((Cass: from Hot Problems))
Cass had felt a creeping emptiness, a fog obscuring the world around them, an absence of sadness or any other emotion to fill their head. Staring blankly at the homework in front of them, idly going through the motions of clicking through their social media while their 'I'll start working in ten minutes" turned to thirty minutes turned to hours, all the while feeling useless and guilty for wasting their time but feeling too numb to do anything about it.
After an eternity, when it finally became too much to bear, Cass forced themself up. Forced themself to grab their sketchbook; relying on pure inertia to keep moving. Forced themself to leave their room and get out of the house, forced a "Going for a walk, be back soon" at their parents; unable to bear the thought of hearing worried voices or feeling concerned gazes crawling across their skin.
The walk was a blur of motion and memory, disassociating from the present and relying on the well-carved path they had trod so many times in the past. The park always brought comfort to Cass whenever they were numb or panicking or otherwise an anxious wreck, the perfect blend of isolation and population. The park benches were scattered randomly about, making it easy to find a secluded place; while at the same time being a popular enough destination that there was almost always someone around to serve as a reminder that Cass existed, that they weren't alone in the world.
Cass began to sketch their surroundings, losing themself in the pure mechanical motions of art. There was no need to worry about a story or design, it was enough to just translate the beauty around them to paper. Slowly, feeling began to flow back into Cass's body, and the void inside them was replaced with a reassuring calm. They closed their eyes. Inhaled. Exhaled. Repeated until they could feel their heart beating, confirming that they were still here, that they had survived another day.
Creation was one hell of a drug. Cass would return to their neglected work with a new vigor once they returned, but for now they would stay in the park and sketch a while, reflecting on how lucky they were to be alive right then.
David had finished all of his homework with time to spare, so he decided to go for a jog. It was important to stay in shape, after all, and infrequent hikes just weren't enough. David considered Liberty Park to be the best place for his jogging: the scenery was very nice to look at, and the quiet atmosphere usually meant that there wouldn't be anything to distract him from his exercise. There were always to many exciting things going on in Sumac, too many people. David could hardly stay determined on solo exercise in that environment.
Of course, distractions could show up anywhere, even in Liberty Park. David found one has he turned a corner: a girl from his school was sitting on a bench, writing in a notebook. He knew her name. Cass. Cass... something. David was sure he knew at least the first name of everyone in his grade. However, in Cass's case he didn't know much beyond that. She was the quite type: maybe shy, or maybe just a loner. David must have spoken to her before, but he couldn't remember any substantial interaction. This would be a good opportunity to fix that.
"Hey! Cass, right?" David called as he jogged towards the bench. He put on his friendliest smile, as he always did when talking to someone new. Of course, you didn't go up to near-strangers in a park without something to break the ice. David was deciding between "Great day out, huh?" and "This is a really nice place, isn't it?" when he caught a glimpse of Cass's notebook.
It turned out she was drawing, not writing. She was sketching the area around them, and very well, too. David wished he could draw. Unfortunately, he was only gifted with the ability to draw stick figures. He remembered trying to improve once, but he didn't stick with it. There were always many things that interested him, and drawing was just one of those things that never panned out.
"Oh, wow, this is really good." David turned his head to the side and leaned in closer to get a better view. "You must do this all the time, huh? I wish I had a sort of talent like that."