Contemporary Fiction Friendship

The advertisements that laid inside the window of the convenience store on the corner of fifth shone brightly as whoopie cushions, taser gum, electric pens, and more created a mournful expression on Demitry’s face as memories of his past shone before his empty, lifeless eyes. 

   The treacherous day was April 1, 2001. He was always an introvert and his face reddened so deeply that he was a tomato whenever he had to perform something even as simple as solving a problem on the board or presenting something in front of the class. The stress didn’t help him thrive like others, it always made him mess up even more and resulted in people making a mockery of him or or taunting as the advertisements did now in front of him on the crispy spring morning of March 31st as he sat there in front of the glass with his coffee beginning to scald his hand as he held it firmly. He quickly took a sip of the bitter beverage, took a deep breath, and began to walk away from the distant memory of his past that still haunted him everywhere he went. 

   “Man, tomorrow I’m so excited to prank all of my friends!” Alexander said as he and Demitry strode down Main Street. While Demitry carried a bag filled with bagels, strawberries, chips, and chicken, Alexander’s held fake vomit, whoopie cushions, condiments filled with nasty surprises and more trickery that caused Demitry to feel sick to his stomach. 

   “Um, none of those pranks are for me, right?” Questioned Demitry with a hint of slight fear in his voice.   

   Even though the pranks seemed little and harmless, Demitry was practically made of fear and each step he took through life he took with caution as the easiest thing set him off. 

   “Nah, don’t worry,” Reassured Alexander. 

   He easily sensed what Demitry was thinking of as he could begin to see him redden and slightly shake. 

   “Dude, you have to let it go,” Alexander said, stopping on the middle of the sidewalk. 

   People passed by them swiftly, parting to the corners as they ran from A to B in a hurry. 

   “I-I,” Demitry started, not knowing what words to bring out of his mouth next.

   “Look, I know it’s hard for you to let it go, but that was 6 years ago! You can’t be living in the past and not live the life you should be right now. You can’t just be afraid of everything and not take risks, let go from your worries, or just simply have fun!” Alexander exclaimed, reaching his arm out to his friend who looked as pale as a swab of cotton as he sat there, moving from one foot to another. 

   “I know you can do it,” Smiled Alexander as he crossed the sidewalk to the other side of the busy street where he entered his apartment after waving a goodbye to his friend. 

   Demitry returned the wave, then sat there with Alexander’s final words hanging above his head. He started walking down the road to his apartment where he hoped to forget the day as a whole as he prepared himself for the day that followed. 

   That night thoughts raced through Demitry’s mind as if it were a race track. He walked into the lunchroom that was left unattended with his paper bag lunch clutched tightly in his trembling hand as he slowly stepped into the battle zone that was his greatest enemy. Kids were scattered around the tables as they threw food at one another and their chatter filled the room, sending Demitry’s head into a pounding pain. The hit came at once, sending him spiraling down into darkness. The bitter, cold paint tumbling down the inside of his shirt, the goosebumps being sent up and down his paralyzed body. Suddenly feathers were decorating the bitter blue paint, tickling his nose. His face burning hot with embarrassment as he sat there, barely moving a muscle. The stone cold laughter of the children haunted his ears as he gaped at the hundreds of eyes staring back at the blue feathered boy. 

   “April Fools, moron!” Came a voice from the biggest bully in the school. Harvey Rickmoder stood up, the nastiest grin smeared over his face. “Wow, I didn’t realize how much better you look as a bird!” He let out a laugh that sent the entire lunchroom into a mix of pointing with stalky fingers and echoes of cackling. 

   Suddenly Demitry awoke from the terrible nightmare that brought back those awful memories. He gasped, panting for air, looking around wildly with wide, terrified eyes. He threw his head back down on the stiff pillow, and stared at the popcorn ceiling. What to do? He thought back to his friend’s final words before going back to his apartment. An idea suddenly bloomed, one to rally against April Fools and one to help him let go of his treacherous memory. His lips formed into the shape of a smile, something that was non-existent for years.

   The next morning Demitry decided to get an early start on his day of fixing wrong. By 7:00 a.m. he was already in Central Park with his coffee, shining a bright smile as he strode on down the cobblestone paths and sidewalks. The breeze blew gently, rustling the trees and creating the perfect April temperature to start of the day on a high note. The park was surrounded with people talking to one another and dogs running around and barking viciously as they fought each other for the battle royale of catching the red disc. Demitry came up to a young lady who was scrambling around on the pavement trying to gather dozens of papers that had flown from her grasp. He put his coffee down and got on his knees then started retrieving some of the papers around him. The lady turned to him with a bit of surprise, then a warm smile spread across the creases of her face.

   “Thank you so much!” She said as she got up off the ground.

   “No problem! Here you go,” Demitry handed over the papers. 

   “You know, I’m so hesitant to trust anymore on the norm, especially on April Fools!” She gave a slight chuckle.

   “Me too! I hate April Fools and I had a really bad experience a few years back, so I decided to just do good the whole day instead of bad.”

   She tilted her head and a small smile spread across her face. “I find that to be a pretty brave thing to do. Good luck,” She walked back over to her bag and packed her papers away.

   Demitry gave her a final look before picking up his coffee and continuing down the pavement. 

   After a few more good deeds that boosted Demitry’s mood, he spotted Alexander near a picnic table with some other people. Suddenly he spotted Demitry.

   “I’ll talk to you guys later!” Alexander shouted as he ran over to his friend. “Hey dude! I didn’t think you’d be out today!” He said with a surprised tone in his voice.

   “Yeah, I just decided to take your words and use them well!” Demitry replied, beaming a little. 

   “Wanna walk for a bit?”

   “Yeah sure!”

   The two started on their walk, talking about what pranks Alexander pulled on his friends and which good deeds Demitry decided to make. Suddenly when they took a slight turn, the sight Demitry was faced with nearly made his heart drop to the bottom of the Earth. Harvey Rickmoder stood dead center in the path with his two goons that he still hung around - Derek and Peter. Before Demitry could pull up his hood to hide his face, he heard the stiff laughter that shattered the still air around him. 

   “Hey! Demitry!” He shouted, stopping in front of him and Alexander. “Your the last person I’d expect to see, especially on April Fools,” He raised a slender eyebrow, and the two bafoons on either side of him gave a slight chuckle with a sly grin.

   “Yeah, I just wanted to get out,” Replied Demitry in a voice that was practically that of a mouse.

   Suddenly the eyes of Harvey had a glint to them, like he was becoming an evil mastermind. 

   “Hey, I’m really sorry for how I treated you back in school. I have a sunflower butter sandwich if you want to have it as a sort of truce,” Harvey held out the sandwich with a sort of guilty look on his face.

   Demitry stared for a good three seconds not knowing what to do, then carefully grabbed the wrapped sandwich from Harvey’s hand. The moment he unwrapped the foil, Harvey was leaning in with a devilish expression on his face. Right before he could take a bite, Alexander’s eyes went wide.

   “No! Don’t! It’s peanut butter!” He shouted, smelling the scent lingering around in the air. 

   But by then it was too late. The sandwich was already in his mouth. His lips swelled and he became all red. Alexander turned on Harvey and the goons. 

   “You knew it was peanut butter! You sick monster!” He shouted to the three pranksters.

   “April fools,” Harvey said in a flat tone, stepping back from everyone. 

   Seconds later, the ringing of ambulance sirens were heard all around the city, blaring their warnings. The once harmless pranks and jokes were not so harmless anymore as Demitry was loaded into the back of an ambulance and taken away with a chance of never coming back.

March 29, 2021 20:20

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