“So, you never listened to what I told you yesterday, did you?”
The sound of a familiar voice instantly made you let out a tiny gasp as you lifted your gaze from your homework to stare directly into the eyes of Arthur, who had just entered the door to the library and was now standing next to you, looking down at you with a prominent frown on his face.
After you had dinner you had been able to put aside some time for your homework, but you still felt like you were in stress and weren’t able to get as much done as you had hoped. You were only halfway done with everything by the time it was 12 a.m., but you decided to stay up some more the get at least half of the remaining half done, and you had ended up going to bed close to 1 in the morning, getting a total of only four hours of sleep that night. That was pretty normal for you, but you still had felt extremely tired when your alarm had woken you up that morning.
You had arrived at the library to complete the rest of your homework as usual and had been a bit nervous about what Arthur would've said if he found out that you still ended up procrastinating. You had told him the previous day not to get his hopes up, but that didn’t mean there shouldn’t have been a reason why he might've been disappointed that what he hoped would've happened with you hadn’t occurred at all.
And so you had sat there in front of the table in the library, focused intently on your science homework until Arthur had quietly crept inside the room and somehow managed to stand directly next to you without your awareness. And the fact that you had suddenly heard his voice right next to you had caused you to almost jump in surprise.
You continued to look up at Arthur, frozen with surprise, mouth slightly open. Once you finally processed the situation, you looked down at the floor and cleared your throat, a bit of shame starting to form inside you. “N-No...” you murmured.
“Oh,” he murmured before he walked over to the chair sitting across the table from you and sat down, taking off his backpack and putting it on the floor next to him. Arthur put his hands in front of him on the table and stared at you with a serious, slightly stern look. “_____, I hope you know that if you want to get a passing grade for the semester, you can't keep procrastinating and getting distracted the way you do now.”
“Right, I never knew that I had to stay focused and actually try on my work in order to get a good grade,” you said sarcastically as you crossed your arms and rolled your eyes, leaning back in your seat. “Look, are my life issues the only things you're ever going to talk about with me?”
“I don’t see why not,” Arthur replied calmly. “It would help you make your life easier.”
“See, you just don’t get it,” you told him, and when he returned your gaze confusingly, you continued. “I don’t think I told you this, but I absolutely hate it when people point out my problems. It’s like they think I'm oblivious to all the problems of my life and as if by telling me, I’ll suddenly realize the issues that I face and that I’ll just magically fix them. Like the other day when I handed back my history test to my teacher, she had said ‘You’re nearly failing this class, if you hadn’t known already’ or something like that.”
You let out an aggravated sigh and shook your head. “I got so angry that I just wanted to slap some common sense into her. Of course I knew I'm nearly failing history. I'm fifteen, not an ignorant five year old.”
“I understand,” Arthur said sympathetically. “But maybe the reason others point out your problems is because they see you aren’t making any significant improvements to try and fix them. They might think that you wouldn’t want your life to be the way it is now, and since you don’t seem to be doing anything to change that, they might think that reminding you might encourage you to make your life better.”
“If they think that, they don’t know me,” you said bitterly, “just like everyone else. There’s not a single person in or out of this building who understands the real reason why I do what I do. It’s not that I don’t care about my grades or anything—I do, I really do, but it’s just that...I find it very hard to try and take action to make it seem like I care.” You lifted your gaze to look at Arthur and raised an eyebrow. “Do you get what I'm saying?”
Arthur nodded. “Maybe you need motivation.”
“There’s nothing that can motivate me enough to make me actually do my work right away,” you sighed. “Every time I do get motivation, there’s always something that distracts me.” You waved your hand dismissively in his direction. “Look, I'm tired of talking about my problems with you.” You closed your science textbook and rested your elbows on top of it, putting your chin in both hands as you continued to keep your gaze fixed with Arthur’s. “Can't we just talk about something else for a change?”
You couldn't believe that you were actually asking this. You, who always found it difficult to have proper conversations with people now wanted to have a regular, casual conversation with Arthur. But the truth was that all you had ever seemed to talk about with him for the past week had been about your problems, and you wanted to take a break from that and pretend, even for a minute, that he wasn't on your case about your crappy lifestyle.
Arthur frowned as his gaze shifted down to your textbook. “But don’t you have homework to finish?”
You pushed your science textbook to the side a bit forcefully. “I bet the teachers wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t turn in any homework. All of them know I'm failing, so it’s no big deal.”
Arthur nodded, although you were able to tell that he still looked a bit uncertain of your decision. “Alright, then. What do you want to talk about?”
That was where you had grown silent. Sure, you were good at making small talk, but having an actual conversation like this with someone who you still barely knew got the worst of you. You tapped your fingers against the table as you searched for an idea. “Well, you know a lot about me, but you haven’t really told me a lot about yourself except for the fact that people think you're a bad cook and that you have a brother.” You frowned. “Do you have any friends here?”
Arthur shook his head. “No, I don’t. I don’t seem to mind too much, though.”
“Oh,” you said softly. “Do you interact with anybody at all?”
“Sometimes I do, but it’s usually brief and not a real conversation.” He eyed you up and down a bit before he added, “It’s not like the conversations that I have with you.”
You scoffed. “Well, of course you probably wouldn’t talk to anybody else about their life issues.”
“No, I...I mean...I have real conversations with you,” Arthur said, and you were able to tell by the tone in his voice that he was a bit hesitant. “I don’t talk to you about general things for a short amount of time. We’re actually able to discuss something serious with each other unlike all the other people I have ever talked to.”
“Oh,” you murmured. You were silent for a few moments before you spoke up again. “Do you ever wish you had a friend?”
“Well, sometimes I do,” Arthur said softly, and when you looked up at him, you found that he had dropped his gaze down to the table and the expression on his face changed to a bit of sadness. “Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person in the whole school who isolates myself from everyone else all the time and feel like I don’t have anyone to have a real conversation with. Sometimes I wished that there was somebody here who understood me, who I could feel happy around.”
“I feel the same way,” you murmured. After a few moments you picked up your chair and moved it around part of the circumference of the table, placing it down on the floor next to Arthur and sitting down. “I guess there’s one thing that we have in common. We both feel like we’re...lonely.”
That was the first time in a long time that you had ever called yourself lonely. You felt terribly lonely throughout your childhood, but as soon as that feeling seemed to cease, it returned again with vengeance. But as soon as it did so, you blocked out any attempts of trying to feel it. You no longer wanted to consider yourself lonely. You tried to convince yourself that you weren’t lonely. But now that you were talking to Arthur, you realized how empty your life seemed, how that feeling that you tried so hard to deny was true this whole time.
A long moment of silence passed before Arthur lifted his head and shifted it to the side so that he was looking at you. He seemed way too close to you, even though he wasn't really that close, and you scooted a little back to give yourself some space.
“_____, am I your friend?” he asked you quietly, his gaze filled with sincerity and a tiny bit of desolation.
That question took you by surprise, and you continued to stare at Arthur with several new thoughts swarming through your head. Did you really consider him to be your friend? You had known him for only a week, after all, and to you it seemed like too short of a time to think of him as a friend. For now, all he was to you was someone who you just got along neutrally with, that’s it. But then you thought back to the way he had helped you. He had done that out of concern, just as a friend might have in the same situation. However, that didn’t change the fact that not enough time passed from when you had thought of him as only a nuisance. No, you weren’t ready to think of him like this yet.
You slightly shook your head. “W-Well, I don’t...think of you that way yet.” You saw the expression on Arthur’s face droop only the slightest bit, and you hastily continued. “I mean, we’ve only known each other for a week! And a part of me still thinks of you as a nuisance who gets in my way. Don’t take this in an offensive way or anything, it’s just that....” You were quiet before you continued a bit hesitantly. “It’s just I hadn’t had a real friend since I was in the 7th grade, and...I don’t feel like I'm ready for a new one yet.”
You dropped your gaze down to your hands, which were placed on the table in front of you. “But maybe as more time passes and we’ll talk with each other more, I might consider thinking of you as my friend.”
“Oh,” Arthur murmured quietly. “Alright, then.”
An awkward moment of silence passed between the both of you until you cleared your throat and looked up at the clock, realizing there was still about an hour until school officially started. “Well, I guess I better get to finishing my homework,” you said a bit unsteadily as you stood up from your chair and hauled it back to it’s original place.