The Center of Gravity

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Episode 11: Her Necessity

I watched as I sighed and fell into a seat in the setting of my English class.

I -- my present self -- was watching my past self breathe out in annoyance. Dread filled my stomach. That day, I knew that he had only been at school a week and Adria had convinced me to try to befriend him. Only I found that he was a very clingy person.

Or at least, I thought so at the time. As I was forced to watch the day play out, I realized he was lonely. I was a jerk.

That whole day I witnessed my sarcasm, my rude remarks, and my attitude toward him. All Stefen -- Seth -- wanted was for someone to know his name.

I walked down those halls everyday without knowing I’d miss them.

I looked at my friends and family like I would see them for the rest of my life.

I met Stefen thinking he was an annoying kid, not realizing how terrible I was. Not realizing I would need him.

My chest tightened as Stefen walked into the room, looking around for me. He was a lot shorter, a little more chubby, and knew who he was.

I wanted to look away, but I couldn’t.

“Rowin,” he said enthusiastically, sitting down in a seat beside mine. I watched as I let out a slow breath and put on a fake smile so he couldn’t see my irritation with him.

Except, seeing me do that, it wasn’t too convincing I enjoyed him either.

“Hi Stefen,” I mumbled.

“So, I was wondering if you’d like to come over this weekend? Maybe?” he offered, an oblivious smile on his face.

I walked closer, my fourteen-year old face registering in shock.

“Why would I want to come to your house, Stefen?” She rolled her eyes and I cringed as Stefen’s face fell.

“I thought we were friends, you know? You’re one of the only people who’ve been nice to me, at least.” He leaned in and whispered, “You’re the only one who knows about this.”

He pulled out something from his pocket and I moved so I could see it better. I gasped when I recognized it as the compass. My heart nearly stopped beating.

At this point, she should’ve had some type of fake interest. I didn’t. She didn’t. Watching it, I did.

“Maybe there’s a reason no one wants to be around you,” I snapped. “Especially if you find useless things like that.”

Hurt flashed across his face and he quickly recovered.

“Is it because I asked to borrow your pencil earlier? My mom hasn’t--”

“No! It’s you, is what it is.”

“Me?” His voice quivered. If my heart refused break then, it gave now. I reached out to place a hand on her shoulder, only I passed through her instead.

“Yes you. What else could it be? We aren’t friends, Stefen. You’re one of the most frustrating people I’ve ever met in my life!”

“Really..?” His smile faded and his eyes looked to his lap.

“Can’t you take a hint? I don’t want to hang out with you. I don’t need you! And I don’t want to mess around with some stupid compass your parents sent to you or whatever. Who even cares? It’s just an item. Grow up.”

Everyone in the class turned at my words to see Stefen with the compass, his face beat red. One kid began to laugh and soon everyone was, teasing him about it.

When he got up and left, they still called insults to him. She sat back, satisfied as he exited.

But watching it I wanting to punch myself. I quickly followed after the boy I’ve needed for companionship, walking in front of him.

“I’m sorry, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about!” I joked. Of course, he didn’t hear me. “That compass is pretty cool.”

He walked down the hall as the bell rang, swiping at tears and trying not to make a scene. He kept his head low, hurrying into the boy’s bathroom.

“Stefen, wait,” I said. The name sounded foreign in my mouth. When I looked behind me, the girl who made a terrible mistake wasn’t following.

He wasn’t listening.

He walked right in and I followed. I was just wondering in my memories, no one could hear or see me. His betrayed look shattered my heart.

He threw his backpack in a stall and walked to a small window above the sink. Pulling the compass out, he chucked it out the window, into the school’s courtyard. He faced me, looking angry.

“Stefen, I need you!” I whispered, clinging to self-control.

All he was staring at was his reflection.

He quickly went into the stall, but I didn’t go there. Instead, I walked back to the classroom to see the girl who didn’t care.

And I that she was the person I was.

So when the memory was ripped from me and I was face to face with the compass and a cold look--

When I realized everything I was experiencing was real--

When I knew Seth -- Stefen -- was going to die as soon as I returned--

I snatched the compass from Cassius’ hands and took off running.

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