Life isn't about the big accomplishments, it's the baby steps you take to get there
| Chapter One
A scrunched ball of paper hits the side of my head before toppling to the ground. I glance to my right to see my friend, Kyle, cheekily smiling.
“If you don’t stop dreaming, you’ll drool on yourself.” He chuckles.
I lean over the desk and grab the paper ball. When the teacher isn’t looking, I toss it back. The ball hits Kyle’s shoulder before falling on the ground.
“Don’t be jealous, Kyle, that shade of green isn’t flattering on you,” I teased.
“Red isn’t your colour either,” Kyle grumbles.
I shoot Kyle a glare before the thought of him draws me back to my subconscious. The mood is ruined, but I still like the idea of my daydreams. Until then, I’ve got another five minutes and a short car trip with Kyle until I’m free.
Kyle recoups the ball from beside his shoe to throw at another student. When it hits the girl, she turns around and scowls at Kyle. I feel sorry for the poor soul but also relieved that he’s turned his attention to someone else.
Since the illusion is shattered, I settle for listening to what the teacher is saying. He’s explaining a math equation written on the whiteboard behind him. There are many hand actions, complicated terms I don’t understand and a language that might not be English.
When the sirens blasts, I grab my textbooks and jump to my feet. I follow Kyle out of the classroom and grab his arm before he wanders into the crowd.
Kyle hesitantly swings around to face me. There’s a dark swirl of anger in his brown eyes that sends a shiver down my spine.
“Are you still giving me a lift home?” I nervously nibble at my lip.
The anger from his face disappears the moment his eyes catch my slightly chewed lip. A soft smile appears as he nods his head.
“I am, I wouldn’t expect you to walk home in this weather,” he explains.
“Thank you! It’s forecasted to rain and I don’t want to get sick.” I wrinkle my nose.
Kyle tugs his arm back, then disappears into the cluster of people mingling around. He’s always made fun of me for liking Blake, but today he seems off about it.
I walk towards my locker which is located behind the science block. When I get there, I shuffle along with a group of students lazing around my locker. They quickly scurry off with annoyance clearly plastered on their faces.
Grabbing the metal lock, I leisurely put in the combination before opening the door to collect my belongings. As I reach for the notes shoved at the back, someone taps on my shoulder.
My first expectation is to wait for them to ask me to move, but as I turn around, I see Kyle standing there with a cheery smile.
“Are you ready to go?” he questions.
“Almost!” I grab a few more books.
I sling my bag over my shoulder and groan when I feel the weight pulling me down. Kyle pats my shoulder and continues walking.
“You know, a true gentleman carries the bag for the girl,” I commented.
“Let me go find lover boy then, I’m sure he’d love to carry your bag.”
“What’s wrong with you today? You seem sourer than usual.”
“There’s nothing wrong with me,” he insists.
“Fine, I’ll stop asking but I won’t stop wondering.”
When we get to his car, Kyle walks to his side and swiftly hops in. The engine rattles to life and then the stereo begins loudly pumping classic punk rock songs throughout the confined space.
Kyle drives out of the bay and speeds down the road, hitting the speed bumps roughly. I cringe at the sound of metal scraping against the speed bumps but Kyle doesn’t seem to notice.
Somehow, we arrive at my house in one piece, I can’t say that about his car, though. We walk through the open front door and towards the stairs. As soon as I plant my foot on the first step, my mother wanders into the entrance.
“Kyle,” she excitedly screams, “It’s so good to see you!”
She tightly binds her arms around Kyle’s body as she squeezes him roughly.
Kyle’s spent a lot of time lounging around the house since my brother passing; he’s sort of an add-on at this point.
“Hey, Mrs Grayson, how are you?” he asks.
“We’ve spoken about this before, call me Eleanor,” she insists.
“I’m sorry.” He blushes.
“I’ve been well, thank you! How are your parents doing? We should have a family dinner.”
“They’re good, always busy, but I can suggest it to them,” Kyle replies.
“Okay.” She nods. “Are you guys hungry? I could make something?”
Kyle quickly smacks me in the shoulder which has me gasping with shock.
“That would be amazing! I’m starved.” Kyle happily grins.
“No worries. I’ll have something made soon.”
Mom nips off to the kitchen while I race up the stairs with Kyle straggling behind. I dump my bag and blazer by the foot of the bed and then flop onto it. My legs dangle off the side as I kicked my shoes off. They clunk on the floor along with Kyle’s.
Before he joins me on the bed, he tosses his grey tie over his shoulder. Our winter uniform is horribly itchy and somewhat constricting. However, it beats trying to assemble an outfit for every day - I struggle enough as it is with weekend clothing.
“Oi, shove over.” Kyle nudges his bony shoulder into mine.
I shuffle to the side but it doesn’t seem to impress Kyle. He continues to wiggle his bottom in an attempt to get comfortable. I shift to my side which gives his wide shoulders more space. Still, it isn’t enough for him.
Kyle adjusts himself so that he’s lying on his side and we’re face to face. He rests his arm on his side, then moves it to wrap around my waist. His arms feel heavy but somewhat comfortable. Although, his intense gaze leaves me feeling scrutinised.
I let my gaze wander around my room until I noticed the framed picture resting on my bedside table. A couple of weeks before my brother’s accident, we’d attended the community fair to help raise money for a children’s charity.
When we were standing in line for face painting, Logan asked the little girl behind us what he should get. Of course, she cheerily smiled and suggested a blue butterfly. He teased her, saying a spider web would be better.
Logan was in his element as he loved kids. So, he took her suggestion and got half a blue butterfly and a spider web. She told him he looked like a prince from a fairy tale which made Logan explode with laughter.
I’d picked a unicorn sitting on a rainbow on my cheek which the girl approved of. After having our faces painted, we took a picture to send to our parents. We were so goofy but happy at that moment.
The memory of the event sends a shiver coursing through my spine. I lean over Kyle to nudge the image away but the frame loses balance and topples onto the ground.
Shards of glass scattered along the ground, leaving a shoddy feeling of guilt lapping at my heart. In an attempt to hide the image, I’d broken the darn frame Logan had gifted me.
I move to get up but Kyle pulls me towards his chest. My body slams into his chest so I bury my face into his blouse. Tears soak the thin material but he doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, by now he’s used to it.
“It’s just glass, we can replace it on the weekend,” he says.
“I can’t replace it,” I mumbled into his chest. “The frame was a gift from Logan, it’s the last thing he gave me.”
“Shh, it’s going to be okay.”
Except that’s the thing, it doesn’t feel like it’s going to be okay.
I lean back to look at Kyle. He sported a hopeful expression which begins to make me feel better. But as we gaze at each other, his head begins to inch closer to mine. Kyle’s nose rubs against mine and something about this feels wrong.
Pressing my hand against his chest, I nudge him away. Just as I do that, the door swings open and my mother strides into the bedroom with a tray of food. I leapt off the bed and nervously look at the tray.
“You were right,” Kyle mutters.
His comment leaves me feeling confused but I don’t question it. Instead, I grabbed the tray from her hands. There’s two sandwiches and glasses of water to accompany it.
“Thank you for making our food.” I nervously smile.
“My pleasure.” Mom nods, then awkwardly exit.
Despite the awkward tension threatening to suffocate me, I pass the sandwich and a glass of water to Kyle. He places the glass on the side table and then takes a mammoth bite into the sandwich.
Since I only have one side table, I sit on the ground with the tray in front of me. I pick up the sandwich and squish it into my mouth. Eating is a great excuse to avoid talking about what he just said or what was about to happen.
He’s my best friend, almost like a brother, I can’t kiss him.