I woke up with a throbbing headache in the middle of a gym floor underneath a flipped over buffet table. It appeared there had been a party there the night before. There were ripped streamers taped to the walls. There were puddles of spilt crimson red punch in various places and crumbled cupcakes sticking to the walls glued by blue frosting. Worst of all, I didn’t remember who I was.
I tried to sit up and I hit my head on the table only making my headache worse. I army-crawled out from underneath the stained white table and stood up to look around. There were two ajar double doors with a banner next to it that read “Hunter College: Go Hunter Hawks!” I dizzily walked out the door towards a bathroom to wash my face.
I looked in a mirror to find a goatee and mustache sloppily drawn on my face. I practically scrubbed my skin off trying to get the marker off. My face burned almost as much as my head throbbed.
Pretty soon, I found an exit. I walked out to find a bustling city. Cars honked and cab drivers shouted uselessly at traffic lights. Tourists stared with awe into every storefront window that they were able to shove themselves through the crowds to see.
I started to walk down the calmest street I could find. I looked at a street sign to try to figure out what street it was. My vision was a little fuzzy so I couldn’t exactly read what it said. It appeared to say “97 Sfnoet.” I knew that couldn’t be it so I racked my brain for street names. I decided it must read 97 Street.
At first I thought it was nothing, but then I realized a nerdy looking boy with round glasses, a pastel green button down shirt, khaki pants, a dark purple tie, leather loafers and short blonde hair started following me, trying to catch up. He looked about my age.
I speed walked, almost ran, around the block twice to make sure. He was definitely following me.
“Henry!” the boy shouted, “Wait up!” I assumed I was Henry, so I waited on him. Even though I was only about ten feet away from the nerd-looking boy, he was still out of breath when he finally reached me.
“Was that college party enough to make you want to ignore me?”
“You’re a nerd. I’m sure a lot of people try to ignore you.”
“You, Annabeth and Taylor are the most popular high school students in New York City. Yesterday, you were this kind fun-loving guy who stood up for anyone you could. Then you got invited to some stupid New Year’s party at Hunter College. The next day, you're acting like a jerk towards me.”
“Who are you again?” I asked. He probrally thought I was stupid.
“I’m Sheldon Grant. I’ve been your friend since second grade.”
“Sorry, I guess I hit my head at the party.”
“I heard these big college kids talking about some “punk” as they said that the biggest one (I think his name was like Bradley or something) got into a fight with. The other kid got shoved into a table.”
“I guess I’m the “punk” who was stupid enough to get into a fight with the bulkiest college student in Manhatten.”
It got dark pretty quick so I asked Sheldon if he knew where I lived. He took me to a small apartment on the dark outskirts of New York City. It was just then when I realized I was wearing tattered, ripped jeans and an old t-shirt with faded writing. It was already kind of late, so there were not any lights on in the windows. There were broken blinds, chipped paint, cracked bricks and a rickety fire escape.
I didn’t have the key to the door, so I crept back downstairs and into the dark streets. I crawled up the fire escape, careful not to step on the many thin, rusty bars.
“Bye, Henry!” Sheldon called, “See you tomorrow!”
“Can you say that a little bit louder? I don't think New Jersey heard you!” I said sarcastically with an edge to my voice.
“Okay!” he said. He took a deep breath and was about to let all the air out in one big shout. I cut him short.
“It is just an expression!” I said, now getting a little agitated. He shrugged and walked away.
I slid into what appeared to be my room. There were sports posters taped to the walls and dirty socks on the floors. Each sock had a different sized whole in it just like a lot of my other clothes. I flopped onto the bed tucked away in the corner. I layed there staring at the popcorn ceiling; connecting the dots.
I don’t remember falling asleep, but that night I had a dream. In my dream, there was a girl who looked about my age. She wore a red bandana, holding back her lucious, chocolate, brown curls. She wore a black top, light colored jeans and red Converse hightops. There was another boy with sandy hair that reminded me of salt and pepper. He wore jeans and a black and red flannel shirt. There was another bulky kid who wore an old AC-DC t-shirt and baggy black pants.
“Leave him alone, Bradley!” the girl shouted. She landed a punch on his nose.
“Keep out of it, Princess Annabeth!” Bradley shouted.
“Why don’t you leave both of them alone?” the boy with sandy hair said.
“Taylor and Annabeth,” I said, grabbing their attention, “I can fight my own battles.”
He tried to land a punch, but I dodged it. I got a punch on him. I tried to remember some of the karate moves I had learned a couple of years ago from Master Wang. Bradley swung a punch at me and landed it. The force knocked me into the buffet table like a bullet and just like that I was unconscious. Annabeth ran to my side. Her face was the last one I saw.
That is what happened last night at the party.
I woke up to someone rapping on the door.
“Rise and shine, sleepy-head!” my dad called, “Breakfast in ten minutes!”
I slipped into a pair of jeans and what I hoped was a clean t-shirt.
I walked into the kitchen and saw a pretty lady with emerald eyes and wavy brown hair. She wore a navy and white blouse with black leggings. To her right, sat a girl who looked about five years old. She had stringy blonde hair and a lavender nightgown with cartoon bunnies printed all over it. Next to the little girl, sat a tall man with a big toothy smile and a polo shirt and khaki pants.
“Henny!” the girl shrieked.
“Jamie, no screaming in the house,” my mom said.
“Hey, Jamie.” I said.
“Henry, there are some biscuits, blueberry muffins and bacon on the counter,” my mom said.
It was when I walked over to the counter when I realized how good the kitchen smelled. The bacon was sitting on a paper plate by the stove still pretty hot. It appeared the muffins and biscuits had just come out of the oven.
“Eat fast,” my dad said, “Taylor will be waiting for you.”
Taylor was the boy in my dream with sandy hair. All of a sudden, I got mad at him. Him and Annabeth. I got knocked unconscious and they just left.
* * *
“Hey, Henry!” Tyson called.
“Why would you leave me unconscious on the middle of a gym floor?” I asked, shaking my head.
“We didn’t want to,” Tyson tried to explain, “For some reason, Bradley drew a mustache and goatee on your face. He kicked Annabeth and I out. We tried to fight.”
We walked down the street and talked about the fight.
“Hey, have you heard from Annabeth?” he asked, “She was supposed to meet us here.”
I checked my phone. There weren’t any messages or voicemails from her.
“I don’t have any messages,” I said.
We were in a darker part of town now. I heard a bang and a small crack. Then another bang.
Taylor and I peered into the nearest alley. Nothing. We looked in the alley across the street.
I was shocked at what I saw. In the alley, I saw Sheldon lying against a dumpster, too scared to move. Standing up next to him was Annabeth with her bandana holding back her brown curls. Her fists were raised, ready to punch.
Then I saw who Annabeth was fighting with. Bradley.
“Who knew this princess knew how to fight!” Bradley chuckled. The two goons behind him snickered.
Annabeth didn’t say anything.
“Hey!” I shouted. Taylor tried to pull me back but it was too late.
“Well, if it isn’t Henry the sissy,” Bradley hissed.
Taylor slipped over by Annabeth to help her with Bradley’s goons. Taylor took the smaller one and Annabeth took the larger one.
“I’m sick of you, Bradley,” I said disgusted.
“You’re one to talk,” he spat. He swung a punch and missed. This time I actually remembered the karate moves. I did a roundhouse kick, knocking Bradley into a dumpster.
You could easily tell Bradley played football. He did a perfect tackle on me. Quick as a hare, I slipped out of his grasp. He was still trying to get up, so I shoved him into the hard, brick wall. Taylor had already taken out the goon he assigned himself to, so now we were all helping Annabeth. I’m not saying she’s weak, it’s just the goon she was fighting was twice as buff as Bradley himself. And he was pretty buff.
The goon had two black eyes and a busted lip. Annabeth only had one scratch on her chin and a bruise on her arm.
Before the goon saw me, I snuck up behind him, gave Annabeth a wink, and pushed the goon with all of my might towards Annabeth. She punched him in the face, knocking him off his feet and caused him to fall on his face.
Taylor hoisted Sheldon up and slung one of Sheldon’s arms over his shoulder and said, “Well, I guess Sheldon and I should be headed back home,”
“Wait. You guys live together?” I asked.
“Duh, we’re twins. Remember?”
“Oh, yeah. Sorry,” I replied.
After Taylor and Sheldon left, it was just Annabeth and I, left alone in the dark alley. Neither one of us knew what to say.
Annabeth did something I never thought she would do.
She ran up and hugged me.
“Thank you,” she said, with a quiver in her voice, “And I’m so sorry,”
And then, I hugged her back.
“It’s okay,” I said.
I didn’t have to worry about Bradley anymore, and I remembered who I was. I was friends with (in my opinion) the best girl in the world. Things couldn’t be better.