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Jon and Trevor

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Jon Malone
“I’ll be up up and away, up up and away…”

I grudgingly open my eyes – which is kinda hard since my face is smushed into the pillow. “Blehh.” I kicked the covers off during the night; I step over the pile of blue to turn up my radio.

“Cause they gon’ judge me anyway, so whatever…”

I stumble around the room, trying to get dressed. Is this t-shirt clean? Probably. Didn’t I wear these jeans yesterday? Oh, whatever. I stub my toe on the shelf set and my trophies rattle as I stifle a curse. Oh, it’s gonna be a great day…

Ninety seconds in the bathroom and I’ll be done. Splash some water on my hair, poke it till it looks presentable. I check myself out in the mirror one last time: bleary brown eyes, brown hair I should probably get cut at some point, Nike t-shirt, jeans too short. Attractive? Possibly. Awesome? Definitely.

“Jonny!” Mom calls from the kitchen. “Get some breakfast!”

“Mooom.” I clatter down the stairs and dump my bag by the table. “Can’t you call me Jon like everyone else?”

“You’re still Jonny to me. Eat up; we’re leaving in ten minutes.”

Mom always worries that I’m not eating enough. In my opinion pancakes taste best scarfed down. She worries too much – about everything.

“Jonny, gimme juice,” my little brother whines.

“Buzz off, Mikey, I’m busy.”

“Jonny! Don’t speak to your brother that way.”

I slam down my fork. “It’s JON!”

“Gimme juice!”

“Jonny –”

“That’s it.” I scoop up my bag and my football sweatshirt. “I’m walking. See ya.”

Maybe you think that’s harsh, but it happens about 75% of the time around here. No big deal or anything.

On my way to school I find my friend Trevor. I usually find him lounging on the curb or sidewalk somewhere. He’s a good guy and all, but he probably couldn’t find his nose on his own. It doesn’t help that he’s stoned most weekends and naps through class, but like I said, he’s a good guy. One of my few friends not from football.

“Hey, Trevor.”

“Sup, Jon?” he mumbles, his eyes somewhere far away. His headphones are on, but they’re not playing anything. Just the music in his head.

“We’re going this way, Trevor. School?”

“Yeah. Cool.”

Trevor’s a man of few words, so I get to think a lot on the way to school. Biology test today – I’ll probably bomb it, I didn’t study much, but whatever. Classes are just a means to an end – football. I’m not saying I don’t care about school. Yeah, it matters. But some things matter more, you know?

I glance at Trevor. He’s jamming out to some tune in his mind. He won’t notice.

I pull a mini Magic 8 ball out of my backpack’s side pocket. I’ve had it since I was, like, six. Nobody knows about it, except maybe Trevor, if he ever pays attention.

I roll it around in my fingers. Bounce it around in the palm of my hand. Then I ask it the same question I always do: “Magic 8 ball, will today be an awesome day?”

The little blue triangle turns up: “You can count on it.”

I grin, slip it back into the pocket, pull out my iPod. It plays back to me the anthem in my head:

“I’ll be up up and away, up up and away/‘Cause in the end they’ll judge me anyway/So whatever…”

Trevor Galfinkis
The music is floating. I mean, I’m floating on the music. I mean, we’re both floating. Above everything, you know? It’s nice. Just, like, chill.

“Treeeeeey!”
Ouch, man. Shrill. Makin’ the music sink…
“Trey, get your ass to school!”
Nod. Nod. Nod with the music. “Mmm. Yeah Ma.”
A brown bear yanks at my ear, my collar. Whoa, angry brown bear. Needs to chill. “What’s with you, boy, always up in the clouds somewhere... Look at me when I’m talking to you!”
I look for the voice coming from the floor.
“Dumbass, over here!” Paws jerk my head in some other direction. Ouch. Not cool. “Are you high?”
A question I know the right answer to. “No, Ma,” I say dutifully. And it’s true, ain’t it, I think. I’m not high, I’m sinking, I’m low…so low…sinking into the music.
“Then get out, get yourself to school.” I must be outside now. The music smells different out here. Less scorched, not like the voice muttering back inside, “Useless…”
School? Yeah, I’ll get there. I guess. At some point I always end up there.
My ears are burning, man, from that toxic atmosphere. I can see the smoke coming from my mouth. My skin’s all bumpy and boiling and I’m shaking like a teakettle…
I pull my headphones on and feel the hiss. Ah. Cool. I sit on the curb and play with the cord and watch the rocks in the road talk to each other.
I might sleep again, if sleep was that place where the music was floating. I think Ma told me not to fall asleep in the street again, though. I didn’t mean any wrong. I just want the music.
Thud. Thud. There’s a giant lumbering up my street. Lumber – what an interesting word. Sounds like…thud, thud…
“Hey, Trevor.”
I know this lumberer! I aim my voice at the clouds. “Sup, Jon?” I think about asking him if he wants to listen to my headphones, but I don’t want to let them go. Maybe later.
Jon puts his hand on my shoulder. So big and heavy, I think it’ll tip me over and pour me out all over the street. In fact I’m starting to tip, slowly, and I wonder how the ground will feel on my headphones –
But Jon’s got me standing up, and if I tipped over here, my headphones would hit the rocks. Ouch. Not cool.
“We’re going this way, Trevor. School?”
Oh yeah, that’s how I get to school. Giant Jon. “Yeah. Cool.” We start walking along. I never remember the way, but Jon knows. I think he knows everything.
Wind in the trees comes through my headphones like water poured on a xylophone. I know how that sounds ‘cause I did that once, when I was little. Poured out a cup of water on my toy xylophone. Ma smacked my head with her wooden spoon, for ruining a perfectly good toy. But that sound! It rang for days…
Jon knows everything, but he thinks I’m dumb. I am dumb, but I’m not stupid. He looks to see if I’m paying attention, decides I’m not, then pulls out his little Magic 8 ball like every day I see him. He knows everything, but he doesn’t know I know. And he must feel uncertain about his knowing everything, ‘cause of the question he always asks: “Magic 8 ball, will today be an awesome day?”
I should tell him it’s okay. I should tell him I understand. I know why he does that, and why no one must know.
It’s what keeps him from sinking into the music in his head.



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