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My Best Friend and Worst Enemy

When you are a teenager, everything equates to the end of the world. The first crisis arrived last week when Lee forgot to set his alarm and slept through his usual 5:00am run before school. Everything fell apart when he forgot his lunch yesterday and was forced to eat school food which would, of course, make him “so fatigued that I won’t be able to run at all tonight!”

Jonathan, Lee’s best friend knew that he’s just a drama queen. After all, he’s the star runner of the East Sea High School track team. Even if his one school lunched caused him to be super fatigued, he would still have a faster time than any of the other kids on the team, even the seniors. Lee is a person who absolutely loves running, it’s his passion, and it just so happens he’s extremely good at it. Running, and loving it, something that Jonathan will never be able to understand.

The day before tryouts finally arrived, and like every other morning, Lee could be seen outside at the ungodly hour of five in the morning getting a quick run in before school started at eight. As he ran, his feet pounding rhythmically on the pavement in time to his iPod, breath coming in short bursts in front of him. He couldn’t help but worry about tomorrow. Even though he already had a guaranteed spot on the team, he still had to show up to tryouts and would, of course, be there to cheer on Jonathan, who would be moving out of the country at the end of this school year. Jonathan was Lee’s closest friend, the only one to whom he confided everything in. Even though he would say his forte was doing musicals, Jonathan willingly signed up for track with Lee and even joined him on the track after school some days. People at school tended to think that Lee was crazy because of his training methods, but he didn’t care. Jonathan never cared what people thought of him or Lee, choosing instead to focus on his acting and using running as a method of keeping in shape.

For Lee, running was his life. He did not do it to keep in shape, he did not do it to get that full scholarship to any university he wanted that everyone knew he would get. He started running six years ago, in 2006, right after his father died of cancer. At first, he just ran to get his mind off of his worldly issues, to feel something other than grief for his father. Eventually, it just became routine part of his life. Then he began to love it, and the rest is history.

“Hey, Lee! Ready for this afternoon?” Jonathan teased, knowing all too well just how nervous Lee got about tryouts.

“What do you think, Mr. Obvious?”

“Kidding, kidding,” Jonathan laughed his loud, obnoxious laugh as they headed into their first hour.

The big day had finally arrived, and Jonathan knew exactly what was going to happen. It was obvious that Lee would be restless and on edge all day, counting the minutes until the bell rang, signaling the end of the day when all the hopefuls would make their way down to the field and get instructions from the track coach, Soo Man. Of course, that wasn’t his real name, but nobody seemed to know what his actual name was, as he had been Soo Man since before Lee started at the high school last year.

Relaxing in the bleachers waiting for their turns to run, Lee looked on nervously as the freshmen got ready for their turns to prove their skills to coach.

“Look, that one over there looks fast. The one in the green shorts,” Lee said distractedly knocking his hand on Jonathan’s bony knee as he sat, looking over his newest script, devouring a pack of cookies.

“Mmmrrmph, I don’t see why your so nervous about a few little freshman,” came a distracted reply behind a mouth full of cookies, Jonathan not even taking a second to glance up.

“I don’t see how you can eat at a time like this! Especially cookies!”

“Lee, you don’t eat any unhealthy food. Especially cookies.”

“I’ve never liked cookies though!”

“Sure”

They lapsed into comfortable silence once more, Lee fidgeting nervously on the hard bench as his turn was coming up.

The sophomore class hopefuls made up over half of the crowd, so they were to be split into three groups from which to be chosen. The first group, made up of kids that Lee had known for most of his life, posed no real threat. Scanning the rest of the kids in the bleachers, he noticed with relief that he recognized most of those kids as well. It was not5 until his eyes landed on one blonde whose head stuck out like a sore thumb in the sea of black and brown locks. He was someone unfamiliar to Lee. Thinking back, maybe he was that Jay kid that all the girls were swooning over. Jay, undeniably handsome, dark eyes peeking out from beneath a shock of stylishly messy white-blonde hair, was sitting all by himself, earbuds secured firmly into his monkey-like ears, tapping his foot to the beat, head bobbing slowly. Deciding he had no chance of being a threat to his star position because of how scrawny he looked, Lee allowed his eyes to wander a little further to where all the other sports teams were gathering for their respective first practices of fall season.

“Well, wish me luck!” Jonathan said, giving Lee a playful smack on the shoulder.

“Eh? Oh, you’ll do great, Johnny. I’ll be watching!” Lee replied hurriedly, having been pulled out of his daze with a start.

Turning to face him with a sly smirk on his face, Jonathan replied “Oh, I saw where you were looking. Don’t think I don’t know, because I do.”

Turning to walk away, he left behind a very confused, spluttering Lee as he jumped off the bleachers onto the track for his turn to run.

“What did he mean by that?” he wondered to himself as he eyed Jonathan and a few other boys making their way to the track, not missing the blonde head he saw making its way down onto the bleachers as well.

It turns out, Lee was absolutely wrong. Not only was the scrawny blonde boy fast, he was super fast. He finished the mile that was required for tryouts so quickly that Lee felt threatened by him.

“Woah! Did you see that new kid? He was like lightning!” Jonathan said, sprawling out on Lee’s couch after being forced to go on a run with him after tryouts.

“Yeah. Why?” Lee replied, a little harsher than he really meant. How could he help it? The blonde kid Jay, someone told him, was good. Like, really good. Lee felt extremely threatened by him and had an irrational hatred toward him, something he’d never felt before.

“Gosh, sorry. I was just wondering since you’re always so obsessive about keeping your first place spot,” Jonathan replied, hands in the air in mock surrender.

“Sorry... I know,” Lee replied, sheepish grin on his face, scratching the back of his head awkwardly.

“You know, you don’t need to feel so threatened. You’re still the fastest on the team. His time was, like, 3 seconds slower than yours.” Jonathan consoled Lee with a hefty pat on his back.

“I know, but tryouts were really harsh. It was my slowest time I’ve had in a while”

“Probably all that healthy food you eat,” Jonathan teased, instantly dissolving the serious atmosphere with the ongoing little joke. Lee happened to be notorious for only eating “healthy foods” while Jonathan loved sweets and junk food and always tried to get Lee to eat some too.

Lee was in the weight room working out after school a few days later when the door opened, revealing the shock of blonde hair that he had come to loath these past few days. Only after seeing him at tryouts that day did he realize that the blonde was named Jay and was also in his math class as well as his science class. Jay was smart in class and even faster on the track. Lee felt extremely wary of Jay and had convinced himself that Jay wanted his spot as the track star. Glancing up, Jay noticed with a start that he’d gone in the wrong door, because the dance room next door definitely didn’t have weights and cardio machines.

“Oh, hi, Lee! How’s it going?” Jay said with a smile, all gums and little teeth.

“Fine.”?
“Oh... well, that’s good. I’d better get going, I was going to do some dancing. Want to join?”

“No.”

“Okay, see you around!” Jay waved and grinned as he left the room, Lee fuming over the whole situation.

Eventually, curiosity got the best of Lee. What kind of dancing does Jay do?

“He’s good at everything,” Lee thought forlornly as he stuck his head into the dance room where Jay had the music up loud, body swaying, moving to the beat. His dancing seemed to be powerful yet graceful in a way that Lee had never seen before. Slightly awestruck, Lee allowed himself to walk into the room to get a better view. Jay, so absorbed in his dancing, didn’t notice Lee’s entrance until the song ended.

With a start, he said “Oh! Hey, Lee. What’s up?”

“Nothing. Your music was too loud.”?
“Oh... hey, can I ask you something? Why do you hate me so much?”?
“Why? Because! You’re trying to take away my track spot! It’s the only thing I have! I’m not as smart as you, I can’t dance, and you’re even as fast as I am and I’ve been training seriously for six years! You don’t think you’d feel bad too if that happened to you?” Lee exploded, blinking a few times in shock at his own explosion before hurriedly leaving the dance room in embarrassment.

After recovering from the initial feelings of hurt and processing what was just yelled at him, Jay rushed out into the hallway after Lee and grabbed his arm.
?“Hey, Lee. Wait, I’m really sorry. I didn’t realize that you felt threatened by me. I’m new here, and I’m just trying to get involved to make some friends. Track really isn’t my thing, I mean, I ran when I was younger and stuff, but I’m a dancer. I just signed up for track to stay fit and to meet some new people. Really”?
Pleasantly surprised by his sincerity, Lee found himself breaking out into a smile, relief flooding through his veins, lifting him ten feet off the ground. Realizing he should probably say something, he scratched the back of his head awkwardly before saying “Really? Oh...” making the awkwardness even more apparent.

“Yeah... well, I should probably get back to practicing now...”

“No, wait Jay. I’m sorry I jumped to conclusions about you like that, I really didn’t mean to. I’m just really paranoid about my position on the team and stuff, so I hope we can be friends. Friends?” He asked, holding out his hand.

“Friends,” Jay agreed, smiling his gummy smile that Lee couldn’t help but find just a little endearing.





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