• Without him, the world around me changes.
    The trees are bare and everywhere the streets are full of strangers.

    “On My Own” – Les Misérables

    “Dude, what are you doing in here?”

    Startled, Logan raised his head from the desk, quickly looked around the empty classroom for the source of the voice and, after a second or two, spotted it standing in the doorway. “Why aren’t you at lunch? And why are you just sitting alone in the dark?”

    “Go away, Benny.” Logan lowered his head, resting it atop his crossed arms.

    Oh no, not again. This is the third time this week. I can’t just leave him like this, though. Ignoring the command, Benny stepped into the classroom, stopping just inside the door and flipping the lights on. Logan’s head snapped back up, his eyes squinting at the sudden brightness. “Go away, I said. I don’t want to talk to anyone.”

    With the light on and Logan’s head off the desk, Benny was able to get a better look at him. Logan’s dark brown hair was matted and oily, his skin so pallid that one might think he had never been out in the sun. The dark circles around his eyes, puffy and bloodshot from a combination of sleepless nights and nonstop tears, looked like two big, ugly shiners. Jesus Christ, he looks like s**t. He’s really not taking it well at all.

    “Look, man,” Benny began as he slowly approached, not wanting to rile Logan further. He grabbed a chair from another desk and sat down, facing Logan. “I know what you’re going through, and I understand that you’re really upset, but it’s been almost three weeks. Don’t you think it’s about time to start moving on?”

    From the look on Logan’s face, Benny could tell he had said the wrong thing. “Move on?” Logan retorted, raising his voice. “You think I can just move on?”

    And I thought he couldn’t get any worse. “Logan,” Benny pleaded, trying to calm his friend, “I know how much you loved him, okay. I loved him, too. Everyone did. But he’s gone now, and there’s nothing you or I or anyone can do about it.”

    Logan slammed his hands down on the desk, eyes furious. “Don’t you get it?” he cried. “Nothing is the same anymore. Tell me, how would you feel if you found out that you had lost the person you loved most, that you loved more than anything else in the world? He was the only reason I kept going, kept getting up and going to this god-awful school, where no one but you even makes an effort to be my friend, and going back home to a family that doesn’t understand me. He’s always been there to show me what’s right and how I should live my life, and now that’s been taken away. There’s just no meaning to anything anymore.”

    “I know it’s hard to get over losing someone important to you,” Benny said soothingly, “and I know you feel hopeless and lost right now, but it’ll be okay, I promise.”

    “No, it’ll never be okay!” Logan shouted; he’d finally lost it. “Elliot Stabler was the best thing about Law and Order: SVU! Without him, it might as well just be another stupid crime drama. Jesus, he was my last hope. When Grissom left CSI, I thought, ‘Well, at least I’ve still got Stabler,’ but not anymore! Don’t you see? There’s nothing left for me!”

    And with that, Logan stood up from the desk, grabbing his backpack from the floor. He bolted from the room and out into the hallway, leaving Benny sitting alone to process what had just happened.

    Why do I keep putting myself through this?