There was a high school in a small town called Clinton in New Jersey. The population was about 2000. There was only one landmark, the Red Mill. At school there were some really smart kids, for whom every teacher predicted a bright future. Once a week a private class was held for these students: Mondays for freshmen, Tuesdays for sophomores…
The was a guy called Ryan who was always prepared for every class. He wasn’t just brilliant in class; he had a lovely personality, he was always smiling and made everybody smile, you could always rely on him, and his kindness made the day better. His parents had taught these things to him; everybody wanted a family like his, as it was perfect in its own way. He was in junior year so they had their class on Wednesdays.
One day he came to class late, apologized and sat down. The teacher asked for his essay; he looked at her with a frightened face, and everybody knew what that meant. He had forgotten to do it again. Lately he had started acting differently; he rarely smiled or talked with anybody. If somebody asked what was wrong with him, he said “nothing” and “don’t ask me this again.”
As you might suspect, his behavior continued like this, so action needed to be taken. So the headmaster called him in. Ryan sat down in front of him in an office where he had been many times but which he had always left in high spirits, as he had never done anything wrong until now. The headmaster said he was disappointed in him, his grades were going down very fast, and if he didn’t change this, he would be kicked out of the private classes, and without that, he hadn’t a chance at Harvard, his dream college.
He went home and started thinking. After an hour, he decided that he was going to be his old self, so he did all of his homework immediately. The next day he apologized to his teacher but didn’t explain his behavior.
His two best friends, Ava and Justin, were worried about him. They started talking about him, how they wanted to help but couldn’t. Ava said that they should talk to his parents, so they started with that. When they arrived at his house, they knocked on the door. Ryan’s parents opened it with big smiles on their faces. Ava and Justin started talking about how weird Ryan had been lately, but his parents didn’t know anything about it. After a lot of thinking, Justin had an idea. He said that they should follow Ryan after school, because he had told his parents that he was always with his friends after school. Ava hesitated, as it isn’t right to follow someone, but they comforted themselves with the thought that they were doing this for a good reason.
It was four o’clock on Wednesday, they had finished their last class, Ryan quickly left the school, and Ava and Justin followed him. After a twenty-minute walk they arrived at a boxing club. It smelled like sweat and stinking socks—disgusting, but they stayed out of curiosity, since Ryan never worked out and didn’t play any sports. It was nine when Ryan left the building; he had been there for nearly five hours. They ran to him and questioned him. They asked him to explain this, all of this.
“I’m sorry guys, I really don’t want to talk about this, I’m fine.”
“Listen, Ryan, we love you and care about you always and we know you are not okay, so tell us what is wrong, and maybe we can help,” Ava said.
He hesitated, but he looked into his best friends’ eyes and started talking.
“I have been boxing because one night somebody wanted to steal from me and the fact that i could’t defend myself was terrifying. I haven’t told anybody about that night. I just came into this boxing club and started boxing. After a while I started to like it, but it is overwhelming on top of school, and I don’t know what I should do.”
They talked for an hour, and many good ideas came up.
After two months he managed the school and the boxing together; he had harmony in his life again, thanks to that night when his friends talked to him.