“I see you have a lot of Disney on your walls,” I observe, trying to pass—or maybe hold off—time, “what’s your favorite movie?”

“Hercules,” he replies, quick like it’s a question he’s prepared for; one he has answered a million times. In my head this makes sense, even though the boy next to me is a complete stranger.

In his blue eyes there is both bravery and a weakness. One of us has to be brave, and God knows it’s not going to be me. When we fall into ourselves the weakness shines through his demeanor of being put together as he is. There is an capriciousness about him, something so undoubtedly unsure. I feel it radiating off his skin, I hear it in his deep, hollow breaths, I taste it in his lips. I know, or at least I’ve come to know that he is just as scared as I am, and in many ways that diminishes the fear that’s within me.

—m.h.

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