Anchors are a very important invention. They keep you from going adrift. From wandering too far from shore. From endangering yourself, even while you sleep. Anchors are at work whenever they’re dropped. Wherever they’re dropped.
Even if you’re not a sailor, odds are, you actually have one.
You just might not know it.
It’s funny to me though. The whole idea of anchors. Because they really are very different. Both in make and model. Their purpose is the same, and they accomplish the same goals, but that doesn’t mean they’re all the same.
Because they definitely aren’t.
Not at all.
“Green, what do you have in your pocket?” I asked, not for the first time.
And, not for the first time, Green simply showed me what he had instead of answering.
“Green, why on earth did you bring another pet to class?”
“He’s not my pet. I found him.”
“You mean to tell me that you found a white mouse in the wild, and then he allowed you to capture him and put him in your pocket? That doesn’t make any sense Green.”
“He didn’t allow me! I had to try reaaaaally hard to catch him. And look, he’s pooped all in my pocket.”
Holding out the mouth of his pocket more, I could see that he wasn’t lying.
Not that he would. I’d never heard Green tell a lie before. And he’d definitely never tell one to me, of all people.
If I wasn’t used to Green’s antics, I might’ve laughed, or gone blank or tattled or something. But, I’d been sitting next to Green for three months now. More than long enough for me to adjust.
“Green, at lunch, you need to find a place to put him, okay? He can’t stay in your pocket,” I said.
“Why not? He’s been in here nearly all day,” he replied, his green eyes suspicious of my motives.
That was so like Green. He was always suspicious of everything. Except, mostly, me. It was only times like these, when I was telling him to abandon some ridiculous mission he had, that his bright eyes would turn darkly to me.
I sighed again. “Green, he’s a living creature. If he stays in there too long, he’ll become sick because of his own poop. That aside, he’s clearly terrified. It isn’t normal for a mouse to poop so much. If you’re scaring him that badly, it’s only a matter of time before he has a heart attack.”
Downcast, seeing reason, he said, “But… where do I put him? I want him to be safe.”
And this was the root of the issue. The reason why I couldn’t actually be mad at Green for this particular type of antic. It was why Green picked up so many animals in the first place.
For whatever reason, Green had a strong protective instinct. Almost like a mother bear. When he saw animals on the street, or in the grass, or wherever the hell else he finds them, he tended to see them with that sort of scope. Thinking that they need protection. And, being the protective mama bear that he is, he feels responsible. He equates leaving them to abandoning them.
And he’s got some serious abandonment issues.
I don’t know where they stem from exactly, but they’re definitely there.
“We’ll find a box to put him in until the day is over. We’ll ask Mrs. Eve to keep on eye on him until then, alright?”
At that, the clouds in his vision lifted. “Okay. Thanks Irene!”
I scoffed a brief laugh. “Yeah, yeah,” I said.
This was sort of a routine thing. This mouse was only the first of many strange instances that have happened since I had been forced to sit next to Green.
He was kind of known around school as a weirdo.
And a scrapper.
Some kids even started a rumor that he was in a gang, which couldn’t be further from the truth, but still.
Green was someone people steered clear of.
Which is why, when I was forced to sit next to Green, I nearly made a complaint to the vice principal. I didn’t want to sit next to someone who was bound to bite my hand off. Because, although the gang rumors were unfounded, I did know for a fact that Green wasn’t afraid of starting fights.
Yet, I didn’t complain.
I endured it.
Mom had always been the encouraging type. She always told me that I ought to try something first before I write it off. Or think ill of it.
So, I tried it. Sitting next to Green.
And, it wasn’t fine.
But it wasn’t awful.
Mostly, it was strange.
Like I said, the mouse was only the most recent example.
The first day I was forced to sit next to Green, he’d had a bunny in his pocket. A little baby one. No bigger than my palm.
And the day after that, he’d come in with a split lip, and a black eye. Though he claimed the other party lost.
Now that I know him better, I wouldn’t doubt it.
Because, after about two weeks of sitting next to him (and letting him borrow pencils which he never returned), I accidentally bumped into him outside of the classroom.
While he was in the middle of kicking some kid’s ass.
I’d stopped dead in my tracks. Not because of the violence, or because I was scared, or because I was thinking about slipping away. No. I stopped because I was utterly stunned.
Green was holding some kid up by the scruff of his shirt. Holding him up, in midair.
With one hand.
He’d turned to me and his demeanor immediately changed.
He chucked the kid across the hallway easily, as if he were just a toy. Then Green’s bright eyes and bouncing smile went on to ask me about the homework or something.
Honestly, I can’t remember what he asked, or what I said. I was still too stunned. Too focused on the fact that he’d just lifted some kid up and one-handedly thrown him.
Green was full of surprises.
That was what I’d come to expect from him in the past three months.
Never underestimate Green.
As childish, and as clueless, and as honest as he was, Green could always surprise you.
And, somehow, the teachers all understood that too. That Green was unpredictable. And, generally speaking, unstoppable. Once Green saw something a certain way, that was mostly it. He would react, and then that was the end of that too. Green never backed down, and he never stopped something he started.
Until I started sitting next to him.
Apparently, some teacher saw that incident. The one where Green stopped because I entered the scene. And, I guess, a lightbulb went off in their head.
Next thing I knew, I was getting called out of class.
To go to… another class?
Not the principal’s office?
I mean, sure, I wasn’t a bad kid. Going to see the principal would’ve been weird, but being called to go see a different teacher? One I didn’t have? That was even weirder.
But then, when I arrived, it got weirder.
Green was holding a tiny kitten and yelling at the teacher who was, apparently, trying to get Green to rid the classroom of the creature.
I stood outside the door a moment, ogling. Confused.
But then his teacher saw me.
“Oh, you must be Irene, right?”
Green’s head snapped around and his angry eyes locked onto me.
And he came running.
Stomping right up to me, his eyes were desperate.
“Irene! This old hag lady is trying to get me to kill this kitten!”
Taken aback, I said, “Green, I don’t think that’s what she’s trying to–”
But the teacher interrupted me. Shouting something about how it was disrespectful to be calling her names like that. To which Green replied with more disrespect (and some swear words).
“Uh, um, could I maybe talk to Green for a moment?” I’d asked.
The teacher looked a bit dumbfounded, but nodded. “I suppose if it’ll help.”
“We’ll be just a sec,” I replied.
Talking to him outside, I told him that bringing animals to school was a no-no. He explained his side of things–which revealed his protective instincts and abandonment issues to me–and how he couldn’t just do nothing for the kitten. So, I made a compromise, calling upon the help of my old friend, Mrs. Eve. And then he’d returned to class, happy and elated, and he even apologized to the teacher like I’d suggested.
And the rest…
…well, it continues to this day, apparently.
I still get called out of class. Still see Green perform ridiculous feats like picking kids up with one hand.
And I still help him rescue little critters.
“Do you think the mouse will be okay? He won’t get lonely or cold or anything, will he?” Green asked as we walked to Mrs. Eve’s.
I shrugged. “I doubt it. Probably, he’ll be glad to have more room than just a pocket.”
“That’s true. It is kind of cramped in there,” he said.
His content spirit was kind of catching. A small smile spread on my face without me even noticing.
But Mrs. Eve noticed.
After Green left–excited, and a bit angsty at leaving the mouse behind–Eve had me stay behind a moment.
“So, you and Green get along really well, don’t you?” she asked.
I shrugged. “I guess. If we didn’t, I doubt they’d call me up all the time to lend a hand.”
At that, she gave me a knowing smile.
It made me uncomfortable.
“What?” I asked.
“Nothing,” she decided. Then shrugged and gave me a less creepy smile. “I just think he has a good effect on you.”
“What do you mean?”
She shrugged. “You’re more… empathetic towards others than you used to be. Before Green sat next to you, you kind of just…drifted through your day. But now you’re going out of your way to help out mice and kittens and out-of-control teenagers.”
It was hard to hide my embarrassment. The blush crept up my face as I scowled. “Is that weird?”
“No! Not at all. It’s a good thing. I’m glad,” she said, and she sounded genuine. And her smile looked genuine, too. “I’m glad that you two have each other. You anchor one another.”
At first, I felt a bit affronted. The first part of her statement sounded like she was coupling us. But then, the second part melted that irritation away.
GREEN anchoring ME?
I’d never thought of it that way. Of Green helping me as much as I helped him. That someone as ditzy, or as angsty, or as distrusting as him could anchor anyone was kind of astounding. But, the fact that he was an anchor for me, specifically, was even stranger.
Yet, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.
In the end, I couldn’t argue with Eve at all.
As I left the classroom, I found myself zoning out. My mind still thinking about anchors and Green.
Which is why I didn’t notice him around the corner.
I nearly jumped out of my skin when he said, “Hey Irene! Are you heading to your next class now?”
“Holy–yes, I am,” I replied, calming myself down with the knowledge that it was just Green.
Grinning innocently, he said, “Oops. Sorry. Didn’t mean to scare you.”
I shrugged, with a slight sigh. “It’s alright.”
“What did Mrs. Eve want to talk to you about anyway?” he asked.
I thought about telling him. About letting him know he was an anchor.
But then, I thought, he’d probably just keep doing what he was doing. And, as cute as it was, he really had to stop breaking rules.
So, I said, “Nothing. Just wanted to ask me about where you got the mouse, that’s all.”
“Oh,” he said, his voice still chipper. “I found him at the junk yard.”
“The junk…” I shook my head. “Green, what were you doing at the junk yard? You know that’s trespassing.”
His eyes were that innocent, bright green. “I was just looking to see if they had an old CD player lying around. My little brother mentioned that he wanted one.”
I sighed. “You’re hopeless.”
That didn’t deter him in the slightest.
“Yeah, but that’s what you love about me.”
I couldn’t disagree.
Author’s note: Written on 12/26/17.
Going away for a few days on vacation, but I like posting, so I’ve set this thing up to post my pre-written stories automatically. Sorry they’re not fresh, but at least they’re something.