You and I

December 3, 2010
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Prologue: A Distant Memory

I cannot imagine a world in which you don’t exist. Neither can I fathom why I am so helpless now, when just a mere year before I would have brushed past you without a second thought, or have had the decency to glance into your eyes. I wouldn’t have spared a breath, or even a heartbeat to try to understand your pains, sorrows, and dreams. At that point, I was unconcerned by those I didn’t know, and much less intrigued by what I couldn’t comprehend. My mind had demanded that I look away, turn my back on you, while my heart shivered beneath a shadow of who I had become, instead of whom I wished to be.

Losing you is like a bullet throbbing in my chest—a lightning bolt of pain—that bears a hole within my soul. I feel like some part of me, a portion of myself, will be left behind—a forgotten breath lost to the wind just to be carried to an unseen land where I may never find it again—as I resort once again to my former self. Throughout those days with you, I had seen myself transform into who I truly am within, rather than the person those around me had wished I to be.

Memories keep me bound to you—a sealed promise—through invisible links which remind me of who I was, shall become, and will be.
Unshed tears spill out over my closed lids as a silent sob racks my body, all because I can no longer protect you. My eyes still search for yours. I remember the smile that had come so naturally, the warmth in my heart—they were so easy to feel with you near. Now it’s as though I never felt at all, like it was all some distant dream or ancient story that my heart recalls, but mind has lost sight of. Often, I wonder if I shall lose it all, not knowing what was fact and fiction—forgetting who had changed my life.
This is our story—this is about you.
Chapter 1: Taking Chances

My palms were slippery with sweat. I feebly rubbed them over my baby blue sweats. Heart racing, blood rushing fervently, and hair plastered against my forehead, I took a swift glance around the room, my eyes resting on a pencil thin Korean boy. I gave him a small smile, silently wondering if he were here for the same reason as I. He seemed captivated by a few scattered sheets tacked to a bulletin board, his eyes large behind those black glasses I knew so well. Wong was so insanely adorable in his quiet, but also pleasant manner.

“Are you here for the interviews?” I asked smoothly, shifting in my seat to watch him intently. He smiled, his eyes crinkling in the corners like a little boy.

“No, just checking out some science courses for next year.”

“Oh yeah, you want to be a scientist right?” I briefly recalled a previous discussion about him wanting to create his own planet—good luck. The guy had some major dreams, but I didn’t completely doubt him either. I’d heard of way more unrealistic ideas before.
“Yeah, I’m going to have to take all three science classes next year.” I saw him smile at the thought while I, myself, shivered internally. Science always left me bored, or placed in a situation I would rather not endure. I mean, who wants to dig around inside a pig plucking out organs, or make an explosion that spurts out ash in a plume of smoke?
“That’s going to be a lot of work,” I reminded him. Wong shrugged, totally carefree and dismissing my comment.
“Casey?” a feminine voice called out, stepping into the waiting area. My head snapped up, and I felt as though a cool breath had just brushed against my neck, leaving small tufts of dark blond hair on end. This is it—my first interview ever. It wasn’t really the interview itself that frightened me, but the thought of potentially losing out on an opportunity. “Casey?” the middle-aged woman yelled out once more, her voice sharpening.
“Here!” I said, jutting forward to follow the shorter woman with the salt-pepper hair and ocean blue eyes. With a last look at Wong and a silent goodbye, I trailed behind her, my hands clammy and suddenly freezing cold. Stepping into a small room, I was faced with another woman, but only she is young—mid-twenties—and has blond hair which was tied back in a loose ponytail. Her frame is small and delicate, eyes round and large like a child’s. She put out her hand, a welcoming gesture.
“Hello Casey, I am Mrs. Maureen and this is Mrs. White. We’re in charge of next year’s Peer Support program. Please, take a seat.” I managed to sit down calmly, my past fears dissipating at the sight of Mrs. Maureen’s kind nature and soft voice. “Why do you feel that you have the potential to be a good role model for the future grade nines?”
Wetting my lips, I had swallowed and said, “I remember how lost I felt entering high school. When I was in grade nine, I found that I could look up to my peer coaches, and I always wanted to be able to do the same someday. The most important attribute is about ensuring that the students feel safe, happy, and welcome at their new school. I believe that I am patient, understanding, and easy to approach. I want to make a difference in our school, and provide both knowledge and friendship to the students.” Internally, I felt a rush of relief—so far so good. Blood rushed to my fingertips and suddenly I was warm and confident.
I answered the next few questions with ease, words spilling out of my mouth as if it were as simple as breathing. Feeling absolutely content and for once, self-satisfied, I leaned back with my heart slowing into a normal rhythm. Just a few more questions and you’re in.

“Do you know what shirt size you are?” Mrs. White asked with a pencil in hand. “They’re so the students can spot you in a crowd,” she explained. Of course, I already knew this, having watched and envied previous selected peer supporters. Being chosen meant moving up in the ladder of the social hierarchy. It meant being watched, admired, and accepted. I felt almost drowsy just at the thought. Junior year was so going to change my life.

Then there was the next question. “So would you be interested in being chosen to represent the CLP class?” Mrs. Maureen asked with her brown eyes on mine. What? I had no idea how to respond to this—had it been mentioned in the pamphlet? My mind frantically puzzled over the question, thoughts racing. Oh, God. Would I lose my chance if I were to mess up this one answer? My heart had begun to pound, blood sounding loud in my ears.

“I beg your pardon?” I asked, my mind struggling for control over my tongue.

“It’s called the Community Living Program. It represents students here at Mayfield that have disabilities or need extra attention … Are you interested?” Mrs. Maureen’s eyes locked on mine, almost demanding that I say anything except the contrary.

“Yes. I have some experience. In public school, I used to help a girl with a disability.” Mrs. White smiled full on, her pencil pressed to a notebook.

“Are you sure?” Maureen asked softly. You can’t back out now Case; you might lose any chance you have of being accepted. Just because they’re asking you about this program, doesn’t mean that they won’t take you on for the one you really want.

“Yes, definitely,” I blurted out.

“Wonderful! You will receive a letter in your homeroom in a few days, once we’ve made the selections. Thanks for your time, Casey,” Mrs. Maureen said warmly, standing upwards to shake my hand once more.

“No problem,” I smiled, and walked out of the room.

No problem at all.

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