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Fiction Friendship High School

     I shifted my position slightly and looked up from my artwork. The trees swayed in the breeze, and I watched a blackbird fly in front of me and lite high in a nearby maple. He opened his beak wide, and I tilted my head, watching him. In short order, he was joined by another bird. The breeze ruffled through her sooty-brown plumage as she landed on the branch beside him. They were a pair. They were together. They had each other. My pencil moved rapidly across the paper as I wished, not for the first time, that graphite was not just black and white. After preening for several minutes, the blackbird lifted off and flew away, his mate right behind him. 

     The birds were gone; my gaze shifted to the left. A tall red-headed girl and her brunette friend were just strolling into the park. Their lips moved; their expressions changed. I did not know their names. I only knew them by the color of their hair and their faces. This was my favorite part of the day. I got to watch the kids from Greenville High play their weekly game. Every Saturday, they gathered at the park, beneath the bleachers that I loved to perch on, and played basketball. Girls against boys, or at least that is what it looked like to me. I did not understand the game very well. 

     More girls filtered in in pairs and in trios. I glanced to the right and my attention was transferred to the boys. While the girls strolled hand in hand, the boys pushed and shoved each other, stole each other’s caps, and just made a lot of disorder in general.  

     One boy lagged behind the rest. I watched him pull out his cell phone and plop down on the lowest bleacher. After texting for a minute or so, he stood up, shoved the phone back into his jeans pocket, and moseyed over to the edge of the court where one of the tallest boys had already made a basket. I could tell that the game had begun, and I did not understand why this boy was not playing. He just stood to the side and looked on. Like me.  

     Once, a couple of weeks ago, the red-headed girl had climbed up to where I sat high in the bleachers. She had looked into my eyes and her lips had moved, but I did not understand. I could not hear her. Only silence. I had pointed to my ears and shook my head and she had simply turned and walked away. Since then, she had never even glanced at me again. 

     Looking back down at my sketchbook, I flipped back a couple of pages and stared at the sketch I had had made of her. Her thick hair was flowing over her shoulders, and she was smiling. Smiling at me, I liked to think. If only I could have understood what she was saying that day. 

     I closed the sketchbook and focused on the game again. The redheaded girl was fast and quick, but she was no match for the tall, straw-haired boy who had made the first basket. He took that ball away from her without even touching her, dribbled it down the court, and passed it to another boy, who, in turn, tried for the basket. It bounced off the backboard and the straw-head took it up to make another point. I knew that most ball games were won by the team who scored the most points and I had figured out that to make a basket must be to make a point. 

     My gaze returned to the boy on the sidelines. The wind blew through his black hair, and he reached up and pushed it off his forehead. In comparison with the straw-head, he was decently tall and not chunky or apparently handicapped. Maybe he just did not know the game well enough to play.  

     As if sensing that he was being observed, the boy glanced up at me. I did not look away and we stared at each other for what seemed like a long time. Finally, he moseyed away from the sidelines and started toward me. 

     I tensed inwardly. I did not really want to re-live the scene with the redhead. I did not want to watch someone else turn and walk away. Briefly, I considered leaving before he got to me, but I knew that that would be rude. Rude people were lonely people, and I was tired of being lonely. 

     He smiled as he drew closer and then his lips moved, and he pointed to the spot beside me. 

     Hoping that I was right in assuming that he was asking if he could sit down, I nodded.  

     I watched his face. His lips moved again and then he looked at me closely, expectantly. 

     Slowly, I pointed to my ears and shook my head, refusing to give into the tears that threatened behind my eyes. I knew that now was when that look would come over his face and he would get up and walk away. 

     He stared down at his shoes, but he did not move. 

     I waited, puzzled.  

    Finally, he raised his head again and scanned my face. His eyes were blue green, like sea water. Again, I wished for colored graphite. Eyebrows raised, he pointed at my sketchbook. Instinctively, part of me wanted to back away. My sketchbook was like a diary to me. I drew everything that meant anything to me. But another part of me wanted to share with this boy what I liked most to do. If he stayed here, I would not be alone.  

    Hesitantly, I opened it up to the sketch of the blackbird and his mate. I glanced at my companion’s expression. His face broke into a grin, and he gave me a thumbs-up, which I knew to mean something like Good Job! A warmness swept through me, and I smiled back. 

     He reached over and carefully flipped to a blank page. Then he raised his eyebrows again and pointed at me. I did not understand, so I handed him my pencil. He pointed to himself and then wrote something on the empty page. I looked at it:   Brendon 

     Gently, he gave me back my pencil and again pointed to me. I got it then and quickly scribbled down my own name: Evelyn 

     Then I pointed down at the kids on the basketball court, at him, and lifted my shoulders.  

      His eyes sparkled like the sun reflecting off the ocean. He reached for my pencil again and I handed him the sketchbook as well. I watched, fascinated, as he traced out the form of a leg with a brace on the knee. Then he tapped the drawing with his pencil and tapped his knee. Because of his jeans, there was no way to tell that he had an injury and with the help of the brace, he did not really limp. I understood: He could not play basketball because he had hurt himself somehow. 

     He then did a quick but unbelievably detailed sketch of a boy and a girl at a picnic table eating ice cream. He pointed at the drawing, at himself and me, and then gestured toward the ice cream place at the far end of the park. 

     I could not stop smiling as I nodded my yes. For the first time ever, I had a friend. 

December 22, 2022 16:10

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7 comments

Wally Schmidt
21:58 Jan 12, 2023

What a sweet story of two people overcoming their difficulties and making room for each other. I wanted to read a happy story and I am here for this.

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Molly Layne
18:23 Jan 13, 2023

Thank you so much! I'm really glad that you liked it!

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John K Adams
01:20 Jan 03, 2023

This is a beautiful story. I use hearing aids and dread a complete loss of hearing. I've seen it isolate too many people. You showed it can be overcome in a beautiful way.

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Molly Layne
14:33 Jan 03, 2023

Thank you so much, John! That means more than you know!

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John K Adams
01:20 Jan 03, 2023

This is a beautiful story. I use hearing aids and dread a complete loss of hearing. I've seen it isolate too many people. You showed it can be overcome in a beautiful way.

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16:19 Dec 30, 2022

Hi, I thought this was a cute story that explored the prompt to a T. I can see where the artistic influences bleed into your work as well; it was also a nice way to get me into the protag's corner with how she draws the girl who snubs her, which was a sombre moment. As far as critique goes, I would've liked a bit more sensory description (deaf people process touch differently, for instance) and a bit more info about the protag's life since I wasn't quite sure what age she was meant to be, but other than that, the story did what it needed t...

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Molly Layne
21:44 Dec 30, 2022

Thank you so much, Joshua, for your input and critique! I really really appreciate it and I will keep what you said in mind! Molly

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