided to give me. It's like king Midas from greek mythology, everything I touch turns into an A. Funny, isn't it? No, not really.
"I'm good. Do you happen to know the answer to number three?" Of course I know the answer.
"Nope, no clue." I glance at the clock, two minutes. It would take too long to explain it to him and I have to go.
"Dang. Well, do you have one or five?"
"Having trouble with the odd numbers, are we?" I roll my eyes. The back of the book provides the answers to all the even numbers. People in this class come to me all the time asking for help with the odds. Sometimes I wonder if they know why they give away the answers to the evens.
"Yeah, they're pretty hard." He gives me a wide grin, hoping I don't catch on to what I already know.
"Well," The bell rings. "I got to go." I slip my backpack on and take small, quick steps out of the class. That was close. I was about to give in and help him. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a bad person but it really gets annoying always helping people. He could have figured it out if he chose to.
Outside, the busses are lined up in neat little rows. I walk to the first line of them and search for my bus number.
"I got it!" Daryl appeared suddenly causing me to jump slightly.
"Dear God Daryl, what?"
"I know what we are going to do today." He smiles and taps his fingers together.
"Okay, that's not creepy at all." He stops and his smile vanishes.
"Get on the bus you idiot." He shoves me through the two see-through plastic doors. I allow him to pass me so he can sit in his regular seat by the window. He opens his physics binder. Inside is a bunch of scribbled words massacred across the page. Doodles of doors and windows sowed together with arrows. After a long study it became clearer, it was a plan.
"What is this exactly?" I turned to the second page, which resembled the first. Continuing to flip through pages three and four, I stopped suddenly on page five. Two words etched in black at the top of the paper surrounded by question marks revealed his idea to me.
"I'll tell you when Kyle gets here." He said as his smirk broke the surface again. If life was a heavy metal song, this is where the bass would begin beating. My chest was pounding. I shoot a glance to Daryl.
"No." I said in disbelief.
"Oh, yes." He took back his binder. The steady rhythm guitar strums. My hands were left empty and shaking. There is no way he is thinking the same thing as me. It's insane. It's stupid.
Kyle steps onto the bus. He attempts to pass but Daryl's arm blocks his path. "Your sitting up here with us today. We need to talk." Kyle sits without a word. "Alright, you two go home and pack a bag of black clothes then come over to my house. We are going to find out what the hell is with that building across the street."
"You mean we are going to break in? That's stupid." The singer screams and the band explodes. Daryl's finally lost it. "Kyle tell him he's insane."
Daryl folds his arms. "Well fact of the matter is, I'm going. I Have it all planed out and I'm ready. So, you two can come along if you choose, but I'm going nevertheless."
I sit back and rub my head with my hand. Kyle leans in. "Why don't we just go there during the day? A lot less trouble. We could just knock on the door."
A mischievous smile grew quickly, followed by "But that wouldn't be as much fun."