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Grade
8

He grew up with me.

 

Ever since he was ten and I was nine, and the first thing Jamie did when he met me was take my class notebook away and punch me in the arm when I told him to give it back.

 

Of course, things didn't start well with us, but the teacher made him apologize, and even though I was still kind of mad, he gave me candy, and candy practically fixes everything.

 

"I'm sorry, don't be blue," he said to me later, with a dorky smile on his face. "Have blue candy instead!"

 

I reluctantly took it from him and stared right into his eyes. His strange, gold-ish eyes. "What's your name?"

 

"I'm James. But everyone calls me Jamie."

 

"Well, Jamie, why did you punch me?" I seemed to think I was a detective back then. To my surprise he just shrugged.

 

"I said sorry."

 

"My mom says that apologies don't fix everything," I retorted.

 

"Well, we were both taught differently."

 

I just stared at him for a long second. 

 

And then I smacked him in the face.

 

Half expecting him to punch me again, I stood there, waiting for a response. He just stood there, with his hand up to his red cheek, and then....

 

All he did was look up and laugh.

 

His laugh was so chipper, so loud, and I could somehow tell it wasn't fake.

 

"Happy? Now we're even."

 

~

Elementary school was taken for granted, because in middle school everyone teased us.

 

Just because I had a friend that's a boy. 

 

"It's hella annoying," I said to Jamie during lunch one Tuesday in eighth grade. "I mean, really, all these dorks need to grow up."

 

"Well, whining about it won't help," he frowned, indifferent. 

 

His chipper attitude from third grade was gone and replaced with stiff, monotonous behavior, since everyone at this stupid public school seemed to think that happiness was a bad thing, and that confidence and pride were things to frown upon. 

 

He traded all his bright smiles for poker faces, just so people wouldn't make fun.

 

It's kinda sad.

 

"Just ignore them. There's no point in replying. Let them think what they think, but it's your life and no one will change that," He said, biting into his chicken sandwich.

 

At the time he just sounded like an idiot, but now I see the truth in his words.

 

Why should all those gossip-loving annoyances matter to me?

 

“I guess that’s kinda true,” I mumble.

 

“Of course it’s true, I’m always right,” he smirks, pretending to flip his hair back.

 

Rolling my eyes, I get up from the table and throw my trash away. “Suuuure.”

 

 

Later that week was the first time I saw him cry.

 

We were laughing on the bus, playing around, the usual thing, when he looked down into his lunch box, looking for any extra food.

 

Instead a frown appeared on his face and he pulled out a crumpled piece of paper.

 

“What is it?” I ask. He starts to read it, hiding it from my eyes until tears well up in those amber eyes and I act immediately.

 

“What happened? James, it--!” 

 

I was freaking out. I’ve never seen him cry before. I snatched the paper from him, and read it over twice.

 

And then I gave Jamie a huge hug, right there on the bus.

 

It was bullies. Just 398 very rude words about how they felt about him. The one part about me wasn’t enough to make me angry (which was quite the miracle), but it made my uncrackable, dorky, amazing best friend cry, and that could fuel enough anger to last a lifetime.

 

We’re both just weak humans, hurt by the stupid rants of stupid children after all.

 

~

In high school, my dad got a little dangerous while driving, which led to his death.

 

All it took was a semi-truck, a right turn, and going a little past the speed limit.

 

It was the last straw for my heart. I was angry. Sometimes, I forgot why. 

 

I threw things, clawed at the walls, cried and wailed and screamed until my throat was dry, cursing the world for how useless humans are, and why they're so weak and easy to kill. 

 

I'm just another weak human, broken by something that was going to happen anyway. I always tried telling him to be careful, but we all think we’re invisible until something happens.

 

But Jamie was just there. He was there for me, everyday.

 

After I threw a vase, or broke a mirror, he'd just come up to me silently, bandage my cuts, and wrap me in a warm hug that was enough to melt the icy armor around my heart.

 

And every time I did something stupid, all he'd say was, "Breaking this won't bring him back."

 

I knew that already, but somewhere inside, a little force would take control of me every time I thought of Dad.

 

I called it grief, but I'm still not sure what it was.

 

 

 

By the time prom came along I was still feeling sick, but Jamie insisted on taking me.

 

"What's the point?" I said dramatically. "The decorations will be too cheesy and I don't even have a dress!"

 

I eventually went with him, but I was right. Too much pink, and red, and pretty dresses that made my baby blue gown from a year ago seem like swampy green or beige.

 

But all those other colors faded away when I saw Jamie.

 

Everything was gold. His eyes, his skin, his tie, his heart, and suddenly all I wanted to do was just stay there and stare at him forever.

 

"What's wrong? You look kind of weird," he muttered to me, and all I could do was just giggle like an idiot.

 

"Thank you for taking me here," I say back to him quietly, trying to mask the strange laughter in my voice.

 

And then a slow song came on.

 

And just like in the cheesy movies, he stood up and asked me to dance.

 

I never really cared for dancing (which explained why I was so bad), but I, for some reason, really liked dancing with him. Just watching movies where the couple dance a waltz or something used to stress me out, but Jamie is always so calming.

 

I always loved hanging out with Jamie. He was always someone I could share secrets with, or tease endlessly, and he wouldn't even care, and always keep those secrets.

 

 

He was someone I could count on, and I loved him for it.

 

But soon, the song was over, and we came to a stop, wondering what to do. All I could think of was the butterflies in my stomach, ruining everything, and why can't I just digest them?

 

And in my hesitation, he quickly kissed me.

 

It was nothing dramatic like the cheesy movies I compared this night to, just quick and sweet, but it still surprised me.

 

I blinked and stared up at him, still not knowing what to do. I was completely unresponsive. 

 

"Let's ditch this place before they start playing another overrated song, hm?" He smirks at me. God, I love that smirk. I nod slowly as he drags me out the back door, but I can't help grabbing one last chicken wing before I go.

 

~

"So, was that fun or not?"

 

I grin at him as he smirks out at the dark road ahead of us. His amber eyes are practically glowing with excitement, and his smile is brighter than the sun. 

 

I'm not sure if I've ever seen him so happy.

 

The yellow dividing line along the road glows like neon lights, and I barely see a deer race around by the side of the road. Today really is the perfect night. I definitely don't regret going.

 

"That was great, James," I say, giggling. "You'll have to take me somewhere maybe, sometime."

 

"Ha, maybe," He answers, looking at me carefully. I quickly kiss his cheek before he adds on, "But we're splitting the bill. All the restaurants around here are expensive as hell."

 

The windows are open to his car, so my hair whips into my face.

 

"Hopefully I'll get better pay by then," I mutter. Mom’s cafe just isn’t doing it.

 

The warm smile is still on his face as I lean my head against his shoulder.

 

"Rue," he mumbles. The tone of his voice makes my stomach flutter. "Rue, you know I lo--"

 

"James." My eyes catch a blur of brown right in front of us. "Jamie, watch out--!"

 

~

It only took three seconds. One for the deer to crash through the windshield, another for Jamie's head to snap back, and another for the car to swerve off the road, crashing into a tree.

 

I hate how my entire life could be completely ruined within the course of three seconds.

 

This is proof that humans are weak.

 

So much pain followed after those seconds. My arm was bent backwards and I didn't know what to do, but when I saw his empty amber eyes staring into nothing I knew there was another much bigger wound to heal in me.

 

The gaping hole in my heart.

 

I couldn’t hear myself scream. I couldn’t hear the ambulance as it came for us, but it came too late. When the paramedics asked my name, I couldn’t even answer. I was broken.

 

I know it sounds weak, but I lost most of myself when I saw him dead. 

 

No one could replace such a big part of me, so I left it all behind to find it again.

 

I am just another weak human after all.

 

~

Everything was so dark at first. I was left with me, my wandering thoughts, and silence.

 

Darkness. Silence. Many people find those words as terror-inducing and menacing, but the darkness is my friend, and silence is my ally.

 

Sometimes the best things to heal with are silence and darkness. 

 

Lights blind you. Noise deafens you, but my two friends are the happy medium.

 

But every once in awhile, when I close my eyes, his huge grin flashes from behind my eyelids. Those gold eyes glow, smiling along, and sometimes I can see the look he gave me right after we kissed.

 

Every once in awhile, I still hear his voice. I can still hear him laughing, sighing....

 

I keep hearing the things he first said to me, over and over.

 

“Don't be blue. Have blue candy instead!”

 

“Well, some of us were raised differently.”

 

Whenever I'm like this, not quite dreaming but not quite awake, it's so calm, so peaceful, I get a time to heal my soul from all the pain it's been through--

 

But then they unplug the drug from my veins and reality is forced on my shoulders again.

 

Reality hurts. It is a weight on my shoulders, a boulder I have to carry with me, agonizingly slowly, right to the top of this mountain of life, so I can complete my journey and end this horrid reality.

 

But, this hospital gave me a different choice.

 

With the funny feeling morphine these doctors gave me after my accident, I can escape this full on. 

 

I have a shortcut to the top of my mountain of life.

 

All I have to do is keep the drug in and stop my pain short.

 

Then I can see Jamie again.

 

He'd be laughing right now, if he was still here. 

 

"Oh, Rue, you look so pathetic. I'm sorry I crashed it, but I can't believe it was enough to bring you down this low!"

 

He was always able to make light of a situation.

 

I keep hearing James laugh, over and over.

 

 

How am I still alive, but he isn’t? He was so much better than me.

 

Guilt rips at my insides. It's grief again, that monster that first came in my freshman year. 

 

Hello, grief, I think, feeling sick to my stomach. Back to torture my brain again?

 

The grief does nothing else. I'm still drained and weak, and my left arm is completely useless. Just another weak human, as I always seem to say.

 

I barely move my head around to the little stand next to my hospital bed. I very slowly grab a sharp-looking item from there and hide it inside my hospital gown.

 

Now I wait for my darkness to come back.

 

 

 

State
MI
Zip Code
48105