SITTING in his usual lunchtime spot in the shade of one of the big oak trees that sometimes made the campus seem like such an inviting place, Jason didn’t notice that his body was draped in a random pattern of light and shadow. The warm sun, now at its highest point in the sky, poured down its light, bathing most of the world in brightness. Even the oak trees, with their new springtime leaves now almost fully formed, couldn’t deflect it all, and the sunlight was fragmented into a thousand shards of light, each illuminating a little piece of earth.
The sunshine and shade made some blades of grass glow while others remained the same dull green, and insects blinked and sparkled as they buzzed back and forth. The light, both scattered and direct, fell on the clusters of other teenagers eating their lunches in the warm springtime air. Their laughter and conversation created a sense of unity where the sunshine couldn’t reach. In this optimistic season, when the rest of the world strove to become as one in the light, Jason alone resisted.
He sat with his back against the wall of the auditorium building. This was his regular spot, chosen because it was in the shade at this hour of the day. The trunk of the oak tree was a few feet in front of him, not close enough to conceal him from his classmates, but near enough to offer him a sense of security and shelter. His backpack that had been slung over his shoulder was now set beside him. He opened the bag of chips that he had bought from one of the vending machines in the gymnasium and quickly popped a chip in his mouth, fixing his eyes back towards the way he had just come: towards the corner of the auditorium, beyond which stood the flagpole and the entrance to the main school building.