Blake sat on a bench with his eyes closed feeling the soft autumn wind cares his wind breaker. It was a chilly wind, but with a touch of a vibrant summer that tends to fleet on his last remnants of the year. The leaves on the maple trees in the park from where he lounged were just beginning to change color, with the bright hues of orange red and yellow. There were no birds chirping nor the sound of children playing on the playsets in the park. It was quite save for the steady gust of wind that would blow the fresh fallen leaves around. One happened to float onto Blake’s face as it slightly startled him awake from his day dreaming.
“Where does the time go.” He whispered to himself standing up slowly and stretching with a low yawn. Shoving his hands into his pockets he pulled out his smartphone and noticed a few texts were sent to him. Shifting through them he began to walk back home curious what his mother was up to if she was awake or not. Stopping for a moment he looked down at a text and noticed he was added into an unusual group chat. Scrolling through the messages each person had in place a log number instead of a name. None of them seemed familiar for they were longer than any phone number he would recognize.
While walking enriched into this new prospect a car drove by slamming on their horn as Blake narrowly missed the vehicle. Hearing the vehicle drive off he shruged as he put his phone away and made for his house down the road. It did not take long before he was wiping his boots off and unlocking the door. He felt his mind go blank slightly as he walked inside eyeing his mother asleep on the couch her television program sporadic in the background. Walking slowly up the stairs he made sure not to walk on the spots that made the wood creak. Hands in his pockets he walked into his room and pushed open the door with his shoulder closing It with a soft thud. Taking a seat at his desk he took notice of the dim evening light shining under his blinds. Leaving them closed he opened his geometry book from school before sighing at all the homework he had yet to finish. Stumbling over to his bed he fell face first in a sluggish manner before rolling up into his unmade mess of sheets.
Before he could go to sleep his phone made a ding sound as if a message was sent. He sighed lightly as he rolled over not caring the slightest. But the ding began again and then once more continuing as if begging him to stay awake. Grumbling to himself Blake pulled out his phone and noticed it was the odd group chat that he had been invited to. Scrolling through the messages he took notice of a bunch of greetings and small talk that concerned some sort of project.
Blake heard his mother voice but did not feel like talking to her. So instead he put his cellphone on silent and rolled over as if asleep. He heard the knock at his door the slight creak of it opening, a few seconds of light breathing and then it closed. Blake did not know how many times he guessed this routine of hers. It wasn’t a teenage rebellion of avoiding his mother that gripped him but a sense of an unwavering sadness that he refused to acknowledge. The thought slowly crossed his mind as he pushed it out with a tear rolling down his cheek before falling to sleep. Closing his eyes he fell into a restless slumber with dreams of a long road covered by fall colored maple trees.
The next morning Blake awoke to his alarm going off to a redundant song he has heard every day since he joined high school. With an arm over his face he pushed himself out of bed with a low yawn and stretch. Noticing he still had his attire on from yesterday, the thought to shower sounded just too exhausting for the time being. He instead opted for a clean shirt and some deodorant while packing his unfinished homework into his backpack. Throwing his backpack around his shoulder he looked in the mirror and noticed how tired he really looked. Dark circles under his eyes with the appearance of an unkept hair style.
“Breakfast is ready son!”
Blake’s ears rung with the sound of his mother’s voice from the kitchen. He gripped his fist with slight anger but relaxed holding back his emotions before walking downstairs to start the day.
“Good morning sweetie” She replied with her back to Blake as the smell of bacon and eggs encumbered the kitchen. Taking a seat Blake eyed his mother as she shuffled around the kitchen with a sense of forced vigor. She looked paler today, her movements slow arms and legs shaking slightly yet she persisted to make him breakfast.
“Mom you shouldn’t…”
“Eat up! Don’t want you starving on me” She interrupted him as she brought two plates to the table in an enthused but sluggish manner as if her body was unable to keep up with her racing mind. Blake took notice of this and held back his feelings as he reached for the fork and poked at the eggs.
“Honey I think we need to continue our talk from the other day.” She insisted smile gone as her eyes shifted to the plates in front of her. Reaching out for Blake’s hand she smiled slightly again for reassurance.
“I am late for school” Blake almost barked as he stood up holding back a tear. He was not going to face this now. This was not happening it was all a bad dream and his mother will pull through like she always had.
“I love you son.”
Blake only nodded as he walked out the door. He loved his mother but could not mouth any words. An overwhelming tide of emotions only flooded him as he felt a knot form in his throat. Slamming the door shut behind him he felt his arms shaking with anger as if he had been wronged so many times. Looking down the road he made for a sprint to remove himself from the house as fast as he could.
It was a good run the further he ran the more tired he felt. Almost a sense of a punishment he should receive but never got. The sting in his lungs from the chilly air and falling leaves only exhilarated him letting him forget his pain but for only a moment. When his legs grew too tired to move on any further he stopped to hunch over and breath. Standing up after a couple of breaths he composed himself and wiped his face with his sleeve in case any tears formed. Letting out a long sigh he concentrated on the road in front of him. The same road he had been walking since he was a child. The road with maple trees on each side shading the street. As if an organic tunnel of red and orange were leading him to another world far from this one.
Shuffling his backpack around both shoulders he dug his hands into his pockets and finished the rest of his walk to school. This walk had always calmed him for some reason though he could never explain it. Before he could be lost in his leisurely walk to school his hand hit his phone inside his front pocket. Pulling it out he noticed it had a full charge still, an odd situation since his phone was an outdated model that needed charging daily. Looking up he saw other kids from the neighborhood skipping and chatting with one another along this same street.
“Must be freshmen” Blake mumbled to himself as his eyes went back to his phone with interest. Looking back at the group chat he noticed a name amongst the random numbers from the other day. Ezekiel. Reading what he had to say he pulled his phone closer to get a better look.
Ezekail: Tomorrow will mark our event ! I am so excited of our large turnout, If you are all still serious about this and want a chance at the grand prize be sure to type “7” before midnight! A set of directions will be emailed to you. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the group chat. God speed!
Blake rubbed his chin wondering what this grand prize is and secondly how he got added to such a random group chat event.
Blake cringed as he heard the high pitch squeal of a childhood friend. Hunching his shoulders he waited for her to jump onto his back and begin horsing around. And as anticipated she did forcing Blake to smile for just a moment on this cold street.
“Where were you yesterday you didn’t show up to school?”
Blake shrugged as he bumped her before turning around. She was a head shorter than him with shiny black hair and a few freckles, as if her childhood were still lingering. Her school uniform was clean pressed along with freshly cleaned shoes. She looked at him awaiting an answer with eyes closed and a big smile.
“I felt sick Raven. Needed a day off.” Blake insisted as he turned back around to walk onwards.
“Uh huh sure” Raven replied emphasizing on the sure. Rushing up to his side she walked beside him waving at random people she knew. Blake knew some of them as well but it was too exhausting to respond. They continued to walk together where they soon parted ways at the gate of the school.
“I won’t be able to walk home with you today have violin lessons after school.” Raven replied as she jogged off to her home room leaving Blake with a grunt and a nod. “Tell your mom I say hi.” She ended leaving Blake’s heart to skip a beat slightly.
He did not respond but kept his head down. He felt the need to ditch school today as well. The need to socialize and partake in being a productive student did not sound enthralling at the least. The again nothing really did to Blake any more. Tightening his grip on the strap of his backpack he looked behind him to the road he walked down as if coaxing him to come back and be lost there forever. He bit the inside of his cheek wavering the idea but shook his head with a sigh and walked toward his home room.
The students were all bustling around most enthused other tired. He mumbled a sarcastic prayer to the students who had PE this early in the morning as they ran by in work out wear. Such a cruel punishment Blake thought as he opened the door to his homeroom, and eyed the chair in the back next to the window. He took noticed of how happy everyone was as they pulled out pens and notebooks to class notes for possible events to transpire for the day. Walking past a group of guys they sneered a remark at him however Blake shrugged it off knowing it was Kenney and his goons. A group of friends he had when he was younger, turned enemy once high school hit. Blake pondered the reason for the rivalry but shook his head having forgotten such a tedious detail. Taking a seat, he felt a wet piece of paper stick to his cheek. Blake stood there for a moment as his world came into focus from his haze and noticed a good majority of the people laughing at him.
“Hey sourpuss you forgot your emo clothes.”
Blake sat his back pack down as he eyed Kenny with an absent face. Normally such a mild insult would had fired him up instantly but nowadays it was too tiring to argue.
“Nothing to say huh?” Kenny began not liking the fact he was ignored; his short brown hair and muscular frame would have intimidated anyone. However, Blake knew his weakness and knew a simple leg sweep would have him falling due to his knee injury as a kid. Rolling his eyes he rested his chin on his hand as he looked out the window.
“Shut up Kenney.” Blake began not even giving the boy the time to look in his general direction.
“Shut up huh..” Kenny began as a few other members of the class whispered him to stop. Blake paid it no mind this was one of the many reasons he had little to no apathy for this school.
“Your mom didn’t say shut up when I was with her last night!” Kenney barked with an odd smile knowing this joke would rile him up. A few gasps were heard around the room while at the same time Blake gripped his fist and slowly turned his head to Kenney.
“Dude you should say your sorry that’s messed up.” A random classmate remarked while a few others offered disagreements with Kenney’s actions.
“Na.. nothing was meant by it guys... honestly its just hard to keep Blake cheered up with a mother that is dying.” Kenny said as he eyed Blake with a grin knowing he had struck a nerve.
Blake sat there as his eyes grew wide and his mouth clenched. He felt his vison go blurry with tears as his heart began racing slightly. Standing up he felt his body lose control as he charged at Kenny grabbing for his waist and lifting him upwards before tackling him to the ground. Kenny wrapped his arm around Blake’s neck while they boys grappled each other on the ground. A few jeers and some encouragement to break it up were heard but the only thing that stopped them was the teacher.
“What is the meaning of this!”
Blake felt a pinch around his ear as he saw a man in black slacks pull him away from Kenny presumably the homeroom teacher. Throwing his arms backwards he lunged one good kick at Kenny’s face forcing the boy to bleed from his nose instantly.
“That’s it principal’s office young man!” The teacher exclaimed as he felt himself get drugged by the back of his collar out the door of the classroom. With a slam of the door Blake was alone in the hallway. His fists were still clenched as his anger was slowly subsiding. That attack on Kenny had taken a lot of energy out of him, reaching for his eyes he felt the warm dampness on his cheek. Sighing while shaking his head he sat down in the hallway as he waited.
It only took a second before the teacher in black slacks came out with Kenny by his side. Blake did not look up at all but did not remember the name of this teacher. All he identified him as was homeroom teacher or sir if he felt formal in talking to him. He felt the gaze form Kenny as he watched his foots steps go down the hall presumably the nurse’s office.
“Blake the principal is waiting for you I trust you want get lost.” The teacher remarked as a hand was offered to him from the corner of his eye. Blake simply shook his head as he got up by himself not wanting anyone to know he had tears still in his eyes.
“I know you are going through tough times kido but you need to take out your anger on a punching bag not other students. Albeit your rival it is still no excuse.” He added as he waited for some response from Blake even though he assumed he would not receive one.
“Yes sir.” Blake responded after a few seconds before making his way to the principal’s office, is other home away from home. Shoving his hands into his pockets he walked down the short hallway peeking outside the windows to see the maple trees unmoving and silent. Wiping his eyes, he sat on a chair next to the principal’s office as he pulled out his phone to bypass the time. Blake already knew the principal never showed up this early and it was the vice principal who would be walking in shortly for any required duties.
Scrolling through his various social media apps a ding sounded off as if a text message was sent. Shaking his head he knew it was the group chat and felt the need to remove himself from it. However it was curiosity that moved him, and curiosity that made him re read the message from Ezekiel. Blake could only assume that this character may be the event organizer behind the scenes. Scratching his cheek he pondered what the prize at the end would entail and what exactly this event would involve. During this unfortunate circumstance over the past year nothing moved him however, this peaked his interests as if his heart felt something. Whatever this event was he had until midnight to join, scrolling to the end of the chat he seen multiple number sevens in response signifying they are joining this event. An occasional smiley face from Ezekiel could be seen as well with a random phrase of “welcome” and “glad to have you”. Blake put some thought into before he clicked on Ezekiel’s name and noticed it had contact info. Adding it into his contacts he made to text him however his train of thought was interrupted as a familiar voice trailed off.
Blake sat up putting his phone away nodding towards Vice Principal Wayland. A short middle aged man with a balding head and goatee. Blake stood up putting his hands into his pockets as he waited for the vice principal to unlock the door before following in suite behind him.
“You know the drill.” Wayward responded as he sat his briefcase on the desk and pointed to the chair in front of him. “What was it this time? Skipping school, fights, disrespecting teachers or do we have something new to add.” Wayland finished as looked bored obviously having grown tired of this student.
“Fight sir...” Blake responded as he sat down folding his arms across his chest. Looking around he frowned slightly as the blind folds was keeping the view of the street obscured.
“mhm…well given your home life situation I feel any harsh punishments would only hinder your situation further.” Wayland responded as he put his glasses on staring down Blake as if deciding on a viable punishment. “I will review the cameras with your homeroom teacher and get his recount of the event.. but if it is what I think it is odds are you picking fights with Kenny as normal.” He began as he leaned back resting his hands on the sides of the leather chair. “I won’t do detention but will advise a charity or community service program.” He began as he pulled out a folder as if he was ready to pick one out.
“Wait.” Blake began as he pulled out his phone, he was not going to do a school community since this meant he had to socialize with other faculty and students. He eyed his device and showed the event on his phone to the vice principal. “I am already in an event.” He added quickly as the principal took the phone to investigate with squinting judging eyes.
“30 acts of kindness.” Wayland responded as he began reading over the details of the event. Blake sat there biting the inside of his cheek. He had no clue what exactly this event included he failed to read the description of the event itself.
“You singed up for this?” The vice principal asked as he gave the phone back to Blake. “If so ill accept this as your punishment however you must keep a journal of everything you are doing whilst in it. If it is not acceptable or a fluke of some sort I will add a months’ worth of detention.” Wayland exclaimed as he leaned forward eyeing Blake. “Well go ahead sign up.”
Blake bit his cheek even harder causing him to wince in pain slightly. Reluctantly he typed “seven” into the chat and slowly pressed sent. He felt rather anxious then realized he had his breath held the whole time. Letting out a rather loud sigh he watched as Ezekiel responded immediately saying “welcome”. Leaning back Blake shook his head hoping he had not gotten into anything outlandish.
“Out of respect for your mother we won’t bring this up to her, however one more mess up and she will be made aware of all the things you have been delinquent for.” Vice principal Wayland retorted as he held up a rather large folder with Blake’s name on it. “Dismissed.” Wayland finished as he got up to open the door for Blake.
Blake nodded as he heaved himself upward in a tired manner slowly walking out the door before hearing it close quickly behind him. Walking down the hallway he distinctly knew there were another 15 minutes until first period. The thought to ditch school and go sleeping in the park sound more enticing than anything. But then again his mother receiving a call from the school was the last thing he wanted. Shaking his head set a note in his phone to text this Ezekiel concerning this event. Making his way towards his math class he sighed lightly as he knew he had to do some last second homework before the next class began.
The rest of the day at school went as it normally did for Blake. The long lecture for each class up until lunch. There Blake’s patience grew thin as he paid for a chicken nugget meal from the cafeteria and sat in the bleachers. It was more quite here than inside the cafeteria itself and not many students or faculty made their way here. Save for the regular groups of students who walked past to make their way to the art room where they all sat and ate together. He knew it was not too long ago that he himself was part of that group. Painting and drawing while talking about cultural difference s in art as he ate with friends.
Blake looked up and noticed Raven and her friends walk by on their way to the art room. He nodded their direction but paid them no heed. He had talked more than he liked and socializing now sounded more tiring than anything. He sat his food down as he leaned back to stare at the sky in response. It was cloudy today yet still fairly warm enough to not wear a sweater. Closing his eyes he awaited the lunch bell to ring.
The rest of the day went as it normally did for Blake. English after lunch and PE afterwards, however Blake had been pretty persistent in keeping a sick call slip saying he was too sick to participate in the weekly dodgeball tournament. Instead he sat in the stands inside the gym sending out a text to Ezekiel.
Blake: May I have more information on this event
He did not receive a straight answer right away, but this did brighten his mood slightly perhaps this was just a crazy hippie group going out to hug some trees.
Ezekiel: Sure thing I will be at the park you like after you get out of school
Blake eyes grew wide as he rubbed them to read the text over again. His breathing grew heavy suddenly as he wondered how this random stranger knew he was in school and that his favorite place was the park.
Ezekial: Vice principal Wayland said you get out of school at three, so I will see you then!
Blake relaxed slightly seeing the principals name in the chat. Grumbling to himself he made an educated guess the principal will be keeping tabs on him through this event organizer. Shaking his head, he knew there would be no room to wiggle out if he did not a more severe punishment this round.
Once PE had ended Blake quickly walked to the end of the school grounds toward his favorite street with the maple trees. Stopping momentarily, he eyed them with satisfaction before turning his gaze towards the park next to the gas station. Walking slowly, he checked the time on his phone and noticed it was 2:50 pm a still fair amount of time to enjoy himself before this Ezekiel character introduced himself. From the corner of his eye however he noticed Kenny and his goons pointing at him laughing amongst themselves. Blake looked closer and saw cotton swabs in Kenny’s nose signifying his kick had done descent damage. Holding back a smile Blake walked into the park and headed for his favorite bench in front of a small pond and a large maple tree behind the bench. Taking a seat he sat his back pack down and crossed his hand behind his head letting out a relaxing sigh.
“Today was so lame.” Blake called out as if talking to himself.
“Oh mine wasn’t”
Startled Blake jumped slightly as he seen an old African American male in a simple city fall attire. His grey hair and wrinkly face gave Blake a sense of calmness knowing no old man would be strong enough to kidnap or injure him. However looking into this man’s eyes, he felt a sense of fierceness and vigor.
“Ezekiel I presume?” Blake asked as he stood up straightening his shirt and reaching his hand out to shake in a form of greeting.
“In the flesh and blood.” Ezekiel responded quickly as he stayed sitting shaking Blake’s hand. “I am a very busy individual so if we can skip these boring customs and get right to it.” Ezekiel added as he put his hands into his coat pockets staring out across the pond as the sun shone directly at them through the clouds. Blake nodded in response and sat down following the gaze of Ezekiel. They both sat there for a solid minute as the sun rays felt warm against Blake’s cold skin. A sense of happiness encircled him as he forgot all about his surrounding but for a moment.
“Alrighty...” Ezekiel began startling Blake from his relaxation. “This event is an opportunity to give back to your community in the form of kindness.” Blake eyed the old man as the sun rays gave way to his dark skin complexion and wrinkles. “Essentially you must complete one kind act a day for thirty days in a row. This does not mean picking up trash on the road and throwing it away and calling it quits. What I am looking for is sincere heart felt kindness only true hearted individuals can carry out.” Ezekiel added as he looked at Blake with a kind smile. “However, doing many little things throughout the day can be considered an act in of itself so being proactive is vital in this situation.”
“And how will you know if we do these acts of kindness.” Blake asked feeling slightly skeptical of such an odd set of task for this event.
“Simple I have event moderators around town who are aware of individuals who signed up for this event. However integrity is key so you must keep a log of everything you do we will know if you fake it trust me.” Ezekiel added before pointing at Blake’s pocket. “You can record random acts of kindness as footnotes on your social media outlet or on our group chat it helps people feel motivated.”
Blake nodded as he pondered what this grand scheme leads up to as he fiddled with a button on his shirt. They both sat in silence for a few seconds before Ezekiel spoke once more.
“At the end if you followed these rules and made your journal of all the act of kindness you completed you will receive your prize.” Ezekiel replied as he stood up using his wooden cane as support.
“What is the prize?” Blake asked almost curious his mind blank from such an awkward meeting with this character he had never met.
“It is something you need but it may not be something you want.” Ezekiel replied as he pulled a grey fedora over his head and hobbled off leaving Blake to ponder the statement. “The event begins tomorrow young man I suggest you get some rest.” Ezekiel finished as he made his way out of the park.
Blake sat there by himself feeling even more curious and bewildered. Sensations he had not felt in some time since... A tear began to form at his eyes as his thought drifted towards his mother again. Shutting himself off he held back his emotions and stared at the sun now obscured by the clouds.
“Guess I have no choice now. Thirty total acts of kindness in a month.” Blake said to himself as he closed his eyes to relax and let his mind wander without pressure from socializing or the ever-looming sadness. A soft wind warm wind blew as a few leaves floated past him landing on the bench beside him. Opening his eyes to grab one up he held it up to the wind and let it float once more in the wind to another destination. Hopefully far from here.