The pain flared up my shoulder. With a groan, I rolled out of bed. I went through my daily routine. I cleaned myself up, trying not to look dead, crammed some homework into my morning, rushed to the train station where I met up with one of my friends. We walked out onto the platform just as the F train swooshed into the station. In the train, we chattered incessantly, trying to be quiet. At West 4th street, we transferred to the E train to get to school.
As we walked out onto to 17th street, the cold air hit us, my fingertips already becoming red and numbing in the cold. Our breaths came out in wispy puffs of smoke, like a dragon’s. It was an eerily quiet morning. I was just about to tell my friend about the unnerving silence, when I saw her stop.
I looked ahead at the school. No one was there. It was already 7:45 so the place should have been bustling with students getting to school. The school usually opened at 7:30 and students should’ve been everywhere, trying to get to school. The windows were dark with not even a shred of light present. Through the clear glass walls of the entrance, there was no security guards to be seen. I wondered if we should go in. I glanced at my friend and she nodded, like she knew what I was thinking.
We opened the doors, which swung silently with well-oiled hinges. Though it was probably not the right time to think of this, I was surprised that the school took care of some things while others weren’t. The bathrooms were horrid, smelling of blood and poop, while these doors were oiled. The hallways were dark and the warmth of the heaters radidated outwards. We carefully and silently walked to the cafeteria, where students were supposed to be. Mornings were times were students socialized in the cafeteria. It was as silent as a cemetery.
When we got to the doors, my friend watched as I pulled one open. My heart was pounding so hard and fast that I thought it would burst out of my chest. I tried to get my breathing and emotions under control, but it was futile. My friend saw my dilemna and went in first, scouting the inside out. Then, just as I was about to go into the ominous depths of the cafeteria, my friend looked back at me and was about to say something when her eyes widened. She gazed past me and screamed. I abruptly turned around, just as a hand covered my mouth. I screamed.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, chill out,” said the shadowy figure behind me, with an oddly familiar voice. “It’s just me.”
The voice was oddly familiar, but I couldn’t place my finger on it...
Suddenly, I realized where I had heard the voice. It was one of my classmates so that meant…
“April fools!” shouted a horde of students, ranging from 6th to 8th graders. The lights suddenly flared and I saw two security guards grinning sheepishly in the corner.
I was so embarrassed. I was strong and I never screamed, yet I had.
I had forgotten… it was April First.
I walked up to the person who had assaulted me previously. He was one of my best friends, but all I felt was a rage boiling inside me. I tried to squash it.
“What-”, he started to say, starting to squirm.
“You-,” I cut in.
He had the nerve to interrupt and say, “Yeah”.
I said, “WHY?”
He looked away. “Don’t,”, he said softly, looking away.
“But-,” I started to say.
Then, I saw the smug smile on his face and I suddenly knew he had done this prank for a far more serious reason than just for fun.
“I trusted you,” I said, the bile rising up in my throat.
He merely shrugged and said “So?”
“You betrayed me!” I cried out. The anger inside was now riding on a wave of hurt.
I stepped towards him, my hands itching to pummel something. I bit the inside of my cheek, trying to rein it back in.
“Why would you-,” I said through clenched teeth.
He shrugged and said “ Revenge,” quite languidly. He would not look at me and he was okay with what he had just done to me
“But-!,” Steam was coming out of my ears at this point and he was acting as if making fun of his non-existent prom date. I mean, he was too good for that girl and she didn’t even like him!
“What’s your deal?” he said, casually yet slightly slightly curious.
“You-” I started to say when he rudely interrupted me, yet again.
“I don’t care,” he sang, obviously not interested in anything I had to say.
“Listen!” I was beyond pissed at this point.
He had the nerve to go and say “Can’t hear you.”
“It was all for you!” I finally managed to say, angrily.
“Yeah, sure it was.” He said, managing to look smug at the same time he looked detached from the conversation.
“You have to admit, I still put you first, despite what you thought!”
“Why am I so embarrased and a social outcast then?” he cried, getting worked up as well.
Suddenly, it all hit me and it was all so clear now. “It was you all along wasn’t it?”, my voice seemed to be outside my body, my tone, distant.
“Yeah, it was.”
All the pain, the shame, the cruel notes I found in my locker… were from the people closest to me. I was shattered. In the same distant and aloof tone I said, “You decided to hurt me for revenge?”
“Of course I did. That’s why I gave the notes of your strategies for the lacrosse game to the other team. They- at least they know my worth, unlike you fools!”
“I guess this is the end then”, I said softly.
“You bet it is. And if you ever get in my way ever again, you will regret it and pay the price!” he sneered as he walked away.
I was left feeling all broken and depressed as one of my best friends turned his back on me, literally.
For the rest of that lethargic day, I went through my classes as if I was in a dream. All I could think about was about was him. Why had he done all those things to me? Why did I almost feel as hollow as the time when my twin brother abandoned me to the cruel vices of our parents when he ran away from home?
Everyday I wished he was here, helping me get through my life at home. When he left, there was a gap in my family and drove my parents closer to madness. A memory surfaced. It was the one where he shielded me from getting whipped by our dad when he was drunk. I was playing in the living room when I knocked our dad’s glass down accidentally. Our dad became so red with rage that it looked like his head was going to blow up. Nikko, my brother, shielded me with his body when our father came down with that oak switch. He blocked every strike that our dad threw.
To this day, I still don’t know why he did that. He probably wanted to protect me because he was older than me by a few minutes and felt responsible to protect me. I wish he were here now to help me with this friendship dilemma.
I was still in that in-between state when someone started shaking me. I cleared up just enough mental fog to say “huh?”
“Don’t be too hung up about Jasper,” my friend said said softly.
I’ve heard his names a billion times before, I’ve even said it a lot of times, but in that moment, for some reason, the name hit me with the force of a tsunami. The names, those eyes, the same physical appearances, the humor, were so similar, that I don’t know why I never noticed the connection before. The reason we became friends so fast like we shared a history.
My mind cleared and became as sharp as a needle. “ Do you know where he is?”
My friend looked worried as she said, “In the computer lab. Why?”
“I need to talk to him. It’s very important,” I replied. If I didn’t take the chance to talk to him, he could just disappear like he did two years ago. If that happened and I didn’t take the chance to talk to him, I would never forgive myself.
I brushed past my friend with a single -minded focus. She looked as if she was going to call 911, but I didn’t have time to worry about that now. I flew up the stairs and there he was.
Nikko Bartello, my long-lost brother, twin and friend.
Ever since birth, he was my best friend, always there for me. Alwaays taunting me with the fact that he was born a full two minutes before me. I used to think that was annoying, but after he left, I missed him so much, I even missed his taunting.
Now he stood before me and didn’t know what to say. My words and my sarcasm left me. I rushed towards him and hugged him.
And he hugged back.