Banana Faces This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

I'm new again. I hate being new. There's nothing like that feeling in your gut when you stare at a classroom full of faces you've never seen before.
I think back as I stand here, it's been exactly one year since I was doing this before, only that time it was half a country away and you were there. In the very back row. Your brown eyes wide and bright as if you knew a secret you wanted to tell.
But I'm here now. Without you. And the teacher is telling me where to sit, he's pointing next to a girl with too much makeup and limp black hair. You never wore makeup. You didn't need to.
The girl eyes me like a cat about to pounce as I slide in next to her, my eyes on the desk covered in names and hearts. I trace them with a finger and wonder who put them here. The teacher's voice is dull and barely carries across the room. I'm trying to listen but my mind keep going back to that first day I met you.
You weren't like the other people there. You didn't have dyed hair or a loud voice, you didn't try to stand out at all. Maybe that's why you did. You were wearing jeans and your favorite green hat, you loved hats. And at lunch you were the first person to talk to me. You asked me if I liked bananas. I laughed because nobody starts a conversation like that but you didn't care. You gave me a banana with a smiley face on it and then told me your name. I told you mine. And I guess that's how it started. How we started I mean. With a happy banana.

I remember thinking that day, that I'd never met someone like you. And well, even after knowing you for so long I don't think I really ever did. You were too full of surprises. Like your tree house full of books and pillows nobody knew about, that time you convinced me to have a picnic with you in the snow, and how you were never afraid to talk to anybody, you even bought the bus driver his favorite candy bar. You changed his life with that candy bar. Mars, I think it was. You changed mine too.
I don't know if we ever dated. Some days it seemed like it, but I could never tell. You didn't drool over me or text every two seconds. We never even went to a movie. Instead you took me to a poetry reading and homeless shelters so that (as you said) I would know what real life looked like. You made me different. I'm not the guy I was before. I learned how to live from you. How to ask questions like what is at the end of the rainbow and how to see everything as a miracle.

That girl just poked me. The one with too much makeup. Everybody's leaving class I see. I'm going now, to the next one. And the next one after that. And the whole idea of every day after this one without you there to give me bananas with faces grips me in the stomach as cold as ice.

How can I?

The teacher is staring so I'm going now. Down the packed hallway filled with a million sounds of people pushing their way through. I'm going on without you. Without that girl in a green hat who knows how to live. Really live. Maybe that's how I can. I can go because now I know how to live.





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kiwi12 said...
Aug. 15, 2010 at 9:11 pm
this is very touching. like, it really makes me rethink the relationships i have with my friends. beautiful job.
 
The~crayon~in~my~heart said...
Apr. 24, 2010 at 8:31 am
whoa! i love your writing style.. its so beutiful and full of feeling... this reminds me of the book stargirl- have you read it? if you havent, you should
 
ZebraWithoutStripes This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 24, 2010 at 3:26 pm
thanks! that's like the nicest complement ever- i LOVE that book XD
 
emilysbreakfast said...
Apr. 19, 2010 at 9:04 pm
beautiful, and expertly written.  I think we all have those people that change us(:  is any of it true?
 
ZebraWithoutStripes This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 20, 2010 at 8:58 am
thanks! and no it's completely fiction. :) i just wanted to write a fun peice about someone who lived freely.
 
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