One drop of blood marred the knife's glistening surface. Still shining, almost glowing, the blade's thirst was not quenched. James looked into the blade; the spot of blood was replaced by Alexander's dark face. "I'm sorry, James." it seemed to be saying. James reached for the knife, then stopped. He was paralyzed by the memory that was filling his mind, and was compelled to pay attention.
"Hey Jim, how long have we been friends?"
"Friends or best friends?"
Alexander paused; the two periods of time were one. They had become best friends within one hour of their meeting. It is a well-known fact that the best way to become friends with someone is to share a life-threatening experience with him. When Alexander and James met, they were in the hospital waiting to be taken to the operating room. Each survived his appendectomy, but had feared for his life. It was a bonding experience. To simplify his answer, Alexander simply replied, "When we met in the hospital."
"You mean Boston City Hospital's famed room 209, the ward of death?" They both laughed. "That must have been seven years ago because I had just moved here. That's right, it was 1977; we were eleven years old then. Why?" James stared inquisitively at Alexander.
"I don't know. I was just thinking that we're both pretty lucky. We each have someone to whom we can tell anything. Most people don't have that luxury. I was just sort of saying thanks to the world."
"Why, Al? You planning on leaving the world in the near future?"
The scene faded as James thought in disgust, Nice job, Jim. How apropos. When he had made that remark, Alexander had looked down and silence filled the room. Alexander had always been somewhat sensitive, but it was a hard time for him. His girlfriend of ten months had just moved to Minnesota. His mother had recently discovered his father's extra-curricular love life, and had filed for divorce. Also, Alexander had just found out that he would have to go to summer school because of his flunking grades in Algebra II and Chemistry. Why did I have to say that? How dumb can I be? James' mind continued.
During the week that followed James' remark, Alexander had been quite depressed, saying things like, "Jim, on Sunday, why did you say ...?" The only answer that James could muster was that he had been joking.
"Yeah, Jim. Real funny stuff. And Alex really laughed when you first said it." James scolded himself.
One week ago, a full week after the infamous remark about departing the world, Alexander had returned to normal. He had apparently forgotten what James had said. For one week Alexander was his usual self, maybe a little too happy for someone whose parents were in the process of getting a divorce. His parents' marital problems seemed to lose importance. Alexander had made it a point to say goodbye to everyone during the last week. On Saturday, as James left Alexander's house, he had said, "Goodbye, James. Thank you for all of your help."
AJames?' Why'd he call me that? What happened to Jim, or Jimbo?" However, James soon forgot this discrepancy.
A tear rolled down James' cheek and onto the blade. At this point, James regained the power of motion. He grabbed the instrument, and tried to wipe off the stain to no avail. Even the tear was unable to remove the spot of blood. James took this as a sign.
There was a void in James' life where Alexander had once been; a part of James was gone now. Alexander had been right, they were lucky that they had someone to talk to. But now, there was nobody. Alexander wouldn't be there to alleviate his fears anymore. He was deathly afraid of going to U Mass Amherst in the fall. He would be just another freshman, a face in the crowd. James wouldn't even have his own identity anymore, he would be one of many, along with the rest of the students. There was nobody there. Nobody to help him. Nobody to notice if he disappeared. Nobody to care ,
Two drops of blood marred the knife's glistening surface. Still shining, almost glowing, the blade's thirst was not quenched. n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.