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  1. Chapter 16: ~Runway Runaway~ Sitting in the lunchroom cafeteria, the following Monday, directly after Halloween, was a serious case of me being quiet. Everyone around me at my table felt it. I'm sorry. But, I couldn't help it. After everything that happened at my house the previous night, sitting next to Liam, glancing over at Sascha who took peeks at me, and feeling Antonio's identical quiet energy made everyone wonder what was on my mind, including him. Jessica.... the girl that I had just, learned 2 days prior, who she really was in regards to her true relationship with Jesse Bradford, at our school dance, made me completely unsure of how I should properly address the entire situation. I knew; I now knew who she was, or used to be anyway. I knew she was Jesse's ex-girlfriend & was the primary reason for me being such a merciless target for him all this time. I didn't want to sit with her, yet, I didn't want to loose her as a friend. That would also make me loose Sarah. I really couldn't do much about it. The first to speak was actually Jessica. "Is everything okay, guys? What's up?" She asked, sipping her water in between bites of her sandwich. "NOTHING!" Liam, Antonio, and I blurted out loud. This made her and Sarah look at us with widened eyes as though our reaction was a bit over the top. Yeah. Real smooth. I'm sure they don't suspect a thing, now. Sarah replied, "Oookayyy." And scrunched her mouth and nose as though our reaction was unusual and also probably didn't even want to know what the issue was. We continued to all eat in silence after the three of us looked at each other, before we did. "Sorry I'm late." Jamie said and placed his tray next to Sarah. "My English teacher wanted me to stay a bit for some extra help. Sorry I missed last night. Anything cool or exciting happen?" He asked, nonchalantly. I spoke. "NOO. What makes you say that? Why ask that? Nothing happened. Nothing." I said. This made him mimick Sarah's facial expressions as he looked at her with a wide mouth. They both shrugged, mentally communicating as if they were like "I don't know what the hell is going on, either." In between my lunch, which I barely ate mind you, I heard some giggles and mindless chatter in between Jesse and his friends. Sascha was zoned out. Honestly, knowing them, they were probably making fun of someone. I could tell Sascha wasn't into it that day. In fact. As more time went by, he seemed to get more & more annoyed at their mindless chatter. Finally, I saw him get up sharply, causing Jesse to look at him almost shocked, and Sascha darted to the trashcan and threw the rest of his lunch away and left the lunchroom. Everyone, who knew him well anyway, looked at his actions and watched him leave. He didn't even say goodbye to his friends. He just left. I didn't know why, yet, I'm sure what was on his mind wasn't far off from what was on our minds as well, possibly more, and worse. Who knows? In between my last few classes I got a text. "We need to talk." Sascha said. I snuck my phone in my class and said, "Okay... Uh when?" "Today. Are you free this afternoon?" He responded. "Uh. Yeah. Why?" I asked. "Come to my house." He stated. My eyes widened at that. Sascha wants me to go to his HOUSE? "I don't know where it is." I stated, factually. "Don't worry about it. I'll pay for your Uber both ways. You can only come from 4-6. Stand outside school until 3:30, and they'll pick you up." He said. Hesitantly, I asked, "What's an Uber?" "Oh God, Billy. It's a taxi. For fu++'s sake." He said. "Well I'm sorry! I never took one." I said. "So, you're coming?" He got right back to the point. I contemplated. Did I reeeaaally want to do this? But, my answer was inevitable. "Yeah. I'll go. So, I just wait outside the school main front door by the curb?" "Yeah. I'll text you when it's there." He said. "Okay." I responded, nervously. __________________ After my first Uber ride, I was dropped off at a giant fancy looking house with a curved driveway in the front that was made of expensive looking gray stones. Sascha was inside the main door looking outside. When the Uber left, he came outside, looked around for a moment. Took my hand, and pulled me inside. Walking inside, the first thing I saw at the entrance was a giant chandelier & a large curved stairwell which led up the stairs. Sascha locked the front door and peeked a bit, outside, as though he was looking for something. Then, he turned around and faced me. "Thanks for coming. Do you want a snack?" He asked me. "Sure. Okay." I responded. This was so weird. I was in his HOUSE. It felt even weirder than the very first time he was ever at my house. For some reason, I felt like I was trespassing, even though I was invited. "Okay. Come." He said. He sounded..... different. As I followed him into his kitchen I marveled at the size. I, then, began to examine everything. Everything was spotless. Everything had its place. A perfect fruit bowl, a stainless steel fridge which parted from the middle, and other items which all looked basically brand new. Not that my kitchen was mediocre, by any means, but, his was on another level. As he opened the fridge, I noticed a few things. The entire left side had specialty looking food items, yogurts perfectly place in a row, almond milks, an entire collection of all sorts of fresh veggies, celery, carrots, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, herbs, and fruits were on that side. The other side, however, was full of what one might call 'normal' food items. The right side had cranberry juice, orange juice, regular milk, cheese, ham, bologna, fruit flavored yogurt, etc. Hmmm. Why was everything so... separated? He then pulled out the bottom freezer and it was the same thing, the left side had all health or diet items, and the right side had normal items, like frozen perogies, ice cream, etc. "You can pick anything you want from the right side." He said, nonchalantly. And, grabbed a carrot from the left. "Oh. Same thing with the cabinets, too." I took that lead, served myself a small fancy looking glass of cranberry juice, and walked over to the cabinets. I opened them: each one. And, it was the exact same thing. The cereal cabinet had special looking protein drinks of some kind to the left and normal cereal, maple syrup, honey, jams, jellies, and peanut butter to the right side. I closed that one and opened the one to the right quickly. To the left was a collection load of vitamins and all sorts of pill bottles, all lined up perfectly, and some special looking protein bars. To the right, was what appeared to be imported candies, chocolates, crackers, & cookies. Each cabinet was designed as though an invisible line existed in between them, forbidding one side from touching the other. "I'll be right back." He said. A few moments of looking around he walked in with a liquor glass halfway full of a clear liquid that I thought was water. It wasn't. He drank some and made a sound. Was that... Was that alcohol??! "Sascha... What's that?" I asked him. He spoke "Just some Grey Goose from the bar. Oh, sorry. You want some?" He asked and then took another sip. "Uhmmm no. No thanks." My God. Did his parents even know he drank? "Sascha won't your parents be mad?" I asked him. He giggled an almost annoyed giggle and said, "My father barely cares about anything." He paused, took a sip, and took my hand, "Come. Let's go to my room, now." He said. Why was he like..... talking a little different. It wasn't THAT noticable. But, he didn't sound like that in school, or anywhere for that matter. ________________ After sitting in Sascha's room for about 15 minutes on the edge of his bed with his giant Flat Screen TV playing in the background, I finally spoke. "Sascha, why'd you want me to come here?" He responded by looking at me, got a little closer and pecked my cheek softly. I couldn't help the natural response of me giggling, flirtatiously. After he pulled away softly he looked down, rubbed my leg softly and spoke, "Billy, look. I'm sorry about yesterday. Okay?" He paused and looked around. "I don't really know what came over me. I shouldn't have kissed you like that." "NO! It's okay... Uh. I-I liked it." I said. "I know. I did, too. But, ...we shouldn't be doing this." He said. "Why not??" I said, for some reason, disappointed. He looked down and back up at me. "I'm not stupid Billy. I know." My heart was starting to pound. "You know what?" "I know how you feel about him." He said. "About who??" I said playing dumb. Looking almost irritated at my failed attempt to act, he said, "LIAM." I said nothing, nothing at all. Until I blurted, "I don't know what you talkin' about. Just...just..." I couldn't even come up with the words to deny it all. I was fully surprised, embarrassed, and put on the spot. He gave a sharp grunt and giggle and said, "Jeez, Billy. You don't have to be such a virgin about everything. It's cool. I'm not tellin' anyone. Promise." I really didn't say anything. I just sat there, awkwardly, next to him. I really refused to talk or respond to any of this whatsoever. After another 7 minutes, I asked him a question which had been filling my brain with wonder ever since my mother told me the previous night. "Sascha? Why'd you give my baby brother all of your Halloween candy? You didn't even have any." This caused him to look at the Television with an empty glance. He didn't answer at first and then looked at his lap. "I'm not allowed to have candy." He said. "Really? Oh wow. UHM, do you have like Diabetes or something? Are you okay?" I asked him. He paused again & sadly said, "No. My Papa will not let me." This made me wonder why his father wouldn't let him have even a bit of candy. This also made me begin to correlate this new information with the entire way his kitchen and house was separated. If what I was thinking was true, this was insane. Sascha can't eat or do anything normal? "Why not???" I asked genuinely curious. "Don't you know, Billy?" He said. "Know what?" I questioned. "I'm- I'm a model. Well, actually, they dubbed me child supermodel of the year in August after a show I did." He said. I wasn't really surprised, being how attractive Sascha Konovski was. I was just shocked that this whole time I had known a REAL famous model. I sat there for a moment. "Wowww. That's so neat!! You're like famous!" I said, enthusiastically. Sascha, however, didn't seem to share my energy. "Yeah. I guess I am..." He gazed into nothing, again. "So, like what did you do, or I mean, what DO you do??" I asked. "Sigh. Well, let's see. I've done a good handful of commercials, mainly as a Pantene representative for their shampoo & conditioner line, I've done a few runway shows for J-Crew kids, I've been on 3 of their billboards, I've modeled for Abercrombie & Fitch kids, and I've been in other commercials as well. I've done swimwear modeling, swimwear shows and my father wants me to be an actor and is pushing that as hard as he can. He pushes me very much. I'm only allowed to eat certain things, right before a show or gig, especially. I can only eat certain exact things, at certain times. Before a show, they won't even sometimes allow me to drink anything 8 hours before to make sure I don't retain any water. They all take it very seriously. They want me perfect. They want my body perfect. They want perfection. When it comes to these things, that's all they care about." He explained to me. I wasn't only shocked at how impressive his resume was, but, I admired his strict nature. However, I also felt that he deserved to be NORMAL, sometimes, too. "Well, that's really cool and all, but, don't you ever just, sometimes, maybe, want a break from all that stuff?" I knew it probably wasn't exactly my place. But, I truly felt that my question had some merit. He nodded and, then, shook his head slowly, as if my question struck a core within him. He turned to me, slowly, and said "All the time." Silence entered the conversation, until I, then, had an idea. "Hey! Do you have any like clips of anything you did?" He laughed, somewhat of a girly laugh and said, as he whipped some of the hair from his eyes, "Yeah I do. My parents keep document of everything I do. We have it all on hard drive, Icloud, and Blue Ray. I-I guess I could play one of the blue rays for you. It has some snips and tidbits of my work in order." "Yeah, okay!" I said. I was so excited. I was about to see my own friend, SASCHA Ludovic Konovski, in real commercials! He got up, opened a specially placed cabinet in his room, and placed one of the Blue Rays inside of the Blue Ray player. It started off with a Pantene commercial that you would normally see on TV. I supposed his family received and collected recordings of everything he did and was a part of. At first, I didn't see him. It was a male in his thirties, with dark hair, a beautiful woman followed walking along the grass and her hair flowing in the wind. But, then I saw him! He was the last one. He had a school as the background and did a flirtatious turn as his long hair luxuriously swirved around him as he faced the camera and Sascha said, playfully and seductively, "Pantene..." And, the commercial cut to a white background, the logo written in black text and an image of the new shampoo & conditioner line that the company was advertising as a woman spoke in a whisper to end the commercial and finishing Sascha's sentence, "The one for everyone...." And, the clip ended. Wow I thought. I smiled. "That was GREAT!" He laughed a small laugh, maybe feeling a little embarrassed that I was watching all this. But, he did respond with, "Thanks." We sat there at the edge of his bed; it had been a good half an hour of me seeing clips of Sascha's professional modeling work. I, then, realized something. "Hey. Technically, ain't you an actor since you been in commercials?" "Hmmm. You know, I never really thought of that. I guess, TECHNICALLY, you're right. You're smarter than you look." I gasped and put my hand on my chest, "Are you saying I look dumb?" "I didn't say it. YOU did." He said with a sly, evil grin and shoved my side. I gave him a playful shove back which was even harder. "My Papa wants me on the big screen either for a show that he's trying to have me casted in or a movie. I have an agent who's trying to find me a role." After a while of me watching some more of Sascha's work, he went to use the restroom. As he was away, the Blue Ray cut to a clip of a Runway Show. It was a very big event from the looks of it. Then, I heard Sascha, from his doorway, dramatically say, "NO. NO. NO. Don't watch that!!!!" And, ran to the bed frantically looking for the remote. Little did he know that I was sitting on it and I had no intention of telling him where it was as my curiosity burned within me from what he was trying to hide. Then, I saw it. My mouth slowly hung low as I saw Sascha cover his face next to me leaving just a small area for his eyes to be able to peek through his hands from embarrassment of what I was about to see. It was Sascha's turn on the runway. This was apparently a very prestigious swimwear runway show. And he walked a very powerful walk as his hair flowed perfectly behind him with upbeat sounding music which was in exact synch with his steps. He was sporting a shiny white speedo with one perfect diagonal red stripe going down the front at an angle and was an inch in thickness to the design of the red accent to the swimwear that he was showcasing for whatever company designed it. His skin was perfectly shiny, glistening, & tanned; he looked absolutely perfect. Everyone in the show instantly turned to him as he walked more confidently than anyone I had ever seen before. The look of power on his face as he stepped onto the very edge of the stage was that of an animal walking towards it's prey ready to take a bite for its very own snack. He was obviously the main attraction, at that point, as a bunch of photographers went to him, as close as they possibly could, in order to capture the moment in its entirety and snap as many pictures as they could. He, then, stopped at the very edge, spread his legs a little, with a strong stance, lifted his head, then, did a playful turn around, and turned his head backwards to face the audience and had a playful grin as he glanced at them all. He stood there for a moment, allowing them to take more pictures of his choreographed pose. Then, he walked back to where he originally came from, towards the beginning of the runway in the back, as the next girl, who followed him afterwards, began to walk out with her own routine. It didn't take any explanation, whatsoever, for me to realize that this was the show that he was explaining to me earlier which took place in August that ultimately deemed him as Child supermodel of the year. "Oh my God." I said. Sascha was still covering his face a little. "Sascha.... You're..." I didn't have words, yet. But, I then, realized just how strong of a person he really was. He didn't NEED Jesse Bradford or Michael Smith at all, or really anyone in our school for that matter. He didn't need many things in his life that were just... slowing him down and holding him back. He was a force of nature all on his own; he just simply needed to realize that, be confident, & be set free. "That was amazing." I said to him. He didn't say anything at first. But, he responded, respectfully, with a, "Thank you." We both giggled a bit and, then, we stopped, immediately. *SLAM* I had never seen Sascha's eyes open as widely as they did right after the slam of their large main door that we heard, coming from downstairs. He sharply turned to me and said, "It's my father.' He looked down at the floor, gazing his eyes back and fourth at nothing, contemplating as quickly as he possibly could, on what he should do. He, then, looked up at me, took my hand, & said, "Come." He literally pulled me off of his bed and lead me to his curved, long stairwell. We both sped down the stairs and stopped, as a man dressed in a special, grey coat, black pants, sporting a greying mustache and slight beard, with eyes just as piercing as Sascha's. In fact, that was the only thing they genetically shared in regards to their physical appearance. I didn't have to meet his mother, yet. I already knew Sascha got all of his looks from her, except his eyes and eye brow ridge. They were absolutely his father's. As I stopped in my tracks about 2/3 down the stairwell and his father was looking at me from the first floor, Sascha slowly walked to the main floor. The man nudged his head in my direction and spoke to Sascha in a very deep voice speaking in Russian. After he spoke, Sascha looked at me and, then, turned back to him with a serious look and spoke to him in Russian saying something very strongly. The man looked back up at me and nodded his head furrowing his brow and frowning, almost in approvement. He paused and, then, he spoke to me in an extremely thick, raspy Russian accent. He opened his hands out and said, "Dees' house, you're house. Anyzzingg you Vaaant you ask Sascha, he will give. You may have. Yezz?" I nodded and said, "Oh alraggt. Thank you, sir." "Izz my pleasure." He responded as he put his hands up, palms facing me, in order to emphasize what he was saying. He eventually walked away, beginning to dial a number on his phone to make a call. Sascha looked at me with a wide mouth at first and, then, we both giggled. Whew. That was close.... I felt as though I had just dodged an extremely dangerous tornado that could have swept me away. We walked back upstairs. After sitting in his room for another 2 minutes I asked him, "What did you tell him?" He hesitated. "Well..." Sascha began. "He asked me who you were....." He didn't finish. So, I said, "Okayyyyyy. Annnd?" wanting to know what the rest of the conversation entailed. He winced. "I kindaaaaa told him you're one of my best friends.". He stopped. "And, he mayyy think you're in our group." I gasped. "Why would you tell him that!?" "I didn't know what else to say! I was on the spot. You don't know my Dad." He said. "I have another question... Okay? Why are you like taking a little different, here? You have like... I don't know something different to your voice." I said. He didn't say anything at first. "Billy...... If I show you this you have to SWEAR you'll never tell ANYONE, not even Liam." He said. "Oh, uhm okay. What is it??" I asked, genuinely curious as to what he was going on about. Jeez, what else? I thought. He paused, seriously debating whether or not he even wanted to do what he was about to do. He took a deep sigh, closed his eyes, and said, "Deez is what I rrreally sound like." Wait.... what? Oh my god. Sascha had like a full on Russian accent! I couldn't even believe it. I wasn't mad or anything. To be honest, I actually kind of... liked it. It 'added' something to him. It was like an extra flavor of who he was. "But, how you able to hide it so well??" I asked him. "It's called acting, Billy." He paused. He was talking, now, how he did in school, again. "You know how people can put on a really good UK accent? That's kinda what I do. I was taught to talk fully how Americans do. But, all day everyday, I force myself to talk, 'normally'. I'm real good at it. But, it gets really tiring, sometimes. If not, most of the time. Sometimes, by the end of the day, my mouth and throat hurt. Funny. My father wants me to be an actor.... Yet, I act all day in real life." "Why would you do that???" I asked almost annoyed. He gave me an annoyed look and said, "Have you met Jesse Bradford?" He had a point. "It's also for money, too. My aunt, my father's sister, controls half my earnings, being that she got me my agent and all my connections in the first place. She knew my father would use all my money before I legally could control it when I'm 18. So, she made a deal with him, either she gets half to save for me, or he gets nothing at all. So, now my Papa works me twice as hard to make up for what he doesn't get. To be honest, I'm getting sick of it all. Sometimes, I just want to run away from the whole damn thing. I'm tired of putting on a fuc++ng show for everyone all the time." I couldn't believe that. That's terrible. "But... But, you should be proud of yourself! And, you should be proud of who you are. Also, if you gotta hide and be fake especially for Jesse, why are you even FRIENDS with him, anyway???" I asked him the same question Liam did the previous night. ......... I got no response. Until he said, "You'll laugh at me. Don't ask me that." He was avoiding eye contact with me & trying to find something to distract and redirect the entire situation. "No. Come on, Sascha. What's goin' on? Tell me!" I said, anxiously. Something was happening. Something was wrong. Something was going on and I wanted to know what it was, already! I knew, since the day that I first saw him walk into my homeroom class with that white shirt with the black cat on it that he was wearing after my unusual dream, when he looked at me, that something was going on with him and I wanted to know what it was. He looked down in deep thought. He, then, finally looked up at me and looked directly into my eyes. "...I love him." I sat still, completely still. "Oh..."
  2. Chapter 15: ~The Deadly Medley~ A few minutes after we settled on a movie to watch, particularly, Donny & I who chose it, I heard my Momma. *Thunk Thunk Thunk* Hearing her footsteps go from the first floor to the basement, where we all were, for some reason, gave me anxiety. Actually, there were many reasons. She appeared with a warm grin and a tray full of 4 glasses, filled with homemade lemonade, and a giant silver colored bowl full of popcorn. "Here ya' go, kids!" "Maaaaaa." I said in a little whiny tone, insinuating how I, one time, told her that I didn't want to be called 'kids' in front of any friends of mine, even though, the reality was, in the grand scheme of things, we were all still kids, just growing kids. "Ahem." She said looking at me and getting the hint. "Ahh' made you some snacks GUYS." she said, correcting her statement as she settled the tray down on the coffee table in front of us. The first to thank her was actually Sascha. "Thank you, miss." He said looking up at her. She stopped what she was doing, a little surprised at his manors, given his 'history' and said "You-You quite welcome, young man." and gave him a surprised little grin. Well, that was a start to her warming up to him. After she had gone, we began the movie to watch on Tubi. I mean, the movies were free. The movie we settled on was actually not a scary one, but, one we never saw before, but, was the winner of the night which caught my attention called, "Logan" starring Leo Howard. After watching the movie for a while I, at first, heard a few complaints and whines about the movie's plot from Sascha & even Liam, but, hey, no offense but, I thought the main character was cute. And, I related to him SOOO much. He was quiet, and didn't think much of himself, got bullied by one really mean bully, was secretly starting to write a movie which no one in the movie believed he could actually acconplish, leaving him feeling alone, frustrated, isolated, and secluded, even though he did have some support. I just loved his character so much. I related to him in almost every single way. In many ways, I WAS him. His older brother was a good character and actor as well who supported him, for the most part, anyway. 40 minutes into the movie, however, is when it got really good. Lots of drama, angst, and I really liked where the movie was going. Donny never complained. He was better than that. Then, I heard it. "Pass the popcorn, PLEASE." Sascha said. That's the first time I saw him take any initiative to eat anything that evening, which I couldn't help but think was a bit odd, but I ignored it, entirely, nonetheless. Liam had the giant bowl of popcorn on his lap at the time. So, to my peripheral vision, I saw, to my left, him reach over me and shove it on Sascha's lap. It not only looked like it could have hurt, but it spilled popcorn on his pants and on the floor. "HEYY." Sascha said. "Watch it. What's your PROBLEM?" Liam slowly turned his head making us all feel his energy and said, "You know what my problem is." Oh my God. I really didn't want any of this. I was starting to really like this movie. "I'm just sitting here." His ex-friend said. "Yeah for now, until you pull some crap." Liam retorted under his breath. Sascha didn't reply, TRYING to hold back any remarks he normally could have so easily made if I wasn't there; but I could tell he really wanted to say something. He actually didn't want to start anything.... Or continue anything, for that matter. I partially believed it was because of me & maybe, even for Donny. That could have just been my imagination. But, I don't think it was. I was forced to rewind it as their little banter interrupted the film. We continued to watch and I was really starting to love this movie. I looked to my left, and I saw Liam just glare at the screen. I spoke, finally. Leaning into his ear, I said "Liam can we just.... Enjoy the movie, please?" He huffed and spoke, "You don't even know what he PUT me through." Liam said to me in a low voice and then glared at Sascha. "Oh, shutup. Youu KNOW how he is." Sascha said, me not entirely understanding what they were talking about, but assuming it was when Sascha lied about Liam pulling a knife on him to get him in trouble. "No, YOU SHUTUP." Liam retorted and hit his arm, softly. Then, they started to actually fight, sublty, as I was sitting right in between them getting, accidently, jabbed a few times with their forearms and elbows from their subtle hits and jabs. Some of them actually hurt me a bit. Antonio, immediately paused the movie and looked at them and spoke, "Guys.... Guys stop it." He said, concerned. He didn't like this; he didn't like this at all. You could just tell he wasn't used to seeing such things or was raised this way. They weren't stopping and I got out of their way to sit next to my bestie to sheild myself. I didn't know what to do. Oh my god. Oh my god. They were.... They were going to fight. They were going to fight right in my own house!!!! My family couldn't know this and Donny was WATCHING it all. I couldn't even remotely hide this from him. What could I do??? Nothing. "Eghh ugh... you- you know he made me..." Sascha said in between their fighting. They continued to fight and Liam got him in a head lock, not hurting him, but, dominating him. I HATED seeing my friends doing this to each other. They both meant alot to me. "Yeah right. You're so full of it." Liam said. "UGHHHHHHH. GEt OFF me." Sascha lashed at him and pushed him hard. That's the Sascha I knew and saw before. "He MADE ME DO THAT... Don't you get on me about that. Don't you GET IT?!" He said. Silence. Liam paused for a moment and spoke. "...What?" Liam stopped for a moment, catching his breath. ".... Stop pretending like you don't know the truth." "Spill it." Liam said as he jabbed Sascha hard in the arm. Now, that one looked like it hurt. ".....You know how he is." Sascha hissed at him. I knew he meant Jesse Bradford.... Who wouldn't know that? "You're still not spelling it out for me." Liam retorted. "Oh, God. Liam. He-He....." Sascha looked at all of us before he spoke, embarrassed and debating whether or not he should spill the beans for the very first time. "He- he threatened me..." He paused. "He made me mess with you, you IDIOT." He spat at Liam so coldly, it was as if pure ice poured from his mouth. Liam paused, thinking for a moment. "Then, why didn't you TELL ME, you retard." He responded. Silence for a moment filled the air. Then, Sascha said, "He said if I told anyone he'd beat me &... Worse. Stop acting like this is a surprise, Liam. You've known him for two years longer than I even have." "THEN, WHY ARE YOU EVEN STILL FRIENDS WITH HIM!!?" Liam yelled, making a very valid point. Sascha, immediately, looked forward with an empty look. It was hallow. No response. Until, then, he said softly, "Don't." The movie was still paused. "Don't, WHAT?" Liam said, impatiently at that point. Sascha responded, once again very softly, "Don't ask me that." Looking to my right, I almost couldn't help but find Donny's reaction to all of this a bit comical. The look of shock on his face was one with widened eyes as his mouth was unwillingly opened. He looked like he was watching two people fighting over a plate of burnt pasta to see who earned the right to eat it. It was almost ridiculous that he was even watching this right in front of his very own emerald green eyes and seeing just how much I was in the middle of it all, both literally & figuratively. He was seeing, first hand, just a glimpse of what I have been hiding from him the entire time he had known me. He was beginning to see my secrets. My cheeks were burning red. It was actually starting to annoy me. This was EMBARRASSING. I, unfortunately, had to use the restroom. I didn't want to leave Antonio alone with them. But, I literally had to go. We'd all been out for a while and it had been a while since I went. "I need to use the bathroom." I said to Antonio and held his forearm, almost reassuring him everything would be okay. I looked into his emerald eyes and I could tell he was confused and nervous as to what was really going on. I got up, decided not to use the restroom which was downstairs, but, the one on the first floor. Honestly, I did so just to get a break from it all. After I was done, I ran into my mother as my father was already asleep. "Havin' fun, sweetie?" She said, nonchantly, putting some things in the fridge and organizing the cereal cabinet for the following morning. "Yeah!" I lied. "Thanks for the snacks ma' they love 'em." I said with a grin: the fakest one I could muster to hide what had been occuring just one story down. Luckily, we had a pretty good sound proof door to the basement. "That's good. Not too much longer. 'bout 45 minutes, okay?" "Okay, mah sure thing thank you!" I said and darted quickly through the kitchen and ran to the basement door. I closed it and, instantly heard ruckus and slight yelling. After I ran down the stairs, I came to see Liam and Sascha standing to the far left of the basement 'living room' near the wall, literally fighting. Not violently, not YET, anyway. But, it was getting heated. I couldn't really tell what they were talking about, but, I just sat next to Donny and held his hand. Donny gave them a look almost as though he was about ready to leave. He looked genuinely concerned and downright scared. I stared at the movie which was STILL paused, the movie I was trying to watch with my four friends. I remembered how badly the Logan kid felt. That's when I felt it. My blood boiled. That was it. The volcano from everything I had been through was about to erupt. And, may the Lord be with whoever got in my way. I darted up from my seat, and literally got in between them and shoved Liam SO hard away from Sascha that he almost fell and glared directly into his eyes with a dark stare. I, then, pushed Sascha hard enough for him to hit the other wall by accident. "Will YOU BOTH JUST STOP IT!" I screamed. The look everyone gave me and the silence that haunted the room was so quiet it was literally deafening. "I'm so SICK of all o' this this- SHIT!" They NEVER heard me talk like that or use profanity as my parents would never approve. But, I was done. "I'm sick of all the crap in this school. Errbody hatin' each other, tellin' secrets, bein' fake. That's it. YOU'RE ALLLLL FAKE. Why can't everyone just.... Get along and BE HAPPY, for once? You know.... HAPPYYY??? DO any o' you even KNOW what that feels like?! I do. I was happy in Georgia when I had almost basically nothing. And, you know what, I'm SICK of all of you actin' like a bunch o' little babies, hatin' each other and bein' mean for no reason. Most of the kids in school, in my opinion, have lost their minds!!" Silence continued to fill the air as they let me speak, unable to even know how to react to me. "So, both o' you either get along, sit down, SHUT UP, OR LEAVVVVEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!" I hissed at them like a snake would hiss at whoever he was about to poison with his venom. The look they gave me clearly showcased they never expected me to ever act so seriously. But, I was over it. I was ready to defend whoever I felt needed defending, already. My adrenaline kicked in. Maybe, it was the candy that fueled me. Maybe, it was them and everyone who had hurt me in the past. Maybe, it was all of my bullying that I had been hiding for months. Or, maybe it was the deadly medley combination of them all. "Now I'MMM gonna watch my movie with MY best friend. And, you can either watch with us and be normal, or not." I said and walked over to the couch and slammed my back against it next to Antonio, took the giant bowl of popcorn, placed it on my lap, pressed play, and acted as though Liam & Sascha didn't even exist until they made their move. Donny stayed silent and just went along with the movie for the time being as I took his hand, probably out of fear of doing or saying anything else, since this was all, technically, none of his business, and he didn't know what to do, anyway. I was there for him. Technically, I was there for everybody. They could have left. They could have kept fighting. They could have even fought me. But, they didn't. Neither of them wanted to leave me or disappoint me. So, they slowly walked back to the couch and sat next to one another to my left. After more time went by and the movie continued, it got to a point where we all got emotional, the poor kid, Logan felt so horrible after his brother telling him his writing was bad and threw the pages of his script at him out of anger, that he was crying on the couch. After his brother left, he was later found by his older brother when he came home, hanging from a tree. Forget it. I was crying. I was so glad I picked this movie. This was such a LESSON to Sascha and even for Liam in some ways. Do you see? Do you see what bullying or saying the wrong words to the wrong person at the wrong time can do? In the film, for a long while, you thought he was dead and the writers did that on purpose, making me almost want to stop watching. It got too real for me. Then, it showed a recap of his brother saving him just in time where the doctor said two more minutes and he would have been brain dead. He was blue when he found him. My god. He survived. When the movie was over, Donny spoke and sniffed a bit. "Uhh. Billy. I have to go now, my papa, will be mad, it's 9:30 already." He said and gave me a hug. "Oh, I'm sorry. Uhm, thank you for coming." I said and grinned at him. He looked at the other two and simply, and cautiously waved at them. "Goodbye everybody." They were nice to him. Sascha waved goodbye and nicely bid him farewell. "I'll see you in Ms. Lizette's class, Antonio." He said, genuinely. "Yeah. Okay. Maybe, we can make a recipe, together." Donny said positively and even a little smile. "Okay." Sascha replied. "Bye, Donny. Thanks for coming. Sorry about.... Uhm. Just sorry about everything. Goodnight." Liam said. "S'okay." Donny said and walked up the stairs. There were a lot of questions that I knew he needed and wanted answers to from the look he gave me as he walked up the stairs. __________ After watching some random YouTube videos, drinking a few more drinks, Sascha with his "seltzer", and Liam having a curfew at some point, I heard Sascha speak. Actually, he giggled. "What are you laughin' at?" Sascha smiled staring into nothing. "You remember the time we set off those firecrackers under the bleachers, and Jesse almost got hit in the butt from one of 'em and had to run off?" Liam couldn't help, but, giggle, himself. "Of course I do. God, that was the best. It was Mikie's fault. He lit them wrong. I bought 'em, but, he wouldn't listen to me on how to light them right. That kid is more dense than a brick wall." "No, IIIII bought 'em, REMEMBER?" Sascha said as he was now to my right, leaning over to talk to Liam. "NO. I went with you, paid you the cash, you knew the guy and made the deal. So, technically I bought them. You just rang it up." Liam said. "50/50?" Sascha said with a raised eyebrow. "....50/50." Liam said. They both.... Were like laughing. No, actually they were giggling. They way they looked at one another, the way they giggled..... That wasn't like normal giggling. I recognized that. They were... They were .... Then, I noticed them look at one another, mentally communicating with each other, and, then, looking at ME. Then, they looked back at one another. They smiled. And Liam nodded his head at him. I felt a hand on my leg. My right leg had Sascha's hand on it. This made me look at him. What the heck is he doing? I darted my head at Liam who just simply did the same thing and they both started to rub me. Uhm. Uhhhh. "Is... Is this okay?" Sascha asked me, shyly. I didn't answer. So, he took that as a yes and just leaned in and kissed my cheek, softly. He kept kissing it and kissing it and I naturally turned, feeling both of them caress my body as I melted into whatever was going on. And, I finally met Sasha's pretty pink lips with a full on hot kiss for the very first time. My god. Two kisses, two boys, one night. Once I did that, I thought Liam would kill me. But, he didn't. He- he actually LIKED it. He encouraged it. He kissed my neck while Sascha gave me and taught me my very first french kiss. "MMMmmmh." I moaned and breathed heavily as I melted into them both pleasing me at the same time. Sascha pulled away softly and so did Liam after playing with me for a while. They looked at one another and slowly closed their eyes and actually kissed each other right in front of me!!!!!!! What's going on?? Did they like.... Do this before? The sight of them doing that was honestly so.... sexy to me. And, I didn't know why. It was like a taboo. Which made me like it, like sneaking cookies from a cookie jar. Liam grabbed my hand to rub his back, shoulders, & my favorite part, his chest while Sascha egged me to kiss his own neck. So, I obliged and kissed his neck, chin, & cheeks, all over giving him a few hickeys, just as he did to me, as they kissed and I played with their bodies, and vice versa. I heard Sascha gasp the sexiest sound I ever head from him when I did that. He was reeaaallly into it. I did whatever they wanted. I-I wanted to subconsciously stop this but I secretly LOVED it. This was driving me crazy. We played around for a while and rubbed each other's bodies, relishing the shared intimacy. Then, we instantly heard my mother holler from above the stairs. "Boys! It's time for bed. Start wrapping things up okay?!" We separated from each other faster than lightning could ever strike at her calling. Shaking my voice I said, "Uh Uhhhhh okay, Ma!!" I looked at them both in complete shock. "You're beautiful, Billy." Sascha said. "Thanks..... This was... Fun." He said with a full on 'PlayBoy' grin before he got up. Eventually, after Liam and Sascha both left. I was just in a daze on my couch as to everything that just happened that night. My mother walked downstairs and spoke to me. "Did you know that Sascha boy gave Shannon all of his Halloween candy? That was so nice of,-" She said. That shocked me. But, I was still in a daze. She, then, noticed my neck and widened her eyes. She walked up to me and examined it. "What's THAT?" She said. I had no answer. She looked around and thought. She contemplated what to do or say at the moment. "We'll talk tomorrow." she said. "And, don't you tell me you fell. That one's gettin' old..." Noticing a chocolate bar on the table, she spoke almost flirtatiously and said, "Hmmm....3 Musketeers.... My favorite." She said and unwrapped it and ate it while walking around to clean up. If she only knew what those words really meant...
  3. Chapter 14: ~3 Musketeers~ So, it was all set. As Donny, Sascha, Liam, & I were heading to Dairy Queen after our Trick Or Treating session for our ice creams, I couldn't say the awkward silence was THAT bad; it could have been worse. What was more interesting to me than anything else, were the empty glances that I was able to catch of Sascha looking at Liam as we walked during the night. The looks he gave him, when he thought no one was looking, seemed like he both had alot on his mind and also nothing on his mind all at the same time if that makes any sense at all; which to me, at the time, it didn't. But, as I thought about it more and more, I put myself in his shoes. Liam was once one of his best friends. He was Jesse Bradford's best friend before him, who then, was replaced by Sascha Konovski, himself, to fill in the position, afterwards. Sascha was quite literally Liam's 'replacement'. This whole ordeal of all of us being together might not just have been awkward or upsetting for Liam, but, it quite possibly was even worse for Sascha. And, as I saw him glance at him and look at the ground in between his looks, it confirmed that to me. Those were the vibes that I was getting. It was almost as if he didn't know what to do, say, think or even know how to remotely react to him or any of us for that matter in general. There was one look that he gave, as he stared at the ground, while we were stepping on a bunch of crisp, fall, dead leaves and branches, that resembled the feelings of either regret or guilt. And, to this day, I still dont know which one he was really feeling... Or both. It was the most interesting experience that I ever had with Liam, other than our very first & official kiss that evening, with Liam & Donny as the four of us were standing in line for our ice creams. Sascha was in front, I was next to Liam, and Donny was behind us and the entire time we were on that line, I swore I saw a familiar look on Liam's face; it was the exact same body language, facial expressions, zoning out in thought, followed by pouts and scowls, unusual & unreadable glares that he was giving Sascha who was in front of us that Sascha, himself, gave that very first day when he learned he was forced to be partners with Antonio & I of our cooking class; it was identical. Why? I didn't know. I couldn't tell if what was going through his mind was somewhat, magically good, neutral, bad, or all of the above. All I knew was I was trying my HARDEST to hide all of this from Antonio. He couldn't know any of this as I've stated. I had to make that my ultimate goal for the rest of that entire evening and, any days to come. I cared more about that than even what ice cream I wanted until it was my turn. "Well?" The young man who appeared to be in his twenties wearing an ice cream white pointed hat with matching red trimming on the edges to go with the Dairy Queen Marketing logo & uniform asked me. "Huh?" I said, being snapped from my entire anxiety inducing contemplation process. "What would you like?" He asked me, in the same tone that someone his age would use if he had already stated that question and really had no ambition, whatsoever, in restating it for a second time. Hmmmmm. As always, ice cream was a rarity for me and my family back in Georgia. Taking a brief look around and not wanting to hold up the long line behind us, I decided to try a flavor that caught my interest. "Uhh. May 'Ah have the Rocky Road please on a waffle cone?" I said. "Sure. Coming right up." He said, nonchalantly, barely making eye contact. I'm sure he was tired from all of the orders for that particular day. Halloween was probably one of the last busiest days for this ice cream shop after the cold season would truly begin, just a few days after. It must have been a relief for him and all of the employees there. In fact, I was surprised they were even still opened in the first place during October. After Donny ordered his ice cream, a double rainbow sprinkled scoop in a cup & Liam ordered his chocolate milkshake, Sascha stood there, awkwardly, looking at us. He WAS the first person in line, yet he allowed the three of us to order. "Well?" The man working behind the stand asked Sascha, snapping him from his gaze at the three of us. "What would you like?" He paused for a moment. Then, replied, "Uhm, do you have like a... a Seltzer water?" He asked, hesitantly. "Seltzer? The young man asked with a furrowed browed. "Uhm. Let me check." A few moments later he came back to the register and replied, "I have Lemon or Cherry. That's all I got." Pausing again, Sascha replied in a low & muttered voice, "I'll take two bottles of cherry, please." He wasn't acting like himself. Then, again, I couldn't really blame him. I did see two sides of him, in the past. After all of us received our orders and were headed away from the register I asked Sascha, "Aren't you getting ice cream?" Before he could even answer, which, given from his facial expression looked as though he didn't even want to answer, Liam walked right passed us, heading for the door with a cold look at the outside glass view and said, "Haven't you ever MET his father?" And, continued walking. I haven't met his father. And, I didn't know what that meant. ___________ *Ding Dong* My door bell rang. On our way to my home, we all began to get more comfortable by removing most of our costume gear. When we arrived at my front door, Sascha removed his mask, as it was 'safe' enough for him to reveal his identity at that point. Shannon opened the door. He looked at the four of us, particularly, at Sascha as he remembered he was the bully I had described a few days ago and gave him a questioned look. It wasn't a BAD one, just a curious one, as to why he was there. Actually, he seemed surprised we all were. "Hiyaa Donny." He smiled. "Hey Liam." He said. Then, he hesitated, looked at my other friend and said "Uhh, haa'." He said to Sascha and waved a little bit. Shannon was already changed out of his costume, sporting a pair of Bleached denim shorts and a white tee-shirt he got at the mall. "....Hello." Sascha said. Liam folded his arms. "Jesus..." He muttered under his breath wondering just how interesting or terrible this night would go. "Maaa!" Shannon called for my momma and said "Billy back, his friend here, too." Shannon walked away and my mother greeted us, a little surprised that we were all there so late, and well, to be honest, that I brought more than Antonio with me. "Ohh. Hello fellas. Uhm. Won't you come in?" Of course she'd allow them in, but, I noticed she eyed Sascha as he walked passed her, being the last one to enter. She pulled me to the side, in the kitchen as my friends waited in the living room. My new house had a finished basement, a nice one in fact with a Smart TV, DVR, cable, two couches: the works. I negotiated with her if we could all please make popcorn and watch a movie. "Billy, you all got school tomorrow. Do their parents know their here?" "Well..." I never really thought of their curfues. "Ahh' could have 'em text they families how late they can all stay. Please, momma. Please." I pleaded. She sighed and grinned. "Alright Billy-Decker, you been a good boy at school. Your grades been good. YOU may stay up until 10:00. 10:30 the absolute latest. The rest of 'em is up to their folks. I ain't bein', responsible for no kid's parents hollerin', at me." "Okay. Great! Thanks ma'!" I said a smushed her with a hug. Walking in the living room I told my friends what the deal was and that my mom was making popcorn and would bring us some drinks. Silence. Donny was sitting in between Sascha and Liam, who both had folded arms and were looking in the opposite direction from one another with annoyed/empty looks. Donny sat forward a bit, trying to avoid the negative vibes he was getting and not understanding why or where they were coming from as he played with his fingers. Sascha spoke first. "Okay that sounds nice. Thank you." We made our way to my basement, and it was nice to hear their compliments on the finished area of the house. I turned the TV on using our Xfinity remote and began browsing for movies. I was standing at the time. Then, when I turned around, I realized just how interesting the night would be. Liam was to the far left of the couch, Donny was to the far right. And Sascha to his left, leaving me with the space in BETWEEN Liam & Sascha. I remember my mouth being partially opened from what that meant. I was literally going to be the one separating the two in close proximity. "Uhh. Okay so what do you wana watch?" I broke the silence. "Something scary." Donny replied as he began digging through his bag of goodies. "Yeah... I guess that works." Liam said annoyed, but, trying to be polite with Donny & I as well and went inside of his bag as well. I noticed Sascha's bag of candy, which was actually the fullest of them all, was just laying by his feet. He just sipped his Cherry Seltzer and stared into nothing at the screen. I didn't comment on that. But, he didn't touch one candy bar, while everyone else had no problem in doing so. "I'll watch whatever you want." Sascha said. He seemed tired, with bags under his eyes, a look I never saw from him, maybe he always looked like this at this time of the night. He seemed drained, tired, almost. The word I'd use to describe him at that moment was fatigued. "Oh, my dad said I have to leave by 9:00, Billy. Sorry, he wants me home in time for bed." That was understandable. I was just happy he was there. Then, my eyes widened. Wait.... What???? That meant I'd be alone with... With... THEM, in between them at that. It'd just be the three of us, for an hour or possibly more. And, as I thought that, I saw Liam unwrap a 3 Musketeers bar and begin eating it glaring into nothing, giving Sascha a dirty look without him noticing. No coincidence I thought. The irony. It'd be just the three of us. Just us three...
  4. The reality is, all authors and artists only want one true thing: we all strive for someone to feel something from something we've created. And the validation that we receive from feedback via comments and/or reactions gives us the validation that someone has received something from something we've created. All stories have pieces of us authors, hidden, inside of them whether it's certain characters, certain scenes, etc. And by having others love those characters and scenes, they are secretly loving us, because, we are in them. If certain people do not like the thumbs up reaction, I simply recommend that the like reaction be removed and be replaced with the love reaction and have the love reaction be the new like reaction just like Instagram and other social media platforms use the heart as the only like reaction icon platform for that very same reason. Thank you. Black Paper🌙
  5. You won the award on September 9th. Interesting, considering, that's my birthday. And, The Artful Dodger just so happens to be one of my favorite characters of all time.

  6. Chapter 13: ~How Do You Like Them Apples~ "Mmmmmmm." My teenage high school enemy said to my mother with a grin on his lips as we were all still standing around at one of my family's business tables up front of my orchard. "This cider is suuuuuuper good, Mrs. Irving! Best drink I've eveeeeerrrr had." He was so fake. UGHHHHH. The level of almost professional sarcasm made me wonder how he developed such a skill in the first place. It almost blew my mind how my own mother couldn't catch the inauthenticity in his voice & empty statements; well, technically, our cider WAS extremely popular in Georgia for its balanced flavor, so, he wasn't completely lying, anyway. "Wahh' thank youu. Such a fine young man you have here." My mother actually said those words to his mother as she was standing right next to me. My throat felt like it turned into molten lava from the burning frustration and anger that I felt. THAT WAS MY BULLY MAH!!!!!! Why!? Why is all of this even happening to me in the first place? Can't everyone just.... leave me alone and let me enjoy the grand opening of my family's new orchard and Halloween day, let alone the previous night's school dance? "Ugh... Sorry mah. This stupid branch caught on my shoe." I heard and saw a blonde girl, wearing heels, who looked to be about a senior in high school with a high black skirt on and a white leather jacket on with a playfully 'low in the front' hot pink shirt on underneath. She walked up right next to Jesse and the resemblance was almost comical from it's obvious noticeability. Whenever I saw Jesse as 'Barbie's younger brother', I now was looking at the "Barbie", herself. She was even MORE beautiful than he was. I couldn't believe it. She was it. She was literally "it". She was pretty, beautiful, & feminine. But, had this unusual aura to her persona that seemed almost mischievous without even doing anything. Which meant, if she DID do something to bring it out, one could only imagine what that would look like. "Regina..." Her mother responded, annoyed. "I told you, you don't need heels here. This is not the type of..." Regina...... That was the girl that my homeroom teacher mentioned way back when "the three musketeers" pinned me to the brickwall outside of school during lunch hour that very first day who she mentioned to Jesse that "got away from her", somehow. I finally met who she was talking about. Regina rolled her eyes and made a breathy irritated sound. "Please, it's not like we'll be here forever. Besides..." She smiled mischievously to herself. "You never know who... Might be here." And, she deviously smiled at my father. My father looked at her and gulped with his mouth opened. Her mother glared at her. "You'd better not start any..." Regina, then, smiled almost as fake as Jesse Bradford's smile and took my father's hand, completely ignoring her mother and said, "Hiiiiiii, I'm Regina. Your Orchy is beautiful..." My father took her hand and softly shook it knowing my mother was watching them both. "It's an ORCHARD you half wit." Jesse said. I saw Regina reach behind him and pinch the back of his arm... The area that's extremely sensitive to pinching. "OWWWW! .....you IDIOT!!" he shreiked & attempted to start to fight her. "Children THAT'S enough." Her mother spat at them both. Mr. Bradford, never once loosing his cool, said and smiled to my parents and I. "You'll... Have to excuse them. You know how families can be." My father rolled his eyes almost laughing with him. "Yeah, believe me. I know." I couldn't even BELIEVE my dad was even getting along with them and especially Jesse. This couldn't be happening. After about 20 minutes of Jesse and his family roaming around our place and scoping what we had to offer, our trees, and exchanged a few more words with my family and even with SHANNON, I honestly just wanted to leave. "Ma, can I go please, now.... You said I could meet Liam and them later if I want. Please please please?" "Alraght. Alraght. Keep your horses in shape. You can go. You did your fair share. Have fun sweetie." "OKAY, GREAT! THANKS! BYE!" I said a bit too excited that I was leaving that whole situation and just dropped a basket full of apples onto Shannon's arms which might have been a bit too heavy for him and almost knocked him down. "Ugh!! ....Heyy!" He said. "Sorry, Shay." I said, running. Even though he was a bit confused, he gave me a little smile, nonetheless. The thing about my brother, Shannon, was he was different than almost anyone I ever met. His angelic persona and essence somehow always made you feel warm, welcome, and authentic. That's the word; he was authentic. Money just simply can't buy that. He never tried to be someone that he wasn't. He always made me and others feel good and reminded us what's really important: purely unselfish love. He just had that energy. It was who he was. That's why when he and my mother decided to go all out on having him dress like Cupid the love angel, I couldn't believe the perfected match. He was already dressed in his costume the entire time of our grand opening. When he was done with his chores there, he was going out with his other new friend to go trick or treating, his friend's mother, and a few other kids that decided to go with them. He had the pure white angel gown that was cut into a slant just at his thighs. He had the Roman style leather sandals, a bow and arrow which had a shiny red heart for a tip, that was carried on his back. And presto! He looked perfect for the part! Who better? No one, but, him. ______________ I really didn't care if anyone thought I was too old to go Trick Or Treating. I'm 14. It's not like I have to all of the sudden, be fake, wear a suit & tie, and pretend to be an adult. You know? I wanna have fun, too. "Okay are you ready?" I texted Sascha. Apparently, Sascha, Jesse, and Micheal Smith rarely went trick or treating. Jesse would prefer to try to go out for a smoke or drink or maybe get some free candy, somewhere in a mischievous way. But, no trick or treating, really. Sarah and Jessica were out with some of their friends. So, they wouldn't be with us this evening. "Yeah, I'm ready. Remember I had to cover my face. I can't be seen with you in public especially tonight, knowing who knows who will be out there from school. I'll just be a grim reaper. Whatever. It doesn't matter." Sascha said to me in text. "Okay! Great. I can't wait. Meet me at the intersection of Maple Blvd. and Watercress Ave., 7:00pm. Cool?" I said to him. "Hehe. Uhm okay...... You know, this is the first time we hang out outside of school besides your place. It's kinda... Cool." he texted. Aww was he... Nervous? That's so cute! Little did he know that I made the exact same arrangements with Liam & Donny to meet me there, too. I know I shouldn't have. But, I HAD to sneakily go plan this whole thing without letting Sascha or Liam know that the other would be there or I KNEW they wouldn't even bother coming. And, Halloween meant alot to me. Where I'm originally from, there weren't any houses anywhere near as close to here. So, trick or treating never happened... Like ever. So, this made me finally truly appreciate the close proximity of my new town's homes. I was honestly so excited. But, I was also a bit nervous. I knew Liam hated Sascha, and I knew he'd hate it even more that I invited him. I was already getting nervous about that. But, in my young mind, I figured maybe when we would already all be there, I could somehow convince them to just like.... Be with me and have fun, anyway. I mean, that was possible, right? Right?? ____________ Standing on the intersection that I arranged for my friends to meet me at 6:55, I was jittery, both in good ways and in bad ways. I remember tapping my jeans of my homade scarecrow outfit from some nerves. I was really happy, though, when I saw Donny dressed like a pirate walk up to me with a smile and one eye covered with a patch. "Hi, Billy!" He said and walked up to me. "Hiii." I said sweetly. Yes I gave him a hug. I don't care if that's 'gay' to some people. He was my best friend. We were close. And, I was happy to see him. Then, I saw him. Hehe. Liam kept his promise to me. He actually looked really good. He was completely covered in artificial black Bird feathers that were all over his body & also all over his arms as well to resemble a real Crow. He was the Crow. And I was the Scare Crow. "This stuff is so ITCHY. ...I look like a retard." He said. "No, you don't! It looks great. Thank you!" I said to him and lightly hugged him. "Yeah, it looks good!" Donny agreed. "I-I hope so. I hope nobody recognizes me in this." He said looking around. "It's Halloween. Nobody will care." Donny said as a matter of factly. "Sooooo, let's go. Jaime couldn't make it. His mom is making him stay home to hand out candy with his baby sister. We never really trick or treat anyway. He did want to come though, he says hi, and said sorry he couldn't be here with us." "Oh.... Well, that's okay. Maybe, we can get ice cream after we're done." I said to him. "Okay... So let's go, then." "Uhmmm. I can't." I said. "Why not?" He said, not exactly annoyed, but his tone insinuated that there was no reason to just stand around. "Uhhh...." I stared nervously as they both looked at me. "I'm waiting for something." "Waiting for what?' Donny said. "Uhm a thing... Well actually... It's someone else." I blurted. "Oh, okay. Who is it?" Liam asked nonchalantly. Oh god. "Nobody. You- you don't know him." I lied, temporarily. "Weeelll okay, then. We'll wait for your friend I guess." A few more minutes passed and I saw a Grim Reaper who was an inch taller than me, fully covered, walking up to us. He was there! I never felt this before, but, I was SO happy and SO scared all at once. If you've never felt that before, you don't want to. Believe me. It's so confusing. He walked up to me and saw Donny and waved. Donny waved out of politeness, as usual, even though he didn't know who he was waving at, just yet. Then, Sascha, in his costume, stopped dead in his tracks when he noticed Liam through his feathers. He INSTANTLY removed his reaper mask and the look they gave each other was one of shock, anger, and another word that I can only describe as betrayal. "WHAT'S HE DOING HERE?!!!" they both said in unison, extremely loudly. Some other kids were already looking at us from the comotion we were causing as they passed us by. "You invited Sascha?" Donny asked me somewhat, hesitantly. He didn't really dislike him, but, from everything that had occurred, so far, in our cooking class previously, and during other situations, he was probably a bit iffy as to why I would want him there and whether he even trusted him, himself. I guess Donny was confused as to what me and Sascha's relationship really was. And, the reality was, so was I. "You INVITED HIM?" Liam asked me completely shocked and irritated. Sascha stayed quiet. "I-I well, yeah. I just wanted us to maybe-" "Have you lost your marbles?? I told you to stay the FU++ away from him." He said glaring at my Russian classmate. This completely shocked Donny. Now, he was finally starting to realize there were hidden dark things between us all that I was trying my best to keep a secret from him finding out. But, it was starting to slowly creep it's way out by him seeing Liam's strong reaction to him. Donny was finally starting to realize the gravity of the situation. No no no. I wanted that jar sealed shut. I had to close it. Like fireflies in a jar, I had to find a way to capture them and seal them shut, once again. If not temporarily, at least as long as humanly possible. Donny couldn't know any of this; any of this I tell you! "He's he's--" I didn't even have an answer because I didn't even know the answer, myself. What WAS Sascha to me? "He's- he's my friend!" This completely shocked Liam, Donny, and Sascha, all at the same time, that I actually said those words in a firm statement out loud for the very first time & I felt my heart beating really fast. "Your friend?!' Liam said. "Jesus...." "I didn't even KNOW you'd be here, LIAMMMM." Sascha said. "Then, leave." Liam said. "Fine. I'm going. I don't need your crap." Sascha said mad and almost... Sad, I suppose. Poor Donny was just watching the entire soap opera of my life and seeing me trying to hold things together. Liam, then, knocked down Sascha's trick or treat bag and said "Good, don't let the invisible door hit you." "No Sascha, wait! Please!" And, I pulled him hard to stop him. "Just let me talk to him..... Please..." I whispered into his ear and looked into his eyes. I knew he had a little 'soft spot' for me. He showed that side to me, before, even though, I didn't really know what to do with it at the time, just yet, entirely. He saw my plea through my look and gave an irritated look to the side. "Fine." He said and folded his arms as he picked up his bag that Liam knocked over. I pulled Liam around the corner behind a house whose lights weren't lit so we could talk in private. "What the hell is wrong with you? You lied to me." He said mad. "I didn't lie. I just... Didn't tell you the whole truth." I said. "Billy, I like you alot. But, I'm not staying with him. I can't stand him. You don't know him." He said. "No. YOU don't know him!' I said to him. This stunned him to say the very least. "What? How could you possibly know him more than me????" I stared at Liams feather covered chest for a moment. I had to do it. I told him. "He's the one who helped me." I still kept my promise to Sasha by not telling anyone who gave me my phone. "He said sorry about me being beaten. He's not bad. He was at my house." "He was at YOUR HOUSE?!' He said. "He got hurt real badly and I helped him, just like when you helped and saved me remember?" I said to him. He hesitated for a moment. "I'm leaving." He said and started to walk away. I pulled him hard by both his arms. "No, don't. Don't go!" "Get off me." He pushed me off. I wasn't stopping. I don't know why I did it. But, I pulled him with one arm and turned him to look at me. I leaned in and I did it. I finally did it. I kissed a boy. I kissed Liam full on the lips and wrapped my arms around him. I didn't know how he'd react. I didn't know what I was doing. But, when I did, he froze as I slowly pulled away. We looked at each other and I stared at his chest, so afraid of what he would say to my move on him. I looked up to see a look of shock from him. It, then turned into a small bashful grin. "Just do it for me.... Please?" I said holding his soft hand. Looking around shyly he said, softly, "O-Okay." With his head down, not really knowing how to react to my request, my sweet kiss, or what was happening. ________ After about 20 minutes of me and my friends Trick Or Treating, Liam being unusually quiet to my right after our shared "intimate moment", Sascha to my far left, and Donny in between us, I finally spoke. "Thanks for coming guys. I really love it." I smiled as I looked at all the candy in my bag. I couldn't believe it. This holiday was honestly my favorite! It was so cool. "You're welcome. Issss' fun." We can trade candy for ones we like and don't like later, kay?" My bestie said to me. "Oh, okay cool idea." Sascha said. "Oh, you're going to Billy's house?" Donny asked him as he didn't know he was invited. Actually, I didn't invite him to go to my house after we went out. But, I didn't mind it. "Uhhh.... I don't know." He said putting his reaper mask covered head down. "Of course you can come." I rubbed his back. "Liam you're coming, too?" I asked him. Still in a daze from what was happening, he looked at me and Sascha, and half reluctantly agreed. "Great! So, ice cream, first. And, then my house? Maybe, a scary movie, popcorn, and candy trading?" I said. "Fine by me if that's okay." Sascha said. "Of course it is." I responded. Sascha needed a friend; REAL friends, not just "Riff Raff" as my father would say. I know he did. And, by the bear that bit me, the three of us were going to be his friends that I knew he needed. At least I will, anyway. I will.
  7. The Elements Flow with the Water. Blow with the Wind. Glow with Fire. Grow like the Earth. There was a reason for your birth. The Elements assist with death and rebirth. They kill and also grow new life for a reason. This happens every Season. No. You cannot stop them. Work with them. They will empower you. To yourself, and with these four gifts, always stay true. And, they will surround & ground you as you continue…
  8. Chapter 12: ~Adam's Apple~ The next Monday was the day after my birthday celebration that my friends had attended. Later on that day, after Shannon & I both got out of school, my mother and father took us both to see our new orchard for the very first time. It was a nervous & jittery excitement that I felt in the inner parts of my belly as I sat in the back of our car next to Shannon during that entire car ride. I thought to myself; what if... What if I don't like it?? What if it's no where near as good as our old orchard was or had none of the magical feelings that it emanated throughout the air. After a little over an hour’s drive, we finally arrived. Instead of being greeted by a large house down in Georgia with a beautiful gate that bared our family’s brand name for our Orchard, a stoned path for apple pickers and visitors of all sorts to walk along to reach the back where our Woodland apple tree orchard resided, and instead of the beautifully vast open fields, valleys, and hills that I was so used to seeing surrounding our old home, this new home had a large, 10 ft. tall, fencing all around the front. It wasn’t something that was attractive looking to my parents, whatsoever. So, they made that the first order of business to have trimmed of all plants that were growing all around and within the lining of the fence. It definitely made the place look well off the beaten track and abandoned, according to them. This place was isolated enough as it is. So, it was now maintained and brought back to order to their liking. It was large, tall, and very long. The height of the fencing was the same height that would keep prisoners well within the confinement of a prison. That’s actually what it subtly reminded me of. However, this fence was made of wood, old wood. The old color of the wood added a slightly warm and rustic charm after the fence was cleaned and taken care of, that my mother said she could work with as an aesthetic attribute to our new business location. After walking inside of the large gate in the middle of the fence, I finally realized something; I was beginning to understand why this place looked so abandoned. The trees, themselves, were quite well taken care of, which was a surprise, given that the rest of the place did not look like it was. As I was looking at a small little group of shacks made entirely of wood in the middle of the entire Orchard, I realized that they were the only buildings around here, aside from a large hanger looking building that my daddy would eventually use to keep, utilize, and put all of his equipment into full effect for our family’s made goods that he had shipped from our old location. It was extremely odd to me that there wasn't a house in the middle of the orchard where it would make the most sense for the person or family living here to be able to more easily take care of the orchard right nearby it’s whereabouts. However, the house that used to be there apparently burnt down and the entire Orchard was owned by an elderly woman who had just passed away of old age and natural causes in her sleep. She had no children to pass down the inheritance to as they passed away in a car accident which was a tragedy of her family 7 years ago. She had only enough money to be able to pay the workers that worked here to help her maintain the orchard itself, but, had no other real extra income to be able to provide for any other type of maintenance or cover the expenses of such maintenance. I thought it was even more unusual that the house that used to be here, burned down… That was just like how ours was destroyed, back in my old state. Many would write that off as a coincidence; I didn’t. We could have technically lived in a house about 20 minutes away from where our New Jersey orchard resided as that was where the closest large town was. However, according to my father, the houses in the town that we were living in were way cheaper, the taxes were lower, and the school, upon his research, was a lot better with a decent scholastic reputation. So, putting it in his words- Even though, we were all apple pickers for a living, we weren’t to be ‘picky', no pun intended. The following day, Liam & I were sitting with our usual lunch group. Donny spoke. "Why don't you?! You should go. I'm going." He said with a little grin to me. "Ahh' don't knowwww." I said with hesitation as I slouched in my chair a bit and poked at my chicken salad. "Ah' ain't never been to one o'those b'fore". Liam had been trying to convince me to attend the Halloween school dance ever since my birthday party. I really didn't want to go at ALL. I was not exactly what you would consider to be the most social person, whatsoever. And, putting me in a dark and fancy colored lit room with loud music in the background and people dancing all around me, didn't sound appealing to me at all. It sounded like an anxiety attack. Plus, that meant that I'D be pressured into dance, too! I wouldn't be caught dead doing something as silly as that in front of all of the other people in my grade, especially the other grades of students who were older than us. No way! "Yeah, c'mon. It's no big deal. They have snacks. And, you don't even have to dress up in a costume since it's the day before Halloween, anyway. You could just come and hang with us." Liam finished while Jaime, his best friend, sat to his right at the school cafeteria table and casually was texting on his phone and eating his lunch, but, like most kids in our age group, was more focused on looking at his phone, than even looking at the food that he was putting into his own mouth without giving a second thought. "...What about Jesse?" I asked. The table went into a deafening and awkward silence. Sarah and Jessica both gave each other a subtle, yet, noticable look and, immediately, looked down as though they would get in trouble if I caught that look, which unknown to them, I actually did. "What about him? If he starts anything, we'll be right there, especially, me... Pshh You think he's that dumb to start something in public with that many other students and staff around, PLUS me being there? He'd be on some serious prescription drugs if he did..." Liam said, assertively. "We're going, too." Sarah said with a smile. She, then took my hand & I looked up at her and she gave it an unusual squeeze for reassurance as if she was giving me support. "HEY..... Just, come." She said. As we looked at each other, I got her mental message that they supported me and wanted me to have a good time. I slowly nodded my head in agreement. I suppose one could say that I was peer pressured into it. So, I ultimately agreed. ______________ The bullying from Jesse and his group still hadn't disappeared. On the contrary, since, Jesse had to be extra careful with who was around when he would verbally abuse and harrass me, whenever he actually received the opportunity to do so, he would make sure that it would count. One of his favorite places to do this was in gym class, before and after the period when all of us boys were in the locker room. It made me begin to dread the period, despite, how fun I thought the excersize was. Another few places that I would be bothered and even pushed was outside where I'd turn a corner to head to my house, after school, which was secluded enough where I could be taunted without much notice from school staff. Other students wouldn't really do much, as many of the kids that I went to school with had a subtle fear of Jesse and his friends and what they would do to them if they actually defended me. I didn't want to bother my own friends that I ate lunch with or, especially, Liam because, well, I really liked them and they were actually my friends. So, I didn't want to look like a loser in front of them even more than I already felt that I was and have them leave me. So, I was alone. I was alone in my own head, at least, anyway. Even though I had people who helped me or could help me, I still felt like I had no one who was able to assist me because I didn't want to be annoying or a nuisance. So, regardless of the fact that I wasn't alone... I actually was. After each time that I was bullied by Michael, Jesse, and their friend who secretly became a hidden and forbidden relation to me, Sascha would give me a quick look or a glance which was his way of mentally communicating to me that he didn't mean the things that he had said or done in front of his friends to not give away anything about our hidden 'connection'. I would look at him, too, and that was our way of telling the other that we both understood. We were both stuck in that situation and we didn't exactly know how to get ourselves out of it. It was like we were both sinking deeper and deeper into the quicksand of our lives and the hidden secrets that we both kept from the world and we were running out of time as to how to save ourselves and each other. What was even more interesting is that, although, I felt completely alone from my friends with the entire situation, I was beginning to understand that Sascha felt even more alone than I did. He was completely by himself in regards to how he felt about his relationship with his friends, with others, and particularly with me. He had secret and hidden morals that his friends simply did not share in regards to bullying and how he treated others. But, he was stuck hiding behind a mask. He was extremely good at hiding who he was; I'll give him that. In fact, he should and could have been an actor. He actually texted me that he was already in process of becoming one in conjunction with his already bloomed child model career. That's what his father had been trying to get him to do. That's also why Jesse was his best friend. Jesse liked the status that Sascha added to his profile. Sascha lived a very strict and isolated life from the norms of human society, but, his strict lifestyle was hidden in plain sight. He didn't want to tell me exactly how he was restricted. All I knew was that he was a puppet and was being controlled by someone, somehow. I already knew that Jesse controlled him and I was beginning to tell that someone in his own family, particularly his father, was doing so on a similar level, if not, in other ways and in even worse conditions. The mask that Sascha wore, all the time, so easily portrayed itself as being who he really was; I could tell that he practiced it and did so for years in order to perfect it. The only other person who really knew that it was a false identity and actually saw his genuine persona, was me. ----------- A few days after my birthday celebration, it was finally time for the school dance. This dance took place directly before Halloween. It began at 6:30 and ended at 11:00. It was held in the gymnasium which was completely transformed into a dance hall. The entire time period, from the moment I learned about it until that night, was nothing but a nervous dread for me. I really truthfully and honestly did not want to go. it was like asking a vegan to go to a specialized Burger celebration. It was like asking a police officer to go to a criminals VIP special party. I just felt that I didn't belong there. It was like.... against who I was as a person, you know? However, me getting ready for such a first time event for me wasn't something that my mother took lightly, however. She absolutely loved and adored the idea. She made it a point at the bottom of our stairwell to continuously try to take pictures of me and get me to stand still with a decent look on my face to be able to snap a memoir of the day and event. "Ah' can't wait. Okay. Wait wait.... Hold still......." *click* "OKAY maaa' Ah think that's enough, nowww." I said annoyed and embarrassed. What was the big deal? She wanted like FOUR pictures of me in my white button down shirt, black slim pants, and shiny black shoes. I mean, she already took three and, now, another one? "Hehe, oh c'mon. Yah look cute. I gotta have some archive of mah' baby's first dance." She said. "So, who's tha lucky girl?" "Girl? There's no girl, mah. I'm just goin' with Sarah, Jessica, Liam, & Jaime. Donny's comin', also. Remember 'em?" I responded. "Oh, IIIIIII see. No girl. Just two." She said with a giggle. "Grrrrrrrrrrr." I grumbled under my breath as I looked at her as she just put her hands up and surrendered as she turned to walk away. "Alraght. Alraght. I'm goin'. I'm gone." She said and walked to the kitchen. My father put on his coat and pulled my arm addressing me saying, "Here we go. Hope you ready." Hs said with a grin. "Yeah." I said to myself. "Me, too." ________________ I had already been inside of the gymnasium with a bunch of kids my age and a few years older than me, dancing, talking socializing, and doing a bunch of other things that I was not good at or wanted to do for about an hour and a half to two hours, already. I did what probably anyone who met me would expect me to have done that entire time; I stood and leaned against the darkest part of the longer wall of the gymnasium that was the most dimly lit area there, other than the actual corners of the room. I did so, on purpose, to limit people from being able to even look at me or see who I was. My friends kept trying to get me to go dance or at least talk to people. But, they did so to no avail. I remember at one point, I saw Donny dancing with Jessica while Liam danced with some other girl. And, I felt honestly secluded. Donny's hands were on Jessica's hips and I couldn't help myself. I stared at them. I was staring at his fingers. I was so... just... MAD. I didn't understand why, but, seeing his soft hands on her body made me jealous. What was even worse, is I didn't know if I was jealous of him.... Or jealous of her. There was something about my personality type that naturally, by default, made me walk, stand, or talk to strangers with my head down. Even if I knew the person, sometimes, I would naturally do so, or look away after while, regardless. This was an act of some shyness and slight immaturity, but, was also a subconscious lack of confidence and the feeling of being inferior, especially, after meeting Jesse Bradford, Sasha Konovski, & Michael Smith, who were all standing in the middle of the fancy lit gymnasium that evening with a group of kids around them. "Oh, my God." I said to myself, involuntarily under my breath as Liam, Jaime, and I saw them after Liam was dancing and they were following me as I just wanted some punch. Liam heard me and bumped my elbow. "Relax." He said as I took the curved plastic ladle inside of the large plastic punch bowl and poured some of the drink into a fake plastic wine glass. "Yeah, right. Ah' don't NEED them here, tonight." I said all frustrated and angry for some reason. I was jealous of the fact that everyone here felt and was NORMAL, while, I, the one & only, HillBilly, could barely even stand there at all. "I don't get why you let them mess with you.... Besides... They ain't gonna do much with everyone around and with you in plain sight. They're not that stupid." Jaime said. He seemed a little sad to see me so down, or maybe he had something on his mind as he looked at me. I didn't really know him all that well so it was hard for me to read him. But, at one point he did stare into my eyes for a little longer than he needed to after he made that statement. I met his eyes and stared at him, as well, while bringing the drink to my mouth. A little while after, I saw Jessica and Donny stand next to one another right by me, both with smiles. "Iss deh' punch good? Can I have some?" Donny asked me sweetly as he, then, casually walked passed me and served himself some. Why was it so easy for him to just... blend in here? Why wasn't HE being harrassed? I was starting to sublty hate how easily it looked like he lived and just "survived" without even thinking about it while, everyday I was fighting as hard as I could just to be able to barely make it. Why? Why was I the only one? I hated that. I threw my empty cup away harshly and just kept looking at the floor when I saw a pair of heels appear in front of me. I looked up and saw a smile on Jessica's face. Her hand was extended out and she spoke. "Come on." She said. My eyes widened and saw all the other students behind her minding their own business realizing that she wanted me to go inside where they were all hanging out. "No, thank yuu!" I said just as fast as I did when Sascha offered me to sit next to him on my bed, knowing what he secretly wanted to do with me. She wasn't having it and rolled her eyes. She grabbed my arm and pulled me harshly. "Let's go. I've been waiting for you all night... I'm sick of this." "Eegh. Ow!" She was stronger than she looked as she pulled me half way so we were further in the crowd. She took my hands, put them on her side over her hips and tried to guide me on how to correctly slow dance as all the lights dimmed down into a soothing mixture of slow moving purples and blues. "Jeez." I said so uncomfortable and in shock of what was actually going on. Was I even in my own body? I didn't know at that point. But, then I saw her smile as she looked at me. And, I finally smiled back. "That's it... Like that." And she started to show me how to do it. After while of me feeling like an idiot, we began talking as I tried my best to ignore the other students who were watching us. "You know, two girls told me they wanted to dance with you already tonight." She said with a grin. "They did???" I asked. "Duh.... You don't- You don't get it do you?" She said with a softer look in her eyes and shaking her head. "Get what?" I asked her. She sighed. "Don't you see what girls like? They like boys who are cute, different, & real. The smart ones, anyway. The dumb ones learn the hard way what happens when they go with the wrong person." "Oh." I said not understanding. "What I meeeeean, is girls like you. I like you, too." She said. I looked at her and shyly giggled. She did as well. After a while the next song was a faster one and she showed me how boys my age were supposed to dance. I give her credit for TRYING, but, to this day, I still think that I looked like a complete, bloody idiot. Did I feel like a mechanical tin man that required his hinges to be greased in order to be able to move correctly? Yes. Did I move like a robot and absolutely felt like one? Yes. Did I want to honestly leave more than anything in the world at that moment? Yes. Did I subtly have some fun while I was with Jessica and with my friends? Yes. It was a nervous excitement. It was a jittery thrill. It was almost a taboo enjoyment that I didn't want to admit that I felt during that entire rest of the dance. In fact, if I owe gratitude to anyone in that school night for really making me loosen up, it was Jessica. She understood my personality and knew that I wasn't comfortable, and yet, she quite literally and figuratively had me in her arms and took 'care' of me. She understood that I came from a different background- homeschooled one- that put me in a much deeper and darker shell than everyone else in that school and I need a little bit more extra care and love to be able to slowly get me out of it so that I could begin to grow as a person. Instead of her judging me or thinking that I was weird, she tried to help me understand that there was nothing to feel weird about. As we were both laughing and giggling and other kids were talking to us and we were .dancing, despite how weird I felt, and we all were having a wonderful time, I all of the sudden felt a cold grab of my forearm that forced it directly out of the grip I had on her body. "UGHH!" I made a noise from how hard the tug pulled me and shocked me. I was being dragged away from her. "Let GO of him, Sascha!!!!!" I heard her say to him. My main bully's bestie sharply turned around and glared at her as he said with his pretty face, "This- this doesn't CONCERN you, JEEESSSSICAAAAAAA." He said in the coldest voice that I ever heard him speak before. It was like he HATED her. My god. It was so odd. And, he then continued to drag me out of the entire gymnasium. Not only was Sascha stronger than me, but he.was also an inch, taller, like I had learned when we were battling each other for the flour in my cooking class. This made his body be able to pull me out of the room, despite, his slim & perfect figure. I tried and tried to release his grip on me just like he tried to release my grip from him in my room the other week after he tried to kiss me, but, I couldn't. He dragged me into the boys room and locked the door. "What are you DOING?!" I said mad at him. What WAS he doing? He ruined the time that I was having. He interrupted me and Jessica. I was actually starting to have FUN, you know.... For ONCE. "Me?????" He asked me, shocked, like I was stupid. "What am IIIII doing? What are YOU DOING!!!!?" His scream echoed within the boys room. He said it like he was upset. What the hell was he talking about? "What?" I asked. "What you talkin' about? I just dancin' like everybody else! I CAN HAVE FUN, TOO, you know? It's not just about all of YOU!" He seemed like my response was a bit unusual and overdone, but, he didn't know what had been on my mind that whole night. "You can't DANCE with her. You stay away from her. It's bad enough you sit with her at lunch. Actually, you can't SIT with her, either...." He said coldly. "Just, just let me GO, Sascha." I said, annoyed at my previous bully, or 'current' bully, or WHATEVER he even was. I started to walk away, but, he pulled me again. This time, I looked into his eyes and there was silence. I, instantly, pushed him HARD and tried to leave but he grabbed me from behind and shoved me hard on the wall. "Just.... Just.... stop! Ughhh" he said as we both wrestled one, another. Jesse was stronger than Sascha, but, Sascha was stronger than me. Just great. I thought. I finally stepped on his foot, making him scream in pain and pushed him and went for the door. "Wait... Ugh... You don't get it, do you? Just..." He said as he started with all his might and finally he did it. He got my full attention. "LISTEN!!!!!!!!!!!" He hit me, softly so it wouldn't hurt, but, it scared me as he screamed so loudly that it shocked me. I stopped as I turned around, out of breath, and scared as he pressed me against the wall to make sure that I didn't leave. "You don't... you don't get it do you? You don't know...." He asked me as we were both just 3 inches apart. "Know what?" I said out of breath, feeling his own exhales on my skin. "That's Jesse's ex girlfriend..." ------------------- Haunted. That's exactly how I felt for the rest of the night of the dance & for the entire first half of Halloween day. Halloween is known for haunted houses, ghosts, and other dark entities ruling the day. And, I fit the bill perfectly for the holiday because of how I felt. I felt like a ghost walking around and at the same time I was the one who was being haunted. I couldn't believe that the entire time that I had been friends with Jessica and had allowed her and her best friend Sarah to sit with me at lunch, that she had been such a close tie to Jesse Bradford. Why would someone like her even remotely want to be with me, sit with me, or even dance with me? She was his girlfriend. His GIRLFRIEND! Or was.... which made it even worse. No wonder why Jesse hated me so much. Everything was beginning to finally make sense and fall into place. That was the reason why he beat me so badly when he saw me sitting with her; he was so jealous of me that he began to get out of control. I couldn't sit with her, anymore! Sascha was painfully right; he was just trying to protect me. He was trying to avoid Jesse from doing God only knows what to me as a result of me being with Jessica. Being around her was asking for major trouble. I basically was already in trouble for just being her friend. Ugh!!! This whole thing was just a mess and I walked right into it all without even knowing about any of it. I was with the worst possible person, the whole time, that I could have been with in order to avoid being harrassed by Jesse, his friends, and other members of the school. "Why didn't you TELL ME???" I texted Liam, upset. "What do you mean, why? I thought she woulda told you by, now. I'm sorry!" He retorted back. "Can we just talk about this later tonight? I got the.... COSTUME parts and it's almost done. You HAPPY?" he asked me. I have been bothering Liam since my birthday for him to have a matching Black Crow costume with black feathers all over it to go with my scarecrow costume that my mother was helping me make. He really didn't want to do it. In fact, him and Jamie would just go trick or treat with two of their other friends every year and wouldn't really dress up and hadn't since they were about 11 or 10 years old. The only reason he remotely made an exception for me was because he knew and saw that I was upset about everything that was going on and, especially, now that I found out this information, he couldn't really argue with me if he really wanted to be there for me. He was a good friend. He wanted to help cheer me up. And, so he reluctantly agreed to the ordeal. Later on that Halloween day which was a Saturday, my parents Shannon and I were all at our Orchard. My mother and father permitted me to go trick or treating with Liam and any friends who wanted to come with us later on. However, during the day, I was with them helping them with a very well marketed and organized event of our grand opening that they were hosting at our Orchard. It was a very big day with a pretty big turnout. This was our first official day to physically advertise our business to all of the new people that would become our new potential customers. The entire Orchard, especially our fence, was decorated and we used that fence to market the brand name, perfectly. We were giving free samples of apples for a Halloween treat and some free cider. This event had been marketed by my father for the last two weeks. People were able to walk inside of our Gates and greet us in the front. We had tables assembled, samples of our butters and other goods which could be purchased, the free apples in baskets, the free cider which my mother personally served to whomever wished to try some for purchasing, gave out brochures on all of our products that we sold, marketed a new bake sale my mother was throwing in a week, and informed them where our products could be purchased. I was helping my mother hand them out along with my brother. My brother being as cute as he was, got along well with everyone which my parents knew would happen. Say whatever you want, but, cuteness sells, and a smile sells just as much. Combine those two and you get my little brother and major good business, if used correctly. And, that's what my parents did. They totally used his charm and looks to advertise our brand name. I couldn't blame them in the slightest. He was good at it, so were they, and it all worked quite well. Someone else walked up to our front assembly line of tables. An older man, who was roughly about the same age as my father with a perfectly styled medium length blondish haircut, walked up to the stand. He was wearing a long black New York style coat with matching shiny black oxford dress shoes. He smiled at my father and spoke. “Good evening. I’m Patrick and this is my wife, Cynthia.” “Hello, there.” The woman spoke and looked, purposely, at my mother first and, then, at my father. “Haa’. Mighty nice meetin’ ya’ll.” My mother smiled and nodded her head at them both. My Papa answered the man’s greeting. “Hello, I am Adam Irving and this is my wife.” The man cunningly spoke with a slightly exaggerated smile. “Adam?” he emphasized at my father’s name. And, said, “You own an orchard and are named Adam. And, who is this… Eve?” He responded as he looked at my mother. “I’m Patricia, Patricia Irving.” My mom said, trying not to sound annoyed as she squeezed a clear plastic cup from her irritation as she offered it to the man. “Won’t you have some cider on us?” With a familiar fake innocence in his eyebrows, he put his hands up and waved them in a bit of a dramatic manor and said, “Oh!! No, thank you. We simply came with our children to see the new orchard of the state. It’s all the buzz around town, now a days…. And we just HAD to come by and see the magnificence ourselves.” “Oh? You have kids of your own?” My mother asked as she looked around, wondering where they were. The moment she said that, a young blonde teenager with perfectly styled long bangs in the front appeared from behind the man. My body froze absolutely still as I dropped an apple that I was placing in one of our display baskets by accident. “This is Jesse.” The Man said. And, then, Jesse Bradford reached out and actually TOUCHED my mother and father’s hands. The same hand that punched me, slapped me, and mercilessly beat me behind their backs was slowly & playfully sliding across their skin. “Hello. I’m Jesse Bradford. My sister is still in the car getting herself ready. You know women.” He said with a beautiful smile and giggle as he playfully spoke to my father. “Gotta make themselves look good for ANYthing.” And my father actually laughed along with him as he did the same…. playing his little game with me and with my parents. “Our son has been raging about Billy’s new acquaintance in the school, his orchard, and wanted us to come see his new friend’s place.” His father said. "This yur friayan', Billy? Why you never told us about such folks?” my mother asked me as my throat struggled to capture the oxygen required for all humans to obtain and maintain life. I really couldn’t quite process what was actually happening. “Uhh,..” I said as my heart was beating faster by the second as everyone looked at me, waiting for my response. I saw Jesse stare into nothing at the grass behind me. His lip slowly curved into a small smile at the edge of his mouth as he heard everything that was going on. I didn’t know what was going on through his mind or what he had planned, but, I knew that I wasn't going to like it. I wouldn't like it one bit.
  9. ~Destruction~ Blow it all away. Make it go away. Throw it all away! Destroy it all today. Right here. Right now. How? With your mind, You can DESTROY all of the things that are all unkind. Destruction is required for reproduction. Just, like the storm, You were born with reconstruction. You have the ability to create a new tranquility. You have the responsibility. You have invincibility. Make your own destiny. You do not have to be rich. All you need is a penny. And, with that seed, indeed, You can create plenty. Show them who you are. Show them how you’ll go far. If they don’t believe you will achieve, They can simply leave. That isn’t evil, for that type of logic is simply Medieval. Just, make them watch you as you powerfully continue, As you will prove how you will improve with every single move…
  10. ~Destruction~ Blow it all away. Make it go away. Throw it all away! Destroy it all today. Right here. Right now. How? With your mind, You can DESTROY all of the things that are all unkind. Destruction is required for reproduction. Just, like the storm, You were born with reconstruction. You have the ability to create a new tranquility. You have the responsibility. You have invincibility. Make your own destiny. You do not have to be rich. All you need is a penny. And, with that seed, indeed, You can create plenty. Show them who you are. Show them how you’ll go far. If they don’t believe you will achieve, They can simply leave. That isn’t evil, for that type of logic is simply Medieval. Just, make them watch you as you powerfully continue, As you will prove how you will improve with every single move…
  11. But sometimes they could be really possessive, and things just weren't fun when 'she' was there. You know what I mean? Like...you two don't have to go into some secret corner and whisper to one another all night I've definitely experienced this before and it's a simple lack of consideration for other people and a non-interest in social intelligence. basically they don't really care about anyone else except for their significant other and themselves, aka that's called selfish, the most unattractive trait of all time. they'll learn their lesson eventually the hard way because people will just simply not want to be with them and they'll wind up alone ....it's only a matter of time. Like a flower withering & dying as it's petals fall, they'll loose those in their life and circle with each petal, day, and week that pass as long as they stay that way. Literally, Rotten Apples decaying & dying. They better change or they'll eventually turn into nothing.🎭🍎
  12. At the end of the day. The key word here is respect. Adults must respect younger generations and vice versa it's okay to maybe have differences, but, I personally won't be have relationship ties or have tolerance with someone rude, selfish, or disrespectful, ESPECIALLY, prejudice in any way. No excuses. Do unto others. Many adults must learn this.
  13. Awww, 🥵💜💜 MRM! Huggzzz. I'd have gone with you too... Like sneakily wearing "sneakers" to sneak out back. 😛🌴🍩🥂 What a swiner for ditching you.🤷🏼‍♀️Whatever. Not worth your thoughts.☠️😤
  14. I would have gone with you. We'd have a blast in the past..🥂🍾💫
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