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End over End
I tumble end over end towards the wall, my cardboard world temporarily upside-down. A book comes crashing down with a thud nearly missing my eight appendages. Dust billows into an ominous cloud. The lid is haphazardly lifted, and light comes streaming in. The musty scents waft out of the box. A perfectly manicured hand reaches in. Sunlight glints off of a dazzling ring. Her dainty fingers pick me up. I know this now foreign hand once knew every inch of me intimately. She caresses me in a cupped hand briefly as she turns to two new boxes. One is labeled with the name “Mrs. Ella Tennyson <3” while the other merely has the crossed out name of “Ella Callaway.” She hesitates for a split second before assuredly tossing me towards oblivion. I am now tumbling end over end again, this time though, through the air now heavy with memories knowing as I cross the invisible line of separation that this is all there will ever be.
* * *
I could start out by telling you about the secret love notes, the late night conversations, the candlelit dinners, or I could even go as far as telling you about the seeming comfortableness that was soon to be interrupted by incessant bickering. But if I came out and just said all of this at the very beginning, you would not see the importance of me or the evolution of the relationship. No, to see that, we must go back to a time when I wasn’t even in the picture, a time of a simplistic friendship. It starts like this.
“Hey, Milo! The Packers are so going down this week,” Ella taunts.
“No way, Callaway! You are definitely going to owe me five bucks when the Bears lose,” Milo retorted with a smug look on his face.
Ella playfully punched his arm as he wrapped her into a friendly bear hug. They walked down the sidewalk, randomly bursting into fits of laughter. The two have been friends for about three years now but became best friends exactly one year 11 months and 23 days before I had come into the picture. They bonded on a very special holiday, on their favorite holiday, on a holiday that allows their mutual love of pranks to shine, on a holiday that occurs every April 1st. She came to school with toothpaste cookies. He, with an arsenal of glue and quarters. She falls prey to his trap, he falls into hers. From that point on, they were inseparable.
So, one year 11 months and 23 days from the moment their paths become parallel, my fate becomes intertwined with theirs. I had been lying sideways in between a ladybug and a grasshopper in the middle of the crowded toy aisle when I saw a handsome, freckled, honey-blonde boy walk towards my bucket of creepy crawlies. He reached his hand down, plucked me out, inspected me with his gray-blue eyes, and said, “You are exactly the finishing touch I have been looking for.” Little did I know, at that moment, that a crazy rollercoaster ride awaited me.
Eight days of planning later, I was precariously balanced atop a peacefully-sleeping Ella’s nose, my plastic fangs just within her sight. I’m not the only step in this elaborate process, though. The clock blinks 8:00 am as it begins to blare an incessant alarm. Ella’s eyes flutter open, and she let out a shriek and a stream of “Ohmigod. Ohmigod. Ohmigod.” She moved her hand to her face to slap me away but ended up with a mouthful of shaving cream instead. As she lunged forward, I tumbled through the air and land in a corner next to her desk. She becomes entangled in strategically strewn spider webs. Ella lurched toward the door, pulled it open, and received her final prank of a chilling bucket of water. Milo jumped out from the down the hall and yelled, “April Fool’s!!”
“Oh, Milo, you’re going to pay for this,” she threatens playfully. “You didn’t have to do all this!”
“I know I didn’t have to,” he replies, “but I wanted to do something special for our two-year friend-aversary. Your parents thought it was a great idea.”
“Well, thank you! I thought it was great.”
After she had talked with Milo for a while and he had left, she came back into her room and started cleaning everything up. “Oh, Milo,” she muttered to herself with a half-smile. She threw everything away, returned to her room, and sat at her desk to start in on a staggering pile of homework. Hours into the work, she noticed me on the ground, belly-up. She bent over and lifted me off the ground excited by the opportunity to procrastinate on her homework. My first formal introduction to Ella opened doors for the both of us.
That little prank had caused something to change for Ella. Now, when she hung out with Milo, she was giggly all the time and always cared what she looked like. She was writing hearts around Milo’s name in her composition notebooks. What happened? She had developed a crush on Milo.
The two best friends did everything together, and I was right alongside them. Ella kept me on her person at all times, using it as a lifeline of sorts. She hoped maybe she would break the barrier of simplistic friendship, but Milo was seemingly none-the-wiser. The more time that passed, the more desperate Ella’s pining was. Milo did not respond to any of this until the night of May 13th. The two were walking side by side on their way home from the movies. He started to tickle her and she squirmed every which way to avoid his reach. Before I knew it, I was flying out of her pocket, and I landed five yards ahead. Milo jogs to pick me up, but as he reached for my black, little body, a strange look passed over his face. He righted himself and walked slowly back towards Ella. He asked her, “What is this?”
“Oh,” she replied meekly, disappointment thick in her voice. “You don’t remember? Well, it’s nothing.”
As he walked in a direct line towards her he inquired, “It’s nothing? I doubt that. This is the spider that I used for your prank.”
“Yeah,” she said shyly looking up through her bangs.
He continued to walk straight to her, never-breaking her gaze. Once they reached each other, they just stood their nervously looking into each other’s eyes trying to decipher the emotion. He reached for Ella’s hand and gently placed me in her palm, closing each finger on top of me slowly one at a time. His brow furrowed, he looked up and decided to take the risk. He reached, brushed the hair of Ella’s eyes, and pulled her lips closer to his. They kiss. I’m not going to go into specifics here, but I can tell you that in the moments after “the kiss” there was an awkward silence before a single phrase escaped Milo’s lips, “Will you be my girlfriend?”
Needless to say Ella’s answer was “Yes.” This lead into the happiest months of their lives. They went everywhere together (I was always with them), talked 24/7, and felt like the other was the half to complete their whole. Ella’s binders were full of sheets of paper dedicated only to the signature “Mrs. Milo Kohl” and “Mrs. Ella Kohl.” It only made sense that the phrase “I love you” was not far away. This exchange of meaningful words took place on their 3 month anniversary. It was just like any other day. The words seemed to just slip out of Milo’s mouth and Ella responded giddy with happiness. Here, now that you know the backstory, I can mention the candlelit dinners, the secret love notes, and the late night conversations. I was a part of all of these, and I could see that the two were perfect for each other.
Initially, the two were on top of the world. Initially, they wanted to do nothing without the other. Initially, they would’ve never been satisfied with just being ‘comfortable.’ Initially, it was not like this. I had been merely sitting on her nightstand then next to a picture of the two of them at Homecoming and on top of random movie ticket stubs. I shouldn’t just be tossed aside like one of the other mementos. I meant more than that to them, right? I had never had dust invade my crevices. I had not been anywhere with them in months. I was neglected, and I was not the only sign that the relationship was getting complacent.
I don’t remember the specifics of the fight now, but there was a fight. A fight that caused Ella to come home with a tear-streaked face. A fight that drove her to pick me up from my designated place on the nightstand and hurl me against the lavender walls. I hit the wall with a soft thump and land amidst the remnants of the past.
I don’t know how long I stayed that way – upside down and on the floor – but she must have picked me up after a few months because one day I had found myself upright on her desk. The two, Ella and Milo, worked out their fight and they even went to Winter Formal together, but it wasn’t like it used to be. It wouldn’t be like that again. It would’ve been nice to experience the music from the safety of her purse like I had at Homecoming. But, alas, at this point, I was starting to feel as if Ella had forgotten about me and what I represented all together. Dust weighed down on me like the weight of the world. Papers had begun to build up on top of me. The distance between her and me was befitting. It was symbolic of the distance between her and Milo. Their date nights grew shorter and farther apart. They barely talked on the phone, and, when they did, the conversation was seemingly formal and artificial. What had happened to the carefree, simplistic days of a true friendship?
Well, the inevitable had happened. The Break Up. The befitting date only seemed to make more of a mockery of the whole thing. March 31st. Almost three years after they had become best friends. Almost a year after I came into the picture and changed the dynamics of everything. If there was just one more day, maybe a prank could have fixed it all. But we will never know. I don’t know what the main cause of the Break Up was, but I do know that it wasn’t cordial. Ella came home one night with smudged mascara and sadness in her eyes. She cried herself to sleep just repeating “Why?” over and over again, emitting a palpable melancholy. The next day, she woke up and scourged through her belongings specifically to find me. Once she had found me, she had begun to cry all over again, realizing that that day, April 1st, would be ruined for her forever. I was bathed in her tears as she tried to recognize where things went wrong. She had looked at me with pleading eyes, “You were there for everything. What happened? What didn’t I see?” If I wasn’t a plastic spider, I would’ve told her that they had stopped caring about the little things. That things had not been right for weeks now. That I no longer believed the relationship was salvageable. She paused for a moment waiting for my answer, but, knowing I would not respond, Ella dejectedly concluded that things must have just reached a boiling point. And once, again I am turning end over end through the air.
It has been a few months since the whole “incident” took place. She still saw Milo pass by her in the hall every day. I never thought it would have come to this point, the point where I no longer matter. My fate had become intertwined with that of their relationship. Ella reached for an empty box. She carefully added a picture frame, an innumerable amount of pictures, and a few love notes. Next, she picked me up and set me down on top of a picture of the two of them ice skating, of the two of them happy. I must have been the final touch. She brought the lid down slowly and light escaped my view. The box was soon moved up to a top shelf of her closet. It remained there, unopened, until that very day. This day that just so happens to be 11 years 11 months and 23 days later than the day that began it all.