“Guys,” Mason says, “I think I’m starting to feel it now. Like, for real.”
“Oh yeah?” Charlie laughs, “How so?”
It’s a beautiful Thursday afternoon at Broadway and Kerr. The clouds are swirling and slinking in and out of each other. The leaves on the trees are all waving hello. The ground is breathing.
Mason, Moe, and Charlie are walking. They’re not walking anywhere in particular, but it’s good. It feels good to walk. They’ve all agreed — like they’re on some kind of special mission or adventure or something. Moe’s bedroom was starting to get claustrophobic anyways. The air was really stale, and all the posters were starting to look suspicious.
Mason squints and runs his hand through his hair.
“Like, uh.” He sucks air in through his teeth. “Like, uh, Moe, you know in Spongebob where sometimes they zoom in on somebody’s face or toes or something and it’s all really detailed and gross and you can see all their pores and everything?”
“Sure,” Moe says
“That’s kind of what you look like, right now. Like, pretty close to that.”
“No problem, man.” Mason sits down and stretches his legs out on the sidewalk. “I think I’m going to lay down now, if that’s okay with you guys.”
“Knock yourself out,” Charlie says. He yawns and looks around.
On the right is the first building the boys have walked by all of the last two hours that hasn’t been somebody’s house. It’s a school, Charlie thinks — big and tall and made of sculpted concrete with a big metal Star of David over the front entrance. There’s a tall chain-link fence around the playground.
“What’s that? he asks.
“What?” Moe says. He’s been swiping through something on his phone. “Oh, that’s Mount Sinai. It’s like a Jewish elementary school. Becca went there, I think.”
“Oh,” Charlie says, “What’s with the fence?” He feels something deep inside of himself. Like empathy, but amplified, somehow, deeper and sadder and more abstract. He wishes he could name the feeling and makes a mental note to write about it when he gets back to Moe’s house.
“What are you talking about?” Moe puts his phone away and walks over to stand beside Charlie. “It’s a fence. A lot of schools have those, dude. Didn’t yours?”
“Holy shit,” Mason says over from where he’s lying, to nobody in particular.
“No, but.” Charlie starts to feel tears welling up in the corners of his eyes. “I mean, yeah, but this is, like, big. Like, tall. Like they’re trying to protect the kids because people want to hurt them for being who they are. That’s so sad.”
“I don’t-” Moe says.
“That’s so, so sad, that there’s- there’s hate-” Charlie pauses for a full second. “-in the world.” His thoughts have stopped coming to him in sentences. It’s all just emotion, colours and movements.
“I mean-” Moe scans the fence up and down and then looks at Charlie. “Yeah, I guess. That, uh, that really sucks.” He blows a raspberry. “Anyways, do you want to head to a Tim’s or something? I’m starting to feel hungry again. I think I’m coming down.”
“Yeah,” Charlie says. He sniffs and wipes the tears out of his eyes. “Yeah, sure, sorry. I’m hungry too, I think.”
“Great,” Moe says, “Mason! You alright over there? Wanna go to Tim’s?”
Mason props himself up on his elbows and smiles.
“I wanna be a writer,” he says, “I just figured it out.”
“You should write about hate,” Charlie says.
“What?” Mason scowls.
“Guys.” Moe snaps his fingers. “Food. Please. Come on.”
A squirrel shimmers out from behind a bush, runs over to Mount Sinai’s fence, and scales it, crossing over into the playground. The sun is shining. The earth is vibrating. It’s a beautiful Thursday afternoon at Broadway and Kerr.