The light of the park was too bright, almost blinding as Hansel sat cross legged near the large, ornamental fountain. It portrayed a man wearing some kind of triangular cap, rearing back on a stone carved horse, a scimitar flailing wildly above his head. The inscription had once read something, but it had long since been eroded away by rain and frothing water, leaving the statue chipped, faded, imperfect.
Hansel threw another pebble into the water, tossing five other stones in his hand idly as he watched the rippling patterns in the pool. As the circles drifted further and further from where the stone had been thrown, Hansel felt a strange kinship with them - if deep thoughts such as those were permissable. He, too, had been tugged away from his center by forces he couldnt control, or understand.
Now he was in a strange place with bigoted liberals and rampant faggots, teachers who allowed students to explode in rage during debates and thumbed the scale heavily in favour of a non-existant God. The big bang and equality, gay pride and free condoms. Just live your lives amongst sin and desperation, express your free speech, but only if you agree with the winning side.
He tossed another stone into the pool, grunting in disgust. Just that day, he had spoken up about waiting for marriage, abstinence, saving yourself. Truly the only correct course to take, even if the bible hadnt told him so. To save yourself for something better; something bigger, and filled with love, was a stance that he had always firmly held close.
To hear the idea - admittedly worded far more bluntly than he had intended - shot down in a public forum had him retreating here, in the park a half mile away from the school, to sit, and brood.
And think of home.
The late afternoon sun shone bright and pleasantly clear over the quiet, secluded little pathway that Ian had chosen on a whim, no particular destination in mind. With all the noise and hustle that had come into his life over the last year, it was relaxing to just amble through the now familiar scenery of the park and let his thoughts wander, digesting the events of the day at his leisure. The mind was a like a library in so many ways, and it needed a certain amount solitude to truly enjoy.
A friendly breeze picked up off and on, whistling cheerfully as it flew by, rustling through leaves that were already changing color, and carrying with it a slight, cutting chill that hinted at the changing seasons. He would always stand a little straighter as it passed him by, relishing its gentle bite. There was something about the cold that woke up the mind and body, forcing the sludge out and allowing a clarity of thought and awareness of his own senses that left one feeling truly glad just to exist.
Of course, that little gesture made it quite a bit easier for the wind to snatch at his backpack, which shouldn't have been left open, scattering papers he hadn't realized were loose. Even as he frantically snatched his homework off the ground and stuffed it back into the bag, the mischievous breeze was off again, laughing. After a moment of disgust, a rueful smile played at the corner of his mouth, and he chuckled quietly along with it. If it sometimes felt as if life was using him for a punch line, well, at least he knew how to laugh.
That was how he stayed sane, when life was always throwing something at him anymore, be it the move, or Aurora, or just the constant drain that came from the sheer amount of casual contempt his beliefs would attract. Just today, the subject of sex and marriage had come up in class, and he'd tried so hard not to get involved, because it had been anything but respectful.
Humor was the best way to deal with it all, an aid to keep a healthy sense of perspective, and to take what good he could out of everything. He smiled a little as the chill in the wind grew a little sharper, a little more cutting; perhaps there was a little pride as well, at being able to not just withstand life's challenges, but to be the better off for them. He was whistling a tune of his own into the wind, as he resumed his walk.
The last leg of his walk took him to the fountain where he planned to spend the rest of his free time before heading home; he had a book, it had a bench, and that was a match made in Heaven. He hesitated a moment when he saw the other boy already there, sighed a little in disappointment and was ready to move on before recognition hit. The boy was even more recent to Seattle than Ian, and he barely knew anything about him. But he'd also been in the discussion, arguing awkwardly for the sanctity of marriage; his inexperience was evident, but watching him get torn apart had finally gotten Ian to speak up in his defense. It had done about as much good as could have been expected, which was to say none, but there were times when simply having a friend might be worth something.
Perhaps last year, he would have passed by anyway; even now, there were a hundred excuses already in mind to do so. But today, curiosity won out, and he smiled as he approached the other boy.
"Hello, Hansel, right?"