The day was Christmas, and it was outcast with the wind whistling against the stained windows. I could not talk. I could not move. Everything around me was so alive, but I could only feel heat. The heat came from the fireplace, which quickly brought back a memory. It starts like this.
It was hot, humid, and completely dry. Yes, I am talking about the weather but also my best friend’s lips. Whenever he would laugh the sides of his mouth would crack. I could not stand it! It was so disturbing, so I decided to tell him something funny.
I said, “Hey, see that ugly rusty bus! You look like it.”
Even though it was innocent fun, I still regret those words. I regret them, because honestly I am no prize myself. I tried everything to make him laugh, but it got worst. I guess he really took it seriously and decided to avoid me the rest of high school.
It was not until our senior year that I confronted his grudge. I knew I had to. Maybe being in the same class had something to do with it? I do not know, but eventually I pushed myself to summon up some courage and yell out his name.
“Marty,” I screamed.
Immediately, he stopped and looked at me. In fact, the whole class looked at me including the teacher. For some odd reason, I forgot I was in class and did not realize it until it was too late. The students burst out in laughter, but my teacher, Mr. Henz, stared me down. His face turned red and wrinkled up like an old plum. After looking at him, I quickly recoiled in my chair and did not move until the bell rang.
The class finally ended, but Marty still seemed in a bad mood. I looked at him intently and noticed he had one eyebrow raised from his right side. His head also was stooped down like a little boy when he gets in trouble. I wanted to start a conversation as if we had always been best friends. Unfortunately, I did not prepare anything, so I basically said what was on my mind.
First, I talked about class and how the teacher was boring just to ease the tension. I began to get nervous and my voice began to break. He hardly nudged to anything I said. Finally, I got down to what I was going to say, but somehow it did not come out right again.
I remember saying something like this, “Hey man, I didn’t mean to call you ugly or whatever during our freshmen year, but I‘m sorry man.”
He raised his head and took off his sunglasses smoothly as if he owned the moment. He started with some odd hand gestures and began to speak.
With a pointed finger and a clutched fist he said, “ I don’t care that you called me ugly, I got mad because you told me I was an old rusty bus.”
After Marty said those words, he casually went on his way down the wheelchair ramp turning each wheel gently. I always thought I could try again at graduation, but this never happened. The newspaper said a semi-truck blindsided him and his mother a day before graduation.
This was not the memory I wanted this Christmas season sitting at the fireplace. Nonetheless, I remembered it for a reason. I guess deep down inside I always knew Marty was a great friend. Now he was having a better Christmas then me. I just wish I could relive those times.
Written by Mark B.B. Aguirre
(Note: This short story is a fictional first-person narrative meaning all events and characters were made up.)