Friendly Differences

December 13, 2010
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Part 1:

“Slim Shady!”

“The Wombats!”

“But it’s, it’s….my favorite song!! Come on Charlie.”

“Oh well if that’s your favorite song, I’m afraid this is mine,” I jokingly-aggressively shoved in my best friends face; keeping my left eye on the road. Not like anything coming slower than 100 miles an hour could destroy my invincible ford truck. A classic rusted red, it gave me an entirely new look. Not the geeky ‘accept no less than perfect from myself’ I’m known as, a more lackadaisical, ‘whatever I’m just going to accidentally look cool’ type feel. I don’t really care about looking cool (that’s what cool people say, right?) While my best friend over here, not what you’d call geeky. She’s edgy and seems to have an uncontrollable need to wear black, but since I am such a good friend I taught her to limit all of the not-really-a-color, color.

One of our differences, Dylan was not geeky. She had a voice in her that bursts and blows anyone in her path away. I guess that’s why I became friends with her (so I could stand to her side). Well, not really. More like; overwhelmed, about to burst in tears, sitting on the ground surrounded by scattered papers and wing-open binders, saved by girl standing over me, letting herself be late to class to help me. I guess she was my savior, but we don’t like gushy names like that. Let’s call her my dark angel. Anyway I couldn’t just walk away with only a muttered ‘thank you’ (especially when I found out we were going to the same class, Woodworking) for some reason. To this day, I’m clueless why.

“Cause I ain't got no legs!
Or no brain, nice to meet you
Hi, my name is...
I forgot my name!
My name was not to become what I became with this level of fame
My soul is possessed by this devil my new name is....
Rain Man” blasts through my cars crappy speakers. In my two seconds of hesitation Dylan had plugged in her Ipod, turned the volume as high as possible, and switched to Rain Man.

“Fine” I give in ambivalently, “but Wombats are next.”

“Oh, we’ll see about that.”

I knew like the day before, and the day before, and ever since I’ve been driving us since I turned sixteen, The Wombats would never be played. I was too nice, and could have no backbone to Dylan’s puppy eyes.
I can handle Eminem in small doses. One song, okay, I’ll sing to the parts I can understand the words too but not comprehend. Two songs, alright, let’s turn the volume down a bit. Three songs, I get it, you’re too angry for your own good!!! Or in his case you’re angry for your own good, million dollar good. Luckily the drive from her house to school is 6 minutes and 30 seconds on a rainy-and-therefore-not the slightest bit of- aggressiveness-tired-day, and a 4 minute ride on a hey-I’m-actually-awake-at-six-thirty-in-the-morning day.


“Nmp s Eminem! Nmp” was Dylan’s polite way of saying, “Not now, this is my Eminem time and I will not even pause for a second to think about something else, other than the coming up lyrics that I of course have already mesmerized and really don’t need my full attention to rap.” But that would be a waste of Eminem’s radio presence.

“Fine, then I won’t tell you who called me last night to ask us on a double date.” The radio was immediately shut off and Dylan had secondarily turned her entire body towards me. It wasn’t that we didn’t get a lot of dates, we did, and we were definitely attractive and beautiful (or we totally think we are). But they were not always choice worthy boys asking us on dates. The lower class in the high school food chain so to speak.

“Who?!” Dylan questioned with her pleading blue eyes. “Is it David, he was staring at us during lunch yesterday? I could swear, he was!”

“No. And A, he was staring at us because we had, yet again, burst into song. And B, I know you can swear no need to remind me. You got a sailor’s mouth.” Dylan liked to use more than a fair share of, shall we say, vivid language.

“Okay, you know tha one boy that lives in the blue house on my street?”

“The one always mowing his lawn shirtless?! Oh yes, yes, yes! The day has finally come!!”

“No, the one on the other side of the road. Closer to my house.”

“You must mean that totally hottie, Riley. He can skateboard!!”

“No,” I muttered regretfully, preparing for her painful disappointment. “His younger brother and his friend.”

“You must be thinking of someone else. Because last I checked, and since we can see through his living room window from your window was yesterday, his younger brother was two years younger than us.”

“Well, he’s kind of hot. And we’re both on the short side, so compared to us he’ll look totally tall.”

“I have expectations, so you can give him a no. A big fat one.” How could I tell her I had already kinda said ‘yes’?

“But he could be hot. I mean he’s nice and Riley is teaching him how to skateboard. I think he can ride a half pipe, now.” It was a bit of a stretch. The farthest I’d seen Riley’s little brother ever get on a skateboard was when he tripped on Riley’s and road down the driveway on his back, legs in the air. But canceling would just be so harsh. I can’t lie any longer, “Dylan, I already said yes.”

“No problem, cancel.”

“I can’t do that. It’s not that simple”

“He was shooting high anyway, asking out two seniors. He probably danced around in his tighty-wighties listening to the Wiggles when he heard you say ‘yes’.”

“Exactly! I can’t send his high-fling hopes into a spiraling downfall headed towards the middle of the Artic Ocean.”

“You can and you will.”

“Bleh.” My usual ‘I’m-giving-up answer’. A dignified sign of resolution. Actually, no. I give up too easy. “NO, you’re going to push through what probably won’t be a bad date.”

“I think someone gulped down way too much coffee.”

“No, I’m just freakin’ advocating what I believe in! And I believe we should go on this one date.”

Dylan screamed. And in a flash of an instant I turned towards the road, only to see a truck speeding towards us, no intention or apparent ability to stop.

Part 2:
Why in an earthquake does one building go untouched and another completely devastated? Was one building stronger than the other, or did the P waves and the S waves decide to leave one alone? (Thanks, Earth Science. Without you I can’t make accurate analogies!) Whatever the reason, it’s not fair. One home isn’t better than the other. They both deserve to survive and thrive until their full potential. Who decides what building gets hit harder? God? Or some other unknown source in this great mass of air molecules and far, far away space. Can’t the buildings go back to their peaceful state of both standing tall. No way to reconstruct the broken one, the State just sweeps it away. Sad and forlorn towards the building, but soon a new one is replaced. But those memories that building created, and held can’t be replaced so easily. It’s not always time to replace and continue on. In life we can’t always just expect something new and greater to come along. Sometimes you have the best in your life, but you just don’t take time enough to enjoy it. To understand and be grateful of your house, your family, your life.

“Do you see the driver?” asked a voice with no face to match it.
“No, unless that’s the driver.”

“Don’t you think there was a passenger?”

“I thought so, but do you see one? I mean, look around. Try over there.”

“I’ll try, but no one can fly out of a car that far.”

“Do you see an ID?”

“I see one for Dylan Lennings, 18.”

“Let’s clear out. ‘Sposed to snow, even blizzard.”

“In early December?”

“Yeah, that’s what they say…”

Part 3:

Ughh. I don’t want to get out of my creamy white comforter. School, school any need to go? Mom, must have forgotten to turn up the heat last night. This blanket itself feels like it is being cooled by some ice machine. There must have been some blackout, no heat. I’m so tired, it feels like I didn’t sleep at all. And why am I so sore. It’s like my body has been processed through a meat packer. I’m so tired I don’t think I can even open my eyes. Wait, is my bed wet?!! I don’t pee in my pants. Not even when I was two, I never peed in my pants. And I am not starting now.

I mustered the strength to open my eyes. What I saw shocked by me. I was outside. What did Dylan and I do this time? We’ve been pretty wild before, but falling asleep outside? Not cool. Especially a mile from school. How on Earth did we walk six miles and not come to our senses? I closed my eyes again, I couldn’t handle this stress. I turned to look for Dylan at my side, no one. Where is she?

I waited in tomb pose, one of the yoga positions I made up with Dylan. There was the I-got-to-pee pose where you turn your knees in and hunch over, or the has-anyone-seen-my-earring where you hunch over and tense your neck. After lying in tomb for what felt like an hour I had the energy to stand up. I looked around and realized I was starving. Which makes no sense, since on sleepovers, Dylan and I pig out until we can eat no more. I checked my sports watch. 9 o‘clock! How-wait… I remember us driving to school this morning. Did we ever get there? Obviously not, since I’m not sitting in what should be Biology. My car obviously didn’t make it either. First I need to eat something. School won’t miss me, what’s another period? I walk on the side of the road to the Penreville Diner.

It was eighth grade and I had just recovered from a grueling week of finals. To celebrate Dylan and I had planned a little tété à tété at the infamous (for the amount of grease and salt they use) Penreville Diner. Dylan ordered chicken fingers, her favorite meal since she was three. While most eight graders had branched out to more “adult” foods like lamb or octopus, Dylan still enjoyed and favored fried chicken fingers from the kid’s menu over maple glazed chicken on the other side of the menu. Not having an adult palate myself I ordered a triple grilled cheese. Not just one layer of melted cheese goodness, but two. Every time some huge cramming finally came to a close (which of course we did at each other’s houses; half studying half gossiping) we would sit on the upholstered red bar stools and order one triple grilled cheese and one order of double fried chickens. By the end of tenth grade every waitress knew our order and all we had to do was ‘kerplunk’! on the two bar stools.

A wave of grease and oil washed over me, delicious. The Penreville Diner was red and white themed, with red ‘n white checkerboard tiles, red ‘n white booths and every other ounce of space you could paste these two colors on. Even the ceiling was red ‘n white tie dye (not really fitting in the ‘50’s theme, more like the 70’s) to all four corners. The waitresses hesitantly skated around the 576 square feet room on roller blades, constantly breaking. I ordered two classic triple grilled cheeses; I was really hungry. By the time the crispy-but-not-burnt grilled cheese came out I felt faint. What happened? And where is Dylan? After gobbling down my two grilled cheeses, I decided the best thing to do would be to call her cell. If she gets in trouble in class, Eh, she left me on the side of the road in a ditch. I leave my wallet on the counter and exchange a $1 for four quarters. The thought of using a payphone usually grosses me out, lice. I reach such a point f paranoia my scalp starts to itch; but I’m depserato.

No answer. The one time Dylan let’s her phone run out of battery. I am so faint. Something must be seriously wrong with me. A glass of water will probably help. Wait, wait… I was driving and a…a truck! was coming straight on to us. And Dylan, she screamed; and then it all went black. I need to get out of here. Dylan! She must be in the hospital. Oh my gosh, what if I killed her? I’ve got to get my nwallet, I’ve got to get to Dylan. On my trip back to my bar stool I feel my body shut do.

Part 4:

I wake up to the first sight of a nose. The nose is surprisingly connected to a middle aged man, who happened to be towering over me. “Uh, hello?”

“Oh, hi Miss. I’m Nurse McLecan. Do you remember fainting in the Penrevile Diner? When you fell you seemed to have hit your head very badly. Face-first actually; quiet the unpleasant way to go. Now, we need to get some more information about you. Let’s start with your name,” rambled Nurse McLecan. Nurse McLecan defiantly needed a nose trimmer for Christmas and a eyebrow plucker would only do more good. His breath smelt strongly of cough drops, which half a foot from your face wasn’t minty fresh.

“No problem my name is…” And that’s when I realized I didn’t know my name. No idea. I think it started with a D, but I couldn’t be sure. “Um, D—. I think its… Well my name is-“

“Can you not remember your name?”

“No,” and I burst into tears. All I remembered was some car accident. But I don’t think it was me driving. Then a name came to me, Dylan. Dylan...umm...Lennings, I think. “Dylan…Dylan Lennings”

“Why does that name sound familiar? Oh my, your ID was found at the side of the road at the sight of a car crash this very morning. On Main Street I think...I have a picture somewhere. Let’s see if you look like this Dylan Lennings,” muttered Nurse McLecan as he finally backed away from my face to fumble around for a photo. A photo of me! Dylan had to me, I was Dylan. I doubt there was more than one crash one morning in the small town of Harperton. “Now your face is pretty scratched up. So it may be hard to tell.”

“What do you mean? I don’t look okay?”

“Well, you are quite the sight for sore eyes. You appear to have two black eyes, and a large gash down your right cheek. You’re face seems to have reacted to something you ate, and well, your face is covered in large hives.” First, this guy said ‘well’ way too much. Second, way to lay it on light, dude. I have a large chunk of my memory gone and all he can think of is how ugly I look. Way to boost patient moral. “You have similar eyes as Dylan-”

‘Stop saying ‘as Dylan!” I screamed. “I’m Dylan!”

“Sorry miss. Didn’t mean to upset you. You just weren’t sure before-”

“Well, I am now. When are we going to be at the hospital?” I snapped. I wasn’t one to lose my temper but I just felt like such crap. So far I haven’t been having the best day. Get in a car accident, faint, turn completely ugly, and so far it didn’t seem to be improving.

“We’re pulling in right now. Dr. Schmareian will be taking over. She’s our best.”

“Thanks, and sorry…”

“It’s all right miss. No need to apologize.” Sheesh who was this guy? When anyone is this polite you can usually hear an English accent. The only accent on him, seemed to be a slight Russian one. The back doors were suddenly pulled open; I couldn’t crane my neck to see, but I could hear it. Suddenly my head was dipping down and I was sliding backwards. Brrbrr forgot how cold it was. Do they want me to get pneumonia and freeze to death? If they don’t intend on having thei pockets emptied by a major lawsuit, I would give me another blanket. The doors automatically burst open in front of us. Us being the three EMTS carting me down the hallway and...Wait! Where’d Nurse McLecan go? He was right at my le-…Oh whatever. Just another sign I’m going certifiably bananas. The hallway was nice and toasty and I no longer felt the need to bring Harberton Hospital to Harberton court. Hey, carter guy to my left is kinda hot. He’s got that smoldering look going for him.

I was finally pushed into a 100 square-foot room, that I seemed to be the only resident of. The walls were painted, what was supposed to be a cheerful pink, but really only reminded me of a senior home; the opposite of cheerful. The pink spread to the large speckled tiles and the drapes separating my bed from the other bed, and to the linen sheets. Since that transparent curtain gave me so much privacy when I found out I was in a fatal condition. After twiddling my thumbs and staring around the room for ten minutes, Dr. Schmareian rushed in. Her flushed cheeks showed me she had just sped in from the bitter December outside. Dr. Schmareian was a middle age asian that seemed to blend into the room. Her cheekbones seemed to be stretching her skin over her face, giving her the look of a small starving child. Her body represented the look only more, frail as a stick I could have won a fighting mach in a boxed in arena.

She quickly flipped threw her clipboard and came up with a “Hello. Miss..Er-”

“Lennings. My name is Dylan Lennings.”

“Oh, yes that’s right. Your parents are rushing over at this very moment to come see you. After finding a body this morning they assumed it was you. Obviously it must have been someone else. Were you driving? I understand if you can’t recall. It seems you had trouble remembering your name, and other information could come slow to you.”

“I wasn’t driving, I don’t think,” Dr. Schmareian walkie-talkie beeped. After mumbling for a few seconds she looked up with a pearly white smile.

“Your parents and your brother will be right in. They are over excited to see you, but they understand if you can’t handle visitors right now. Are you okay with them coming in? But first I must take a blood test. I understand you know you are Dylan Lennings, but sometimes our brain jumbles things up. Dylan may be the one you were driving with, or a name from a sign you saw. We just have to check; protocol and all.”

“I’m ready to see my parents.”

“Alright, sweetie,” glowed Dr. Schmareian. She mumbled into her walkie-talkie while simultaneously preparing my blood test. I braced myself for the shock of the cold needle and the pinch in my elbow, but it never came. She was good. The next second Dr. Schmareian had removed the needle, my parents and my brother rushed in. “Hi, Mom and Dad,” I smiled to show them how much I appreciated their presence. “I was so scared and confused.”

“Oh, it’s alright sweetie,” whispered my mom. She seemed hesitant to touch me, unsure if she should yet be relieved. “I don’t know why the doctors were exaggerating. Your little marks and bruises can be covered with some nice concealer,” said my mom, attempting a shot at light conversation. My mom looked like a mess, but probably better than I looked. Her hair was in a tight bun that pulled back her face, and she wore a pair of DKNY sweatpants. She rushed over to my side and started to part my hair.

“You really had us worried,” muttered my dad, his eyes down. It was clear by his red-rimmed eyes, but I knew he was trying to hide it. I ignored it, it felt like just knowing (not even seeing) my dad crying was a huge invasion of his privacy.

“Paul, it’s not her fault.”

“Maryln, I know that.” Usually it seemed he would have snapped at something like that. But he was refraining himself, for me. My dad looked better than my mom in a pair of jeans, Merrells and a tucked in button up. After only taking my eyes from my dad did I noticed my brother. I forget his name, I forget a lot of stuff, though. But things look familiar; like my mom, my dad and my brother.”

He spoke up, “Hey, Dylan. I know you might not remember us, but my name is Matt.” He pointed at Mom, “That’s Maryln, but you already heard that.” He pointed at Dad, “And that’s Paul.” He came and kneeled beside the bed. My dad chose to sit in the overstuffed armchair in the corner between the pink wall and the door. If Dr. Schmareian burst in like she did before, he would be straight on smacked in the head.

“Hi, Matt,” Matt began to massage my hand in circles. “I used to do this when you couldn’t sleep as a toddler. Remember? But this bracelet keeps getting in the way. The one you made with your best friend. You have great times Do you remember her, Charlie? Suddenly he gasped. You made bracelet;s with each others name on it. This says Dylan. Dylan made this for you.You aren’t Dylan. You’re Charlie.”

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