“You gonna’ visit her today man?” Lenny asks, though he did not really have to, and he knows it. It is Chris he's talking to. Lenny knows that Chris has to see his sister every day after school. It was the only time he could do this, “alright man. I’ll see you at the house.”
Chris walks out of the classroom. Since it's only the end of September people are still asking him to join different clubs and teams. He wants to get his things and leave but those people are making that impossible. They are almost lined up on the corner that leads to his locker. He has to politely refuse. There is no way he would be able to do that this year. His sister needs support. They all know this, but they also know that he is probably the most athletic person in the school. Few even come close to him in athleticism. Few challenge him because of his... unwanted reputation. Even the people who do are nowhere near as smart as him. Although he is not the smartest in his class, he at least stays within the top ten. It is not something he does purposely. He is the kind of person who reads books in class or sleeps all day. It’s just that when he gets an assignment, a test, or a quiz, he is able to do it as though he listened to every word a teacher says. Many teachers have told him that if he applies himself more, he could be at the top of his class and be a senior already. He doesn't really care though. He only cares about his sister and his best and best friend Lenny. He get his things from his locker. He barely makes it to the door when someone calls him.
“Chris!” he recognizes Lenny’s voice, “Hold on! It seems like I’m coming to.” He is excited. The only reason he would be this excited is because he is seeing his brother at the same hospital as Chris’ sister. “Kenny is ‘out of commission’ again.” Lenny says making air quotes. "Out of commission" is just something they say at Kenny's school. All it really is is suspension. They can't get rid of Kenny because he is one of their best students, academically and athletically. “I don’t know why he gets into so many fights.”
“You’re one to talk” Chris sneers while Lenny laughs loudly.
“I’m serious. And he is such a nice person.” Lenny explains, laughing. Lenny often goes with Chris to see his sister. On days like this however, they both go to see their hospitalized siblings and once they get into the hospital they wouldn’t see each other again until they leave. Kenny always gets rooms on the other side of the hospital.
Lenny and Kenny are twins. Kenny gets injuries from the fights he has with the gangs around his school. Kenny really does have a good heart. It’s the reason why he fights so much. When he sees someone in trouble with the gangs like the little girl he sees every day before school or some old lady that gets her purse stolen, he helps the people the only way he knows how: fighting the people that mess with them. Occasionally someone has a knife and when Kenny is done with that person, he is in a hospital getting stitches. He'll never put someone's life in jeopardy. When his wounds are severe, which is almost all the time, the hospital makes him stay a few nights. He’s smart and gets good grades like his brother. It’s a new year so it is expected. The seniors that were there won't be getting on his nerves anymore.
Chris and Lenny have motorcycles because both of their parents are secretly rich, at least to the schools. They never see their parents though. Kenny is the one that gets to stay with his parents. The last time Chris and his sister saw their parents was when Chris’ sister last switched to a hospital that was closer to his school. This was about a year ago. The last time Lenny saw his parents, was when he changed schools. He went to the same school as his brother. He stopped two and a half years ago when he was expelled because he took the fall for Kenny. It was a fight that almost ended another kid’s life. Just as before, it was for that little girl. No one knew about this except for himself, Kenny, and Chris. Lenny did not mind. His brother got to stay in the better school. Kenny and Lenny are the same, almost completely identical. The only difference is the personalities and the fact that Lenny is more mature than Kenny.
Chris has to get something for his sister. “I’ll meet you there.” He tells Lenny. He wanted to get her a book. Even as a secretly wealthy kid he has to actually earn money for anything besides living expenses and cable. He has a part time job cleaning places. He had only gotten it to buy Harry Potter books for his sister and gas for his motorcycle. Now she was at book four. He loves his sister dearly and it feels good doing this so he has no problem with it. “Hello Mr. Jones. I’d like to buy this one.” He says to the old man behind the counter. He does not say anything but he keeps the same warm smile he had when Chris explained to the books were for his sister. Finally he walks out of the book store. “Thank you, Mr. Jones.”
There are some punks waiting in the front of his motorcycle. They notice him. ”Oh look. It’s Lone.” He says Chris’ last name like it’s hard to speak. He didn’t look too bright. “Long time, no see. I guess you know why we are here.” He explains rhythmically, pulling out a four inch pocket knife. He stabs at Chris and misses. He is a blur to these guys. Chris gets behind him now. He stares blankly at the space Chris inhabited just a second ago.
“Not really that interested.” Chris replies nonchalantly as he dodges a punch from another guy. “I’m in a rush.” He knows these guys. They wanted to fight him on the first day of school. They knew he was good, but they thought that they could jump him. That’s why they got their asses kicked. Chris has such an imitating reputation because he was trained in martial arts since he was able to stand – literally. He was thrown onto a mat and the first thing he learned was how to block. It always ironic to him that the father he hardly sees is the person who gave him the reputation. He once had to go into the woods with his father with nothing but a few knives and some granola bars when he was seven during the summer. He was once happy because of the time he spent with his father but now he doesn’t care about it. At the time his sister stayed home with their mother who was also skilled. Even then she was sick. She could not learn much of the arts. When their parents limited their contact with them Chris vowed, to himself, to always be by his sister’s side.
The fight lasts approximately ten seconds. Five for Chris to give all three of the guys’ punches to their chests, which if he uses any more strength could kill them. They gasp for air for two seconds. Finally takes these guys three seconds to realize once again that they will not beat him. Chris puts his helmet on and rides off towards the hospital.
Tabitha is excited that her brother is buying Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. She has been in this hospital for such a long time that she cannot even remember anything about the outside. At the last hospital there was a part in the middle of the complex where she could go outside and enjoy the garden.
She can walk, but her nurse, Nurse Judy, puts her in a wheel chair whenever she wants to leave the room. This is why she finds herself sneaking to the roof in the middle of the night to look at the moon. She also looks at the stars which in this part of the state are easily visible. She is 18 – a year older than her brother. She remembers when she had to watch him leave with her father. She was sad not being able to go with them.
Tabitha is very intelligent. She is also cold to anyone besides from Nurse Judy, Chris, Lenny, and her best friend Tamera who is a lone survivor of a train wreck. Tabitha has a bit of a guilty pleasure in the fact that Tamera’s parents who actually loved her are dead. She feels that her parents resent her. It may have even been before that.
She met Tamera in the last hospital she went to. Tamera lost her parents and younger sister on her birthday. Because of that, she does not have the heart to celebrate it, even with Tabitha. She escaped with a cut on her knee and minor concussion while her sister’s head was somehow separated from her body by a bag, her mother was impaled by a broken piece of glass from a bottle, and her father was slammed into a seat at a very high speed. They were on a trip in Japan. They were going to Kyoto to look at the scenery. She liked the pictures of the temples. She wanted to meet a shrine maiden. Later she wouldn’t think about where she was going as much as the thought about the fact that their deaths occurred right in front of her. Now the memory of it is trapped inside of the deepest parts of her mind; so deep in fact that she has a better time remembering the times when she was a baby.
“Hey, Taby, did Chris come yet?” Tamera is the first to arrive at Tabitha’s room. She comes with a few McDonald’s double cheese burgers that she knows Tabitha shouldn’t eat. Tabitha was always slender so Tamera thought that a few of these wouldn’t hurt her.
“Why would you bring this?” Tabitha laughs, “You know I shouldn’t eat this.” She disregards the subject now. “How are thing with you and your boyfriend? Break up yet?”
“Of course not. You think that it’s easy being the weirdest girl in a school full of rich kids?” She lives with her rich aunt who simply hates her for living. “He at least makes me seem normal to everyone. He’s cool and everything but I don’t really like him.” She takes a long pause, “Also I got another memory yesterday.” She explains.
“What was it about? Can you remember?” Tabitha is concerned for her. Tamera shakes her head happily. Tabitha feels sad suddenly. Tamera told Tabitha about her family’s deaths when they first met but, after that she seems to have totally forgotten the whole thing.
“It’s alright. Don’t want to remember. All I know is that they are gone.” She laughs lightly and sits in the chair next to Tabitha’s bed silently for a few seconds. She stares blankly out of a window. “Why am I here?” She whispers quietly enough for Tabitha to just barely hear it.
“Damn, how’d you get here before me?” Chris asks with a smug look on his face.
“My driver, you idiot.” Tamera answers.
“Were you able to find the book?” Tabitha asks expectantly. “I heard that there aren’t many books left at Mr. Jones place.”
“He has a lot of books and he just got a new shipment of them. Of course I got the book. It is right here–.” He stares at the ripped brown paper bag pathetically. It was fine when he got here. He thinks for a few seconds then he knows what happened. He casually feels Tamera’s back and finds it instantly. “You play too much, you know that?”
“I was going to give it to her.” Tamera snaps, “You can never have any fun can you?” She pouts. “I wish…” she whispers to herself but raises her hand in defense rethinking what she is going to say. I wish I could be with you, she thinks. It is not the first time words like these ever came to mind and now wishes she’d never thought them. She knows how much he means to Tabitha. Tabitha is so kind that she would let her have him. Tamera knows that Tabitha would give anything to her friends.
Lenny is flies down the hallway just as Chris hands Tabitha the book. “Hey Taby, Hey Tammy. You ready to go home man?” he asks, still breathing hard from running. Chris nods and kisses his sister on the forehead and jokingly, does the same to Tamera. This of course makes her blush violently. Usually she would have hit him for something like that but she was so deep in thought that by the time Chris’ touch registered all she could do was stand there. Nurse Judy walks in to tell everyone that visiting hours are over.
“Do you want a ride home?” Chris asks Tamera as they exit the hospital lobby.
She hesitates. She wants to but will not risk it. “No.” She answers, “I’ve got my driver waiting down the street.” This is a lie but she runs off in the opposite direction that the Chris and Lenny would ride their motorcycles before anything else could be said. She pulls out her cell phone and calls her driver. “I just need a few things Belford.”
“I’ll be there in just a minute Miss.” Belford replies.
The driver brings the car over in exactly one minute. Tamera gets in the black stretched limo. She changes into a white nightgown and gets out of the limousine. “Thank you, Belford. Just put everything else in my room.” She pulls a bag out containing her school supplies and her uniform.
“Will do miss.”
Later That Night…
“…sure you want to do this? He is stronger than you in mentally and physically. You will not stand a chance against him.” Tabitha explains, “He knows things that you don’t and he can kill you. He trained with our father for ten years. You only did for three.”
“Sure I’m sure. It might not be likely that I will win but that
“So what’s the point of fighting him? Is it just to know that you fought; some honorable…thing between rivals. He doesn’t even know you like that.”
He brings her to his face and kisses her. Afterwards, he asks “Do you even know what you just said? Look, I want to fight him and I have the best chance to do it. Now let’s have some fun.” They are sneaking out of the hospital for their first date. Lenny is taking Kenny’s place. Tomorrow he will tell Chris that his mother died. It happened a long time ago, so it won’t exactly be a lie. It is just the part about his father that will be a lie. He’ll say that his father called him to the hospital. Chris will not really make him go into details. The only worry they have is Tamera. She might let Chris know about Kenny and Tabitha going out before she is supposed to. Lenny tells them not to worry because just the subject of a dead parent will make her stay away from it. If she does talk about it, it could help Chris’ relationship with her.
They decide to go to a movie. They want to watch Into the Blue. Lenny gave Kenny one hundred and fifty dollars and told them to have fun. Kenny thinks that it is a decent movie so far. Tabitha is getting bit jealous about the girls in the movie. She wants to go to the beach and wear a bathing suit and learn how to swim. However, the summer has ended and her doctors won’t let her do anything until Christmas. They are also giving her work to do, like every hospital did. She isn’t even paying attention to the movie until she sees a shark. She jumps and rethinks everything that she had thought a second ago. I think I’ll go to a regular beach.
Kenny reaches his hand in the almost empty bucket of popcorn, “Whoa! I’m going to get more popcorn. Tell me what happens when I come back. I won’t be long.” Tabitha didn’t even notice how much she had eaten. It was almost empty.
“Oh… okay.” She stammers. When he is outside of the theater, she looks at her phone and notices a text message from Tamera. Besides from her Chris, Lenny and Kenny’s numbers are in it. The message was sent about thirty minutes ago
How is the date going? You don’t have to answer right now but make sure you tell me later. Did he kiss you yet? What are you doing? When did you actually get out of the hospital? When will you come back? How did you do it? Why did I have to take your place? Couldn’t Nurse Judy do it? She would have done it. Will you come back? I just remembered something. It’s blurry but I know it’s a train. I cannot see my parents’ faces. I can’t see my sister’s face either. Please text me before you come back.
Tabitha laughs at the thought of her friend practically shooting the questions at her. Also she sees how strange it is that she is the only person she knows that types words properly. Chris sent her a few messages before. Although none of her friends use their phones much, she remembers that the messages did not have one properly spelled word. “in” would have been “n” and “by the way” would have been “btw”. She does the same thing.
It’s fine. Yes we kissed. I got out about thirty minutes ago. I got out the same way you came in. The guys at the front desk were asleep (courtesy of Kenny). I’ll be back in about an hour. No she wouldn’t have done it. And yes I will come back. I don’t know what to make of those memories. See you.
Kenny comes back as soon as she is done. They do nothing but hold hands for the rest of the movie. Tabitha feels good with him. He genuinely cares about her and she cares about him the same way. She just feels guilty for not telling the brother that always takes care of her, that she has a boyfriend.
The movie is over. Tabitha turns her phone up slowly. She thinks the ending was good but not as good as it could have been. For an over all rating she finds it a good watch. Kenny likes everything about the movie except for the ending. They are walking out and see a few guys at the gaming center. Because it is raining outside, they decide to wait out the storm. Kenny walks toward a racing game that is connected to another one for two people to play. “Mind if I play?” he asks a burly looking guy. He is big, but he seems to be about the same age as Kenny, or at least a year older like Tabitha.
In a deep bellowing voice the guy says “I guess so. If you think you can beat me.” Kenny recognizes the voice, but does not think of it very much for a while. They start the game. Kenny is winning at first. He picks a Corvette while the big guy chooses a Dodge Viper. The big guy gets in the lead and Kenny is pushed back to third place. He is getting pushed back even more, but he knows what he has to do. He has nitrous and is saving it until he is closer to the finish line.
Wait for it. Wait for it. Now! He thinks. His car dashes passed the Viper and he is in first place at the last minute.
“Well you lose…” the big guy pauses, “the fuck you mean second place!?” The big guy looks like he is going to explode. This is when Tabitha, who was cheering Kenny on half heartedly a second ago, is filled with apprehension. Kenny finally remembers who this guy is. He smiles. It is Richard, the only fighting rival he has. Kenny being the best fighter in his school gets him a lot of attention, but this guy is the main reason he got sent to the hospital. Bone fracture in his arm.
“Don’t do it Kenny.” Tabitha’s whispering voice is barely audible. It is the only sound she can make but, Kenny hears. He knows that he needs to recover and getting into a scrap with this guy could be fatal with all of these machines around. Plus, Tabitha could get hurt.
Richard looks at Tabitha. Kenny says sarcastically, “I won’t fight you right now, Dick. Wait a few days. I will be fully recovered. Then and only then will you have your ass whooping.”
Richard throws a punch, but this punch isn’t aimed at Kenny. It is aimed at Tabitha. Luckily, with the small amount of training she got from her mother at the age of ten, she dodges his punch easily, but stumbles into a motorcycle game. “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?” a security guard asks. Everyone that was playing the games earlier is gone.
Richard runs out into the rain. Kenny looks over at Tabitha. I should’ve played that one instead, he thinks, while asking, “Are you alright Taby?” she gives a slight nod. The rain seems to be weakening but the two of them will be drenched by the time they get to the hospital. Kenny checks his pockets. He has twenty five dollars left. He tells Tabitha to call a cab as he goes to a bathroom.
When he is done washing his hands he hears the horn of the cab. Tabitha is already inside. It takes five minutes to get back to the hospital. Kenny gives the cabbie eight dollars and runs with Tabitha in hand into the hospital. The guys that Kenny knocked out earlier are still sleeping. They creep cautiously into the elevator that makes the least noise and decide to go to Tabitha’s room first. Tamera is sleeping in the bed with her phone with a low battery in her hand. There are some unsent messages. They are all about the memories she has about her family. Tabitha and Kenny kiss for what seems like a long time to them. When they separate, Kenny runs silently down the hall to a bridge that takes him to the other side of the hospital where his room is.
Tabitha shakes Tamera’s shoulder. “Awaken beast. Wake up now. You can still leave, so do it before the guy’s downstairs wake up.”
“Wait a second.” Tamera says drowsily. She pops up and starts asking questions. “How did the date go? Tell me. Did he kiss you yet? What were you doing? When did you actually get out of the hospital? How did you do it? Why did I have to take your place? Couldn’t Nurse Judy do it? She would have done it. I just remembered something. It’s blurry especially the faces, but I know it’s a train.” It was basically everything she said earlier. Tabitha’s guess is that it was the last thing on her mind before going to sleep.
She calms her down by embracing her and saying, “I had fun. Now go.”
The Next Day…
Oh my fucking goodness, Chris thinks as he runs the mile and a half to school. His bike broke down last night after getting home. Some friend. You could have got me up and given me a ride. He thinks as he gets down the first hill on his way to school. It’s a good thing for him that he is so fast. In fact he can run a mile in four minutes and twenty five seconds. He is going to be late unless he takes a short cut. The only thing is that the punks that are always late and that he met with yesterday live there. He could show up late because of a confrontation with them. He takes a risk and luckily they get to school early. Chris doesn’t worry about them.
He reaches the school’s front door just as the first bell rings. He has five minutes to get to his locker, put his book bag in, take his books out, and get to math class. “Why are you so late?” class president, Lupe Camilla asks. She’s from Spain. She is known as the hottest girl in school and she is the class president. She also has the second highest GPA in the school. Ever since the first day Chris came to the school she secretly (at least she thinks it’s a secret) liked him. . He knows this already and he does find her attractive but, he has never been in a relationship like that. Nor has he felt comfortable thinking about it with most girls. He does not know how to approach her. Even if he did he couldn’t know what he could do with her. He asks himself how he’d even spend time with her. He doesn’t know what to do with a girl. That’s why he avoids these relationships. “Hello. Answer me.” Lupe says impatiently.
“You’re making me later.” Chris disregards the question and asks, “Have you seen Lenny?” She shakes her head mouthing no, still mad about him ignoring the question. “Well um… see you later.” He starts down the hall. She grabs his arm.
Lupe has pretty much lost all of the anger and impatience she had just a second ago. She lets go of the arm and says “Um… Chris. I wanted to ask you if… you wanted to um… g –“ she is interrupted by the deafening sound of the schools new and improved bells. Chris waves his hand to say “bye.”
He is saved by the bell. He knows what she wanted to say. She was definitely going to ask me out. He thinks nervously as he turns the corner leading into his first period math class. He does not see Lenny. He decides to wait for Lenny to come into the classroom. His eyes are red as though he was crying.
He perks up quickly when he spots Chris. When he gets closer he notices the worry on Chris’ face “It’s okay I’ll tell you what happened.”
“You sure you okay? Where were you?” Chris asks loudly everyone turns their heads. They have never heard him like this before.
“I’m alright man. Cool it. Don’t worry about it.” Lenny answers.
“Don’t lie to me man. Is… is it Kenny?”
“… no, but he called me on a hospital phone last night when you were asleep. Our father came to tell him that… that our mother died. I went to the hospital hoping he was joking. Obviously, he wasn’t.”
Chris wouldn’t know how to feel about that happening to his mother. Lenny says, “She died from a brain tumor. She did not know until it was too late. I was at the hospital with Kenny for the night,” it explains these wrinkled clothes. “Kenny cried himself to sleep. I did not get any sleep until three in the morning. I couldn’t cry in front of him, so I guess I saved my tears until I got on the elevator. I was the only one there but I kept crying until I got here. I don’t know why though. I didn’t even know my mother…” he pauses, “…where’s the teacher?”
“Don’t know.” Chris answers.
As if on cue, Mr. Clark the math teacher arrives. He looks very much like Super Man. However, this man has no kryptonite. His class is the most hated in the school. No one can move him. In his most demanding voice he yells at his noisy class, “Everybody, stop what you’re doing and turn in your homework!”
In about an hour it is time for second period. Chris has gym while Lenny has geometry. In Chris’ gym class the teacher decides to make the class play dodge ball. Chris is the best at this so the teacher expects him to show a little effort. He has the best players from every team in his class. It often seems to Chris that this is another way to get him to join a team. Right now though it seems like a set up. He is going against all of them with the geeks that have no athletic ability. They unfortunately end up in gym class. The teams aren’t even, but no one cares. The teacher tells everyone to get to the walls of the big gym. He blows his whistle. Everyone, besides from Chris is scrambling to get one of the fifteen balls that are in the middle. Chris stays back for a few seconds. He hears the whistle five more times. Four of the players on his team are out and one is out on the other team. Chris looks up because he has taken a track runner’s stance. He notices that most of the balls are in the other team’s possession. He waits for that team to get rid everyone else on his. Now on his side there are four dodge balls. On the other side there is somehow a twelfth and thirteenth ball on the other side when there should have been only eleven. He does not care. He picks up a ball and it sails over to the other side so fast that there is a whizzing sound passing the other player’s ears. He did not want to hit anyone yet.
They hadn’t noticed that Chris had another ball ready to go. He swings his arm and lets his hand slip off of the ball. Three whistle blows and just like that and the other team starts to lose their nerve. Someone lugs a ball toward Chris’ feet. If he was anyone else, he would have been hit, but this is Chris Lone. He catches it at an almost impossible angle and the player is out. There are seven people left on the team Chris is playing. They figure that Chris will not be able to dodge or catch with more balls coming at him. A baseball player throws a curve ball that is easily blocked by Chris using the ball he caught. The football player and basketball player could hit him now. They take the chance. At the last second, Chris drops to the gym floor hard to avoid them. He decides to drop the ball he is holding. He springs back up to catch a ball coming at him from a close by attacker. Now Chris is starting to get bored. He runs to the line while a swarm of dodge balls come at him. The whistle blows. No one got hit. Chris passed the half line.
Chris’s team sighs in disappointment. “Well I guess I am out then. Can I get some water?” the teacher lets Chris, also disappointed.
In Lenny is in geometry class half listening and half sleeping with his head in his hands. That was a long night he had. He still can’t tell Chris the real reason yet. He wants to make sure it’s today. He does not really know how to do that without letting his friend see the guilt in his eyes. Kenny says he has a plan that will make Lenny feel better about this and that will let him get what he wants. The bell for third period class finally rang. To Lenny the person who teaches that class Mrs. Quinn is the most boring person in the world. I never want to meet the person that decided to marry you thirty plus years ago, you old hag, Lenny thinks.
He knows he will have a little more fun next period. It is English class. The girl he fell in love with two years ago is in the class. Her name is Jun Camilla. Her sister is the class president Lupe Camilla. Also his best buddy Chris would be there. If he can get rid of this darkness that Chris sees looming over him for the death of his mother. It was a long time ago but Chris doesn’t know that his mother has been dead for over two years. The class is starting now. Unexpectedly, Jun sits not with her friends, or any other guy who likes her, but with Lenny. For that class they are going to be partners. They will be critiquing each other’s writing. Hopefully for her, Lenny stops staring into her eyes and at her badly written essay. She is good at everything except for writing. She looks like her sister, mostly. Her brown eyes are lighter than Lupe’s. Her face is a little more playful. Her hair is longer and she dyed it, making it her blonde hair a dark shade of brown. She has a faint inch long scar on her right cheek. This small “imperfection” makes her seem a lot more attractive than her sister at least to Lenny. Luckily Lenny is able to read the paper and fix the extensive errors in it instead of staring at her for the entire period. The mistakes in her paper range from misspellings, to grammatical errors, to not even staying on the topic. Lenny likes writing and it is easy to see where she is trying to go with it.
She looks nervous. “Are you okay?” Lenny asks her.
“Um… yeah I’m fine. Just thinking about this.” Jun answers
“Okay, you’re fine now, with the writing I mean.” She nods her head. Now that he is done helping her with the paper, he cannot think of anything to talk about. He decides that now is a good a time as any to ask her out. “You want to see a movie some time?” He notices the shock on her face.
She was taken by surprise. No one else could hear what he just said. After a few moments the thought that she might say no dawned on him. “Sure. I wouldn’t mind seeing a movie with you.” She looks at his face as though it was the first time she ever did that. “It’ll have to be any day besides today.”
That is perfect for him; he needs some rest. Chris finally strolls into the class late. He glances at Lenny for a split second then at Jun for the same amount of time. He nods his head as though he found out something. Chris knew that Lenny has been crushing on this same girl since before they even knew each other. Chris starts thinking about himself being married to Lupe and Lenny being married to Jun. Like that’ll happen, Chris thinks to himself. He wouldn’t mind being Lenny’s brother. He could be with Lupe maybe. He just isn’t sure he likes her that much. Maybe I’m just not attracted to Lupe, Chris thinks.
Chris slowly walks passed Lenny while quietly saying, “I won’t ruin this for you man.” Lenny blushes and looks away from Jun.
Class is over in about thirty minutes. In fourth period all they have to do is watch a documentary about the wars that America has been in. The class already saw it so most of the class, including Lenny, falls asleep. When they wake up it is time for lunch. The cafeteria is big enough to fit the student body of three entire schools in it and still have enough room for at least another hundred people. However, this school decides to have two lunch periods. Chris and Lenny go to the first one. They get their lunches and a drink from the vending machine. They sit at a table in the far right corner of the lunch room. They put on ear phones and listen to some Linkin Park. For a few minutes they sit still and let the music go through them. That’s when a tray of spaghetti hits Chris’ directly in the face. It goes just passed Lenny’s shoulder.
His eyes are closed so nothing gets in them. He gets mad but calms himself down quickly and wipes the food off his face. He looks over Lenny’s shoulder for the person who threw the food. Lenny still has his eyes closed and music blasting in his ears. Chris makes a move and Lenny opens his eyes. “What the hell happened to you? You can’t be that hungry. Did you eat breakfast?” Lenny asks rhetorically. He looks back at the guy who threw the food. It was Sean Castle, a big burly black kid that starts trouble anyway he can also the biggest guy in school. He’s not fat either. It’s mostly muscle. Lenny sighs. “You need any help?”
“Just knock down anyone who tries to interfere.” Chris answers happily. He is bored anyway. No teachers are around and even if they were they wouldn’t care about a fight. Chris walks over to Lard with Lenny at least five footfalls away. “Do you like getting trashed by someone smaller than you?” Sean stands up... Chris has to look up to meet his gaze. “I keep forgetting how big you are. Wait, did you get taller?” Chris asks mockingly but the question is genuine.
“You want more sauce with that, Lone?” someone shouts stupidly. He throws a punch and it hits Chris right in the gut. Chris doubles over and Lenny starts to walk away. He knows that Chris can handle the fighting at this point. “See he’s just a weakling.” The same person shouts.
“Hey, where do you think you’re going?” Sean asks Lenny.
“I’m going to finish my lunch.” He slightly turns to face Sean, “Are you sure you want to worry about me?” He is right to ask because Sean does not see it coming. One second he is standing stupidly looking at Lenny and thinking about the question he just asked; the next he is on the floor holding his head in pain. His head hits the edge of the table. There is a dark bruise on his forehead right above his right eye.
“You put yourself in this position big guy.” Chris explains, after beautifully executing one of the simplest moves he knows: the scissor kick as Chris calls it. It brings a person down by using your legs to get the joints in another person’s legs to give way and have the person fall forward. It was easy to do in this situation. Chris was already near the floor so all he had to do was catch Lard’s legs and bring him down. He gets in his face for a few seconds, looks up and says, “That was a nice punch though,” He sneers sarcastically. “Anyone else?” Chris does not usually brag about his fighting skills, but these guys need to know not to mess with him anymore. He puts Sean in a headlock and thinks of something to say but can’t. He is still angry but he calms himself and lets go of Sean. He proudly walks over to eat his lunch as everyone in the lunch room stares for five more seconds before going back to what they were doing. There is still spaghetti in Chris’s hair. He says nothing to Lenny, not because he walked away in a fight which does not really matter, but because he is still thinking about the death of Lenny’s mother. When he is done eating, he goes to the bathroom to wash it out of his hair.
For the rest of the day nothing eventful happens. Last period is over and students are being dismissed.
“You need to give me a ride to the hospital Lenny.” Chris tells him.
“Okay, I know.”
They ride Lenny’s motorcycle to the hospital where they find Tamera getting out of a stretched limo. Chris says nothing to her while he takes off Lenny’s second helmet and gets off of the motorcycle. She gives him a blank stare as Lenny drives to the other side of the complex. No one says anything to them as they get in the elevator because them being here is routine. They are in the elevator when Tamera finally says, “I heard about Lenny’s mother. It must be hard on his brother having been with her all this time.”
“Yeah.” He responds. He can speak with her unlike any other girl he knows. He realizes this only now. He knows why he runs when Lupe talks to him now. He likes Tamera, which is a sudden and crazy realization to him. It comes out of nowhere and he gets nervous all of a sudden. He heard a small noise. When he looked up at her, he took a mental picture of her; she was crying. He never saw this. It was reasonable though. He heard that her parents died in some type of accident.
To Chris, this was starting to feel like the longest elevator ride ever. That’s because he is looking at her beautiful face too long to notice that Tamera is pressing all of the buttons. Her middle finger is two inches from pressing the big red EMERGENCY SHUTDOWN button when Chris catches her arm. He looks closely at her face directly into her eyes. They are distant like her soul has been sucked out of her. Suddenly, something like a spark shows in her eyes. They widen and Chris is flying into the wall of the elevator. “No!” Tamera screams. Before Chris can even register what happened she is on him pummeling his face with her fists, screaming at the top of her lungs.
“Tamera stop!” he yells. All he can do right now is guard his face until he regains his senses and catches both of her hands. Her tears are wetting his shirt now. She struggles for a few seconds. Now her arms go limp. She sit on his stomach sobbing.
“Help me. Help me. Help me. Help…” her voice is barely above a whisper. If they were not this close he wouldn’t hear her.
He stands her up. She is trembling. “Its okay, Tammy. I understand.” He knows he is able to calm her down. The trembling stopped. The two of them stand close. Chris brings her head against his chest for a few seconds. She is breathing normally when she pulls away.
“I… I’m sorry Chris.” She gets her bag off of the floor. She takes out a tissue and wipes Chris’ forehead with it. He feels a sharp stinging pain just above his right eye. He takes the tissue and pats around his face flinching when he hits his left cheek, nose (it’s surprisingly not broken), and a spot near his temple. “This is the first time I hit some – “
“Don’t worry,” he interrupts patting her head, “I went through much more pain than this with my father.” He put the bloody tissues in his pockets. They finally make it to Tabitha’s floor. Chris was expecting her to be in her room waiting patiently. “She decided to take a walk?” She shouldn’t be walking around right now, He thinks.
“I can guess where she is,” Tamera mumbles.
“So she’s not just in the bathroom?”
“Come on Chris.” Tamera snatches his hand and drags him toward the stairwell. She lets go of his hand feeling a rush of embarrassment thinking back to the elevator. Chris just follows her up the stairs. The roof? He is worried about Tabitha. She shouldn’t be walking by herself for another two weeks. At least that’s what she told him. When they reach the top floor they do not see anyone and keep going. Now they are at the roof. Chris sees Tabitha at the gate that lines the edges. She is holding the gate tightly. Chris knows that there is something wrong. “Taby, what are you doing up here?”
Chris sees Tabitha’s face after she turns around. She looks a little annoyed. There is a silhouetted figure about thirty feet away from her. It is hard to see anything passed Tabitha because of the sun set. The figure gets closer. When it gets close enough, Chris can make out his friend Lenny approaching. There is something different about him though.
“Chris, leave. You two don’t have to do this now. You’re still injured.”
When Lenny gets close enough to Chris his eyes open widely and he throws one of the fastest punches he has ever seen. Luckily Chris is faster but, a foot is instantly engraved into his chest. He is knocked on his back and has spontaneously come to the realization that this is not Lenny.
Chris remembers when he and Lenny first met. It was last year on the third day of school. There were a group of idiots skipping classes. He saw them when he glanced out of a window that pretty much showed the entire campus. He wondered why they were there when suddenly they were met by a slender kid about the same height as he was. The kid made a few gestures and started walking into an alley. To Chris, it seemed like an old movie; one guy against six guys. The thing was he knew what would happen and how quickly it would happen. This guy needed help and Chris was bored. “Ms. Browne, can I go to the restroom?” he asked his teacher. She made a face that seemed to mean something like “Sure, go ahead,” or for this teacher, “do you really need to ask me? Just remember to come back.”
Of course, he was not really going to the bathroom. He snuck under door windows and slid across walls in order to stay unnoticed, at least until he got to that boy. When he was outside, he heard them immediately. “So you really want it Torch? It could just be a bunch one on ones. Like a ‘Fight Club’.”
“Ha. I can take all six of you at once. Come at me.” The boy answered.
“Alright, get’em!” One shouted with a wicked smile.
This will not end well for him unless I step in, Chris thought. However, when Chris turned the corner that led to the back of the gym he saw that the boy was able to hold his own against those guys. That was until someone took out a knife. The boy got small cuts across his shirt because he was barely able to avoid the kid’s slow movements. It wasn’t going to last though. That’s not fair at all and he’s not moving fast enough, Chris thought. He got in the mix just in time. The boy was about to be stabbed in the back when Chris kicked the knife out of the delinquent’s hand. “Come on now that’s not fair.” He sneered mockingly.
“Shit, its Lone we’ve got to get out of here.” One of the punks said. Everyone looked at Chris for two seconds and started running except for the boy.
“I… I didn’t need your help. I know what I’m doing.” The boy sucked his teeth and started to walk away.
Before he could turn the corner, Chris cheerfully said, “Hey my name is Chris. What’s yours?”
The kid said faintly “Lenny,” before heading for the nurse’s office. Chris didn’t see Lenny until the following day when lunch started and Lenny sat alone with nothing to eat.
Chris brings himself back to the present. This is Kenny that just kicked him down. Lenny cannot move that fast. Lenny never wanted Chris to see Kenny. Now he knows why. Kenny always wanted to fight Chris. He wants to be his rival. He can tell and this is pretty much the only explanation for what he's doing. Chris picks himself up just in time to block two things: a punch to the gut and a punch to the face. He throws Kenny to the floor hard but, he gets up. “My brother did say you knew what you're doing.” He admits.
Tabitha, Tamera, and Lenny, who is just now rushing out of the door that leads to the top floor, are mesmerized by the two. It seems like an even fight to the three of them. A nurse comes to the roof but makes no attempt to stop the fight. In fact she is enjoying it. No one says anything. This was the plan. She'll make sure they’re okay after the fight.
“Why do we have to fight now?” Chris asks calmly, “can we do this somewhere else at some other time?”
“And risk the chance of getting some random large audience. No way. Fight me!” he charges at Chris.
I will end this now then, Chris thinks. He gets into a horse stance and puts a good amount of strength into his arms. He clenches his fists and throws two punches. Both fists land on Kenny’s chest with just enough power to knock the wind out of him. He falls to his knees slowly in front of Chris holding himself tightly.
A few hours pass…
Chris is quietly standing in a corner playing a Game Boy Advance. He has no idea how to react to meeting Kenny the way he did. Tabitha is giving Kenney water. Lenny is acting like he’s making a phone call. Tamera is sitting quietly staring out of a window.
“What kind of punch was that?” Kenny asks sorely.
“Something I wouldn’t use against a weak person.” Chris answers, admittedly.
“Is that your weird way of complimenting someone?” To everyone besides from Tabitha the fight ended too fast to say anything, but she is still thinking about it. “It’s alright Taby.” Kenny says, reading her expression.
“Kenny, why would you try that? I told you, you would lose against him.” Lenny says coldly. He is still looking miserable about his mother’s death. That's what Chris is thinking at least. The truth is he is just tired but he will wait a while before telling Chris what happened.
Chris thinks about what's happened and gets extremely angry, “Okay, I want some answers. How do you know my sister and what were you doing up there with her?” Chris commands angrily. Everyone laughs at his questions.
“Tammy, how are things going with this guy?” Kenny simply avoids the question
She smiles slightly and says, “I don’t need to answer that.”
“You should. It’s obvious he loves you.” Kenny explains coolly. Both Tamera and Chris turn their heads, embarrassed.
Chris is furious now. Rage is dripping from his voice “How do you know my sister?” He asks again.
“Isn’t it obvious? We’re going out.”
“What do you mean ‘going out’? She lives in a hospital!” Chris is looking at Tabitha. “What is he talking about?”
Chris turns to Lenny who puts his phone in his pocket, “you knew about this?” He asks.
Everyone sits silently then Tamera tells Chris how it started, why they hid it from him. When she starts to talk about what happened last night Lenny steps in. “I lied… I’m sorry… My mother died four years ago… it was for them.”
“You could have told me about this! You wouldn't have had to bring something like that up. I wouldn’t have been –“
“Yes you would have Chris!” Tabitha shouts, “You’d hate for there to be anyone else who can hurt me emotionally. You want to be the only one who can do that. I don’t need you to protect me I’m older than you.” Tabitha says.
“What do you mean protect you? I don’t understand why you couldn’t tell me.” Chris feels defeated but he refuses to show it.
Kenny stops Tabitha from answering by putting his finger over his lips. “You wouldn’t have accepted it. It’s not that I cared; I need you to have a reason to fight me. It was for her. She thought that you would be more separated from her. I don’t really like it. You do not deserve a sister like her. She actually is protecting you, being the only family you have.” Now he shows his defeat. A tear slides down his face. It is only one, but he might as well be a waterfall. “Did I hit a nerve? Well I’ll do some more damage." He says, pausing for dramatic effect. "Do you understand how much you need her?” Kenny yells, “she will not always be around to –“
“I get it!” Chris interjects.
“No you don’t Chris. You don’t even know your sister.” Kenny shouts.
Chris stares out of the window blankly for about a minute. He slowly turns around and walks out of the room. He picks up his speed as he reaches the stairwell; he doesn't even look at the elevator. Tamera runs after him. She loses him for a second because he is moving so fast. “Chris," she is out of breath and she can't feel her legs. "Chris, wait. You need to talk to her,” she falls twisting her ankle. “Damn it! Hold on Chris.”
He hears her fall. “What do you think you’re doing?” He goes back up the stairs to pick her up. He sees that her ankle is twisted. "Were you trying to help me? What can you do when you can’t even help yourself?" He laughs a little.
“What do you think you’re doing? Go back to her!” Tamera yells.
Chris carries her up the stairs piggy back. “I know that. It’s just that Taby, I’ve been there for her for as long as I can remember. If someone else is there, what can I do for her? She is my sister.”
They have ten more flights to go. “You don’t have to do anything for her… I’m here. I can honestly say I love you.” This time, they do not feel embarrassed by it at all. “We’ll all work this out. I’m want to say that… that one day we’ll look back at this situation and laugh about it… but I really doubt that will happen. I think that we will want to forget this little incident.” She pushes her head into his back. She drifts off again.
“I love you too Tamera.” Chris understands how essential it is for him to have someone like Tamera.
The finally reach Tabitha’s floor. After everything is straightened out, everyone sits in silence.
December 25th 2005…
Everything looks normal. Tabitha is reading her book. Tamera is looking out a window. Kenny is talking about how he will beat Chris next time. The only difference is that Chris has a truck to drive. Everyone is in it except for Lenny who is on his motorcycle that sped up the street. All Chris thinks about are the words that ended the discussion they had. It was Kenny who ended it. “Just accept it,” he said.
Everyone decides to go to the mall and watch a movie. The doctors let Tabitha out of the hospital for a few weeks. When they get to the mall it is quite a sight. People who know them would not expect to see Kenny, Lenny, and Chris together. No one will mess with them today.
It seems to Chris that everyone has already forgotten what happened that day. Either that or no one wants to bring it up again.
© Copyright 2016 Hanif Tariq Ballard. All rights reserved.
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