Six months before “Your Forever Friend”
“Kush! A little help maybe?” I call to him. He looks up, and frowns.
“With what?” Kush immediately goes back to his textbook, flipping another page. I roll my eyes, would it be so hard to actually make eye contact?
“Just come here,” I whine. Kush looks up once again, and purses his lips, but gets up anyway.
“Okay…” Kush leans over, figuring out what exactly I need help with.
“I'm so tired. I need some fresh air, do you mind joining me?” I put the screwdriver down, and stare at the huge hunk of metal. I don’t even know how time machines work… Kush hands me the blueprints and material, and I start.
Kush looks at me with a sloppy smile, and sighs. “I guess we do. You freshen up, I’ll finish this and then we’ll go. Nyx, you know where the bathroom is, right?”
“But I want to go now! Come on, let it go for a while!” I drag him away, and pout. “You didn’t even open my present to you!”
“I’ll do it now then.” Kush grins, and he wipes his bangs away from his eyes. I still don’t get why Kush didn’t cut them. I offered to, but he just pushed me away.
Looking around his room, I see a bunch of papers on the desk and posters plastered across his walls. It’d be a neat freak’s worst nightmare.
Kush drags my present out from under his bed, and peels the wrapping away carefully, as if he’s too scared to rip it.
I smile as I see the note I stuck in just a week ago. It feels like years. Kush told me about his crazy idea at his birthday party, but I did something crazier.
And since then, it’s just been me going to his house everyday around 5, and working on the time machine. It’s fascinating how you can lose yourself in the world of creating.
“A billboard? Really, that’s all?” Kush frowns, but an easy smile plays on his lips.
“Have you seen your room? Like give me a day to spend in it, and I would clean and organize everything. You know, I actually used to draw what your room would look like if you let me design it,” I laugh, remembering those times. I still have to book of drawings. The ceiling would have mural of the stars. The posters would be all organized, and pushed to one corner of the room.
“Well, I love it either way.” Kush places it on his wall.
“Because you’re the one who gave it to me.” Kush smirks in a way that makes me wonder how he ever seemed so tired the minute before.
I roll my eyes again, and jump onto his bed. The ceiling is painted a rich blue, it looks a bit like a cloudless sky. Maybe if I do a little bit of shading, and add a few clouds…
I suddenly realize the silence between us, and look over at Kush. He’s looking at the billboard, and smiling. Creepy.
“Yeah?” Kush meets my eyes. My eyes are the blandest color, black. Or dark dark brown to be precise.
“Can I paint your ceiling?” I raise my eyebrows. He laughs, and looks at me with a surprised look on his face.
“I’m sorry, what? I don’t think I heard you correctly.”
A smile creeps up my face, “Can I paint your ceiling?”
“Are you okay?” Kush looks so genuinely concerned, and I nod. “Huh.”
“Is that a yes?”
“Uh… Sure? I don’t know, ask my mom.” Kush says, raising his hands in defeat.
“Thanks!” I grab my jacket and head to Kush’s backyard, to where his mom was planting strawberries.
“Nyx! Do you need something? Food? I was thinking about smoothies…” Kush’s mother mutters something under her breath. I laugh, and shake my head.
“No, I was just wondering if I could paint Kush’s ceiling?” I smile, but Mrs. F still looks confused.
“Sure! But we don’t have any spare cans of paint. Sorry, honey,” Mrs. F shrugs.
“No, it’s fine, I’ll buy it. Can I though?”
“Of course! You come here so often the neighbor thinks Kush’s room is yours!” Mrs. F laughs, and goes back to planting strawberries.
“Kush! Can you drive?” I shout, even though he can probably hear me.
“What? Mom, you said yes?” Kush says in a whiny voice.
“Come down, you big baby!” I roll my eyes, waiting for him.
- - -
I open the voice lock to my diary and sigh.
Today was amazing! I barely did any of the machine, but the best part is, Kush didn’t either! Remember I told you that I always wanted to paint my ceiling? Yeah, Mom says that I can paint my own ceiling if his doesn’t end up a disaster. I just can’t get my mind off the time machine though. How can Kush do something that so many scientists from all over the world have failed, and even died trying to do?
I remember Justin Girble, the huge astrophysicist. He used to be a supermodel, but Justin burned himself across the face while trying to re-create nuclear fusion. I’m not going to write all of it down, because I’m the only one reading my diary, but anyway, nuclear fusion only happens in the sun, which is why it makes light. Some smart person said if we find that, then we can find the secret to time travel, though I have no idea why. Those two don’t seem related at all!
I gotta go, dinner’s ready! I’ll talk to you tomorrow, bye!
- - -
“Kush! Where have you been?” I frown as Kush makes his way to his room. I’ve been waiting for an half hour! I didn’t realize that he came home so late.
“Nyx? What are you…?” Kush puts down his backpack and scans the surroundings. I grin.
“It’s ceiling time!” Kush’s face visibly brightens. And I tie my hair into a bun, and Kush talks to his watch, and everything in the room shrinks.
I quickly pick up the bed, which is about the size of my hand. Kush helps me clean everything up, and stuff it in a suitcase.
“Okay, let’s get started. Kush, just paint the far side of the room black, and fade to dark blue, okay?” I picture into my mind. A beautiful blue sky fading into night with stars.
“Bossy much?” Kush wrinkles his nose but starts anyway. I beam, and get to work. A silence radiates between Kush and I, but it’s not an awkward silence. More of a comforting one, like the pitter-patter of rain in the background during the best day of my life. The day I met Kush.
It happened when I was almost six, and Kush was almost seven. Mom used to hate him because he had a “bad influence.” The first few hours I spent with him was a horrible disaster. Kush led me into the woods beside my house, and we got lost. Well, not really.
I was told that I came back crying, with tons of mosquito bites, and bleeding scratches on my arms, probably from thorns. But that’s not how I remember it.
Kush was this kid, one I had never met before, but felt that I knew him better than his own mother. The first words Kush said to me were, “Do you trust me?” I stupidly said yes, lured in with his charming smile.
I remember Kush showing me this beautiful orchard, filled with tons of blackberries, and butterflies fluttering about.
Kush showed me how to catch dragonflies, and make them rest on your finger willingly, without hurting them. He showed me his little garden of worms, which I ran away from in disgust. Kush just laughed, and back then, I thought it was the best sound I’ve ever heard. I thought my one purpose in life had been fulfilled, for some reason.
I don’t know how we got back from the forest, but I remember Kush tripping over a branch, and me bursting into laughter.
“Nyx? Kush? Are you guys coming down?” Mrs. F shouts from downstairs, and snaps me out of my daze. I glance at my watch and stumble back in surprise. 6:45 already?
Kush grins and jumps off of his ladder. “It looks pretty good, doesn’t it?”
I look up, “It sure does.”
“Though I would say one particular side looks better…” Kush stares at me with a knowing smile, and I roll my eyes.
“Thank you. I’d say that mine looks better too,” I say, and return his smile. Kush’s turns into a smirk.
“Paint your name on the better looking side please, which is obviously mine.” He hands me a paintbrush dipped in white paint, and I take it begrudgingly.
I walk up the ladder and write my name in cursive, since I’m pretty good at calligraphy. “Can I write your name too?” I ask Kush, looking back.
He shrugs, “Sure.”
“Hand me the pink paint, first!” I get handed the pink paint, and I finish writing Kush’s name under mine. Drawing little hearts around them, I draw a shooting star and write “Shine Bright” under it.
“Kush? Is Nyx alright?” I hear Mrs. F’s worried voice.
“Yeah, Mom! We’re coming, just one second!” Kush shouts down for me as I get off of the ladder.
I stare at him seriously, just realizing we hadn’t worked on the time in two days. “Kush? What about the machine? I’m too artsy for it, aren’t I?”
“It can wait. I hope my Nyx stays the way she is. I need you, not someone else, ” Kush takes my hand, and I pull away, racing downstairs. He only needs me? What’s that supposed to mean?
- - -
Sorry, it’s been almost two weeks since I wrote. A lot has happened. Kush and I finished his ceiling and it looks beautiful, which also means Mom will let me paint my own! I can’t wait! But another thing happened. Kush burned himself. Yes, it was a small burn, only a few centimeters. But it was big enough to tell me that this was too dangerous. I’ve been researching a lot, and I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ve changed somehow.
I’m going over to Kush’s house right now, I’ll tell you what happened later.
Putting down the diary, I throw my jacket on. “Mom, I’m going to Kush’s house! Do you need anything?” I shout to her.
“Uh… Don’t take any of the clothes Mrs. F offers you! She already gave us too much! Bye, Nyx. Have fun,” I hear the slam of a room door and sigh.
Quickly pedaling to his house, I frown when I see no light in his bedroom, it’s usually on. I park my bike, and open the door with my key. I finally found it, thank god.
“Nyx? Kush was waiting for you, go up there and see what’s wrong. He seems really stressed,” Mrs. F greets me, and I nod.
“Kush?” I open his room door.
“Nyx! Finally!” A smile breaks out on Kush’s face.
“What’s wrong?” I take off my jacket.
“Look up!” Kush says, and it seems as if the world ignites. The painting on the ceiling comes to life, and the sun and the stars glow. I hear the background noise of a river flowing, like the one he painted so vividly on the ceiling. I grin at him.
“This is what you wanted to show me? How long did this take?” I hug him.
“Like a week. Ow!” Kush exclaims. I let go, immediately, wondering what’s wrong.
“Kush! The burn? It didn’t heal yet?” I grab his hand, examining it.
“How long are you going to keep doing this?” I open our door to the lab.
“Doing what?” Kush walks in after me.
I point to the machine, “This. How long?”
“‘Til I finish it. Why?” He picks up a notebook flipping through it.
“Kush, listen to me! When are you going to stop, and live your life?” I raise my voice, making sure he looks me in the eyes.
“I am living my life, Nyx! Why are you making such a big deal out of a burn?” He frowns.
“You know, all of my other friends are outside, hanging out at the mall, messing around when they can. That’s called living your life. Not this!” I pound on the table.
“I’ve got my best friend helping me doing the thing I love. I live luxuriously in a huge city. The people I love are always around me. So tell me Nyx, what life would I want that’s better than this?” Kush retorts, not shouting, but not talking either. I shake my head, he doesn’t get it.
“You don’t know the risks of this, do you? You think this is a hobby, Kush? Because it’s not! Get your head in the game. Maybe today you got lucky with only a little burn, but think about tomorrow. What’s going to happen to the people you love when you get hurt? What’s going to happen to me, Kush?!” Tears threaten to spill over, but I suck it in.
“Look, I can do this! With you, it’s guaranteed. Just stay with me. Nothing’s going to happen, Nyx. I understand the risks.” Kush lowers his voice and pulls me closer. He tucks a strand of my unruly hair behind my ear and cups my chin. “Just trust me.”
“If I leave, will you quit?” I pull away, cleaning up the cluttered table.
“What?” Kush’s voice sounds fragile, and I want to punch myself for making him feel that way. I want to hug him, and whisper that everything’s going to be alright into his ear and tell him that I would never ever leave him.
“I’m done, Kush. I suggest you be done, too.” I scoop my things into my arms and leave. I fuel my regret and anger into pedaling home. Tears spill down my cheeks, only to be swept away by the fierce wind that surrounds me. I see my house and throw the bike against the balcony, not bothering to lock it.
Cleaning up the mess on my face, I threw the door open, hoping no one would ask too much.
“Nyx? What do you want for dinner?” Mom shouts as I stomp my way up stairs.
“Anything is fine,” I say, trying to sound like I haven’t been crying. What did I just do? What even happened? Did I just blow up? Kush did so much for me, and this is how I repay him? What is wrong with me>
He’s the one who convinced my parents to get a dog. I remember it. Two years ago.
“Why don’t you have a dog? Nyx, you should have a dog. Grape just released their latest model.”
“You think I haven’t asked?” I frown, rolling my eyes. Kush raises his eyebrows. “Mom! Can I have a pet? Grape just released a new version!” I shout downstairs.
“I told you Nyx! For the thousandth time, no!” Mom shouts back.
“You’re doing it wrong. Learn from the master,” Kush points to himself, eyes glinting. “Mrs. R! Can I get Nyx an elephant?”
“No way! A dog maybe…” Mom trails off, and I laugh.
“She’s kidding. She won’t buy it.” I cross my arms.
“Then I will.”
And he did. I open my laptop and browse the internet until the tears stop.
- - -
I did it. Kush should stop. Kush will stop. I don’t want him to get hurt. God can only save him now.
Kush and I are so awkward. He won’t talk to me. His other friends, Ardian and Kenji were shooting me weird looks throughout the day. I don’t know why. I don’t know why I did anything. I want to run back and say I’m sorry for ever doing that. But I know it won’t be the same. At least LCAS break is coming up soon. And the worst part was that today was a field trip day, and the ballots for who we want in our group were submitted weeks ago. Which means Kush and I were stuck together. I don’t know what I’m going to do if Mom’s going to call Kush’s family over for dinner. I have to go. See you tomorrow.
I put my diary back into it’s hidden spot and look up. Should I resume drawing? That’s one of the things I only feel comfortable doing in Kush’s house. I really don’t know what I’m going to do with my life. It’s like losing a part of yourself.
I get up and rifle through my notebooks, searching for my drawing notebook. Why is it not here? I’m organized enough, I never lose things. The last time I put it in was my backpack, which I used yesterday. Today, I didn’t need it, it was a field trip.
Where did I put my backpack? Did I leave it at Kush’s house?! I don’t remember getting back. Ugh, how? Wait, what if Kush looks through it?
I drew his house, his bedroom. Actually I can’t think of what I did draw that wasn’t related to him. But I also drew him. Hundreds of times. If he knew… I don’t know. Why does my life suck this much? I breathe in and out.
Let’s hope this all goes well.