Colin Cox was, for all intents and purposes, an average college student. He woke in the mornings after nights of partying, head dull and aching, and dragged himself through his day. In classes, he paid little attention and spent more time drawing in the margins of his notebook, until he chimed back in for some bit of information he supposed might actually make it onto the midterm. He dated, though sparingly–pretty girls with long hair and high-waisted shorts, now that it was finally starting to get warm outside. He was, whether out with the people he called friends or bent over textbooks in the library, an everyman.
This was, for the most part, a very cheaply constructed persona. He strove for it, but it was a thin veneer over a past and current life that he made a special point to avoid discussing–it had lost him friends and girlfriends and scholarships alike. It made his girlfriends, who didn’t press too hard, think he was dark and mysterious; it made his friends, who hung around long enough, think he was reckless and wild. Really, all it was was a clever means by which he avoided scrutinization and pity, and ultimately terror.
At a young age, Colin learned all about hiding. His parents were the kind of parents who tried to dissuade you from hiding–there was no reason, you should be proud of being so unique and different, and anyway, they would love you no matter what, and that’s all that should matter! But the world, he learned, was not his parents. The world did not care about being unique and different, unless it was to the benefit of others; the world did not care how much pain it put someone through; the world, and the other children in it, didn’t care about suffering and sadness. And so, despite the doctors and the administrators and the agencies and the constant check-ins from case supervisors mandated by a federal court order that governed Colin and all people like him, he learned that simply being Colin–not unique or individual, and especially not strange or special–was the best for everyone involved, that keeping his head down and his voice low and his test scores mediocre was the best way to slip through the world unnoticed and unimportant.