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Author's note: I believe that there is a different moral in my novel for different people. They could range from don't ever give up to don't let grades or other people's opinions define you. I simply hope that anyone reading my novel will find a moral (or a few) for themselves.
That was the day his mother died- It was the end of junior high school and the happiest I’d ever seen him. Strangely enough after coming home I received a numbing pain in my head and I somehow just knew that something had happened. After a moment of panic I ran out to the streets and started asking questions about him, my one and only friend from childhood: John. I had heard from someone that he was involved in a huge fight and I was coming to help him out of it even though I knew he could handle himself, but when I got there I was shocked. He was kneeling down on the street, clutching his right shoulder and sobbing terribly. There were bodies strewn across the floor around him (beaten but breathing). 10? 20? I didn’t even bother to count…all I knew was that something bad had happened and I needed to be there for him. Without hesitation I steadily made my way up to him and hugged him from behind. He then turned around and after recognising me through the tears in his eyes returned the embrace. We spent the rest of that afternoon like that clutched in each other’s arms, letting our tears wet the dry pavement that lay below us.
After that day I ignored Kylie…pushed her away, pushed myself away. I felt that I couldn’t live with what had happened. Somehow though…I moved on, empty but alive. I was offered a scholarship for my skills at basketball in an academically advanced school which I had accepted. I was never good at school and had a hard time staying at the average at my normal school so I was worried at first but I knew that I needed to do this so I could improve. However tragedy struck and something happened to my right shoulder while fighting which disabled me from moving my right arm above should level effectively crippling my basketball skills. It was too late though to cancel the scholarship and I made it into the school.
To my surprise on the first day I met Kylie (this was very shocking as we had never previously discussed where we were going to go to high school. We were going to discuss it during summer vacation, but well…you know how that turned out). I could tell that she was very nervous and cautious to speak to me once again. I was scared that we could never repair what had happened that day and I was afraid to confront that day again, to accept its existence. I had worked so hard to forget its existence and I was not about to let all that work become undone. I had become comfortably numb. So when I met her again I pretended that I had never known her before and introduced myself to her. Initially she was very shocked but I kept up my façade and eventually she gave in. We became friends anew, just like I knew we would and had wonderful times together once more.
Somewhere near the start of the year I saw a kid with blonde hair being beat up by the soccer team, seemingly defending some kids that were hiding behind his back. I made the obvious choice and joined in helping him because it didn’t look like he could take much more. Afterwards we were sent to the principal’s office for participating in the fight while the soccer team got out scot free because they couldn’t hurt their reputation. While we were waiting for the principal to arrive we started to talk. He told me his name was Josh and he was a kid like me, meaning he was skilled in a particular sport (soccer) and had only gotten into this school due to a scholarship. I asked him why he didn’t get out of trouble like the other members and he told me it was probably because it was his first year. After the principal finished chewing us out for our actions he informed Josh that his scholarship was going to be revoked. Luckily after a few phone calls he was forced to come to the conclusion that it was too late to revoke the scholarship and Josh got to stay.
I soon found out that there was a set of dorms a few miles out from the school (which if I had gone through with becoming a member of the basketball team I would have known where there and would’ve also had the option of living in) where students which were on sports teams had the option of staying during their year(s) at the school. If you were to enter his dorm (he got to keep it since he was so stubborn) you would be shocked at what you would find there. His dorm adorns two beautiful beds on opposite sides of the room, a glass coffee table in the middle with black, leather sofas around it, a sturdy, oak bookcase, and a majestic wooden desk with two equally majestic wooden chairs that looked like they once belonged to King Henry, one of them anyways... Ever since he has moved in though there have been clothes, magazines, litter and almost anything you can imagine scattered everywhere making a large mess. The room usually smells a mixture of masculine deodorant and whatever he had to eat yesterday. The beds look like they belong to a hospital with their soft white color scheme. The carpeting on the floor has a nice yellow colour that’s not too bright nor too dull and the walls shine with a beaming white. This is all in the past though and I’m currently in my third and last year.
Beep! Beep! Beep!
“Ugh” I moaned as I smacked the snooze button on my alarm clock.
I lazily fell out of my bed and made my way to my closet and got dressed into my uniform (black dress pants with a white tucked in shirt complete with a black tie and a black cardigan on top bearing the crest of my school which was two swords clashing on a royal blue background laced in gold in the shape of a kite shield. I guess it was supposed to be a pseudo-tuxedo, it certainly looked the part) and then left for school like I always did.
I stood at the doorway of my house and pondered my worldly life. I guess my life in that sense wasn’t too bad; I mean I did have a substantial house. My house was what I would consider a medium-sized apartment. From here I could see the living room right in front of me containing only a short table for eating on. Behind it was a sliding door that lead to the kitchen and of to the sides were the rooms. My room consisted of a bed, a closet where I keep my clothes, a wooden desk and a wooden chair. I’m pretty sure I might have a lamp in my room but since I’m only ever home to sleep (meaning the morning when it’s light or at night when I just fall into my bed and go to sleep however I’m dressed) I can’t say for sure. The other room which belongs to my dad has the same setup as mine but it’s never used since my dad is always passed out in the living room or at work and because of his drinking habits the house always smells of alcohol. I sighed closing the door to my house and left down the seemingly endless sidewalk that lay before me.
“Hey John!” called Josh from his seat to the right of me.
“What do you want?” I asked him obviously irritated with him for disrupting my daydream.
“Come on! It’s lunch, let’s go to the cafeteria, Kylie said she’d meet us there today.”
“Fine, fine, but you’re buying.”
“Sure…wait, what are y-” he started, but was cut off by me grabbing his arm and dragging him out of his seat half-heartily.
As we were walking we were suddenly interrupted by one of the most beautiful girls-if not the not beautiful girl in the school-Rachel. Rachel had just transferred this year for reasons unknown. She had blonde hair that went down to her sides, blue eyes and a figure like a model.
We continued walking as if nothing had happened since the last person we thought she would be talking to was someone like us, who due to our low grade average and laziness were labelled delinquents.
“Hey!” she said grabbing us each by a shoulder and forcing us to turn around, “I was talking to you.”
I think it’s safe to say in this situation that anyone in our place would’ve done the same thing so I don’t see why she made such a ruckus when she could’ve just called out one of our names instead. It was almost as if we were friends our whole lives, she was way too confident.
“What…do you want?” I asked, clearly still recovering from my initial shock.
“Here” she said handing me an envelope, “I want you to read it before lunch is over, see you.”
“What’s in there?” asked Josh
“I guess we’ll find out.”
“Hey guys, over here!” Kylie called out. Kylie had dark hair that almost seemed to be a blue or purple and reached a little bit further than her shoulders. Her eyes were so deep blue that if you looked at them long enough you could’ve sworn that were violet. Her physique appeared to be slim but (as you would know if you ever played against her in any athletic event) she was strong enough beat almost anyone in anything.
“Hey” We both said sliding into the same table.
“What do you guys have?” She asked me clearly intrigued by the mysterious letter in my hand.
“It’s a love letter from a girl” Josh said innocently.
“What?!” Kylie demanded, hitting the table with both hands and in the process causing it to lightly shake, “Which gi-”
“Relax” I cut her off in the most soothing voice I could muster, “Josh was just joking around. It isn’t a love letter…well I highly doubt it is anyway. We bumped into Rachel earlier today; she gave me this letter and told me to read it before lunch ended.”
Kylie, now reverted back to her previous stage of being intrigued, sat back and breathed a sigh of relief.
“So…are you going to open it or what? You can’t just say something so mysterious and expect us to wait!”
Carefully, as if defusing a bomb, I opened the envelope and read the contents. Apparently Rachel was inviting a bunch of people from different popularity ratings to a kind of social club. The purpose of the club was to get different people to work together and become friends. Of course this seemed suspicious and was probably some kind of stunt to increase her popularity, maybe she did something wrong and this was her punishment or could it be that she was actually doing this with a good heart and good intentions? Either way the first meeting was today straight after school and both Josh and I were invited, but not Kylie…this was not going to sit well with her.
“Well?!” Kylie demanded just barely containing her energy. I would say excitement but she didn’t look very excited, more furious.
“Looks like…Josh and I are invited to some kind of social club hosted by Rachel. The club meets today directly after school…”
“That sounds…suspicious to say the least, are you sure you want to go? Because if you’re not going then I’m not either.”
Me and Kylie both jumped in our seats at the sound of Josh’s voice, he had been so quiet that we nearly forgot that he was sitting right there this entire time.
“I think it’s worth a try. So…are we going?” asked Kylie, “Wait…”
Kylie leaned forward and gave a good long look at the letter that was resting in my hand and then jumped back as if she had seen a spider lunge at her. “I just realised that I wasn’t invited! When I see her again she’d better let me join with you guys or I’ll beat some sense into her” She said shooting the letter in my hand a menacing glare with her fist raised up.
“Geez…why are you always so violent?” Josh idly commented-a large mistake if you’re ever near Kylie. Kylie, true to her violent nature, doesn’t like being called out on her tendency to be more violent than expected and reacts much the same way.
“You want to see violent?!” Kylie said getting in his face.
“Guys! Guys!” I yelled out getting in the middle of them before either one of them did something they would regret later on for one reason or another, “You’re like a bunch of children! Calm down before things get serious. Kylie…put down the textbook down and Josh sit down.”
“I just want to point out that I’m a girl, not a ‘guy’” Said Kylie in a matter-of-fact voice.
“We have no proof…” Countered Josh, also in a matter-of-fact voice.
“Why you…” Kylie started, calmly rising up with her hands already in fists.
“Both of you!” I yelled, “Seriously I mean it…what’s with you today? Sure you don’t normally get along well but today seems to be an exception…”
“It’s Rachel, for some reason she just makes me so mad and the nerve to invite you and Josh but not me? I’m at the top of my class!” Replied a still agitated, but also more clamed Kylie, “Oh, it looks like lunch is over. I’ll see you guys after school, wait for me ok? See you!”
She just left us sitting there a bit dumbfounded at how we were going to wait for her and make it to the club on time and at how easily she seemed to mood swing.
Sure enough as soon as our last class for the day ended we were ambushed by Kylie and dragged along into the hallway in a matter of seconds.
“Seriously were you trained by the military or something?” Whined Josh as we were in the process of being dragged unwillingly to an unknown location.
Suddenly Kylie stopped dead in her tracks and fearing the worst I braced myself. Instead, however, Kylie just asked where exactly Rachel’s club was because in her fit of rage she forgot to check where she was supposed to go.
“Umm…” I said getting the letter out, “Room…209”
“Hey isn’t that where the brigade is? Wait…sorry, thinking of my old school.”
Kylie, ignoring us, was already almost out of sight rushing towards the end of the corridor.
“Hey!” I complained while rushing after her with Josh, “The least you can do is wait for us, you’re the only one that wasn’t invited after all!
We finally caught up to her and together we entered through the door with Kylie in front.
“Hey” Rachel said greeting us with a welcoming smile, “You actually came! Not many people have…so far.”
Was it just me or did she seem to be especially happy with us showing up, or maybe it was just because of how many people actually showed up. While looking us over she frowned when her gaze came upon Kylie. “What are you doing here?” She asked Kylie with a voiced that sounded…disappointed. Not like she was mad or anything but more…confused.
“If you invite John, you invite me…oh and something to do with Josh too I guess…” She grumbled the last part.
“Fine” sighed Rachel, “I guess you’ve made up your mind. How long have you two been friends anyways to be this close? I guess it doesn’t matter, make yourselves at home for now and wait ten more minutes for other people to arrive, you guys are kinda early.”
We walked into the room and were amazed by the view of which stood before us. The floors were carpeted with a nice red color and the walls were white as snow. Inside there was a bunch of lime-colored couches surrounding a neat glass coffee table which was littered with soda cans and varies types of junk foods. To the far right of the couches was a snack counter and at the closer right was a large amount of bean bag chairs. To the far left there were some computers and at the closer left was what appeared to be a gaming station with multiple types of consuls and video games.
“Whoohoo!” Yelled Josh as he made a break for the gaming station, he was so predictable.
“Hey” I asked Kylie, “Want to go see Josh fail at video games? Could be fun.”
“Sure” She replied giving a sweet smile as we steadily started to make our way toward an overly excited Josh.
“Attention! Attention!” Yelled Rachel as she walked over to the middle of the room. “As many of you already know this is going to be a social club. Also I would like to say that although this is being hosted by me, this club was actually the idea of the school and if you choose to participate you will be granted bonus marks in participation. However this doesn’t mean you can skip out on class, I’m not really sure how the teachers are marking this exactly to be honest, but they assured me that if you start skipping classes then these marks won’t be worth anything.”
Wait…I don’t remember it saying anything about that in the letter. Maybe I had read over it or maybe it wasn’t included on purpose, either way I’m glad I came…I might just need those marks to pass my classes.
“Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way I can actually start talking about the club itself and what we’ll be doing. Some days we will actually have activities and some days will just be for relaxing so you should be glad you’re getting such easy marks. For today all we’ll be doing is introducing ourselves and relaxing afterwards. For those of you who have been to a youth think of this like that, I’m hoping it’ll be similar.”
After giving her speech Rachel went to rounding everyone up and after around seven minutes she had gotten everyone to sit in the circle of couches surrounding the glass coffee table. I was surprised at her efficiency, other than Kylie, Josh and I there were maybe eleven or more people wandering around the place doing their own thing. There were a few people from different social rankings so there were a few people doing this, a few doing that and it was utter chaos until she started rounding people up.
“Ok.” Said Rachel obviously mentally patting herself on the back for her efficiency, “Now that we’re all in one spot let’s introduce ourselves, I’ll start and we’ll go to the right. I’m Rachel as everyone here hopefully already knows.”
Next went a girl who had long jet-black hair (which frankly looked like she might’ve cut it herself), aquamarine eyes and a slim figure. She sat with confidence but you could see that she was still pretty nervous about her current situation; maybe she didn’t have any friends here? She introduced herself as Amanda. Then went a guy that also had black hair, though his seemed almost gray compared to the girl next to him, brownish eyes and a slim figure also. He had a strange expression like he was trying to supress a smile and was looking at a complex jigsaw puzzle at the same time. He introduced himself as Alex. After him was another guy, this one had choppy brown hair, warm brown eyes and a slightly muscular figure. He sat there with a smug smile like he had just won the lottery or corrected the president or something. He was introduced as David…his name seemed vaguely similar to something, must be my imagination. Yet another guy was sitting beside him, he had pitch-black hair in a buzz-cut fashion, dark eyes and was slightly muscular. In this scene he looked like an awkward soldier as if trying to comprehend his next set of orders. He introduced himself as Mark. Next to him was a girl with hair that extended a little but past her shoulder and looked almost as if it were a dark green, her eyes were emerald-green and she held a slim figure. She sat proudly leaning forward and slightly moving up and down as if she had way too much caffeine in the morning before coming here. Her name was Trish. Next to her was another girl by the name of Susan. She had slightly over shoulder-length brown hair, light green eyes that almost looked yellow and a slim figure and was a little bit taller than those around her. Due to her appearance you might’ve expected her to act like a queen, but instead she was very shy and timid.
After her went Josh who put on a show saying his name causing a few giggles from the girls (whether they were making fun of him or were impressed, I have no idea). Then I introduced myself and after me was Kylie who received a few praises from the girls. She sighed as if she was embarrassed from this response but you could tell that she was trying to suppress a smile. Up next was another girl, she had golden hair that seemed to fall past her shoulders, bright green eyes and a slim figure. She looked like a girl who would normally be uncomfortable in a situation like this but she looked oddly confident, perhaps it was because she was right beside Kylie? She introduced herself as Alice. Beside Alice sat a guy I recognised…Mason, I’m pretty sure he’s on the football team. Mason had short, black hair, dark eyes and was pretty bulky. He sat with a confident smile and if you had not bothered to give him a good look (this was not so much a problem for most girls) you might’ve skipped the warm look he had in his eyes. From what I had seen Mason wasn’t very…practical…to have on a team due to him always messing up but he did have a warm heart and helped out whenever he felt it necessary which is more than I can say about pretty much anyone else in the school. Next to Mason sat one of his best friends-Jim. Jim was like Mason in having short, dark hair, but he had hazel eyes and there wasn’t much kindness in him. Like Mason he was pretty bulky but he was a little bit slimmer. Then sat a different girl who had dark hair that almost looked blue and reached about to her elbows, brilliant, blue eyes, and a slim figure. She was kind of staying out of the conversations at much as possible and someone else that recognised her (Mark I think) was forced to introduce her as Rebecca. Last but not least sat a girl next to her who had brown hair so light you could debate it was blond, blue eyes and a slim figure. She seemed kind; there wasn’t really anything else you could say about her. She introduced herself as Sophie.
“Alright!” called out Rachel, “Now that we have everyone introduced you may spend the last thirty minutes doing whatever-oh and I forgot to mention that the current schedule is 3:15-5:00 PM every day after school but can vary. That is all.”
“Well, that’s that.” Said Kylie pointing out the obvious.
“Why are we standing here when there are video games right there?!” Yelled Josh right before making another break for the video games. Were they really that entertaining to him?
“Let’s go, only another thirty minutes of watching him fail until we get to leave” sighed Kylie.
“I guess it’s settled then”
“John! Jooohn! Wake up! I’m bored!” called a fuzzy voice.
“Huh?” I said sheepishly waking up from my unexpected nap before lunch, “What is it? I was having a good dream you know…”
Before I knew what was happening Kylie was dragging me off with Josh to the cafeteria.
“Hey guys! I can walk you know! I’m not sleeping anymore!” I protested in futility.
“You know you need to get a lot more sleep!” Berated Kylie
“Why are you so protective of him? What did he do to deserve this?” Josh said half-jokingly.
“You know what it’s like at my house…” I replied instantly sending the table into an eerie silence.
“We have the club again today after school; I wonder what we’re going to be doing today….” Kylie said lifting her head toward the ceiling.
“Probably an activity, isn’t that what you want to do when starting up a club? Start it up with a bang I mean.” Replied Josh deep in thought.
Was I really being left out of this conversation?
“Whatever it is let’s hope for the best, we are all going, aren’t we?” I said receiving a chorus of nods from my friends.
“Today we’re going to be going on a scavenger hunt, just a small one. It shouldn’t take more than two hours and it’s only around this part of the city.” Rachel said looking onto the crowd of people in the room, “We’ll all walk to the intersection and then we’ll split up into teams of three using straws so no picking teams.”
Her words received quite a few groans from members in the club and caused Kylie to stiffen up a little bit. Why would she have such a reaction? Maybe it was something I just don’t remember. Did she know something I didn’t?
“Let’s go” smirked Rachel as she led us out of the room.
“So…” said Josh as he caught up to me and Kylie on the walk over to the intersection.
“What?” Kylie blurted out.
“What are we looking for exactly? I wasn’t paying attention, but I don’t think she mentioned it.”
“We’re getting our lists once we get into teams. It’s probably like that so we don’t have time to think where we’re going to go.”
“Hey guys” I said causing both of them to give me a confused look, “Does David know Rachel?”
“Not that I know of…although David did transfer here this year like she did. Maybe…Why do you ask?” answered an unsure Kylie.
“Well they’re talking up there like old friends and…wait. Did they just look back at us and nod?”
“Creepy” Josh agreed.
“Time to pick teams! Get your straws!” Kylie yelled out holding out her hand in a fist so no one could cheat.”
“Hey John” Kylie said running up to me, “What colour did you get? I got green”
“Huh? Oh, blue. Looks like we won’t be on the same team…” I replied half-heartily. I was still wondering what the nod was about earlier.
“Wait…oh no! I have green too! What did I do to deserve this?!” Josh said covering his face with the palms of his hands walking off in a random direction.
“Hey wait up! Whether you like it or not we’re on the same team so act like a man for once!” Yelled Kylie desperately running after him.
“Hey” said Rachel casually walking up to me with David, “Do you have blue too? We checked with a few other people and it seems that you’re the only one left.”
I shrugged and showed her the blue straw that lay in the palm of my hand.
“So what’s first?” I asked.
“First…we need to go to the park to get a few things on the list. We don’t need to rush; we have to give the others a fair chance.” Rachel replied.
“Wait…what do you mean a fair chance? Is this rigged or something?”
“No! I just mean that with you and David we would be outmatching everyone else”
“What do you know about me?”
“Oh nothing, it just seems like you would be smart”
“I get horrible grades at school, how would I be smart?”
“Grades don’t determine how smart you are.”
“Anyways I wanted to ask something. You were looking back at us before on the walk and nodding then I ended up on your team. Were the straws rigged?”
“No.” Rachel replied genuinely surprised, “It was complete luck that we ended up on the same team, I was surprised myself. And as for the looking back and nodding we were doing a head count.”
“Oh, sorry for being so suspicious. I hope you can understand.”
“No problem” Answered David which surprised me because I was asking Rachel. It didn’t seem to faze her, though.
“Do…you guys happen to know each other?” I asked.
“Well yeah, we’ve been friends for a long time” Rachel said as if remembering a happy memory, “Actually we used to be part of a larger group with another guy and a girl but we lost contact.”
“Sorry to hear”
“Really it’s no big deal you seem like a trustworthy guy.”
Why was she talking to me so easily? Surely it can’t be because I look trustworthy…Does she have something up her sleeve? I feel like I’m walking on thin ice with her, better be careful.
“It looks like we have just about everything” said Rachel holding up a bag of different materials, “We only need something that starts with a ‘Q’”
“Wait why would we need something that starts with a ‘Q’?” I asked completely mystified.
“Oh that’s right I haven’t actually told you how we’re doing the scavenger hunt” said Rachel in an apologising tone, “We have to find and take something that beings with each letter of the alphabet. Why is it always ‘Q’?”
“Q…wait, what about quadrilateral?” I said pointing to a discarded 2x2 Lego piece on the ground.
“See, I told you that you were smart” said Rachel showing off a smile, “Now if you wouldn’t mind picking that up we could be done.”
“Hey!” Kylie yelled out as she ran toward us, “You guys are the last ones here”
“Oh sorry about that, I guess we didn’t rush enough” replied Rachel in an apologetic tone.
“So did you guys get Q? It seems that no one else could find anything”
“Yup”, Rachel replied patting me on the back, “John figured it out.”
“Are you serious?” Kylie asked, “I knew I should’ve had you on my team. So that means you guys win”
“Looks like it, but there wasn’t any prize anyways. It was just a bonding exercise so you could get to know a few people better.”
“Come on!” Josh complained, “You get stuck with her for an hour and you deserve a prize.”
“What was that?” Kylie said walking up to him, “Care to repeat that?”
“Are they always like this?” Rachel asked me with a look I couldn’t identify…was it nostalgia?
“Well should I do something or will it just stop?”
“It usually just stops but it doesn’t hurt to get between them every once in a while.”
I was gathering up my stuff after the scavenger hunt when a figure approached me from behind.
“Hey” it simply stated.
I looked back to find Kylie standing behind me in the empty classroom clutching her backpack. She seemed to be very nervous but it could’ve just been the lighting in the room since the window beside my seat was open and the lights were off. Everyone else left after we returned from the scavenger hunt but I stayed back to think on some things before I left and it seems Kylie stayed back too.
“Hi. Any reason in particular you’re still at school?”
“Oh I was doing some extracurricular and I wanted to catch you before you left. I wanted to talk about something, have the time?”
“Sure, all I pretty much do after school anyways is just walk around or do my homework in the park”
“Let’s go then. You might not have anything to do but I’m kind of on a tight schedule today being the class representative for class C and all and this can’t wait until tomorrow. Not if I want any sleep tonight anyways.”
“Why did they have to split the classes into five different ones anyways? If they had just split the 150 students into four classes instead you would’ve been in class B with me. Your name just missed being put in my class by one person after all.”
“Funny how that worked out, huh? After all those years of luck and chance we get separated when someone decides to be systematic.”
“Let’s go” I said lifting up my backpack and slinging it over one shoulder, “After all you are on a tight schedule Miss Class Rep.”
“So…what did you want to talk about?” I ask as we walk down the endless sidewalk, “You said it couldn’t wait so it has to be important.”
“Yeah” she replies solemnly, “It’s about Rachel.”
“What about her?”
“She seems...I don’t know weird I guess. How she looked over at us and nodded and at how easily she accepted me into the club. And asking how long we’ve been friends before. Then there’s David. He seems…oddly acquainted with her.”
“Well as for looking back at us and nodding she said she was just doing a head count. I mean it wasn’t her fault we were walking right behind them. For David I did ask and she confirmed that they had been friends before. For a long time actually. Though her accepting you so easily and asking how long we’ve been friends might be because of the show you put on. I think anyone that would’ve seen the determination in your eyes at the time would’ve done the same.”
“The…determination…in my eyes?” asked Kylie slightly blushing, “Was I really that fierce? I mean I know I was determined but still…”
“I wouldn’t worry about it” I said sighing, “Man you sure have grown up”
“We’re getting off topic. The point is that I think something fishy is going on. I don’t know what but I have a bad feeling.”
“When do you not have a bad feeling? Relax for a little bit. Maybe the club could turn out to be a good thing; if any of us feels like leaving it then we’ll leave, ok?”
“You’re not leaving until you get better at school; you need those marks to get at least a substantial grade.”
“Someone doesn’t just get better at school and remember I got in because of my previous sport skills not my intellect. Plus who would stop me from leaving whenever I felt like it?”
“Me” happily replied Kylie, “Someone has to make sure you pass school.”
“Hey Kylie” I said turning toward her.
“Thanks, you’re a really good friend.”
“Hey, what are friends for?”
We walked in silence for the next few seconds after that when suddenly.
“Wow it’s already that time!” said an alarmed Kylie, “Sorry John I wish I could talk to you more but I have a lot to do today, see you!”
“Bye!” I yelled at her figure already running off into the distance. No matter who you were you had to admire her speed and occasional obliviousness. Still one had to wonder why Rachel was being so friendly to me in particular and there was something mysterious about David.
“Hey John” called Josh from beside me as class ended for lunch, “I’m surprised you’re up today.”
“I’ve had a lot to think about lately…” I replied casually.
“Anyways we should go meet up with Kylie in the cafeteria; no doubt she’s already waiting for us.”
“What are we waiting for then? Let’s go.”
“Hey guys I’m over here!” called out Kylie from across the room.
“Hey” we both said sliding into place as per our usual routine.
“Thanks for the walk yesterday, it really helped” Kylie said using a soft tone in her voice.
“Wait what happened yesterday?” demanded Josh, “I knew I shouldn’t have left you alone after school! What did she do or force you to do?”
“Kylie and I went for a walk” I calmly replied not getting angry unlike Kylie who had started to get up, “She really is an interesting person if you get to know her. Maybe you two might want to go for a walk sometime?”
“Are you kidding me?!” replied an outraged Josh, “She would mug me or something! No way I’m going anywhere alone with her!”
He then took a second to think about how Kylie might react to his sudden outburst and with a frightened face immediately changed his answer, “Umm…I’m just joking! No need for anything unnecessary…I’ll be quite now.”
“Smart man” Kylie said obviously annoyed, “Anyways just to make sure we’re going to the club again today right?”
“I’m definitely going and Josh should be going if he wants to just slightly fail his classes with some dignity. Plus it seems like something people would do on a Friday.”
“It’s decided then, we’ll start to make the club a regular thing.” Said Kylie with a proud voice.
“Now that everyone is here we can start” yelled an excited Rachel, “Today to end off the week we’ll be taking a poll to do a certain sport and yes this will count as extra marks toward gym! To vote just go to one of the voting booths to the side where either I or my new assistant David will be standing. Take a pen, write down the sport you want to do and drop it in the box. The votes will be counted after you finish and you get the idea.”
I went over and walked to the line that Rachel had since it was the shortest with Kylie and Josh trailing me from behind. When it came my turn I walked in and wrote down in simple letters soccer.
“That’s surprising” came a voice from behind.
I turned around and there was Rachel standing behind me looking down at my answer.
“What’s surprising and what are you looking at? Kind of defeats the purpose of a voting booth, doesn’t it?”
“Well David and I have to be looking at the votes that go in so we get a good idea of what’s going to be happening. And to answer your question I was expecting you to go for basketball, isn’t that how you got into the school in the first place, or do you just not want to show off?”
“If you must know” I said very defensively which seemed to take her off guard, “Something happened to my right shoulder. Long story short I can’t play basketball ever again.”
“Oh…” said Rachel half-heartily, “I’m sorry I didn’t know, really.”
“It’s fine” I said, “How could’ve you known otherwise?”
“Hey” Josh said as I was leaving the booth, “You ok? You were in there a little long and you look…strange”
“Huh?” I replied giving my best shot at a surprised look, “Oh I was just deep in thought. You know she looks at your answer…”
“What?!” he replied shocked, “Why?”
“Beats me” I replied as I walked off and he went in slightly shaking.
“The polls are in and the winner is…soccer!” Rachel exclaimed looking around the room for signs of either gratitude or irritation, “Me and David will be the captains for the teams so everyone line up and we’ll get started!”
After we all lined up like soldiers about to receive orders Rachel and David played a game of rock-paper-scissors to decide who picked first. As luck would have it Rachel won.
“Ok” said Rachel all fired up, “For my first pick I’m going to take Josh, our soccer prodigy.
Josh, obviously very pleased at his new title ran up with a stupid smile to her side.
“Fair enough” said David, “Since you already took the best soccer player do you mind if I take two players for my turn? Just to make it fair of course.”
“Sure” came the reply, “As long as I get to do the same next turn.
“It’s decided then. Mason and Jim get over here!”
“Well we can’t have Josh playing against his two friends! That would be horrible for moral so John and Kylie come over here!”
“Doesn’t he have some kind of bad injury?” David called from his side.
“That’s only my arm!” I yelled back at him slightly in annoyance, “I can still use my feet!”
In the end the teams ended up being on David’s side: David, Mason, Jim, Mark, Rebecca, Amanda and Alice. And on Rachel’s side: Rachel, Josh, me, Kylie, Trish, Alex, Sophie and Susan. We did end up winning in the end of course having Josh on our side and me to cheer him on and Kylie to…well insulting him kind of counts, right?
“Whew…I’m beat” commented Josh as we walked away from the school.
“You better be!” scolded Kylie, “Otherwise it would’ve meant that you hadn’t worked hard enough.
“And what did you do other than insult me?” Josh countered.
“I passed to you…sometimes” Kylie said holding up an air of false superiority, “Anyways this is where we split off. John you coming?”
“Huh?” I asked, “It’s Friday today, remember?”
“Oh right you and Josh have your ‘manly sleepover’ over the weekends. How could I forget?”
“You know I hate being in my house. Was there anything you wanted to talk about today in particular?”
“No, nothing. I guess I’ll be seeing you guys then.”
“Bye” we said holding up one hand in a gesture of departure.
“I’ll never know what ever drove you to become friends with a person like that…” Josh muttered as we walked away toward the dorms.
“It’s a long story” I replied, “very long.”
“Seems like it” Josh said deep in thought, probably wondering what the story could’ve been like.
The first thing I did after arriving in his house was jump into one of the beds. They were unimaginably comfy and soft. It felt like absolute heaven and I wanted to get to sleep first before Josh because if he woke up first…well it didn’t always result in a peaceful morning.
“Remind me why I don’t always sleep here” I said sheepishly
“Because you actually wake up on time and I don’t want your alarm clock bursting my eardrums so early in the morning.”
“Right…I need to do something about that problem, anyways ‘night.”
“’Night” came the response.
I had just woken up from my sleep and hadn’t opened my eyes yet but I instantly knew something was wrong. Something didn’t feel right. Maybe it was the position I was sleeping in, maybe it was a feeling in the air or maybe it was something long pressing against my legs, a trip wire? Only one way to find out, right? I slightly moved my right leg up and SPLASH down came a bucket of icy water.
“What the-?!” I yelled sitting up straight and then looking to the side of my bed to find Josh’s face attempting to stop laughing, “I will never fully comprehend how you can get up so early on weekends and can never get up on time for school.”
“I…I…it’s…school...I wake up…on weekends…because I want to…” Josh said between laughs.
“I’ll pretend I understand that and go clean up. You better watch your back for the rest of the day because if you slip up I’ll notice.”
Josh immediately stopped laughing stiffened up after I said this with a frightened expression coating his face.
“Watch yourself!” I called already walking out the door, leaving a scared Josh alone in the apartment.
“What should we do today?” Josh asked as we walked down the sidewalk.
“I don’t know” I responded, “What do you want to do?”
“I don’t know” replied a frowning Josh, “It’s a weekend and we have nothing to do! We’ll only have so many weekends until school ends and then…”
“Yeah I shudder thinking about it…”
“Well then what are we going to do?” he said still frustrated with the idea of having nothing to do on a Saturday, “Hey let’s go for a walk, you and Kylie do it all the time, right? Apparently it’s good for you.”
We walked in silence a few seconds after that until Josh decided to speak up again.
“What do you think of Rachel? And what about David and them nodding at us earlier? It really creeped me out. Do you think they’re up to something?”
“Well I’ll explain this one last time” I said irritated, “They were nodding at us earlier because they were doing a head count and David is a long-time friend of Rachel which is why they’re so close.”
“Is that what she told you?”
“What?” I asked taken off guard by his serious expression, “You know she could’ve just lied to you and you would’ve believed her. How do you know what she told you was the truth?”
“That’s…a good point. But what reason would she have to lie to us?”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying! What is she up to?”
“You know this could all just be a misunderstanding. She doesn’t really seem like she would have any motive and she seems nice.”
“Seems” Josh said putting a heavy emphasis on the word.
“Why is it that you’re so untrusting of others and yet you can trust me?”
“Because I know you and I know you are trustworthy. Her I know almost nothing about and her recent…friendly actions toward us and it seems you in particular have me worried.”
“I don’t really feel like it’s anything to worry about…besides we can leave anytime we want from the group and be done with her for good….as long as we can get past Kylie…”
“Even if we leave…do you really think we could get rid of Rachel so easily…?”
“I don’t see why not, but you might be right. After seeing your grades in school I often forget that you’re smart.”
“Hey!” Josh said faking being offended, “I’m lazy because I choose to be!”
“Isn’t that how laziness works? Anyways, aren’t you glad we took this walk? It seems you’ve taken a lot off of your chest. I sometimes forget how casual you are; normally you’re so subdued around Kylie…”
“Because it’s Kylie! If I start to say something she doesn’t agree with I get punished! For my own opinion! You just don’t notice because she never does it to you!”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know…it seems like she has a crush on you or something.”
“Really? I just think that it’s because of how long we’ve been friends.”
“I don’t know…how long have you guys been friends anyways? I’ve asked you this a few times before but you’ve never seemed to give me a straight answer. We’ve known each other for over three years and I still don’t know what your relationship with Kylie is like.”
“What’s there to say? We’ve been friends for a long time.”
“Whatever. If you don’t want to tell me that badly it’s fine. But I don’t get it, you trusted me with…you know what but you won’t tell me this?”
“Well it’s not like it’s a big deal or anything it’s just that I can’t say for sure. I don’t really remember.”
“I told you if you don’t want to tell m-”
“I seriously can’t remember” I said getting irritated.
“Well” he sighed, “We’ve still got most of the day left, want to go to the arcade?”
“Sure” I replied, a smile slightly forming on edges of my lips from the idea of avoiding the conversation…at least for now.
We were walking toward the arcade when we passed a mall and we heard a noise so we turned around to inspect the cause when…
“Hey!” Called Kylie rushing out of the store with full shopping bags.
“Saturday…my beautiful Saturday ruined…” muttered Josh just quite enough for Kylie to not be able to hear.
“John you wouldn’t mind holding these for me, right?” asked Kylie as she proceeded to dump her shopping bags into my arms.
“Hey, Kylie” Josh spoke up, “How long have you and John been friends?”
At the question Kylie’s once cheerful face darkened and her smile turned into a frown.
“I don’t think that’s for me to answer, why?”
“Well John won’t tell me so I’m asking you. I guess I’m just curious, it’s something so trivial yet I don’t know it and you won’t tell me. It’s like you worked for the government or something…that would explain your military training…”
“For the last time!” yelled an irritated Kylie, “I do not have any military training, you’re just weak and easily pushed around. Don’t blame me for your weakness.”
Josh opened his mouth and was about to say something but decided better against it and closed his mouth.
“So…” Kylie started, “Where were you guys headed?”
“To the arcade” I answered.
“Oh cool, mind if I come along?”
We both looked at Josh who looked back in utter surprise.
“Are you actually giving me a choice?” asked Josh, “Well…if you are-”
“Relax I was kidding” Kylie said as she took the bags from my arms, “I have to go anyways, see you!”
“Bye!” I replied while Josh just stood there grumbling something about false hope.
“Good” he said proudly, “Now we can get on with going to the arcade, we lost too much time with Kylie. I said it once and I’ll say it again. I will never understand why you keep her around.”
“So then let’s go” I answered, “Oh and Josh, all you need to do is get to know her. She’s much nicer that way.”
“No way” he replied, “I saw how she made you carry her bags. There’s no way I’m letting her do that to me.”
“That’s right! Now let’s get going!” he proudly said as he started bear-marching off.
Something wasn’t right. I didn’t feel anything like a trip wire or anything dripping down from overhead. There was silence and no vibrations to be felt whatsoever. His was very unlike Josh and then I remembered…today was Sunday, which meant church and that meant he wouldn’t want to get up. You see I don’t need an alarm clock for church because it starts at 11:00 AM unlike my school which starts at 8:00 AM. Slowly I opened my eyes and confirmed what I had been thinking: there was no prank set up for me and Josh was sound asleep in his own bed on the other side of the room. Well I guess I better go wake him up…
“Wake up!” I said shaking Josh violently, “It’s time to wake up! We only have an hour to prepare and get there.”
“Zzzzzzzzz” snored Josh rather loudly.
“Fine I get the shower first then.”
“Wait!” Josh yelled jumping up in his bed, “No you don’t!”
“Well if you don’t get up in time, next time I-” I started but couldn’t finish because Josh had already gotten up and ran out to the bathroom outside his room.
“I need to remember to say that next time…” I mumbled quietly to myself walking out the door to get in line for the shower.
“Hey” I said as we walked through the front door of the church, “You go grab a pew while I wait here for Kylie or would you prefer the other way around?”
“Nope, I’m gone. See you” Josh responded as he ran off to go find a pew probably somewhere in the back so no one would notice him if he fell asleep.
As I waited for Kylie to arrive I walked by the office that was just outside the sanctuary while pacing and I heard something strange so I made the quick decision to listen in. I know it was not the right thing to do nor did I have any right doing it-especially not in a church! The thing was that I had a feeling that I had to do it so I walked up to the door, crouched down a little and put my ear to it pretending to be leaning like I had just ran here so no one would get suspicious.
“Thank you” came a muffled voice from inside, probably the secretary for the church.
“It’s fine, really” came a different voice, this one feminine, “I heard that this was a great church and would love to be a part of it.”
There was the sound of chairs being pushed back and I assumed this meant that they had been sitting down and had just stood up so just to be safe and hear the entire story (I was really intrigued at this point) I stood up as well. I had to think fast though as to not make it look suspicious so I turned my head as I was standing up to make it look like I had gotten my wind back from the run and was now just casually resting (it was the best I could come up with at the time), completely oblivious to the window on the door.
“All that we need now is to find someone who is willing to show you around” came the muffled secretary’s voice, “Oh look. There’s someone right outside, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.”
It took too long for my brain to process the words that it had just heard and the door opening so I ended up half-falling and then straightening myself at the last second in front of the door. In the doorway was the secretary obviously flabbergasted at my sudden performance and a girl trying to not laugh behind her. The girl looked…familiar…blonde hair, blue eyes…where have I seen that before? Obviously on a lot of other people, but why did she look so familiar? Then it hit me, the girl was Rachel.
“Hey John” she waved.
“Oh look you even know him!” the secretary said smiling with a hint of her mystified face still left showing, “John you wouldn’t mind showing Rachel around and properly introducing her into this church would you? Thanks.”
“Ok, let’s go Rachel” I said with a hint of annoyance in my voice. Kylie is going to kill me if she comes and I’m not there. Especially if she sees me talking with someone else. Wait, why is that? Why is it that talking to someone else would provoke her so much? I dismissed the thought from my head for now.
“Sorry for forcing this on you” apologised Rachel.
“It’s fine, I would’ve done it anyways” I said trying to act like it doesn’t bother me in the least, “By the way that was the office you were just in. And the doors over to the right go to the sanctuary. And there’s more to show over this way” I said walking forward.
“Were you doing anything important? I mean since you weren’t going into the actual sanctuary yet.”
“I was just waiting for someone, like I said it’s no big deal. I’m sure if they don’t see me right away they won’t call the police.” I said with a smile that seemed to ease the tension in Rachel, “Over in front of us down that hallway are the washrooms and an emergency exit which some people like to use as a front door. Over to the far left is a gymnasium where refreshments are served after the service and to the close left is the staircase where, if you were to go up it, you would find a room where Sunday school goes on during the service. And that is the basics unless you want to enroll in the Sunday school for little kids or enroll in the Confirmation classes.”
“Thanks” Rachel said softly as we walked towards the doors to the sanctuary, “But if I can ask you for one last favor…I didn’t know how today was going to go and I forgot to bring offering and I don’t want to look bad so…”
“No problem” I said franticly pulling out a toonie from my pocket, “We can split mine, just please make sure to bring your own next time.”
“Thanks” Rachel said smiling, “I hope we get to talk afterwards, bye!”
And with that I walked in after her. I went over looking to the back of the side pews to try and find Josh and possibly Kylie and when I was around half way there Kylie ran up to me.
“Hey” she called using an appropriate tone for being inside a church, “Where were you? The service has almost started!”
“Sorry” I apologised, “I got caught up in something. Let’s go over to where you and Josh are sitting.”
Kylie nodded and led the way with me in close pursuit.
After church ended we walked out into the lobby quite sheepish from the long service.
“Auuah” Josh yawned, “Luckily I didn’t fall asleep this time.”
“There shouldn’t even be a ‘this time’” Kylie retorted.
“Bye John!” Rachel called from the doorway.
I hadn’t even seen her leave…
“Thanks for the tour”
Kylie was standing right beside me…uh-oh
“And for the offering, I’ll remember to bring my own next time.” She continued and with that she left.
“What was that about?” Asked a confused and slightly irritated Kylie.
“Now you know what it’s like being me” Whispered Josh into my ear.
“Shut up” I whispered back.
“I’m confused” Said Kylie stating the very obvious.
“Well she signed up for the church and because I was waiting for you and not in the sanctuary I was volunteered to give her a tour and afterward she told me that she forgot her offering so I split mine with her.”
“I don’t see why you’re being so nice to her” Pouted Kylie.
“Why not? She needed help so I gave it to her. I don’t see the problem?”
“Never mind” she quickly replied, “Let’s just go.”
“How do you get off so easily?!” a very irritated Josh whispered to me.
“I’m as stumped as you on this one…” I whispered back, “I’m still trying to figure out why I was questioned on what I did and my motives.”
“Lucky” Josh grumbled as he walked off.
Beep! Beep! Beep!
The noise of the alarm clock did not help me forget it was a Monday and it certainly didn’t help motivate me to get up.
Beep! Beep! Beep!
“Enough!” I yelled out as I smacked the snooze on my alarm clock.
I slowly sat up in bed and rubbed my eyes.
“Another day of school…” I muttered to myself as I went over to my closet, picked out my uniform and put it on, “I can’t decide if I want to be over or not…”
I slowly wandered out of my room and into the living room where I could see that my father lay passed out, his right hand still clutching an empty beer can.
“Guess I won’t be eating today…” I said quietly to myself as I walked out the door and onto the sidewalk in front of that seemed to extend for miles and miles.
I wonder why my house had to be located so far away from the school…it took an hour of walking to get there every day, sure it was good for fitness but it felt ridiculous to go all that way every single morning. And on a Monday no less? Every morning while walking this entire journey, the simple idea seemed ludicrous. I know that I have it easier than a lot of other people and that walking is easy compared to what other people have to go through potentially on a daily basis. It’s a Monday though and I have an hour to think alone, can you blame me for being resentful?
“Hey!” came a voice from behind me.
I couldn’t help but feel lonely, the feeling that someone else has a friend that calls out to them and possibly walks with them to school. Does it not seem…I don’t know…just like a hopeful wish? A wish that maybe someday someone will call out to me like that and we could walk side by side as real friends. I know this isn’t possible for me because Kylie lives on the other side of the school that I do and Josh would have to walk backwards for about forty minutes to get to my house. I think it might be more realistic to call it a dream instead of a wish because wishes come true. I have way too much time to think before school…
“Hey!” the voice called out again. Why wasn’t the friend responding? Perhaps they didn’t know they were being called out to? Wait…now that think on it more, do dreams not also come true in one form or another?
“Hey!” the voice had finally caught up to me. Resistance was now futile and I yielded to the desire to look behind me in order to find the source of the calling. I couldn’t believe my eyes there was a girl in my school uniform. Kylie? No that was too much to hope for. They were probably someone form my school calling out to someone I hadn’t noticed yet. But…no. There was something off. This girl had blonde hair and blue eyes.
“Hey” Rachel said as she took a place to the right of me, “Are you ok? You seem pale…”
Remember that thoughtful speech I had given earlier? I think I’m starting to learn the consequences of my actions; can I go back to being alone again? Maybe if I start thinking like I did before…
“John?” Rachel said a little worried.
“Huh?” I said giving off a surprised expression, “Sorry, it’s just that I wasn’t expecting anyone to even recognise me, much less actually know me or come to talk to me.”
“Well” she started, “There was a road block at my usual path so I decided to take this one. Imagine my surprise when I noticed you! I really didn’t feel like walking this entire way all by myself so I decided to come talk to you.”
“Not to make any assumptions, but it seemed like you and David were really close and probably walked together.”
“Well the same can be said for you and Kylie or Josh or both of them for that matter. Your assumptions, the ones you’re trying to not make, are right, though. But David has been sick recently which is coincidently why you didn’t see him at church with me and only had to give me a tour. Being sick used to actually be a sort of tradition for my old group, you see…but neither I nor David had ever gotten the sickness before. I guess the torch was passed down this year.”
“So that means I’ll have to give him a tour next week or whenever he gets better?”
“Only if the torch gets passed to me” she said letting out a little laugh, “But seriously I can give him the tour if you don’t want to. I think I know the place well enough, it’s really not that complicated.”
I still had to wonder though why she was so free on giving up information on her past life. We hardly knew each other (not even a week!) and she was speaking so freely.
“Hey Rachel?” I asked a little nervously.
“Why is it that you can speak to me so freely?”
At first this question seemed to surprise Rachel but she then gave a sigh like one of her deepest, darkest fears had been revealed to be true. It was a simple question but it somehow seemed to trouble her. She didn’t let this expression show for very long though and soon changed her face to more of a philosopher’s face as if she was pondering to be or not to be?
“I guess I don’t really know” she said half-heartily like she was trying to understand it herself, “I guess it just kind of feels like I can let my guard down around you, like you wouldn’t judge me for anything I say and won’t use it against me whenever you feel like it. It just kind of feels safe.”
After she said that we walked the next few seconds in silence, how were you supposed to respond to someone saying that? Was there really some way that you could? The silence soon got maddening as the sound of cars and trucks passing by filled our ears. I hope I didn’t come across as rude since I didn’t reply quickly, but what she said was a lot to take in.
“Thanks” I said with a stupid voice, completely dumbfounded.
“For what?” she asked genuinely confused.
“For being able to trust me. Not a lot of people do that, especially not ones that I’ve known for such a short time.”
“For being honest” she smiled.
I could feel a smile slowly crawl onto my lips; it really was a great feeling to be able to talk to friends while walking to school. The thing I was wondering now was whether or not this was temporary thing for just today or would she switch routes to meet up with me. It would be a tremendous thing to ask from her but maybe if the roadblock persists for a few days she might be forced to keep using this route. But what happens when the roadblock is lifted? I go back to my lonely hour walks? And where does David fit into all of this? What happens when he gets better? All of this is way too much thinking for a Monday…
“Hey Rachel” I asked, “Will you use this path again tomorrow or at all?”
“Well if you wouldn’t mind I think the roadblock might not lift for some time so I might still be using this way for a while. If it bothers you I could always try a different route…”
“No, no. It’s completely fine, mornings get a little…well lonely. I don’t mind at all if you want to come this way to school. In fact it could be fun. But what about David if he gets better? Will he be stuck walking alone or will he use this way too?”
“Well it’s good to hear that I’m not bothering you and as for David…I don’t know…If he gets better I assume he’ll want to come this way to school too-if that’s ok with you of course. Who knows we might even end up going this way every day.”
“You know I don’t get to decide if anyone wants to go this way or not, but if you’re asking for permission, well I have nothing against him coming too. The more the merrier and if you want to make this your normal route I have nothing against that either.”
“We’ve been thanking each other a lot recently, huh?” I joked.
“Yeah” Rachel said letting out a little laugh. It really felt wonderful to be the cause of someone else’s laughter. It was as if the tension in the air had completely left with my last comment and we were here, walking side by side smiling. Maybe we could really get along… Soon the front gates to our school appeared before our vision, metallic and rusty but strangely welcoming.
“I’ll race you” said Rachel with a smile.
“Sure” I said already breaking into a run.
“Hey! That’s not fair!” yelled Rachel chasing after me. It was good to have friends, if we can call ourselves that.
My last block before lunch had finally ended and lunch had finally begun, it was ironic though. After all those days of falling asleep in class I was awake on a Monday and it was me shaking Josh awake this time. Maybe it was finally having someone to talk to in the morning? I certainly felt more awake after that…
“Josh!” I said violently shaking him by his arm.
“Wake up!” I yelled. What had I said on Sunday that got him to wake up? Oh it was about the shower…never mind…Wait, I have a better threat.
“Hey Josh” I said with a calm tone, “Kylie is here”
“Huh?!” as he shot up from his sleep he went a little too far back on his chair and it caused him to plummet to the ground below him.
“What?!” he demanded from the floor, “Where?! She isn’t even allowed to be in here!”
“Let’s go” I told him non-chalantly.
“I’m confused…what just happened?” he asked as he trailed behind me.
“Hey guys!” Kylie called over from a table just barely in our vision. Why did she always pick a table so far away? I don’t why but it felt so lonely…I don’t really know who I was expecting…maybe Rachel? No, that was ludicrous. She was the most popular girl at the school and I was considered a delinquent…then again I did hang out every day with a girl at the top of her class known for being energetic and nice (unless you count Josh, you know how opposites attract? Likewise people who are the same or close to the same sometimes repel and this was kind of the case between them) and the representative for her class.
“Hi” we both said sliding into the table, just like every single other day.
“How come you guys never eat at lunch? I eat before you even arrive but you always seem to skip out”
“Well I either plan to and end up not having anything or am dragged here by him” Josh said while pointing a finger to me
“Don’t point at me like that, you’re the one that drags me here most days, remember Wednesday?”
“It’s not like I ever do it…” Kylie said with an innocent look on her face.”
“You were there Wednesday” Josh and I both countered.
“Oh…was I? I must’ve forgotten…ha ha” Kylie said still trying her best to look innocent, “Anyways you never answered my question John”
“Well I don’t eat much since…” That did it…an eerie silence once again surrounded the table as it had done last week.
“Sorry, but I have to leave” said Kylie slowly getting up and picking her stuff up.
“To where” I asked.
“I hate being a representative” she said with distaste in her mouth, “You do know they picked the representative for my class using a hat and slips of papers with names because no one wanted to volunteer.”
“Yeah, yeah. Save your whining for someone who cares” Josh said motioning for her to go away.
“Bye” I said, “See you afterschool?”
“Sure” Kylie said already trudging into the distance, what was being the representative like anyways? Surely it couldn’t be that bad, I guess it wouldn’t match her attitude but still.
“Finally!” Josh exclaimed as he pulled his lunch out of his backpack.
“Why wouldn’t you pull that out before? You keep saying that you can never eat but it seems that you always carry your lunch around” I scolded him.
“I can’t start eating with Kylie around! Who knows what she would do…she would probably chew me out for eating while she is talking. You’ll never fully understand the sacrifices I make each day around her…”
“I’m here, I can control her”
“No, she just allows you to think that way. All she does is change her methods until you let her do what she wants. Girls are tricky and evil! You heard it here so if anything ever happens don’t come crying to me”
“You’re not planning on having a girlfriend…like ever then?”
“What? I never said that”
“You said they were evil and tricky”
“Well yeah…most of them that’s why I don’t have a girlfriend yet! I’m looking for a girl who isn’t like that”
“Well good luck…I mean getting a girlfriend in general. Finding a girlfriend by your description of not evil or tricky is impossible, I think”
“Whatever” he said in defeat, it was obvious I had won.
“Listen up!” Rachel yelled to those of us in the social club, I was honestly surprised to see everyone here, “To start off the week the teachers wanted us to go help with a homeless shelter-to give us a more generous attitude throughout the week.”
Many moans and groans sounded throughout the crowd as the thought of going to some old musty place to serve food filled our imaginations simultaneously. Josh seemed especially down by this, he was probably expecting no special activities today since it was a Monday and Kylie looked exhausted from her job as representative.
“Teams of five were pre-picked by teachers so no picking teams again and…here are the teams” Rachel said with an excited voice, but I could see it was forced and she looked worried herself, “Oh and I should mention that David is sick so there will actually be two teams of five and one of four. The teams starting with five members are Amanda, Trish, Rebecca, Susan and Sophie. Next up are Alice, Mark, Mason and Jim.”
I could see where this was going and it seemed Rachel was genuinely surprised too. Sadly Josh also was also paying attention to the names and noticed neither his nor Kylie’s names mentioned yet; it was safe to say his face took on a new shade of white. That guy had to get a grip, I had seen him stand up for a bunch of little kids against a group of kids older than him yet he was terrified of Kylie…I guess Kylie just terrified people by mistake.
“And finally” Rachel said taking in a deep breath, “Me, Josh, John and Kylie are on a team. That’s everything, we’re going to be leaving in a few minutes and this is kind of last minute so take that time if you want to leave and leave because if you come there’s no turning back”
Surprisingly by the time we had to go no one left and everyone was willing to come along and help, it was only for about an hour anyways and then we were coming back due to the closing time of the homeless shelter. Josh obviously wasn’t very happy about going somewhere with Kylie again but I reassured him that I would be there and Rachel would be there too so there was no way Kylie would try anything against him (I whole-heartily doubt she would try anything anyways, but try telling him that. I guess he just wasn’t used to someone so energetic always around him…) Rachel looked very lonely all by herself as we walked there and I felt compelled to go up to her and talk with her like she did with me in the morning but I stopped myself. I regret that decision.
“Everyone listen!” Rachel yelled as we got there, “Amanda and Alice’s groups are going inside where you will either be assigned to work in the kitchen or help with serving and it looks like my group will be helping with some renovations here. Now go to your designated areas!”
Rachel must’ve had a lot of confidence in her speech because she instantly walked off not even checking to see where anyone went if they went at all, but her faith was well placed and the other groups walked into the building as Kylie, Josh and I went to go catch up with Rachel who was now turning a corner of the building. What was her rush? I guess any renovations usually took a long time so an hour wasn’t much.
“Is everyone here?” Rachel asked giving a brief overlook of us who had assembled before her, “Good. What our job here is to do physical labour. Basically put we will be digging up the hardened ground here. It’s harder than it looks.”
“This is easy for a guy” Josh said cracking his knuckles which released a sickening sound, “We’ll be finished in no time!”
“Excuse me?” said Kylie surprisingly very irritated at his comment, “A guy?! Girls can do anything guys can. Let’s see if you’re still so high and mighty after you break your arm trying to dig this up.”
“Pssh” Josh snorted, “Give me a shovel, I’ll do it with one hand!”
“Ok…” Rachel said carefully, “But I really think that you’re underestimating how hard the ground around here is!”
“I’ll be fine!” Josh said flashing a smile.
He then proceeded to walk over to a particularly hard patch of ground, take the shovel in both of his hands and slam down to the patch of dirt. Instantly the force he applied to the shovel ricocheted off of the ground and backfired into him leaving less than a handful of the ground dup up.
“Argh!” Josh yelled in futility as the force knocked him backwards, forcing him to sit down hard.
“Told you!” Kylie said walking over to him where she proceeded to give him a nice slap upside the head. There went my assurance of protecting Josh…he deserved it though…
“Now stand up and try again, this time do it properly and learn from a woman!” Kylie yelled at him as he obediently complied with her orders. His face was still full of shock from his sudden realisation that he could not, in fact, do everything better than everyone.
“Are they always like this?” Rachel whispered to me looking a little exhausted, “They seem like an old married couple or a boyfriend and girlfriend.”
Married….boyfriend…girlfriend…these words swirled around madly in my head. Why did she use those words…? I knew Josh and Kylie and I knew that they would never have any relationship with each other, other than borderline friends. They were just so opposing (opposite doesn’t feel right because opposites sometimes attract and these two seem to never be able to attract-even as friends)… So why did those words conjure up an old, forgotten emotion inside of me? Why do those words plague me so much? What was this emotion? Why couldn’t I figure it out? In becoming numb I had so many emotions that I had forgotten about. What…was…this?
“Are you ok?” Rachel asked with a worried expression.
“Huh?” I asked resurfacing from my ocean of thought, “Oh yeah, I’m ok. Just spaced out for a second. No need to worry”
“If you’re sure” she said still not convinced, “Come on. Let’s go dig.”
She handed me a shovel and pointed to a patch that didn’t look all too hard. I initially braced for impact when my shovel hit the ground but there was no backfire and I dug up a large portion of the earth that lay below me. A smile covered my face as I gazed at my handiwork knowing that with my arm I had a major disadvantage for this type of work as I couldn’t lift it above my shoulder and yet I was doing a decent job.
“Wow!” I exclaimed, “It looked so hard when Josh did it!”
“That’s because Josh did it!” Kylie yelled.
“Hey!” Josh yelled back offended.
“John” Rachel said from the right of me, “Dot it like this”
She then proceeded to thrust her shovel into the ground and step down on it with her foot before lifting the dirt up.
“Cool” I said while re-creating the process and sure enough a larger portion of dirt was dug up, “This really does work!”
“I’m glad I could help” she replied with a wide smile. I couldn’t get over how nice she had been and still is to me. Weren’t popular girls supposed to be stuck up and look down on guys like me?
The event took some time but the hour passed with surprising pace and before we knew it we hung up our shovels and left on the journey home. Once again I could see Rachel walking all alone in front of us, was she expecting someone to walk up to her and start a conversation? Once again I hung back and decided to stay with Josh and Kylie. They were arguing about something stupid I’m sure but I didn’t bother to listen in, I had too much to think about. What was that feeling earlier?
“-bruises” Josh continued, “Next time I’m going into the kitchen”
“Hmm?” Kylie murmured taking on a worried tone, “John are you ok?”
“Huh?” I responded the way I usually do when I’m in deep thought, “Oh, yeah. Just thinking, don’t worry about me”
“Ok” Kylie finally said, but her worried expression never left her, even after we parted ways.
I was not letting the alarm get to me this morning. As per my usual routine I woke up, changed, ate and set out on the sidewalk.
“Hey John” Rachel yelled as she caught up to me. She was getting really friendly, it was nice.
“Hi” I greeted her, “How are you?” Normally I was never this formal but it kind of felt necessary and the feeling of guilt from yesterday was eating me from the inside out.
“Good” she replied surprised.
“No, seriously. How are you?”
“What?” Rachel asked as her expression grew even more shocked but slowly softened into a smile, “Seriously, I’m fine. Not much more to say”
Rachel was a girl, I knew that much. I’ve learnt from a long history with Kylie and other girls that if you hear one say ‘I’m fine’ she is lying and wants you to question her further. I knew this, but I didn’t act on it. I thought that it would’ve been too pushy so instead I decided to change to subject.
“What are we doing today for the club?”
“Huh?” she asked, “Oh for the club…if I remember correctly there aren’t any special activities today. It’s just a lazy day”
Why did she reply with ‘huh”? Was she just deep in thought? I started to panic in my head. Why was she being so distant? Did something happen? A metallic taste filled my mouth as guilt started to consume me. She was being so nice to me, was I not being nice enough back? That had to be it. I have no clue what to do…
“So…how’s David?” I asked her in my uncertainty.
“Still sick I’m afraid” She said in response.
I had nothing to talk about…after all these months of wishing for someone to talk to I finally had someone to talk to and I had no clue what to say.
“How long…?” she started, “How long has your arm…you know”
Was this why she was so quite this entire time? Was it because she was so worried to ask about my arm? This came as both a relief and an uncomfortable situation.
“Since the last day of junior high school”
“Oh” Rachel said quietly, “How did it happen? I-if you don’t mind me asking of course”
“Huh” I sighed. Recalling my accident was not something I was fond of. The numbness didn’t let me go into specifics, all I remembered was how, “Well I ran into a gang of guys. Maybe five or so and a few came later on. No weapons or anything so purely a fist fight. I won but I had over extended something in my right shoulder in one of my punches and well the rest is history.”
“I’m sorry for making you relive that” Rachel said in sincerity, “I don’t know what came over me to ask something like that”
“No harm done” I assured her, “It’s not a happy moment but you’re a friend and you deserve to know”
Her facial expression once again changed to shock. When was this girl not surprised?
“Anyways” I continued, “The gates are up ahead now, want to race again? I want to give you a fair chance this time”
Rachel smiled at my comment and before I knew what was happening she had started sprinting and was already near the gate in seconds.
“No you don’t” I said as I sprinted after her. I was actually having fun and it was a good feeling.
This time I had stayed awake throughout the entire time up to lunch (Josh too) and was ready to leave when…
“Where are you going?” asked Josh.
“To the cafeteria, why?”
“Didn’t you hear?”
“About what?” I asked impatiently.
“Cafeteria’s closed for today and possibly several other days to come. Don’t waste your time going”
“Fine” I said and sat back down in my seat a little saddened by the news.
Why did the cafeteria close down? Could it be related with David’s sickness? I had really hoped to speak with Kylie after yesterday…I dismissed these thoughts from my head for now. There would be a time and place for those thoughts.
Lunch came and went and so did the classes that came afterward. Soon I found myself and Josh talking after school right before the club started.
“I wonder why Kylie didn’t show up today after school” I wondered out loud by mistake.
“Who cares?” Josh said with a little gratitude in his voice, “It was a much quieter day without her anyways. Are you going to the club today?”
“Nah, I have some things to take care of today”
“Are you sure? Kylie might be there” then after realising what he had said his expression turned worried, “Kylie might be there! Come on, you’re not going to leave me alone with her, right? Right?!”
“I have to do something, sorry” I said turning to a direction that I hadn’t walked in a very, very long time.
“Where are you going?” Josh asked, “That’s not where your house is”
“Just a little detour” I replied and took off in my carefully chosen direction.
It was a long walk that detoured through a large piney forest but I knew it was all worth it when I came into the cleaning on the hill top. In front of me sat a wooden bench that over looked the city, it was my favorite place to think. I had found this place originally when one day I aimlessly started wandering around and ever since it had been a great help to me. It was especially helpful in…the early days, but those were long gone. Non-existent. And I had a lot to think about… What were these new resurfaced emotions? Fun? And another I couldn't place…what did they mean? Too many things were left unanswered…I guess I have a lot of work ahead of me. Then there’s the homework…why do schools insist on doing that?
“Hey!” I heard coming from behind me.
I was expecting Rachel to come up but instead both she and David appeared.
“Hi” I greeted them by putting up my hand for a second in a gesture of greeting.
“Hey” David said giving off a smile.
“Are you feeling ok?” I asked him with slight concern in my voice. I hadn’t known him for long but he was Rachel’s friend and that seemed to have an effect, plus there was a certain nostalgic feeling to him.
“I’m fine, thank you. I just had a fever. Can you believe it’s already the 27th of November?”
“Yeah” Rachel said, “Time flies”
“So” David continued, “Is this our normal route now?”
“If John’s fine with it”
“Completely fine with me” I said raising my hands in mock surrender.
“Good” David smiled, “I hope we can become good friends”
This guy had a lot of confidence to him, I’ll give him that. I wonder if he was always like this…?
“The club missed out on you yesterday John” Rachel said changing the topic, “Could’ve used your help. With you out of the way Josh and Kylie seemed to become slightly more violent with each other. Luckily nothing happened but…”
“They sound like an old married couple without their counsellor” David laughed.
There was that word again…married. And that feeling, a sharp pain in the upper chest…what did it mean? My thoughts yesterday resulted in even more confusion which the stress of homework overcame before I could start to remove that confusion. Confusing…
“I had to go do something” I replied
“Well we missed you so make sure you come today. It’s nothing exciting, only a lazy day again but it gives you more marks nonetheless and you need them for your grades…”
“Well…I…you see…” I started as I felt a hot wave envelope my face, “Umm…”
“Sorry, did I embarrass you?” Rachel laughed, “David and I are both informed of your grades, you were invited to the club to receive better marks after all. We didn’t purposely invite anyone who had good grades”
I had a feeling she was referring to the way Kylie forced herself into the club. Who else had good grades inside of the club other than Kylie and Rachel…maybe it was also a reference to David? He seemed smart…
“It’s fine John” David said reassuringly, “Some people are just bad at school, it doesn’t mean that they’re stupid. I believe we learnt that about you on the scavenger hunt”
Strangely enough his words did reassure me. I guess he was a cool guy, I could really see what had compelled Rachel to become friends with him in the first place.
“What do you guys usually do while walking to school?” David asked casually.
“We talk like this, not too much else to it” Rachel answered equally casually.
I couldn’t wrap my head around these two. They got along so well, it wasn’t anything like this with Josh and Kylie…it seemed more warm and friendly… Also if someone had said ‘you guys’ to Kylie and I we would’ve had another repeat of the ‘I’m a girl, not a guy’ incident. We wouldn’t want that to happen again…
“Did I miss out on a lot?” enquired David, “Like in homework and club standards”
“Well you missed out coming to the homeless shelter…” Rachel answered.
“If your class is anything like mine…your dead…” I told him in all honesty to which David let out a hearty laugh.
“Well then I sincerely hope that my class isn’t anything like yours” David replied after recovering from his laugh.
“Are there any special events happening anytime soon in the club Rachel?” I asked.
“Not that I’ve been informed of yet…I think the teachers just make stuff up a day or two before they tell me. You know now that I think about it we’re having a Christmas party somewhere in the third week of December, but that’s all I know so far, the teachers are still figuring out the details” replied Rachel.
“Don’t forget the mistletoe” joked David letting out yet another laugh.
“You couldn’t pay me enough” replied Rachel with her own laugh.
“So…are you two…you know…?” I asked.
“No, no. We’re just really good friends, besides Rachel still hasn’t gotten over her first crush. What is it now? Six years?” David answered, rolling his eyes in the process.
“Wh…what?!” Rachel demanded with a slightly red-tinged face.
“What about you David?” I asked trying to get Rachel to calm down a bit.
“Well I’ve had my eye on a girl in the club, not to make it sound creepy or anything” David answered.
Someone in the club? Who could it be? No way it’s Kylie, she’s technically not in the club so she wouldn’t be included…right? Why am I suddenly so defensive of Kylie? There’s a weird feeling in my stomach, but I’m not hungry, so what is it?
“It-it’s not Kylie, right?” I blurt out.
“No it’s someone else but I can’t tell you who”
“Not to be pushy, but why not?”
“It’s too embarrassing” David answered taking on a slight coat of red on his face, “What about you John? You seem to know everything about our love lives-“
“Thanks to you!” Rachel yelled, cutting David off. Maybe these two weren’t so different after all…
“As I was saying” David said regaining his voice, “You seem to know everything about our love lives, but we don’t know anything about yours”
“There isn’t anything to know. I’m a kid that got stuck in a high school that’s too advanced for him and has nothing to show for it because of a freak accident. Nothing else to me but my friends”
“So there’s no one you even have a small crush on?”
“Not as far as I can see, but you know what they say: love is blind. Though, who would want to end up with someone like me?”
“You never know, weren’t you the one who said love is blind a few seconds ago?”
“I guess…but that blind?”
“I guess we’ll find out eventually” laughed David.
“You know, you’re a really awesome person. I’m glad I met you”
“Thanks, it means a lot coming from someone other than my parents, uh sorry. But I have to give some credit to my mentor; he was a really cool person”
“No problem and I hope I get to meet your mentor one day”
“You never know, the world is a small place”
“Try telling that to scientists” I said as we both started to chuckle.
“Not to interrupt your bromance or anything but the gates are coming up, rematch?” Rachel said lifting an eyebrow at me.
“Rematch?” David said copying her face, “What have you guys been up to while I was sick?”
“We race” I said casually as if it were no big deal, “And Rachel tries to beat me”
“I did beat you last time, or have you already forgotten?”
“You had an unfair head-start!”
“Like when you beat me?”
“So are we going or what?” David asked already preparing himself but repositioning the backpack on his back to a more comfortable position.
“3…2...Rachel get back here! I haven’t said one yet!” I yelled after Rachel, who had started running as me and David tried to catch up.
After the morning came my usual classes and as always lunch came way too slowly but it came, nevertheless.
To be continued…