Short Fiction: Apathy
Boyd sat. And watched. He thought he could physically feel his life whittle down to endless, mundane events, all linked intrinsically and yet, somehow, not really meaning much in his life. Boyd had heard the term ‘existential crisis’ before. He wondered if that was what was happening now. Did school matter? Did his life matter? Well, obviously his life mattered, but for what reason? He felt as if he needed purpose. The bell rang, and classmates bumped around his desk. They’re as bored as I am, thought Boyd.
“Hey, Boyd, what’s wrong?” his teacher said, looking up. “The bell rang.”
“I know. I’m just… trying to find the ability to be bothered to move.”
“Apathy. Not a desirable trait.”
“No, it isn’t apathy. It’s the opposite. I care too much. I care too much about myself, and doing something with myself, and about other people. Is there a word for that?”
“Not off the top of my head. Look, we all feel like that occasionally.”
“I feel it all the time.”
“Are you finding ways to fix the problem?”
“I’m trying. It isn’t working.” Boyd wasn’t liking where the conversation was going. He didn’t want to matter so much. “I think I’ve found the ability to move now.”
The teacher simply looked, watching his back as he trailed from the classroom. Boyd couldn’t even remember his name. Someone he was near almost every day, and he couldn’t think of his name. But wasn’t that the problem? Why did he care so much about trivial things if he was trying to be apathetic?
Maybe caring about less, thinking about less, was the key to a happy life.
He stopped outside of his classroom. Do I enter? If he didn’t want to care anymore, then learning wasn’t a good start. People inside noticed him, and gestured for him to enter. But he shook his head and kept walking.
He’d heard that walking could be quite therapeutic. Maybe that was the plan. Walk and walk, until he was out to wherever he felt like going. His footsteps echoed down empty hallways, past classrooms and assembly halls.
Is that crying? Boyd started towards the sound. And stopped again. He’d done it again. He was letting go, something this person was having a hard time doing. It bothered him, the fact that he still couldn’t let anything slide, so he ran until he left the crying far away.
He couldn’t ignore it completely though. Like a worm, the thought wiggled its way inside Boyd’s head, until he wanted to know everything about the person’s life. Who they were. How they got to the point of quietly sobbing inside a school bathroom.
But he still refused to move. Something was now stopping him. He hadn’t finished his quest, to care about nothing. He hadn’t really started. That person cared too much, and their life seemed to have gone down the toilet.
But if they were crying, someone had to have done something wrong. Someone horrible possibly. Boyd was looking for someone to shift the blame onto, and he found a picture in his head of who could perform such an act. But he was missing something. Some personality aspect. Of not caring.
Boyd’s eyes widened with realisation. That was what was happening to everyone. That was why there were criminals, thugs, and bullies. Because they didn’t care. Boyd stood up. He wasn’t going to become one of them. He began walking. Maybe the world needed people like him, people who cared too much.
Maybe they were the ones who saved the world.