March 8, 2011
By Jake Ethe BRONZE, Melville, New York
Jake Ethe BRONZE, Melville, New York
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I was told that underestimation was the most distressful of habits known to the child. “And not a truth in any conflicting opinion!” preached my school friend as we wandered merrily towards the lunchroom, with nearly as much intention of actually arriving at our destination as we did preparing for the examination that, as if it had been incapable of siphoning its cruelty for another day, was approaching with the next sounding of the rooster’s crow. I would be a man with a guilty conscience if I attempted affirm the existence of my unwavering attention towards my mate, but I had not the mind for his mindless escapades, nor the patience for his seemingly infinite lectures. This, of course, came only in addition to the fact that I was hardly the man to begin with, even prior to the guilty conscience of which I had no means of attaining.

We had been friends since the time we had “popped out,” I had been told my by mother on occasions to numerous to even maintain their identities as occasions, to which I would proclaim my doubt in either myself or my friend possessing nearly enough capabilities to be considered anything more than non-sentient beings in the immediate weeks following our births, which were, to no surprise, “on the same day, as if it was meant to be!” This, undoubtedly, came much to the dismay of my mother, who abhorred the overly logical side of my self, unable to fathom how she could have possibly raised such an imaginatively deprived creature, especially when said logic consisted of my constant aversion to any such admittance of childhood remembrance or worth.

That’s not to suggest that I had forgotten entirely my early childhood. I specifically recall a blanket. Yes, my blanket. Oh, how I loved that old thing! Its origins were mostly foreign to me, and continue to remain so. My primary senses pointed towards its manufacturing as but one in a lot of uniform blankets most probably constructed in the trenches of industrial Georgia, but my dominating senses coveted it as a gleaming prize, sculpted meticulously of a fine silk thieved from an ancient Egyptian prince in the still of night. Of course, today I had little the time for the likes of mangy pieces of cloth, nor did I still consider a continuous spewing of spit-up upon the surface to be adequate appreciation of a possession I so marveled at. But, like the majority of the possessions that I maintained a keen sense of, my blanket had withered away with my ability to conceive exotic premises, stolen from my clutches as I had my back turned to its beauty, the only I had known prior to the development of my ability to deduce such objects as so, yet still the only such occurrence of beauty I had observed even after the acquisition of that ability.

I knew not of the relationships I had made as an infant, nor did I consider the knowledge of such relations to be of any significance. I knew not of my early friends or enemies, but merely of the few childish toys that my mother had plopped at my foot side with the hopes that they may force my dough-like cranium to undergo a seamless metamorphosis into an ingenious tool. Though I now ostracize what I consider to be her selfish attempts at prodigy creation, I thank my mother so whilst my eyes resist oncoming sleep for not allowing me to become a number of the countless whose eyes succumb to said slumber only to dream of naught. But I did not awake to these feelings, no, not by any stretch of the imagination. I wouldn’t allow for it. Nor did I awake to conflicting feelings regarding my childhood pseudo-friendship that had perhaps been even more true than the one in which I currently abided, which unfortunately no longer possessed the characteristics that would qualify it as false, contrary to its predecessor. This is because I did not awake at all. After all, that was the only means by which I could evade the enveloping reminders of my distraught relations that, barring my potential death by delirium, were by no means dissoluble.

Its presence, I must admit, stunted me little given the fact that I seldom saw my--acquaintance throughout the course of my daily procedure, arguably the sole valuable aspect of said routine, as if to imply that any such thing reminiscent of a routine would be anything but abysmal. Still, I am compelled to declare that it was rather rash of me to imply such fault in my conventional daily grind, the likes of which the joys supplanted the ills. The ills of which, I must profess I held control over.

Though I tended to deny my rather worrisome friendship and any subsequent means of association, I could not, with fingers uncrossed that is, claim that I did not enjoy the company of his companionship at times. You must keep in mind, however, that I was far from the person to reject the presence of a companion of any sort. For it was not the plight of being associated with him in the confines of my own home that bothered me so (though I did indeed tend to minimize its true effect on my domestic life), but the association that existed at school that irked me, a fact that even I could not refute. Yes, school was his haven. Like a businessman who had yet to make a single sale since his contract extension had granted him a higher pay, but somehow felt all the more entitled and successful for the larger number that his paycheck now fashioned, he strolled throughout the hallways with an aura of borderline arrogance, searching for disciples to inform, for frames to shift, and for girls to wink at. There was never an absence of the latter. This is, of course, taking into consideration the ease with which any conscious human can send electrical signals rippling through his or her neurons, signaling the coating of the eyelid over its spherical companion, lashes brushing masterfully over the crystal surface. The question of whether or not its recipient, and, though sparsely, its issuer, ever felt or intended any form of emotional appeal was a mystery hardly the illegitimate love child of Miss Maud Silver and Sherlock Holmes could diagnose.

I had no trouble in the matter. In time, I had come to know most what I desired least, more so than any one thing I had previously made the focal point of my attentions.

I knew little of his whereabouts within school given the fact that our lunchroom strolls to nowhere remained our sole instances of encounter during those hours. And yet, I had felt as if I had known his whereabouts better than even those who had shared nearly every waking moment in his omnipotence, as if his lectures dissipated through the halls towards my ears, knowing that they were but channels that could not close to certain sounds, of which his penetrating voice was one. His stream of thoughts flowed flawlessly into the once impervious ones that I had known mine to be--as if perhaps it was meant to be.

I had insisted on numerous occasions that he cease to, as he put it, “serenade me with his truth.” His figure of truth, however, was no more the truth than even the most obvious instances of falseness. His truth was measured not in the resonance of his words with his disciples, or even the application of his decrees in the real world, but it remained, resolutely, a matter of quantity. The larger number of words he could fit into his incoherent rambling of sentences strung together by seams with a consistency and thickness reminiscent of a low quality dental floss, the more true his words became. And, most importantly of course, the truth of his statements, as far as he was concerned, relied on the number of souls whose heads, upon development, had not been filled with cerebrums large enough or capable enough of independent thought; souls who would be attentive on his every elocution, as if the only characteristic isolating him from a latter-day prophet was the fact that he did not exclusively play the role of messenger, but the role of God as well.

I had always thought myself to be an intelligent child, possibly even more so than my prophetic counterpart. I must have been able to manifest even the smallest amount of intelligence if I had been capable of evading his toxic words for nearly an epoch nearly as long in length as that succeeding the time I had gained the ability to receive audible messages. His intelligence, though not as robust as mine in my mind, was to a much greater extent more manipulative than mine had been, and thus, with ease, shone through the clouds of arrogance that had made it so difficult for any one fellow educated child to acknowledge his abilities as deserved. He had been called gifted, but that was a stretch in my mind being that most of his outward intelligence was no more than an attractive byproduct of his false semblance, one that may only be equated to that of a con artist targeting a poor boy of a mere eight years in age.

I had wished, at times, that I could somehow journey back to the time when my friends and acquaintances were still no more than options that I could practice a selective policy towards. The orientation of my life at this point, had I trudged through it in the absence of his ubiquity, remains a question that I am not particularly fond of contemplating, not out of the fear of its potential horridness, but out of the lack of desire to imagine a life that I would have potentially preferred, only to descend into the one I held little restraint over.

I practiced an isolationist policy towards him during the bulk of our day, but the given association between us following nearly eleven years of school was known as well as one may know the name of a close family member. Given, I didn’t always despise this association, most particularly when he was hailed as the embodiment of a king in the eyes of the student body, be they blind.

I had never been one for parties, frequently discovering myself to take a greater liking towards bathing in the serenity of my room with pen in hand, so that I may find time to sculpt from the pale sheet of paper that seemed to paralyze my wrist in a way that an advanced medicine could only dream of the story of a man who nearly succumbed to insanity and engaged on a murderous spree after playing second fiddle to a manipulative b****** over the entirety of their false cordiality. I never completed the story, though, or even got past the first hundred words for that matter. This was not because I was unable to harp on my imagination, or at least that was what I had assured myself of, for I knew very well the course that the story would take. I had lived it! Had I not?

I had never finished not for the aforementioned reason, but because I had no choice but to attend the parties. If I had chosen to do anything different, he would have received nothing but a bombardment of questions as to my whereabouts, the likes of which he would blame on my selfishness. It’s not as if they truly cared as to where I might be, or what I might be doing away from his side, but at the descent of the late afternoon sun, who was Romulus sans-Remus? I would typically be in attendance as a ragdoll, though I didn’t particularly mind it. I often found a comfortable corner in which I could drift off into the next chapter of the story I vowed I would complete. Of course I could not make sober hallucination my permanent approach, as it would look rather peculiar for a child to be staring into space whilst centered on a stage before the entire school, alongside his mate who had recently been awarded another piece of jewelry to add to his overflowing collection. Of course, solely festivities and presentations could not epitomize my association. As long as I remained an adherent to his escapades, I had been obligated to also remain an aspect of his encounters.

Perhaps no greater had my apathy towards the maintenance of my friendship ever presented itself than just a week prior to the award ceremony, when an older boy, just on the brink of graduation towards higher education, had heard enough out of the mouth of the mindless prophet. He had clipped him the side of the face with a hook that would silence a bear, and had no trouble in silencing his words. Upon notification, I had wanted nothing more than to turn a blind eye, but it would be a direct violation of my role. I arrived at the scene only to catch another hook, this time upon my own face. I had locked myself in the only haven I believed I was secure within, that of my room, and vowed never to speak to my monstrous companion, who had violated upon my humanity for all too long. I sat myself upon a wooden stool and began to assemble the story I knew I had to complete; the piece I would make my magnum opus.


I would not currently be sitting here upon the same stool I had found refuge in years ago, telling this tale, if my story had ceased with my exodus. I have now long left my school days, to which I must say I am infinitely pleased. I had not seen my companion since our departure, and had spoken to him quite uncommonly since the altercation.

I had received a phone call from my mother, who at that point in time was rather ill, just a year’s time ago. I had expected an update as to her health, but instead was told by my sickly mother that my old friend had fallen ill prematurely as well. She advised that I visit him promptly, to which I rejected immediately. I preferred to spend my time with her. Besides, I had not feared illness to overcome my tough mother, much less to overpower my overly tenacious childhood acquaintance.

I attended my mother’s funeral just two weeks time ago. As I allowed tears to dispel from my eyelids with no restriction, I would not do the same with her advice, which I now chose to heed for the first time in my life.

I located my friend’s place of residence after a brief conversation with an old school mate of mine who had not remembered my name, but recalled his all too well. When I arrived at the address, as prescribed by the poorly written handwriting on the napkin, I was told that he had passed away weeks ago, on the same day as my mother, and had not mentioned my name in years. I heard my mother’s soothing voice from beyond the grave in my head, which was no longer dough-like luckily, boasting about how their shared date of death was fascinating, as if it was meant to be.

I retuned to the house I lived in during my childhood just after receiving the news, and that is where I currently reside as I attempt to deliver this tale. You must keep in mind that it is rather hard for anyone who has not lived through its course to fully understand its purity. I ventured to the attic yesterday, and discovered, buried under mounds of dusty child toys, the remnants of my blanket. I grasped its remaining stitches, which I had believed had withered fully long ago, tightly to my warm face and cried for my mother, for my friend, whom I now found full confidence in deeming as so, a friend.

I have completed my story after leaving school, but am currently editing its contents, and it may continue to undergo construction as I recall more of the past relations that are beginning to escape my overly logical psyche. In the revision of my magnum opus, the enraged murderer will experience the death of his nemesis. He will receive therapy for his insanity and work towards becoming a lecturer. He will instruct struggling children on the importance of establishing a sense of individuality from the outset of one’s life, in order to avoid playing second fiddle to anyone, even the man who has already attained all of the things one could only dream of obtaining oneself. A man, as he would stress during his sermons, that he had admittedly chased as well. He will slowly begin to realize the extent to which his nemesis, in all of his boisterousness, instructed him greater than he may ever hope to instruct anyone whom he may lecture during his career. He will punish himself in the confines of his home for not extracting every waking moment of his acquaintance’s presence, no matter how badly it might have boiled his blood, and for not taking interest in the irreplaceable worth his now friend possessed until he had fallen ill and dissipated, just as his insurmountable words had; an illness he was confident his friend would supplant with just as much ease as he had completed every other task in his lifetime. I was told that underestimation was the most distressful of habits known to the child. I was told correctly.

The author's comments:
A raw account of the toxic relation between a child and his overshadowing companion.

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