You had barely gotten any sleep last night. After you had talked to Arthur after school in the park yesterday, your mind had been swarming with thoughts. Less than a week ago, you had thought of him as just a random person who you had accidentally knocked into, and now you thought of him as someone who was going to attempt to help you solve all of your problems. In a way you felt thankful by the fact that he was helping you, but in another way you felt creeped out by it. After all, what business did he have in getting in your life, pointing out your already obvious problems, and then going out of his way to try and help you fix them? But then again, after remembering the way he had helped you all those other times, you forced yourself to try and believe that he really would be able to partly solve at least most of your problems.
But you didn’t get your hopes up. If Arthur screwed something up for you, you were going to be losing what little trust you had in him in an instant.
You had woken up that morning exhausted to the core. You were unable to fall asleep until about 3 in the morning, thinking over and over about how you were going to be getting along with Arthur now that he was going to try and help you make your life easier. But it wasn't two hours later until your alarm went off and you dragged yourself exhaustedly out of bed and prepared to go to school, too tired to make yourself breakfast.
As soon you entered the school at 6:30 that morning, the first thing that you were prepared to do was to go to the library. You didn’t know whether or not Arthur was going to be there. He had to be, since you figured that the only reason he didn’t show up yesterday was because he was mad at you and didn’t want to see you since he knew you were going to be there anyway.
When you opened the door to the library and poked your head inside, you found that nobody was sitting at the table off to the side. He has to come here soon...you thought as you frowned in a bit of concern. But it didn’t really matter if Arthur didn’t come, right? You would've seen him out in the hallway after History, or maybe during your lunch period or after school. Still, you wanted to get rid of your problems quickly, and if he was going to help you, you had to meet and talk with him as soon as possible, and before school in the library was almost the perfect place.
You walked over to one of the empty chairs in front of the table and sat down, taking your backpack off of your shoulder and setting it down on the floor next to you. Of course you still had homework to finish. There was rarely a day when you completed your homework before you went to bed, so this became almost a daily routine for you. And besides, you hardly had the opportunity to do any work at all yesterday since your mind had been distracted with other things.
You bent down and unzipped your backpack, taking out the necessary books needed to complete your work and setting them down in front of you on the table. You opened up your math textbook to the pages that you had to complete and took out your pencil, grasping it tightly and trying to let your mind focus on the problems in front of you. But it was like reading a completely new language, and besides, you were too tired to focus and almost all of your attention was set on whether or not Arthur was going to be here soon.
You sighed before you covered your mouth with your hand and let out a rather loud yawn, putting your pencil down on the table next to your open textbook and pressing your cheek down against it. Maybe you could've closed your eyes and gotten some sleep before Arthur showed up....
You instantly sat upright and rubbed your sleepy eyes with your hand. No, you didn’t want him to walk in and find you sleeping. It would've been way too awkward, especially for someone who you’ve known for less than a week.
Following your thoughts, you heard the sound of footsteps approaching and one of the doors to the library creak open. The sudden noise caused you to jump in your seat in surprise, since you were so tired that the quietness of the room had already absorbed itself inside you.
You lifted your head to stare directly into the gaze of Arthur as he quietly entered the room with a light jacket on, his backpack over both shoulders, and a book in his hand. “Good morning, _____,” he said as he walked over to the table where you were sitting and took his seat across from you.
“Hey,” you muttered before you let out another yawn, covering your mouth with your hand. Crap, you thought irritably. How am I going to get through the whole day if I’m so tired like this?
Arthur noticed your apparent exhaustion, because as soon as he took off his jacket, set his backpack down on the floor, and placed his book on the table in front of him, he rested both of his hands on the table and leaned forward slightly, looking at you through narrowed eyes. “You didn’t get much sleep last night, did you?”
You groaned before you dropped your gaze down to your textbook and wearily shook your head. “No.”
“Care to tell me how much?”
“Why do you want to know how much?” you asked as you raised your head to look at Arthur, your gaze slightly blurry but confused.
He only shrugged. “It would help me understand why you’re so tired.”
“Why do you care?” you asked, your voice edged with suspicion.
Arthur sighed and leaned back in his seat. “I don’t care, I'm just curious to know.”
You dropped your gaze down to your textbook and rested your forehead in your hand before you replied quietly, “I don’t know...I think...maybe two?”
“Two?” When you lifted your head to look up at Arthur, you saw that he was staring at you in surprise and a bit of concern. “_____, what time did you go to sleep last night?”
“I think at around, like...1?” You covered your mouth with your hand and let out a yawn, making your eyes start to water and making you wipe them with your other hand. “But I had trouble falling asleep until around 3, and my alarm woke me up at 5, so...”
Arthur sighed and shook his head. “_____, why did you allow yourself to get such a small amount of sleep?”
“Why do you keep on asking questions about me?” you asked a bit irritably.
“Because if I’m going to help you with your problems, I need to learn more about what they are and why they happen,” he answered calmly as he continued to keep his serious gaze fixed on you.
“Oh,” you said softly as you dropped your gaze back down to your textbook. A silence stretched between the both of you as you rubbed the back of your neck with your hand and finally replied. “W-Well, I just get distracted a lot at home, and I usually do my homework in the evening, but it takes me a long time to understand it and then I end up staying awake past 11 p.m. trying to complete as much as I can so I won't have a lot to finish in the morning.”
“Is there something specific that distracts you?” Arthur asked as he raised an eyebrow. “Do you have any siblings?”
You shook your head. “I’m alone in the house most of the time.”
“Alone?” Arthur looked at you in confusion. “What about your parents?”
You let out an irritated huff as a tiny pout came to your face. “My parents are constantly at work. I mean constantly. When I wake up in the morning they’re usually already gone and they’re still out sometimes when I go to sleep. I hardly, if ever, see them at all.”
“Oh, _____, I'm sorry,” Arthur murmured, and you were able to detect sympathy in his voice.
“Sorry?” you asked a bit loudly as you lifted your gaze to look up at him. “Why should you be sorry for me?”
He looked a bit uncomfortable now as he shifted in his seat and stared down at the table. “W-Well, it must be hard for you...living with practically no parents.”
“I manage,” you said bitterly.
“How long has this been going on?” When you lifted your head to look at Arthur confusingly, he continued. “You know...how long have your parents had jobs that made them out of the house all day?”
“As long as I remember,” you said a bit sadly as you closed your eyes. “I had a babysitter up until I was in about 5th grade, and she taught me how to care for myself, prepare food, take care of the house, and do all that stuff. But now I barely have time to do the laundry or make food for myself anymore.”
“So what do you eat?” Arthur asked softly, and when you opened your eyes to look at him, you saw that he was staring you with a sympathetic, concerned look.
“Well, I usually prepare myself something that can be ready in a few minutes,” you said in a tone just as quiet as his. “Usually its macaroni and cheese or something like that. That’s basically all I eat while I’m at home.”
“So if your parents aren’t at home and you don’t have any siblings, what distracts you so much?” Arthur asked you.
“Well, usually I just watch TV or use my laptop until I get hungry enough that I need to eat,” you replied. “After that I just try to focus on my homework until it’s time for me to go to bed. I have a cell phone, but I hardly use it since I don’t have any friends and my parents hardly call me.”
“I see,” Arthur murmured as he lowered his gaze back down to the table. “Have you ever tried coming home and doing your homework right away?”
You drifted your gaze off to one side and closed your eyes for a moment, trying to get rid of some of the heaviness you felt in your eyelids. “Sometimes, but it’s always so hard for me to sit down and instantly focus on my homework. Almost always I feel like relaxing to put the day behind me by watching TV or going on the Internet. I feel like I'm stressing myself even more by doing my work immediately after I get home.”
Arthur was quiet for a few moments before he replied. “_____, you should try tonight to come home, do your homework, have dinner, and go to sleep early. I'm sure you will feel a lot—”
“But I can't!” you cried suddenly as you slammed your clenched fist down on the table and stared at him intensely. “It’s not that I don’t want to, but I just can't. Believe me, more than anything I want to finish all my homework and then just sleep for ten hours on a weekday.”
“So why can’t you?” Arthur challenged as he stared at you with the same fierce look that you were giving him.
“I told you before that I get distracted!” you said. “Whenever I get home I get so exhausted that I just want to relax for a while by doing things that I actually enjoy, and then I just leave my homework for the evening. My procrastination has been going on for a long time, and I never complained out loud or tried to do anything about it because I know it’s useless anyway.”
“When did you start procrastinating?” Arthur asked you.
“Since about 7th grade, I think.”
“What made you start?”
You were silent for a long period of time, and Arthur was about to repeat the question before you let out a long sigh and replied quietly. “Something terrible happened to me.”
The expression on his face changed to one of surprise, curiosity, and pity. “What was it?”
“I...can’t tell you,” you said. “It’s personal.”
“Oh,” Arthur said quietly after he drifted his gaze down to the table. “Alright, then.”
The both of you were silent for a long stretch of time before you let out a yawn and lifted your gaze to look up at the clock, finding that it was already 7 a.m. “I better get started on finishing my homework,” you said as you picked up your pencil and let your gaze focus down on your textbook, still opened in front of you.
“Do you need me to help you with anything?” Arthur asked you.
You shook your head. “No, it’ll take too long if you're going to explain a bunch of stuff to me.” And so the two of you sat there quietly for the next hour while you finished your homework, and for the first time, you weren’t bothered by Arthur’s presence.