“Welcome back, Mr. Stephenson,” Mrs. Bush said to Alex as he wheeled his chair in the classroom door. “How are you feeling?”
“Um… fine, I guess.” Alex entered his calculus classroom to twenty-five sets of eyes gawking at him. He knew this would get easier eventually, and even as the day wore on. But coming back to school after being in the hospital most of Christmas break was surreal. The world had kept revolving without him.
Alex glanced around at the tiny desks and narrow aisles and panicked. He could barely move the lower half of his body, and even with strength training his arms weren’t strong enough yet to lift himself out of his chair and onto one of those tiny seats.
“Alex, right over here,” Gus said from his left. “We set up a table for you so you can wheel right up to your very own VIP seating.”
“Giving me the royal treatment, eh?” Alex said with a grin and shifted his trajectory with gratitude.
“Nothing but the best for our honorary prince.”
“If only I could wear your crown as well.” Alex wheeled himself up to the desk, which was the perfect height.
All around him were his friends. Gus, of course, Ellen, Logan, Phoebe, even Zach and a couple of his friends. The last semester of high school would fall into place. His body would heal gradually, and he’d graduate and figure out what to do with the rest of his life.
Every one of his classrooms had been similarly arranged to accommodate his new disability. He was humbled that the school administrators had gone out of their way to make his life a little bit easier.
Near the end of the day, Alex and Gus both received a text simultaneously, as if they were included in some group text sent by one of their family members. Sure enough, the identical messages were from Gus’ older brother, Owen. Four little words.
King Sayid has died.
Followed almost immediately by another text.
Dad and Aaron are holding a press conference in one hour. Come home.