My name is Jonny. I’m a high school student at Marx High School. Life for me is pretty normal except for the fact I’m an only child with parents that are hardly around. My Dad owns a bank and he travels a lot to meet with different business partners, expanding more and more. It’s a lot to handle but he manages. My Mom is the head of a campaign to stop disease and bring doctors and medicine to the less fortunate around the world. Her project is a huge hit and she’s moving around all over and spreading the campaign. She and a small team handle the whole thing.
So, then there’s me. I pretty much have the house to myself and no one seems to mind. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to bring to the world. If there’s anything I can learn from my parents it’s that I can make a difference if I find what I’m meant to do. Thing is, I don’t even know where to start. I write music and I took dance lessons when I was younger. I’m an average student and I try a little bit of everything, but nothing has come to me. Hopefully writing in this journal every day helps, but who knows?
Jonny read the words back to himself in his head. He looked up at the clock in the office. Time for school I guess, he thought. He grabbed his backpack and brushed his hair to make it look a little tidier. He stepped outside and began walking down the street. He looked at all of the houses lining the street as he walked. Every house had the same basic look: white paint, gray trim. Some were larger, some were smaller and from one end of the street to the next, kids were spilling out of them towards the school, like an army of ants spilling out of a mound in the dirt. Jonny caught sight of one of them, a boy who looked a little younger than him. Jonny tried to picture himself as that boy, what was he thinking? What was he feeling? What was his life like? He couldn’t picture it, but he still wondered and kept walking.
He arrived at the school, walked through the big double doors into the student mall, and examined the crowd of people spread all around the huge room. He noticed a ripple in the sea of bodies as someone pushed through the crowds in his direction. Ralph pushed through one small group of people lingering in the walkway and approached Jonny with an awkward grin. Ralph waved and that goofy smile grew even bigger and Jonny couldn’t help but smile back and choke back a laugh. “Hey Ralph,” he called, “what’s up?” Ralph stopped near Jonny and lingered there, “hey Jonny, how was your morning?” Jonny shrugged and responded, “Same as always. How about you?” Ralph took another step closer and shuffled in place like he always did “Same, I got new shoes yesterday, though.” Jonny looked down at Ralph’s feet and noticed that the shoes were the same style but these were black and gray. “That’s cool Ralph,” Jonny chuckled. A bell rang out above him and they waved to each other and went in separate directions.
Jonny walked down the hall rather swiftly, having memorized a route to get where he needed. Straight, left, up the stairs, another left, and the second right turn down the hall, he thought and found himself at a desk. He put in earbuds and watched the door as people slowly came through and Ms. Crowley, his English teacher, prepared for class. He recognized almost everyone but he couldn’t put names to faces for most of them. Bradley gave Jonny a nasty sneer, walking through the door. A few more people he couldn’t put names to and the 1 minute bell rang out overhead. One more person walked through the door that Jonny had seen multiple times. He didn’t know her, though. A girl, long blonde hair with bright blue eyes and a natural smile. She approached Ms. Crowley and said something to her that he couldn’t hear. He showed no change in emotion, but his eyes followed her back to the front of the room where she stood next to Ms. Crowley as the final bell rang out across the school.
Ms. Crowley said something else that Jonny didn’t hear most of and the girl walked back out. His eyes followed her still and as she stepped out, he reacted on impulse and stood up. “Ms. Crowley, may I use the restroom?” he asked faster than he’d expected, Ms. Crowley had a blank stare on her face but nodded him off either way. He took the pass and walked out calmly. He caught sight of her to his left walking to the wing stairs. He walked after her rather hastily and called out to her when he caught her on the steps. She turned with a questioning look on her face and looked at him. Jonny’s stomach twisted in a knot as he spoke, “I’m sorry, um, I just didn’t catch your name.” She turned the rest of the way towards him, laughed lightly, and smiled at him. “I’m sorry,” she said as she caught her breath, “I’m just not quite sure I know you.” He looked back up and their eyes met. “Oh, my bad, I’m Jonny,” he responded. She smiled that bright smile again, “Hi Jonny, I’m Addison.” Addison, he thought. He nodded awkwardly and thought to explain himself. “I’m sorry,” he laughed a little, “You were in my classroom and I wasn’t quite sure what you were talking about with Ms. Crowley. I was sort of curious about it.” He said steadily. “To be completely honest, I also just kind of wanted to know who you were,” he continued, with that knot in his stomach getting tighter, “I see you in there a lot and it’s been driving me nuts not knowing why.” She smiled and laughed again and sat down on the top stair and patted the ground next to her, motioning him over. He sat down next to her and turned to face her as she began to speak.
She’s a writer! She’s a published student writer and she does music as well. Literally everything about her connects with me! How have we not talked before now? She’s been coming into Ms. Crowley’s room all the time because Ms. Crowley is helping her with a project. She’s writing a big piece on today’s schools and the students’ views of their schools and hoping it will help improve schools so that they can care for the students’ needs better. So the whole goal of this is to make schools a more desirable place to be and increase the percentage of educated adults and successful people in the future. I was so surprised when she told me all of this too because I didn’t expect that. She’s got so much more to offer that she hasn’t even touched base on. All of my views locked in with hers and it was just so cool. She invited me to this party she’s going to tonight so I figured, why not? I wouldn’t mind spending some more time with her and she’s literally the coolest girl I’ve ever met in my life. I asked Ralph if he wanted to come but he is visiting his Nana with his parents tonight so it’s just me this time.
Jonny looked up at the clock in the office. It was 8:30 and he looked down at the journal and the words he had written, illuminated by the lamplight. There was plenty of truth in them but he had held back from writing something else he felt. He looked back up at the clock, bent down over the journal and wrote something else on a fresh page. He tore it out, folded the piece of paper, and set it on the corner of the desk beneath his pen. He pulled his jacket over his shoulders and closed the office door.
Jonny heard the office door click and glided out the front door, locking it behind him. He walked down that same street he had walked down this morning but it seemed different. The houses looked eerie, as if they were breathing, staggered and slow. He couldn’t help his fascination and held his gaze there for a moment before carrying on. Right, then down two blocks and the first house on the left, he thought to himself. He arrived at the house in question and took a deep breath. He approached the door and knocked 3 times with a solid thud. He heard commotion inside and wondered what everyone was up to. The door flew open and standing in the doorway was Bradley. He was laughing hysterically with a hoarse sound to it. He gasped and caught his breath, finally taking notice of Jonny standing in front of him.
Jonny peeked around the corner to see someone laying on the ground with bruises on his face and he was out cold. He looked back at Bradley who was staring at him with a blank face. Only then did Jonny notice that Bradley had a cut through his eyebrow and he was sweating. “Oh, hey Brad, what’s up?” Jonny said slowly. Bradley snorted, “‘Sup shrimp.” Jonny shuffled awkwardly, suddenly extremely aware of how much Bradley towered over him. “What are you doing here Jonny?” Bradley asked with an edge to his voice. Jonny finally established eye contact with him and spoke confidently. “I came for the party, Addison invited me.” Bradley let out a snort and, as if on que, Addison appeared at the door and her face lit up. “Hey Jonny!” she called and rushed out to him. Taking hold of his arm, she pulled him through the doorway past a dumbfounded Bradley. Addison paraded Jonny around and showed him everything strung around the large house.
“I’m so glad you came,” said Addison, with a smile. Jonny was sitting next to her on the couch now, watching everyone dance around and laugh. A few in particular were definitely drunk, but he tried not to pay too much attention to them. “I was afraid you’d decide not to come,” Addison continued. Jonny shrugged, “Well to be honest, I ‘m not really part of this whole scene, but I figured, why not?” Jonny turned away from all the people and towards her. “At least you’re here for it, so I’m not totally alone,” he laughed. She laughed back and smiled at him. He was smiling now too and she laid her head against his shoulder and traced over his fingers. He laced his fingers through hers and closed his hand. They just stayed like that, in silence, for a moment, when Bradley approached them. “Hey Addison, Liza’s throwing up in the bathroom, could you go help her out?” he asked. Addison squeezed Jonny’s hand gently and went down the hall and into the bathroom. Bradley looked back at Jonny with a hard stare, which Jonny returned. “You like my sister?” asked Bradley, flatly. “Maybe I do. Hopefully that’s not a problem,” said Jonny, hoping he sounded more sure of himself than he felt.
Bradley nodded at him as if he was actually considering what he’d said. “You want a drink Jonny?” asked Bradley, handing Jonny a cup with a strong smelling dark liquid in it. Jonny was somewhat curious of what it was, but didn’t care to find out. Bradley’s stern face returned and spoke harshly. “Listen Jonny, it’s been great having you, but you can leave now.” Jonny froze for a moment and began to laugh. He thought he’d lost his mind but stood up anyways. “Well if it’s so great having me, then I might as well stay a little longer, I think,” Jonny responded with sudden surety. Addison was coming back down the hall now. Bradley took a step closer and got in Jonny’s face. “That won’t be necessary. Get out. You aren’t welcome,” said Bradley with a nasty tone in his voice. He shoved Jonny towards the door and Addison turned Bradley around. “Knock it off Bradley! Don’t be a jerk!” Bradley threw his hands in the air and yelled back at her. “He shouldn’t even be here! He’s just some loser you met a week ago! He’s worthless Addy, he shouldn’t be here!” Addison opened her mouth to retort back when a hearty laugh echoed around the room. Everyone turned to Jonny who was laughing hysterically, trying to catch his breath.
He finally calmed down and spoke. “Yeah Brad, I’m worthless. But at least I’m not an obsessive piece of work. I’ll just go, don’t worry about it.” Brad just stared, awestruck. Addison called after him with a worried expression, “Jonny, just wait! Don’t—“He cut her off. “No, I’ll just get out of here, I was getting tired anyways. Real charming older brother by the way. Night Addy, I’ll see you tomorrow.” He opened the door and turned back and raised his cup, “thanks for a really terrible night everyone! Cheers,” He shouted and downed the whole glass. He threw it down and closed the door behind him. Jonny felt dizzy now and found himself in the road. He peered at the same houses he’d seen before and they had changed once again. They looked dreary, as if shadows were crawling over them like termites. He shouted up at the stars speckling the night sky and listened to the choked, hoarse sound echo down the street. He blinked hard and when his eyes opened again that eerie house was lit up by a bright flash of light. All he heard was a girl’s scream before the impact struck his ribs with unmerciful force. He felt like he was flying and heard the car screech to a stop. He landed back on the road far away from that house and took one more glance down the street. He looked toward Addison sprinting toward him and gasped in one more breath as a single tear fell from his face. The tear broke on the street’s surface and the darkness, full and unending, took hold of him and consumed him.
Addison still huddled on the ground over the cold form that was Jonny. Her tears refused to let up and her throat hurt but she didn’t care. She was completely lost in grief and the paramedics surrounding her in the flashing red and blue lights didn’t dare try to move her. They already knew he was dead. There was no pulse, no heartbeat. Not a single rasped breath escaped his mouth, still agape. Addison cried without end, burying her face in his chest and still clutching his hand, long-turned cold. “His ribs were shattered on the impact,” she’d heard them say. “Internal bleeding,” said another. On the impact, Jonny’s ribs were shattered and crushed, and had sunk themselves into his heart. He was proclaimed dead at the scene over 20 minutes ago, and yet she clung to him, still hoping he’d come back to her. She knew it, though. He’d suffered and he’d died. There was nothing she could do now, nor could anyone. That look of utter terror in his eyes after she’d screamed clung to her mind and refused to go. She felt so empty and lost, she didn’t know what to make of it, or if it would ever go away.
The Sheriff tapped her shoulder gently, and slowly she sat up. Her body ached and eyeliner was spattered all around her eyes; the color had drained from her face. She still clutched his hand, even tighter now as they tried to approach again. They stepped back and the Sheriff handed her a slip of paper. She looked at it blankly and the Sheriff gave her a look of remorse. “We found it on a desk... it has you’re name on it. We… I thought that you might want to read it.” She turned away from him and saw Bradley sitting with his hands in front of his face sitting on top of the Sheriff’s car. He’s crying, she realized. She knew he’d blame himself, too. It wasn’t his fault, though. He wasn’t the one in the driver seat. She unfolded the slip of paper and read it slowly.
Addison, I know you’ll never see this, but I hope you know how much it means that you would even speak to me. You’re so amazing, and it kills me to know that you’ll never feel the same for me, but what can I do? If I’m being honest though, I think I fell in love with you the moment I saw you. Not because of your beauty, but because something inside me knew that you were the one person who would understand me. But I really want to fall in love with all of you. What I mean is, I want to know all the different sides of you. You’re perfect to me and hopefully I can tell you that one day. When I do, I hope you’ll understand, just like you always do. Sincerely yours, Jonny.
Addison’s grip on the letter tightened. It was never meant for her to see, but she wished more than ever that he could’ve told her, so that she could tell him she felt the same. A cry escaped her mouth and echoed into the night as she huddled back up against him and her tears wet his pale, cold face.