Not all quiet kids are well-behaved.
Matthew was not a fan of listening to whomever that was in front of the room, whether it be a teacher giving a lecture, a student presenting their project, or even the principal or any other staff member giving an announcement. It’s the reason to why he always sits at the back of the room during all of his classes. He can’t remember when he started this habit. It must have been during the middle of his freshman year when he eventually realized that no one wanted to talk to him. That was about two years ago, yet it felt like it was an eternity ago for Matthew. It might have either been his appearance or his personality that drove others away from him. He pulled his hood up to cover as much of his head as possible. Matthew took out his notebook from his bag and set it on the desk in front of him, much like the rest of the students getting ready for the class to start. He flipped it over and opened it to the back page where several of his doodles and sketches could be found. The page that he opened had many drawings of knives and guns. There would be some writings here and there that read: The pain feels good and Don’t tell me what to do.
What should I draw today? Matthew thought to himself as he took out a pencil.
The teacher at the front of the class set her coffee down and got up from her desk, “All right, class. I believe you guys had homework the last time we left off.” The students groaned as they reached into their bags and grabbed sheets of paper.
As always, Matthew ignored the teacher and began to draw, though he had no idea of what to create. He scribbled one single line that intertwined with itself, forming a mess of a ball out of his own frustration.
The door to his right opened as a student walked in. She held a small piece of paper in her hand and had a yellow identification card clipped to the front of her hoodie. Students with yellow I.D. cards meant that they are from the counselors’ office, usually sent to call out students during class time.
There was too much noise for Matthew to think, from the door opening to his classmates and teacher talking. He picked up the earphones which hung around his neck and shoved them into both of his ears. Now all he heard was his music that he could concentrate with: punk rock. With Matthew’s music in his ears and his hood over his head, he could block out all the distractions around him that stopped his creative juices from flowing onto the notebook. He started to draw the handle of another knife.
Matthew then felt a light tapping on his shoulder, yet he ignored it. He could smell a sweet scent in front of him. He could not help but think of the color purple when he sensed this scent. It smelled of lavender to him. Maybe it was a girl that wanted to talk to him? I can’t let myself get distracted, he thought. He continued to draw the rest of the knife, forming the blade of it.
He felt the tapping on his shoulder again, shortly after. The lavender scent hasn’t left his nose. He looked in front of himself outside his hood, not moving his head, and saw a figure standing there, barely outside his vision. What does she want? Though, Matthew continued to draw.
This time, Matthew felt someone shaking his shoulder. He slammed his pencil onto the wood of the desk and shouted, “What is it?!” Because of his music, he did not know how loud he had shouted. He removed his earphones and noticed that the classroom had become drastically quieter than when he initially walked in.
He lifted his head up and looked up. A senior girl was standing in front of him and looked angry. She wore an indigo hoodie that had black stripes that ended with a sharp point. The middle of her hoodie, however, had a lighter tint of blue in an oval shape. The girl had a hoodie over her head, similar to Matthew. Though, her hood had pointed animalistic ears at the top. The senior’s entire appearance resembled a tiger’s if tigers were blue. He knew that she was a senior because he didn’t recognize her and saw the yellow card clipped to her hoodie. Only senior students get to be in the office during class time because being an office aid was a class for them. Kyoko, the yellow I.D. read.
“Matthew?” Kyoko asked him whilst chewing gum, seemingly annoyed by the loudness of his voice.
“You’re wanted at the counselors’ office,” she said as she handed him the small slip of paper. It was a hall pass with his name written on it, allowing him to walk to the counselors’ office. He read through the slip and saw the word "IMMEDIATE" written below the counselor’s name, "Mr. Taiga." It was strange for Matthew to see that he is being called out by a different counselor rather than his assigned one. What did I do this time?
He didn’t bother to ask Kyoko what he’s being called out for. The student aids never know what the reasons are for the callouts.
“Get your things and go,” Kyoko coldly said as she walked passed him and exited the room.
Matthew looked around the room and everybody was staring at him. He hated any attention that was directed towards him, especially if it was unintentional. He stood up and took his time in packing his belongings and headed to the office.
Although the door was wide open for anyone to come in, Matthew walked into Mr. Taiga’s office without knocking or giving any signal that he was entering. He kept his backpack still strapped on and sat down on the only chair in the office that wasn’t taken.
The room was small because of the space that the desk was taking up. Though, it wasn’t uncomfortably small, it was just the right size for the place to be cozy. The space smelled of cologne with a lavender scent, coming from the only other person in the office, Mr. Taiga, who was typing on the computer directly in front of him.
“I’ll be with you in a minute,” he adjusted his rectangular-shaped glasses as he continued to type on the abnormally loud keyboard. Maybe it was the fact that there was no other sound in the room that made the typing so loud.
Matthew tapped his fingers on his knees as he sat and impatiently waited for Mr. Taiga to finish whatever he was doing behind his monitor, listening to the endless sounds of the keys being pressed by his fingers rapidly. He had never been in this office before, so he did not know how manners worked with Mr. Taiga. He did not know if he could use his phone in here or not. He wanted to reach into his pocket and take out his smartphone, but he was scared that would get in trouble or be yelled at by him.
Now filled with anxiety and worry, Matthew looked around the room. It was a fairly clean office compared to his assigned counselor’s office. There were two filing cabinets against the wall behind Mr. Taiga. Not that many papers or binders were scattered on the desk, no sticky notes were posted anywhere that he could see, and two posters just above the filing cabinets. One poster was of a white tiger and another of a diagram of the human brain.
Matthew remembered that he did hear other students and teachers talking about a new counselor for the school year. He heard there were rumors going around, saying that he was fired from his last job.
“And you are?” Mr. Taiga asked as he rolled his chair to where the monitor wasn’t obstructing the view between them. He looked to be a man in his late twenties or early thirties. He wore a light purple button up shirt with a black tie hanging from his neck.
Matthew did not say a word when he put the slip of paper that was given to him onto the desk. Mr. Taiga picked up the slip and brought it close for himself to read. “Ah, yes, Matthew. You might be wondering why I called you here,” Mr. Taiga said, looking at Matthew and waiting for him to give a response. But he said nothing and continued to sit quietly.
“Well, you’re not in any trouble of the sorts, if that’s what you’re thinking right now.”
“So why am I here?”
Mr. Taiga rolled his chair to the filing cabinets behind him and immediately pulled out a red folder. He pushed himself back towards the desk and placed the folder down, opening it. “I’ve heard from all your teachers that you’re a troubled student,” Mr. Taiga said as he took out several small ripped pieces of lined paper from the folder.
He had recognized these pieces of paper. He would tear off pieces of his notebook and write little messages on them when he was bored and had no creativity to draw. But he didn’t mean for anyone else other than himself to read these messages.
Mr. Taiga laid the messages out onto the desk in front of Matthew for him to read. “Are these all your handwriting?” Mr. Taiga asked with his arms crossed, leaning back on his chair.
Matthew looked at the messages, some similar to each other. They all expressed his suicidal thoughts and his want to kill his schoolmates. He remembered exactly when he wrote each of them. Everyone that was acquainted with Matthew in any way knew that he hated himself just as much as he hated everyone else.
“I thought you said that I’m not in trouble,” Matthew retorted.
“You’re not in trouble.”
“Then why are you showing me these?”
“Answer my question. Is this your handwriting?”
“Yeah, what of it? Are you going to expel me now?”
“Not quite. I just needed your confirmation first for me to get to the next part,” Mr. Taiga said, putting all the papers back in the red folder and closing it.
“And what is the next part?”
Mr. Taiga opened the bottom drawer of his desk, “Tell me, Matthew, do you have a way to cope with these feelings that you have?”
Matthew held both of his forearms covered by the sleeves of his hoodie. “No. No, I don’t,” he replied while looking to his side. He tried to keep the truth to himself. Whenever he was in school, he always lied to others and himself that he doesn’t self-harm. He could never be seen wearing anything other than a shirt or hoodie that can hide his arms in public.
Matthew heard something with several small objects inside being placed onto the desk. Was it a container? Or a pill bottle? Why would a school counselor have drugs?
He looked back to the desk and saw an orange bottle in a small plastic bag. Inside of the bottle were small circular white capsules.
“I don’t want your drugs,” Matthew said, holding his arms even closer to himself. Matthew’s parents would kill him if they found out that he was doing drugs. They punished him for what he does to his arms, what more would they do if they caught him as a druggie? Matthew stood up from his chair and headed for the door.
“Are you sure you want to leave? I’m offering you this opportunity to free yourself. If you come back and ask me at another time, I will refuse to help you. Think twice before you walk out of here, Matthew,” Mr. Taiga said. Matthew stopped in his tracks. He wanted to listen to what Taiga had to say. But he couldn’t do this to his parents. He didn’t want to disappoint them. But I’m already a disappointment. What more could I lose? Matthew thought to himself. He turned around and sat back on the chair. “What does it do?” Matthew asked Mr. Taiga, now full of curiosity.
“A drug that will help set you free, as I said. Free from those thoughts that you have. You’ll be free from your anxiety, your depression, your thoughts of murder. You’ll be able to cope with your terrible thoughts. You’ll be a happier person, so long as you…” Mr. Taiga paused for a moment. “Live through the symptoms,” he continued. Matthew was too caught up with his own thoughts to listen to the last part that Mr. Taiga had mentioned. Could this really be his way out? Could he really be a normal person like the other kids in school? Matthew didn’t care if what Mr. Taiga was saying a lie or not. So long as he’ll be normal after taking these drugs, he’ll be good.
He reached for the plastic bag with the bottle in it and looked at the capsules inside of the bottle, “How often do I have to take these?”
“Whenever you’re feeling those thoughts going through your head, you take it. Just make sure that you are in a place that you can rest, because you will immediately feel drowsy, so to say, afterwards.”
Matthew looked up towards Mr. Taiga, “How much is it for the bottle?”
Mr. Taiga crossed his arms together and smirked at the young man, “I don’t want your money, Matthew. Don’t think of me as a dealer. Think of me as someone that wants to help troubled kids, much like yourself.”
Matthew could not tell what he was feeling in that moment. Should he be scared of Mr. Taiga or the drugs? It all seemed too suspicious. Should he be skeptical that someone is offering him his happiness for nothing in return? Happiness, he thought. That word was what drew him in. The idea of being full of joy and glee without having to care about his insecurities convinced him to accept Mr. Taiga’s gift.
“Though, there is one thing that I need from you, Matthew,” Mr. Taiga abruptly said. Matthew slightly tilted his head, similar to when an animal is curious about something. I thought he said it was free, he thought with confusion. What else could Mr. Taiga want from him that wasn’t money? “I need results from you. Come back to my office after every time that you take each capsule and report to me how you feel,” he continued.
He must’ve needed reports to see if the drugs actually have an effect on Matthew. It must make sense that a counselor wants to check up on a troubled student every so often. I never thought anyone would want to look out for me this much, Matthew gladly thought.
Matthew pocketed the orange bottle and stood up. He walked to the door and before leaving said, “Thanks, Mr. Taiga.” Less than often does a person ever hear Matthew say thanks to someone, or even a stranger for that matter. He exited the room with some happiness left on his face.