Stick

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“You’re going to see him, aren’t you?”

I winced, even though I’d known to expect this.

The quickest way to get to the park was to go through my backyard and across our back-neighbors yard. Our families were really close, even since before we moved here. Often we would just walk over to each other’s house to hang out.

And their son, James, has been my best friend since we were in kindergarten.

I looked over to the big oak tree in their back yard. James was sitting on the ground, the book we needed to read for school in his lap.

“It’s not really any of your business,” I said, trying to sound confident, and failing miserably.

He stood up and came towards me. “Are you?” he persisted, ignoring my comment completely.

I stood up as tall as I could, which only made me four inches shorter than he, instead of the usual five. “If you must know, I am.”

James made as sound of disgust and scorn, and his grew dark with angry annoyance.

“You don’t know him,” I told him.

“You think you know him,” James threw back.

I winced again. James was my friend, and to hear such pent up rage in his voice, directed at me, hurt like a physical wound.

“I do know him,” I answered, practically whispering.

“No, you don’t. If you did, you’d leave him.”

I shook my head, my eyes shut tight.

“You don’t see what he’s done to you. I do. I see it everyday in the halls, on the streets walking home. You are not the same person that you used to be. You rarely smile, anymore. You never laugh. It’s like he’s sucked the life out of you.”

I shook my head. I didn’t want to hear this.

“Why? Why are you holding onto him so tightly? Why can’t you just…ugh!” he exclaimed, his head bent in defeat.

We stood there silent for a minute, a harsh wind rustling the trees. I was just about to leave when James spoke again, this time softly and quietly, sadness threaded with his words.

“He’s killing you. And you’re letting him. It’s just so hard to…” he trailed off. He shook his head and looked at me. His eyes were full of sincere sadness and hopelessness. “You know, I’ll always be your friend. But I just wish…you could see…what he’s doing to you. I wish you could see what I see.”

I didn’t know how to answer. I don’t think he expected one either, because he walked past me and into the house. The door closed with a snap.

I suddenly felt cold and empty. Another strong wind blew and dark clouds blocked out the sun. The world suddenly seemed cold and distant and unfamiliar. I contemplated going home and curling up under my covers. But he was waiting for me, so I started out of James’ back yard and towards the park.

“This is my choice. I know what I’m doing,” I muttered to myself, as if trying to convince myself in the first place.

But a small voice of truth in my head, unbidden and unwelcome, and yet heard, whispered, “Then why does your heart ache so?”




My hair was plastered to my head and face, my clothes hung on my body soaked, as the rain pelted down on me, when James found me huddled under a tree.

“Your parents are worried about you.”

I stared at the ground. “You were right, you know.”

James crouched down to be in front of me at eye level. “I didn’t want to be right.”

“Yes, you did.”

There was a pause, as I continued to stare at the wet ground.

“Not this way.”

I nodded. “I know.” And I did.

The rain started to pound down on us and it filled the silence.

“Did he hurt you?”

I nodded, slowly. My eyes caught James closing his fist tightly. I laid a hand on his clenched hand and looked up into his face. “Not like that.”

He looked at me a moment, to see what my face told him, and finding sincerity there, smiled a little.

“You were right, though. About me, as well.”

He moved to sit next to me, against the tree. “How so?”

I sighed heavily. I wanted, needed, to say this. But that didn’t stop it from hurting. “I didn’t really know him. I thought I did. But it was just my imagination playing tricks on me. It took your yelling at me to finally see how he’d changed me…”

“And…?”

“I broke up with him. He yelled a bit and some of what he said was true…”

James took my cold hand in his. “You’re a stronger person.”

I shook my head. “Am I? I don’t feel stronger. I just feel sad. And hurt.”

James didn’t question when I lay my head on his shoulder and cried. He put his arm around my shoulders and let me.

The rain had started to lessen when my eyes were all ‘tear’-ed out and my heart felt lighter.

“Better?”

I sat up straight and looked at James. “No. I’m soaking.”

James raised an eyebrow and then grinned. I smiled back.

James stood up and grasping my hand, pulled me up, saying with a smile, “Come on, Natalie. Let’s go home.”





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This article has 8 comments. Post your own now!

SNZF15 said...
Nov. 3, 2010 at 9:56 pm
Great job! Such a sweet ending!
 
Cameandgonesmarty This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 19, 2010 at 11:36 pm

i like it! sweet and very life-like.

 

 
Robsessed said...
Oct. 19, 2010 at 1:30 pm
This was really good. Is there going to be more?
 
pinkypromise23 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Oct. 19, 2010 at 2:07 pm
this is really good! i love it! you should continue.......(:
 
Robsessed replied...
Oct. 25, 2010 at 1:12 am
just so you know, if you want to post a comment to the author then you need to click "Post your own" that is written in blue under Join the Discussion. If you click Reply, then it goes to the person who commented, in this case, me.
 
pinkypromise23 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Oct. 25, 2010 at 5:43 am
i know...i did and it always goes to reply anyways...i didnt think it was that big of a deal anyways..
 
Robsessed replied...
Nov. 4, 2010 at 1:34 am
Hmm.. that's weird. Replies to other people aren't sent to the author, so I just wanted to make sure you knew that cause the author might not see your comment right away. Not a big deal at all.
 
Danigurl said...
Oct. 19, 2010 at 12:17 am
dearest this is wonderful! I really liked it! you captured the characters beautifully... wonderfulyy written well done!
 
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