Before he suggested anything, he paused, told me he could tell that I was troubled by something, that I had this huge weight on my shoulders. He asked me if it had anything at all to do with that quiet blonde girl, Sarah, the one who had been in the car with Miss Hamilton when she had the accident.
“How did you know?” I asked.
“I can see the longing in your eyes when you look at her,” he said.
“But I hardly ever look at her,” I protested.
“You don’t need to look at her long for you to reveal your tell.”
“Am I that obvious? I must look like this huge geek, drooling all over Sarah.”
“No, no, it’s not like that at all, Peter,” he said, fiddling with his bolo tie. He seemed to wear a slightly different one each day. “It is very subtle. But I’m a writer. And an observer. I spend my entire life looking at the little things, the non-verbal cues that people give off. I doubt that many people who don’t know you well have picked up on it.”
Then he went on to say that my predicament -- having lost my girl, what had been the main focus of the last several years of my life during my senior year reminded him of a character in a book.
“It’s by a local author, actually. A Sudbury author. Dr. Sean Costello. I’m not sure if it’s even in print anymore, but I have a copy of the book with me, as there was a scene I’d been planning on reading to the class today, but I just ran out of time. But I’d be happy to loan it to you.” He then walked over to his bag, dug into it, and produced this pocket book that had a picture of this ugly thin teenager sitting in a wheelchair. The book was called “Captain Quad.”
“The main character had everything, but then he lost it one day after an accident that paralyzed him. The author does a brilliant job of showing the downward spiral of his hatred and anger. Of course, the author then introduces some pretty scary things, not unlike the frightening sort of thing that happens in Stephen King’s Carrie. But it’s really well done, and terrifying. The terror hits home not only because the writer has a great talent of bringing the reader into the scene, into the characters, but also because it happens right here in Sudbury.
“Now, I’m not saying that you’re like the main character in this book, just that, like him, you’ve suffered a significant loss. And the key is that maybe by reading his story, by seeing how he falls prey to the anger and the hatred, you might recognize a few of those same things in yourself. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll help pull you out of your funk.
“Literature can do that very well. It can be like a mirror that we hold up to ourselves. And the story, the characters can help us see things, detect details about our lives, and examine them.”
I thanked him for recommending the book and for lending it to me. And then I walked out of the class, thinking about how he picked up on the whole unspoken thing between me and Sarah.
I’d been wanting to ask him if perhaps he saw a similar thing in her when she looked at me. But I didn’t know how to ask.