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EMILY AND JOHN
Emily and John are friends. They are friends because their parents are friends from college. They live in the same city but go to different schools so they don’t see each other very much. Emily and John are fairly young kids but are old enough to understand most things. One day, when Emily was heading to meet some of her school friends at her favorite hangout spot, the ice cream parlor, John was at the mall nearby and decided to walk there to get a break from the hot day and the long walk he took to get there. Emily and John’s parents were still at work and the duo just left school during the last week before the summer.
John looked off in the distance as he trudged slowly in the southern, summery heat. He noticed his friend from his past striding down the pathway from the mall with a big grin on her face. The last time they talked was probably around Christmas time. Butterflies of fear and excitement jerked through his stomach as he saw her long, dirty blonde hair flowing in the occasional breeze. Despite the time that they’ve known each other, he still felt odd whenever he saw her.
Emily sat down on a bench to briefly read a text message, heat encouraging the sweat to appear above her brow where her hair rested peacefully in a kind of drape over the left side of her face. She noticed her friends were drifting from her a bit to talk to other people or get boyfriends or buy clothes for themselves, but she still felt she should hang out with them because it was the right thing to do, in her mind. After waiting in the sun for about 15 minutes on a reply from them, she finally got the notice that they were all in the parlor. As she stood up to walk in that direction she noticed a lean, black figure moving slowly from a distance. She looked behind her at the cars whizzing swiftly across the highway and continued walking until she and the figure finally intercepted one another.
“Hey Emily.” Said John.
“Oh Hey John!” Emily exclaimed with a bit of excitement and surprise. “How are you?”
“Terrible...” he muttered, “but I have been worse. What about yourself?”
“I’m just peachy! But I’m sorry to hear you aren’t feeling well, are you sick?”
“No,” replied John, “my sister is, but I’m not. I just feel... strange.”
“Like,” John paused here and thought for a moment. “I don’t know how to say. It’s a bad feeling, like I’m helpless. I want to do or be different, but I don’t think I can...”
“Awwww that’s no biggy! You can do whatever you put your mind to!”
“I can...?” He quizzed skeptically, “Like what?”
“Like, well, acting different! But you shouldn’t act different if you feel pressured to. My mom always says to be true to me and honest with others so that I can be honest with me.”
“That seems nice. I don’t tell many lies. But I also don’t feel positive about it. Especially since my mom doesn’t talk to me much. Do you feel strange sometimes?”
“Not... really. I have never thought about stuff like that!”
“Do you think that you’re… happy?”
“Well... yea! I always feel pretty good. I mean, not much is wrong out there except some bad guys out there. But as a whole, people are good, I think.”
“Wow, that’s interesting...” John said, peering down shyly at his feet. “Do you think your school has good people?
“Oh yes of course!” replied Emily. “I have many friends there, they like me and I like them, I’d say. Do you like your school?”
“No. It’s a wretched, pathetic place. Nothing ‘good’ ever happens there.” He stated, coldly.
“That’s too bad... well, there’s gotta be something good that happens there.”
“No. Me and My Sister get teased and teachers are hard on us. Do you think it’s wrong to want someone or something dead?”
“I don’t think death is good! No one knows where you go when your dead, so I don’t think we should want others to be dead.”
John stopped, thought for a second and then he asked, “Emily, do you ever think about the death of your own mother?”
“No! Hardly ever do I think about bad stuff!”
“Do you ever think about death?”
“Well... sometimes. Not much. My grandmother died some years ago and my boyfriend dumped me. But I usually don’t think about bad stuff, I just put it in the back of my mind and try to be positive!”
“That’s obvious, you’re always happy...” mumbled John, glumly. “Well, what do you think about?”
“I think about the sunshine, waking up to fresh start everyday, going out to eat, maybe breakfast! Hanging out with my friends, going to parties and movies and just having fun!”
The conversation paused for a long, awkward time. Maybe a minute. With a little frustration, Emily finally broke the silence.
“Say, you sure have been asking me a lot of questions,” retorted Emily, “what do you think about?”
He cleared his throat and replied, “My friend said I should write down what I think so I can be con-sci-ous of it.” The word was clearly foreign to him, because he had to sound it out. He blushed a bit. Then, he reached into his left pocket and pulled out a small piece of crumple up paper. It read as follows:
“ ‘I think about the night time, the color grey, big wolves and elephants tend to be grey, I think about my parents divorce, my brother’s death at birth, my sister’s illness. I think about trees in the rainforest being cut down. I think about trains taking people far far away....’ ”
“Ohhhh... well, what about friends?”
“I think about the so called friends. But I hardly have any.”
“My friends are nice! We always have fun together!”
“Well the people I know all don’t like each other. They all claim to like each other but they do this thing where they talk badly about each other when the others aren’t around. It’s mean and they talk about me sometimes too...”
“Awww John that’s no fun!”
“Well John, do you have any friends at your school?” Emily asked, with a giggle.
“I have a few, they always laugh at how mean the others are to one another and how much they love movies and stories and books and sports and fun. I think about them a lot... I think... I think... about you a lot too...”
“Really John?” Emily questioned, with a laugh. “Well, what do you think of me?”
“You are... pretty, and fun, and nice, and your hair is longer than mine, and you’re paler than I am. But you are like me, but you don’t act like me. Why? Why Emily? Why aren’t you... feeling like I am?”
“Well that’s sweet! But I don’t know why, John. Well you said your parents are separate and you brother is gone and your sister is sick. Do those things make you sad?”
“I think they do! I don’t think about them too much, I usually play and run outside and imagine my battles with the Uduoo People and the Jedi and the superheroics, but I never seem to make many friends doing what I do.”
“Awwww John that’s no fair! I like you!”
“You do?! Well... I do like you too!” said John, catching himself laughing for the first time during the conversation. Probably the first time during the whole day. They began laughing back and forth for the next few seconds, surprised at John’s misfortunes and honesty.
“Don’t tell anyone about this conversation.”
“Oh, um, okay.”
“Do you feel bad about your boyfriend leaving you and your grandmother being gone?”
Thinking briefly before she answered, Emily replied:
“Honestly, I do.”
“Do you think... that I could help you deal with that?”
“Uhhh, yea! Sure thing John. Maybe... we can help each other out?”
“Yes! Maybe... balance each other out. Like Ying and yan!”
“What’s that?” Emily asked, hesitantly pausing before and after her statement.
“It’s that eastern, like, Chinese kinda thing with the black and the white circle and dots.” John had a slightly skewed perception of other places, and had trouble remembering how to pronounce words.
“OH! I know that thing! So which is which?”
“Everything that you do reminds me of light. Your appearance is also light. Mine is dark. I hate the light.” Emily stared at John sort of surprised and painfully. Realizing what he just said, John stopped and tried to clean up his sentence. “But I don’t hate you! I am... attracted to your light. Your light hair, your light eyes, your light skin, your light spirit. Yet I am apart of darkness. My dark hair, my dark eyes, my dark skin, my dark spirit.”
There was a long pause. Then John spoke again, softly: “So maybe, my darkness will balance out with your lightness.” After another pause, Emily agreed saying: “Yea, Maybe!” They hugged for a few seconds after this, said goodbye, and parted ways. John turned around to seeing her with her friends, not looking as happy anymore, and waving goodbye. John threw his paper away in the trash and walked home feeling stranger than before.