Turning Tables

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: October 30, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: October 30, 2017



Turning Tables

Day One:  Max’s Point-of-View

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Doctor Brown stated incredulously.  He studied the CAT scan; then the x-ray once again.

“What do you mean?  Is Jackson okay?”  My mother whispered, careful not to wake my sleeping twin.

“We’ll have to put him in a medically induced coma soon,” Doctor Brown had stated earlier.  “But for now, we just have to wait for him to wake up.  Don’t worry; he should be up soon.”

Soon isn’t coming soon enough.  Soon has been three hours.  We’ve been here for three hours, and we’re just now finding out what’s wrong with Jackson; it’s not even a true diagnosis.

“What is wrong with my baby?”  My mother asked loudly.  Jackson stirred and we all stilled.  Certain he would wake up, and miraculously be better, but our dreams were shot down when he sighed and resumed his corpse-like position.

“Your son has serious signs of trauma,” the doctor stated.  Mother and I looked at him.  He placed the x-ray on the board and pointed to two midnight masses that replaced Jackson’s lungs.  “This is fluid, filling Jackson’s lungs.  According to the amount in his lungs, ma’am,”  he looked to my mother, “Your son should be dead.”

My mother sobbed and grabbed onto my shirt.  I awkwardly placed my book down and patted her back.  “There, there.”  I mumbled.

“What about football?”  We heard a voice creak.  We turned and saw Jackson squinting at the doctor.  Mother ran to his bed while the doctor and I trailed behind her.

“You can’t play football until you’re healed,” the doctor stated.

“How long is that going to take?”  Jackson mumbled.

The doctor shrugged, “Anywhere between two months to two years.”

Jackson shot up, “Two months?!”  Mother tried to push him down, but he kept struggling against her.  His heart monitor raced and his panting increased.  He yelled in anguish and clutched his chest.

“Stop yelling and lay down before your lungs rupture!”  Doctor Brown demanded strongly.  A strange sound erupted from Jackson’s throat and he fell back onto the bed.

“I can’t stay in here for two months!  I have a life, friends, things to do.  I can’t stay here.”  Jackson whispered.

“Just look on the brightside,”  I stated trying to break the long silence.  The trio looked at me incredulously.

“What brightside?”  Jackson asked with a small smile.

“Now you don’t have to go to school.”  I said with a shrug.  Jackson laughed loudly, but then had a cough attack, something we’ve gotten used to happening.  I grabbed the cup of water that a nurse left on his bedside table.  I raised the styrofoam cup to his lips and patiently waited as he took small sips of the refreshing liquid.  I pulled the cup away, when he waved his right hand, and put it on the table.

“Thanks, Max.  I always knew you’d be waiting on me one day,” he stated with a wicked grin.  I snorted and walked back to my former seat.  I picked my book up and took a seat.  “You’re a good brother, Max.”

I groaned playfully, plucked a Kleenex from the box beside me, and attempted to throw it at him.  “Don’t get all soft on me, now.”  I stated.

Jackson smiled at me and turned to mother.  “Mom?”  he asked.  I looked at her as well and saw that she had a far away look on her face.  Jackson looked at me and raised a brow.  I shrugged and turned to Doctor Brown.

“So, is there anything we can do?”  I asked the doctor.  He looked at me, Jackson, then me again.  “I honestly don’t know.  He most definitely has to have a procedure.”  He stated as he took out a notebook.

“What procedure?”  Jackson asked.  The doctor scribbled something on a sheet of paper and ripped it off and handed it to me.

“Thoracentesis?”  I questioned.  Doctor Brown nodded.  I looked to Jackson and he looked so oblivious.

“What?  What is it?”  Jackson asked.

“Thoracentesis is a procedure we need to perform in order to drain the fluid from your lungs.  It’s rather urgent in this case, so I’m going to schedule you to go into surgery tonight or tomorrow.  As soon as they allow you to.”  Doctor Brown explained.  Jackson nodded and closed his eyes.  “It’s probably best that you get your brother here to get all of the work from your classes so you don’t get behind in school.”  He turned to me.  “Maybe talk to his teachers as well?  Ask them if you could film the courses so he understands the work instead of just asking Google or  Quizlet.”  He stated with a grin.

Jackson groaned.  “Come on now, Doc’.  It’s two thousand and seventeen.  No one understands their class work anymore.”  

“Then how do you learn?”  Doctor Brown asked with raised eyebrows.  I choked on a laugh and Jackson looked him dead in his eyes.

“We don’t.”  Jackson closed his eyes again and released a gentle sigh.  Probably content that he isn’t in pain at the moment.

“I have an idea.”  We heard a feminine voice call out.  I jumped out of fright and Jackson shrilled.  Doctor Brown excused himself to go set up Jackson’s appointment and left us to hear our mother’s “idea.”

“Max, you can take Jackson’s place in school.  Of course, we’re going to tell them what happened, but they will think it’s Max that is sick instead of Jackson.”  she stated excitedly.  We looked at her as if she’d grown two heads and she took that as a sign to continue.  “Think about it.  If they know that Jackson is sick, they’re going to be suspicious as to how he is miraculously still on the football team, in class, and more.  Yet, if Max is sick, there won’t be a questioning of how he isn’t at school.  Max can take Jackson’s place on the football team so that when you’re better, you will still have your spot.”  She ended.

“That’s actually really smart.”  Jackson said.

Mother scoffed, “Smart?  It’s bloody brilliant!”

I looked between the grinning two and coughed.  They looked at me expectantly.  “Do I not get a say?”  I asked quietly.

“What do you mean?”  Jackson asked.

“What about college?  I can’t go to college if I miss that many days in high school, and-and art.  What about my art?  Is no one seriously thinking about how this is going to affect my life?”  I nearly shouted.  Mother walked up to me.

“Tell you what.  If you can pull this off until Jackson gets better, I’ll pay for you to go to Pratt Institute.”  She said with a grin.


Day two:

I enter the cafeteria still shaking with anger about my mother convincing me to do this.  I tugged awkwardly at Jackson’s jeans that she forced me into.  I go to sit at my normal lunch table when Julie, Jackson’s friend, comes up to me.  

“Babe, are you not going to sit with us today?”  She asks as she nods her head toward the table that Jackson and his football friends all sit at.  Right in the middle of the cafeteria.

Oh, I forgot.”  I thought to myself.  I walk past her and started heading towards the table, but she grabs my hand.  I turned to look to her and arched my eyebrow.

“Don’t forget about our date tonight,” she whispered.  My eyes widened.

“Date?”  I questioned.

“Yeah, the date we have every Tuesday?”  She stated, but the way she said it, it came out as a question.

“Oh, right.  Okay.”  I said with a tight smile.  She gave me one last glance before leading me to the table.  I sat down and took out my peanut butter sandwich, which I eat everyday.

“Jackson?  Is that peanut butter?”  Caleb asked.  

I took a bite of the sandwich, looked to him, and nodded.

“Spit it out.”  Caleb growled lowly.  I looked to him incredulously.  “Spit out the sandwich, Jackson.”

I chewed the bread and peanut butter combo slowly and cautiously.  Careful not to make any sudden movements or loud noises.  Then, Caleb leaped across the table and tackled me onto my back.  He yanked open my mouth and pulled out a soggy lump of bread and semi-gone peanut butter.  

I pushed him off of me.  “What is your problem?!”  I panted out.

“You’re allergic to peanuts, dumbass!  Or did you just magically forget again?”  He shouted.  


I looked around as I tried to catch my breath.  The room was silent and everyone stared at us with wide eyes.  My eyes trailed over the sea of bodies until they landed on Katie.  My best friend Katie.

“I have to go,”  I muttered.  I ran to Katie and pulled her out of the cafeteria.  She, thankfully, allowed me to lead her out of the busy building and into our not-as-crowded parking lot.  I led her to my car and opened the door for her.  “Get in.”  I stated.

She looked at me with furrowed brows and then looked to the empty, available seat of my car.  She glanced back up to me and stated, “You better tell me what’s going on, Max.  Or I swear on all that is holy, I will find out myself.  And when I do, it won’t be pretty.  I promise.”  Then, she sat on the leather seat and closed my door gently.

So she knows.


Day ten:

“How has it been being me for a school week?”  Jackson asked me.  I tossed my backpack onto the floor and climbed into the hospital bed with him.  I sat by his feet and looked him in his eyes.

“Why didn’t you tell me you’re dating Julie?”  I asked him.  His eyes widened and he sighed.

“Do you know how popular I am?”  He questioned gently.  I nodded.  “Do you know how popular she is?”  He asked.

I nodded, “Not very popular.”  

“Exactly.”  He stated.

“So you didn’t tell me because you’re embarrassed that she’s not as popular as you?  Dude that’s pretty fu-”  I started saying, but was interrupted by Jackson.

“No!  Not that!  It’s because for some God forsaken reason, most of those girls at school think that I’m in love with them.  If they find out I’m dating Julie, what do you think they’re going to do?”  He asked with a painful expression.

“Make her life a living Hell?”  I questioned.

“Make her life a living Hell,”  He agreed.  “I don’t want that for her.  I would never want that for her.  That is too much for one person to handle.”  He finished and gently placed his head on his pillow.  

I sat there for a second before I sighed and looked at my hands, folded in my lap.  “She knows I’m not you.  So does Katie.”

“You weren’t supposed to tell anyone.”  He replied with his eyes still closed.

“Katie knew because she’s not an idiot.  Julie knew because I wouldn’t kiss her on those two dates I took her on.”  I added.

He looked to me, “Good.  Don’t kiss her.  She’s mine, not yours.”

I scrunched up my face and groaned, “I don’t want her.  Girls and relationships are nothing but distractions from my diploma.”  I stated as I stood up and grabbed my backpack.

“And that’s why you’re going to be single for the rest of your life.”  He said with a laugh.

“Whatever.  I’m going to get some food.  Want your usual?”  I asked as I headed to the door.

“Actually, can I just get some Cinnabon Delights and like two tacos?  I’m not feeling all of that food.”  He asked softly.

“Got it.  I’ll be back in thirty.  Try not to die.”  I jokingly stated.

He laughed, “Try not to choke.”


Day thirty:

“We won the game.”  I told Jackson as I walked into his room, still clad in my football gear.  A smile broke out against his face that has slowly been regaining its color.

“Dude!  That’s amazing, good job!”  He excitedly stated as I sat down.

“I’m actually getting into this football thing.  It’s pretty cool, not gonna lie.  Now I know why you’re in love with it.”  I said.

He nodded his head, “Yeah, same with drawing.  They have me taking an art class here so I can pass the daily time, and it’s so much fun.  I used to think you were stupid for liking it so much, but now I know why you’re obsessed with it.”  He explained.  Then he reached over to his bedside table and opened a drawer.  He pulled out a piece of sketch paper and handed it to me.  I examined the well drawn picture of our mother that, apparently, Jackson had drawn.

“Jackson, this is amazing.  Especially for someone who has hardly drawn anything other than a stickman or a smiley face.”  I praised him.

He smiled and took the paper as I handed it back to him.  “Thanks, lil bro.  Can you not tell mom I drew this yet?  I want to give it to her when I get out of here.”  He stated.  I nodded my head and grabbed my phone off of the table I set it on.

“I had Katie record the game when I got on the field.  This is what she got.”  I explained as I pulled up a video and handed it to Jackson.  “While you watch it, I’m going to go get some food from next door.  Want anything?”  I asked him.  He shook his head and continued watching the video.  “Okay, I’ll be back soon.”

I walked out the door and then I heard Jackson say my name.  I peeked my head through his door and he smiled at me and said, “Thank you.  For everything.”  I smiled and nodded my head.  

“Be right back.”  I whispered.  I walked down the hall and bumped into my mother and Doctor Brown.  

“Max!  Just the guy we were looking for!”  Doctor Brown said with a smile.  I smiled back and mumbled a “Hello.”

“Doctor Brown was just about to tell us some news about Jackson.”  My mother explained as she came to stand beside me.  I put my arm over her shoulder and pulled her into my side.

“Yes.  You see, Jackson has been healing extremely nicely.  My colleagues and I ran some final tests and all of the fluid is officially gone from his lungs.  He’s healed so fast that there is no need for us to keep him here.  So, you guys can take him home soon.”  He stated with a smile.  His pager pinged and he checked it.  “Well, matter-of-fact, y’all can take him home tonight.  My boss just cleared him.”  

My mother cheered and hugged me.  I hugged her back.  

“I’m gonna go tell Jackson the news.”  I turned around and walked back into Jackson’s room.  “Jackson, guess wh-”  I stopped short.  “Jackson?”  I looked around an empty room.  “Jackson, where are you?”  I asked loudly.  I quickly walked to the bathroom and twisted the knob.  Locked.  I knocked on the door.  “Jackson, are you in there?”  I asked.  I got a grunt in response.  

The doorknob twisted and a rough looking Jackson emerged.  “What did you do to my jeans?”  He asked as he held up a pair of his favorite jeans.  It was then that I noticed that he was just in a sweatshirt and boxers.  

“What do you mean?”  I asked him.

“They don’t fit anymore.”  He said with a pout.  I chuckled and walked back to my athletic bag.  I pulled out a pair of sweatpants and handed them to him with a soft “Here.”  He gently took the soft garment from me and tossed the jeans into my hands.  He returned to the bathroom and emerged a few moments later looking completely satisfied.  “These are so comfortable!  Why don’t I wear these everyday?!”  He questioned excitedly.

“Dang, Jackson.  You love art now, and you want to wear sweatpants everyday?  It’s like we’ve changed lives.”  I stated jokingly.  Jackson’s eyes got wide.  “No.”  I stated.  I turned around, grabbed my duffel bag and Jackson’s back of clothes and walked out of the room.

“Just hear me out.”  Jackson said as he walked after me.  I stopped walking and turned to look at him.  “Let’s change lives.  Just at school.  You can be me, and stay on the football team, and I can be you, and join art class.  Please?  Just to try it out for a while, and if we both hate what’s going on, we can go back to our normal lives.”  He explained.  

I looked at him for a moment before I sighed.  “That’s a very smart plan.”  I mumbled to myself.  

“So…”  Jackson trailed off.

“So, I’ll do it.”  I stated.


Day sixty four:  Max’s Point-of-View

“Dude, are you sure you’re okay?”  Caleb asked me.  I looked to him and raised an eyebrow.  “It’s been over a month, man.  It’s okay if you’re not okay.”  He added with a gentle pat on my back.

I stopped walking and looked at him, “What are you going on about this time?”  I asked while hitching my backpack further up my shoulder.

“Julie is totally dating Max now.  You know, Julie, the girl you’ve had a crush on for years now, and Max, your brother since freaking birth.”  He exclaimed while tossing his hands into the air.

I laughed lightly and put a hand on Caleb’s shoulder.  “I don’t have feelings for Julie anymore.  They stopped long before they even got together.  I promise.”  I stated with full hearted honesty.  

“Well, if you’re sure about that,”  he said with a shrug.  He looked over my shoulder and waved.  I turned around and saw Jackson and Julie walking up to us.  “I’ll see you later, man.”  Caleb said.  I turned to him and nodded.  He walked away and I turned to my brother and his girlfriend.

“Hey, Max.”  Julie stated with a smile.

“Hey, Julie.  What’s up?”  I asked the duo.

“Do you know how many people expected you to end up with Katie?  They were so surprised when “you” and Julie got together.”  Jackson said with a laugh.

“Well, that won’t happen.  Katie likes Caleb, and she’s amazing, of course, but my plate is full with school, work and college applications.”  I explained.  

“Yup, that’s my brother.”  Jackson stated with a laugh.  I shrugged and bellied out a laugh.  

“Well, I’m going home.  I have an interview in about two hours.  I’ll see y’all later.”  I told the two.  We all exchanged goodbyes and went our separate ways.


Day sixty four:  Jackson’s Point-of-View

I quickly rounded the corner, wanting nothing more than to get away from this herd of people.  How Max could handle all of these people beats me.  A hand lands on my chest and I let out a little squeal.

“You okay?”  A voice asks.  I lift my head and see Julie looking at me with curious eyes.  I nod my head and blow air through my nose.  “Wanna go to lunch?”  She asks.  I once again nod my head.  She mumbles an okay and wraps her arm around mine and leads me away from the bustling sea of students.

“Hey, Max!”  I hear someone shout.  I keep walking and they keep shouting the same thing.  I feel a nudge in my side.  I turn to Julie and raise my eyebrows.

She leans into my ear and whispers, “They’re talking to you, Jackson.”  I let out a curse and turn to the culprit.  

A kid from art class, who feels the need to label himself my “friend,” catches up to us and pants.  We stand there for two minutes waiting for him to catch his breath before he finally speaks.  

“Oh, hey, Julie.”  She gives a little wave and moves behind my back a bit.  “You know?  Everyone thought you’d end up with Katie.  Y’all are so close.”  He says with a laugh.

“How is this relevant at this given moment?  Or any moment for that matter,”  I question, annoyed that he’s cutting into my food time.

“Dude, chill.  I’m just saying what everyone is thinking.”  He responded while putting his hands up.

“Well, you can tell those people that if they worried half as much about their lives, instead of my relationship, they’ll actually have something to look forward to.”  I stated angrily.  I gently grabbed Julie’s hand and pulled her away from the nosey person.  We exited the door and saw Caleb and Max.  Caleb waved and then said something to Max before he walked off.

“Do you know how many people expected you to end up with Katie?  They were so surprised when “you” and Julie got together.”  I said after we all exchanged pleasantries.  

“Well, that won’t happen.  Katie likes Caleb, and she’s amazing, of course, but my plate is full with school, work and college applications.”  Max told us.

And that is why he’s going to be the “single forever” twin.


Day two hundred and thirty:  Max’s Point-of-View

It’s finally graduation.  We’re officially getting out of this God forsaken place.  I mean, sure, some pretty good things have happened here, but for the most part it’s been rough.  Never had I expected the weight of the entire school’s worry for our wins to be put on my shoulders.  Jackson and I planned on switching back to our original lives after football season ended, but we thought it would be too rough since Julie and “Max” are official; we wouldn’t want people to think that she liked the both of us.

“Dude, what the hell is taking you so long?”  I hear from behind my door.  I opened the door to see Katie standing there with her cap and gown already on.  “We’re all waiting for you so we can leave.”  

I mumble something under my breath and she asks me to repeat it.  “I can’t fit the stupid cap on my head!”  I stated loudly.  She starts laughing, but then stops when she sees my face.

“Oh, you’re serious.  Oh, okay, um, have you tried..something..else?”  She stumbled out.  

“What do you mean something else?”  I asked.

“Jesus, I don’t know.  Not all of us have big heads, Max.”  She exclaimed.

“That’s Jackson, not Max, Katie.  It’s a shame you don’t even know your own best friend.”  A voice stated.  Caleb walked into my room and clasped a hand onto my shoulder, “I, on the other hand, am an amazing friend.  Isn’t that right, Jackson?”  He asked me.

“I’m Max.”  I stated blatantly.

His eyes widened, “What?  No!  You’re Jackson!”  

“How are you going to tell me who I am?”  I questioned with a raised brow.

Jackson and Julie entered the room, “What’s the hold up?”  Jackson asked.

Caleb looked to him, “Max, tell Jackson here that his name is Jackson and not Max.  Psh, doesn’t even know his own name.”

Jackson chuckled.  “I’m Jackson, that’s Max.”  

Caleb looked between us and let out a frustrated groan, “Will someone please explain?”

“I wanna do it!  Let me do it, please!”  Katie exclaimed.  We nodded her heads as a sign for her to continue.  “It was a dark and stormy night,”  she began.  I groaned and tossed a pillow from my bed at her.  It connected with her face and her cap fell off.  She glared at me and I circled my index fingers around each other, tell her to speed it up.  She sighed, “Long story short, Jackson had to stay in the hospital, Max pretended to be him at school so when he got out, he would still have his position on the football team.  Jackson fell in love with art, Max fell in love with football, so they switched lives.”  

“Oh,”  Caleb began.  He looked at the four of us, “Well, we have a graduation we need to get to.  Chop chop.”

We all grabbed what we needed and exited the house.


Graduation Ceremony:

“Jackson Williams, New York University Stern School of Business.”  Principal Jones said.  Jackson walked across the stage as the crowd cheered for him.  I clapped and cheered and moved up in line.  “Max Williams, Pratt Institute.”  He said.  I walked across the stage as the crowd raised to their feet, cheering.  Cheering for both Jackson and I.  Cheering because New York isn’t cheap, and for us, two twin males from a small town to get into such high end schools is practically unheard of.  I walked across the stage and received my diploma.  

I was about to walk off the stage when Principal Jones called us back.  “Since you two are our last recieving, why don’t you give us a little speech?”  He asked while moving out of the way of the microphone.  I turned and waited for Jackson to catch up and then we walked to the stand.

“And keep it short, I’m trying to leave as soon as possible!”  Caleb shouted from the front of the crowd.  The arena erupted with laughter but then it quickly vanished when Jackson approached the microphone.

“This year has definitely been something for the books.  Something I most definitely never would have imagined happening.”  He said, and then moved out of the way so I could speak.

“From hospital beds,”  I stated as I stole a glance at a smiling Jackson.  “To new friendships,”  I said as I looked to Caleb, “And to new relationships.”  I said as Julie and Jackson locked eyes.  “I never would have thought any of this would happen.  It’s weird, you know.  Changing things up.  Living the life of someone completely different than yourself, but I guess those are things that we have to get used to, huh?”  I put my hand on my cap and watched at the rest of my class did as well.  “So, here’s to us.  Here’s to the class of two thousand and eighteen.  Here’s to all of us.  May you experience new things like my brother and I did.  May you all enjoy your time turning tables.”  I threw my hat into the air and the crowd followed.  Cheers erupted through the arena and I smiled.  I turned to Jackson and we hugged.  We pulled away and looked to each other.

“To turning tables.”  He said with a lifted pinky.

I looped my pinky with his and grinned, “To turning tables.”

© Copyright 2018 kayabarber. All rights reserved.

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