After dinner, my roommate turns on the television. I don’t really watch. I sketch in swirling lines nothing in particular. She laughs with the laugh track and argues alongside prosecutors and grumbles about the state of the world. I keep her enough company, I suppose, because she doesn’t ask questions or try to involve me.
When she flips to her favorite midnight comedian, I’ve nearly filled the page with doodles.
The comedian introduces his first guest, Sad Boy is Sad. My notebook falls dormant and my eyes hunt for the thing I’ve pondered most of the day. The audience grants hearty guffaws.
“Did you see this?” My roommate asks. “It’s viral.” She has a knack for the obvious, and she isn’t seeking a response from me anyway.
I lean forward, elbows on knees, prepared to look into the face of a boy whose punishment surely outweighs his crimes.
A man emerges from the curtain. I don’t catch his name. The audience, including my roommate, cackles.
“Who is this?” I say. My roommate doesn’t actually want interruptions in her viewing pleasures, so she ignores me.
“Let’s take a look,” the comedian says, “at last night’s loss.” Video of Sad Boy fills the screen. Intermittent basketball misses and fouls jar the feed. Everyone gets the joke. I get the joke.
Sad Boy is the joke. The criticism and laughter that could have been taken in stride by an adult who knowingly entered the spotlight now heaps insult on a boy who didn’t.
My roommate doesn’t notice when I go to my bed. I block the noise with earplugs and near-silence. I haven’t prayed in years, but I pray now. Unsteadily. Without the proper words. For Sad Boy. For his relief and for his fading back into obscurity.
My mind hopefully eased, I turn my thoughts to my manuscript but every thought comes back to Sad Boy. So I pray again, this time I pray to close loopholes God might leave open from my last prayer. I pray for every scenario I can conceive for Sad Boy. Until I fall asleep.