It was the day after the Paris bombings, or at least, I think it was. I wouldn’t remember much of it anyway; I was so disillusioned by the fact that I just got a B on my Honors Pre-Calc test that I didn’t give a damn about anything else. It was January, no February, I don’t know actually. I just remembered that I thought my life was falling apart all around me, and I couldn’t do a damn thing about it.
I mean, come on, why would I care about Paris when it was a couple thousand miles and an entire ocean away from me? But my grades though, my grades were everything. College was right around the goddamn corner, and I was scared almost out of my mind. Failing that stupid test meant that I had to get a 93.7 on the next one in order to keep my A, and if I kept my A I could have a 4.83 GPA, and if I got my 4.83 GPA I could go to a decent enough college like UCLA or Princeton. I wasn’t good enough for Stanford or Harvard, because that was what my grades told me, and so I guess Princeton would have to do.
It was rainy. Cold, and absolutely miserable and dreary. The sky was split asunder by dark gray clouds and gloomy drafts of cold bitter air. It looked like the grungy act of a 1960s movie, or something bizarre like that.
And I secretly liked it.
The school bell rang like the screeching of a demon from hell, and it was one of the most agonizing noises I’ve ever heard. I swear, the only other time I get even this closed to kicking something is in the morning, when the alarm clock wakes me up for school.
And school, oh man school. School was so freaking stupid, but I had to like it because it was my only way into college which was also my only way into a good career and random stuff like that. I dunno man; I guess it was just something everyone likes.
I was in Pre-Calc at the time, and Mr. Guesk, the teacher, was a friendly ole chap. He was real nice for a man of his age, and was probably what you usually think of when the word ‘teacher’ comes to mind, all friendly and all. The receding hairline, along with the polo shirt, and the slacks and nice dress shoes only added to his image.
His room was even worse, I think. Beige everywhere. I hated beige. It was as if some idiot decided to mix white and caramel and got an ugly color, but instead of discarding it, I guess they wanted to own something and decided to name the freaking thing an actual color.
I even hated the goddamn name.
Anyways, the chap called me into his class, sat me down in front of him with a sort of odd expression on his face and talked. There was an odd twinkle in his eyes, which kinda drove me crazy ’cause sometimes I just wanted him to be a regular teacher but other times, I loved the way he articulated things and had little talks about life and all.
“So Merci, I see that you got a B on your last test?”
His voice was low, deeply tuned like the cello in an underground symphonic orchestra.
“Mhm,” I replied, thinking about the stupid grades and stupid school and the stupid math class. Honestly, I didn’t even like math, I just liked the class because Mr. Guesk made the damn thing sorta fun.
I guess he realized that I wasn’t paying much attention to him or whatever, because he said my full name.
“Mercedes, please. I understand that you’ve never gotten a B on a test in your entire high school career? I just wanted to tell you that it’s ok to fall sometimes.”
That got me angry, and I didn’t even know why. Heat pooled in my stomach as my throat churned with red.
“No it’s not!” I snapped at him, mouth contorting dangerously. “If I don’t have a 4.83 GPA I won’t get into a good college, and that’s the end of my life.”
It might’ve been a trick of the light, but Mr. Guesk looked awfully sad right then and there. His expressions curled back like a kicked puppy, but it was almost as if he felt sorry for me.
That made me angrier, and I suddenly didn’t know why I even liked him as a teacher.
“Look, can I go now?” Frost crept through the cracks of my lips as I glared at the ground or rather, nowhere in particular. I can’t explain it, I just felt so freaking mad. It was like he was telling me that all my life would amount to nothing.
That’s not true, I told myself.
That’s not true at all. He’s just an old fart who got stuck as a teacher, making a salary of only $50,000 dollars a year. That won’t be me, I vowed.
My name would be known across the world, and I’ll be rich and famous through school and studies and get to a good college because…
I dunno actually, but I just knew that I had to become rich and famous because everyone wanted to be rich and famous I guess.
I stalked out of his room with his sad, old eyes entranced on my back. I pulled the tight strings of my gray sweater in tighter, and pulled on a pair of knitted fingerless gloves.
It was a cold day, I thought to myself as I stepped out of the K building, where all math related classes were held. The blue gate in the math building loomed above me as I stepped under it, and out into the school yard.
Woodbridge High School.
I think the first impression that I ever had of this place since I moved here a year ago, was that it looked like something out of a school poster boy magazine. It was obnoxiously bright red and gold, and everyone wore bright red and gold and all the buildings were bright red and gold.
I hated bright red and gold, even though I think I was supposed to like it or something, as everyone here wore it.
And enter Nick.
And he also wore red and gold.
“Hey dude, how’d do you on that math test?”
He knew exactly how I did on my math test.
Nick Patel was this Indian bloke who I would call my friend, I guess. He stuck to the same dress code over and over again, as if his body just couldn’t wear anything other than a bright red polo shirt with a number on the sleeve, nice khakis that sorta resembled a pale gold, and crimson running shoes.
Sometimes, when he decides to get really wild with his clothes, he puts on a suit over the polo, and wears that to school nonchalantly, but you know he’s trying to show it off because his usual dialogue is something along the lines of:
“Oh this? Yeah I wear this everyday like casually and stuff.”
“I got a B.”
“Oh that sucks dude.” A sort of empathy entered his voice. “You know if you get any more B’s you’re gonna be fucked right?”
I grumbled and nodded.
“Yeah whatever, let’s just go meet up with the others and grab some food or something.”
It was a Friday afternoon, and even though Friday’s were supposed to be sunny, it really wasn’t. Gray clouds filled the sky like cigarette flavored cotton candy, and the occasional rumble of thunder serenaded the day quite perfectly, in my opinion. Blankets of rain fell slowly around us as we made our way through the almost empty schoolyard, and to his lockers, which was our usual meeting spot.
As we got closer to the little canopy that sheltered the row of lockers, I could see the rest of the people I hung out with.
I guess you could call them my friends. We were considered the overachievers of the school, but who doesn’t want to get into a good college for engineering? I mean, art’s so useless anyways.
“Sup bruvs,” I muttered as I stepped into the little circle of humans. Body heat encircled the air, and I relaxed a little.
“Still wearing black and gray?”
That was Thor.
“You know someday you’re gonna get stopped by the principal right? I mean, everyone wears red and gold. Why don’t you just freaking do it?”
“I dunno. Don’t feel like it.”
I already felt worse for wear.
“Listen guys, let’s just get some food yeah? We should stop picking on him.”
That was Aileen. She was the only one I was kinda close to in the group, and she was pretty cute I guess. She had a nice chest, and long skinny legs that matched her torso. Basically, she was a pretty fit bird. Obviously, you weren’t supposed to care about personality, because no one did, so it’s all about physical appearance.
Anyways, I think everyone in the group has had a little crush on her sometime.
But because it was “bros before hoes”, no one really made a move. Either that or we were all scared to. But I think we knew that we had to make the move, because according to the movies, all the guys had to make the first move.
In my heart, I thought it was a really stupid rule, but I just went along with it because I had nothing better to do.
Frosty breaths of steam escaped my parched lips as we climbed under the bridge at the south entrance to the school. We were heading to Wing Stop, which was our usual spot, as it was next to LA Fitness.
We had this routine where all the guys went to LA Fitness after we ate, because it was apparently fun to go to the gym, and all the girls would come to watch.
I guess I liked it, because according to Nick and my parents as well all boys had to work out and build muscle. I dunno, I was never really a fanatic about it like Nick or Mason or Dick, but I forced myself to think it’s cool.
Wing Stop was located on this little alley way in the middle of a large mall, and it served hot wings and fries and stuff. It was kinda good, I guess, and I usually got their little 11 wing combo or whatever.
The shop itself was colored beige, which I hated, and it had a couple of tables outside where all the artists and songwriters sat. Our group didn’t really associate with them, because we knew that they were stupid and unrealistic and probably not going to a good college.
I lifted my gaze to the outside tables for a brief second, and my gaze lingered on them for a brief second.
There were a couple people there, like 2 to be exact. The first was dressed in black from head to toe, with a hood up, and he looked vaguely familiar. The other was a girl, who looked like she had a face straight out of a magazine, and she was dressed like a girl out of time. It was like she was still stuck in the 1950’s, with a skirt and high socks and converse. A light pink color, almost a shade of periwinkle, adorned her torso.
“Hey. It’s your turn to order.” Aileen again, her voice snapped me out of my entranced gaze.
“Oh. Oh sorry.” I muttered as I stepped up to the counter to get my food.
I literally got the same thing every time I got here, I realized with a start after I finished ordering, and so did everyone else. It was always 11 wings with fries and a drink and a side dip of ranch.
We sat down in the middle of the little wing shack, and settled down noisily. The cacophony of backpacks hitting the ground, and zippers zipping and unzipping was kinda unbearable. I shoved my hands deeper into my light gray sweater, and blinked a couple of times to clear the dust inside my eyes.
“What do you guys wanna do after this?” That was Dick.
Dick was an odd bloke from Vietnam, I think, and he was tall as hell. He practically rose above the rest of the group like the Eiffel tower in Paris, and he always had this smug or cocky smile. I had never told him this, but I’ve always wanted to wipe it off.
I shrugged in response to the question, as I knew someone would respond sooner or later.
“The gym of course. I need to keep working on my biceps.” That was Nick.
“I need to work on my abs, almost got that 6 pack.”
“I need to work on my back, and my abs.”
I guess it was my turn or something, because they all looked expectantly at me. I felt kinda depressed again, for some reason.
“Ask Aileen or Claudia.”
Nick looked at me like I was crazy, which I might’ve been.
He stressed the word girls as if it was a curse word or something.
“They don’t work out.”
Mason added, and then continued with a sort of concerned expression on his face.
A punch was thrown at him.
“Ha! Gaaaaaay! If you care about him as much as that you might as well marry him!”
I got even more depressed, but I pretended to laugh along with the group.
When their stupid laughing bout was over, they once again turned to me expectantly. Only this time, I realized that Aileen and Claudia looked distinctly uncomfortable.
“I’ll work on cardio.” I muttered under my breath as I shoved a piece of lukewarm chicken inside my mouth with a fork, and chewed as quietly as I can.
Nick grumbled and shook his head.
“I swear I’ll never understand you Mercedes. You know going to the gym is your chance to get swoll and get pussy later on right? I mean, what girl likes a 130 pound skinny sack of skin and bones?”
I knew I probably should’ve gotten angry, but I was just so tired of everything.
“No! I’m serious! Are you a guy or not?!”
“Then act like it! Fucking work out and get laid already! You’re not turning into those retarded song writers and artsy people are you? You know those people are good for nothing in the end don’t you?!”
I clenched my fist under the table as I continued to listen to him rant.
It was true; I was about 130 pounds and 5’11, which meant I was skinny as a stick. I guess maybe I do need to work out or something, I thought to myself.
“Got it cap.”
“Jesus! Finally! I was scared you were gonna become useless for a second there.”
I finally looked up from my food, hoping to see something, anything on the other’s expressions.
I guess I shouldn’t have been more disappointed than I was, because I should’ve known they all agreed with Nick. Everyone agreed with Nick, and by everyone I don’t mean just our little group. I meant the world, television, magazines, TV shows, all of them.
“All right man, whatever. Let’s go work out then!” I injected a bit of energy and enthusiasm into my voice, to try to feel better about myself.
Mason nodded approvingly.
“There’s the spirit!”
We grabbed our stuff, and headed over to the big hulking building that was the gym, almost as if it was trying to compensate for something.
I did the little running machines, and everyone else split off into their little groups, with the girls giggling and pointing and the guys huffing and puffing.
In the end, only Dick ended up next to me.
In the past year that I’ve known him, I still dunno if Dick was his real name, or a nickname. I’ve always assumed that it was a nickname, but now I’m not even sure anymore.
I grunted at him as I turned up the obnoxiously loud and horrific rapping of the only things on Spotify recently. I grimaced at the number of cuss words and unnecessary racial slurs into their songs, but could only bear it because that’s what I was expected to listen it.
I guess I had to like it because every guy liked it. I mean, we couldn’t like music like Taylor Swift because that was only for girls.
“How many bitches did you score in the last month?”
The group had a little game, where the guys would see how many girls they could try to get in bed with every month or so, because it was the cool and popular thing to do. I never really joined them in on it, and I didn’t think I would ever because their stupid game made me kinda angry as well.
“I said,” Dick panted next to me as he took off his shirt to show off his 4 pack to a couple of girls who were standing in the corner. “How many bitches did you sleep with in the past month?”
I groaned internally, as my attempt at a change of subject didn’t work. I also didn’t want to see his man nipples shine in all their “masculine” glory.
Dick laughed, “That’s pathetic man. You at least should get one! I mean, no homo or anything because I’m not like those gays, but I think you could get some hot chicks if you really tried.”
I patted my ears, and tried to make the horrifying music go away as I ran in place.
I hated how he used the words “no homo”, as if giving a compliment to a friend suddenly turned into a game of sexuality preferences and crude sarcasm.
I tried to run by myself in peace, but then Dick opened his mouth again.
“You wanna know how many I fucked?”
I almost groaned out loud this time.
I decided to humor him by silently flipping him off secretly. You know? The thing where you pretend to push up your glasses with your middle finger.
The guy didn’t even notice.
“Ok, so last night, I took this sophomore chick to my beach house, and we had such a great time. She had all the things you’d look for in a girl you know? A nice vagina, nice legs, chest, all of that.”
I glared silently at nothing in particular.
That both pissed me off and depressed me to no end.
Later that day, when the entire group split up to go home. I decided I would talk to Aileen, and ask her if she wanted to hang out. I secretly harbored a tiny crush on her for the past couple of months, and I thought it might be cool with the others if I asked her out on a little tiny date.
She was special, you know?
Like not special to me, as in those chick flick romance movies, but special as in she seemed different from the rest. I had hoped that she might’ve been like me. And that was something I admired greatly. And, the fact that she was also pretty cute wasn’t a bad factor either.
“Hey,” I spoke up after it was just the two of us.
The sky above us had turned as pitch black as a nightmare, as it was probably already 10 o clock. We had finished our usual dinner of Philly’s, because it was the only food we could get near there aside from Wing Stop. You couldn’t even see the stars that night, as rain still splashed across the sky like a gray tipped paint brush.
It was a beautiful night, and the rain was my version of liquid courage.
She brushed her lovely hair behind her ears.
“I was wondering if you wanted to hang out next tomorrow?”
My neck felt incredibly hot as I must’ve looked like a walking bottle of ketchup.
Aileen looked up with a confused expression.
“Merci, are you feeling all right? We always hang out on Saturdays after homework.”
“No,” I stuttered out, “I-I-I mean, do you want to hang out just the two of us?”
“Umm,” She fixed her eyes on me, the color of viridian sea foam. “All right I guess. Where?”
“How about, Chipotle? So we can get chipot-laid?”
Aileen laughed at the pickup line Mason told me to say on any girls I met.
“Okay. Okay sure. Sounds good. Sounds great.”
Wow, I thought to myself. I didn’t know that pickup lines actually worked. I knew that everybody used ’em but I never actually asked anyone out on a date with one before, and it was the strangest experience.
It felt wrong, but I mean it worked in a way so I didn’t question it.
I gave her a half smile, when in the inside I was incredibly excited and nervous and every other possible combination of energetic emotion there was. I knew that guys weren’t supposed to show emotion or whatever, so I didn’t do anything crazy.
“I’ll see you tomorrow?”
I grabbed my bike, and pushed off into the night.
I lived incredibly close to the school, and it was only a 7 minute bike if I went my fastest speed. I had a road bike, because it was cool and popular to have one so I begged my parents for one and they agreed on the account that I got all A’s in all my classes.
But it was actually really pathetic that I still had a bike, because everybody else had cars. Everyone in the group had the newest version of the Toyota, or some other brands that I haven’t even heard of before. I think that’s really bad because apparently guys had to know all the coolest of sports cars and the fastest of all car models, and if you didn’t know one you were supposed to kill yourself or something stupid like that.
Night drafts whipped past my face as I turned on Woodhollow drive, and onto my street, Primrose Drive. Within a few seconds, I could see the rough outline of my father’s Lexus RX 350. He made me memorize that to show it off to my friends, or something like that.
It seemed like the normal Friday night, with the exception of the sound of the pitter patter of rain as it kissed the rough cement ground. Most people liked sunny weather, or nice and cloudless. But for some reason, I was always obsessed with the rain and thunder. Suddenly, I heard the sound of hard wood slap against concrete.
My head whipped around as soon as I saw a pair of feet touch the ground. I could see the outline of a person walking under a street light. And as I looked closer, I could make out she held a skateboard in her arms.
It was a skater chick.
The skater chick stopped, stared at me in a confused manner, before starting on her way right towards me.
I watched, entranced, as her hair fluttered in the wind like silken drapes. The girl flipped the board, and twisted her body. It was like a dance, as the board moved with perfect harmony with the girl. It was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen.
I didn’t realize that she came to the house a couple away from mine, which had been empty for almost a month now, until the she called out to me.
My head snapped up from my entranced state.
“Uh, hey. Hi. How’s it going?” I knew I was supposed to be polite.
The girl laughed, her voice sounded like twinkling drops of crystals.
She came into the streetlight light, and I finally saw her face for the first time. With a start, I realized she was one of the people sitting outside Wing Stop.
But then, I realized, she must be one of the artist people.
With a mumble of disappointment, I started to turn back towards my own house. My parents and the group have all indirectly told me that the artist people are bad because they don’t make any money in the future when they grow up. My parents especially, told me that singers and songwriters didn’t contribute to society because they were useless, so I stuck to computer programming and math and science.
“Where you going?”
“Inside.” I called out in disappointment.
“Oh come on! It’s a good night! Do you wanna skate with me?”
I stopped in my tracks as I realized what she had said.
“But it’s raining?”
“So? That’s what makes it fun!” She replied, a smile spilling into her voice.
That made me kinda happy, for some unknown reason.
I told myself that I pretty much had no homework whatsoever, and I’ve always wanted to see how these artist people operated, and that was the only reason why I bothered in the first place.
Fuck it, I thought.
“Yeah. Yeah okay. I’ll be right out.”
I stashed my bike inside the brightly illuminated and extremely organized garage, where everything was so freaking color coded and neat.
With an umbrella in my hand, I headed out.
I met her, a complete stranger, under the dimly lit street light with a half grin on my face. I loved the pitter patter of rain against the protective shade of the umbrella, it was one of the most soothing sounds that ever existed, I thought to myself.
Suddenly, my umbrella was yanked out of my hands by an unseen force.
“Hey!” I cried out in protest, as the girl outta time took my umbrella and threw it behind some bushes. “What’d you do that for?”
“Well now you can enjoy the rain, duh dummy!” She said with that twinkling laugh that was so maddening.
I was about to protest again before I realized that she was totally right. I felt the army of rain tickle the back of my neck, and felt the lone soldiers of water slide down my temple.
And it felt… really good.
“What’s your name?”
“Huh?” I was snapped out of my stupor once again.
“What’s your name dude?” She asked again, laughing at my little moment.
“Uh, it’s Merci.”
“Oh wow! That’s really cool! My name’s Claire, Claire Dean! How’s it going?”
“That’s… nice. How do you do?” I replied, still knowing that I was supposed to be polite.
“So Merci, does that stand for something?” She rolled my name around in her mouth like a new type of lollipop, trying to get the hang of it.
“Uh yeah. It’s short for Mercedes.” I cringed, and grimaced for her response.
Whenever I tell anyone my full name, they just make fun of it. It’s probably because I was named after a car, or whatever, and I guess liking cars were cool, but having an irregular name wasn’t. Especially the group, they sometimes called me Mercedes to annoy me, all but Aileen.
“Woah! That’s super cool!” Claire responded with enthusiasm.
I was startled.
“Super… cool?” I asked, no one had ever called my name cool before. It had always been weird or Benz.
“Yeah! Like the villa in France right?”
I was even more surprised now. I had no idea that my namesake was a villa in France, although, I’m glad there was a villa in France that was my namesake because I was always obsessed with Paris.
“That’s… right.” I broke through 2 layers that night.
“Anyways, come on, let’s skate!” Claire pulled me along and dragged me on top of the wooden plank of death.
“All right. Let’s see what you got.”
I looked at her questioningly.
“What do you mean?”
“Well you know, skate.”
“Oh. OH.” I felt incredibly stupid and awkward for a second there, and I blushed.
“Um, I don’t know how to.”
Nick would’ve made fun of me, so would Dick. And Mason and Thor and Andrew and Claudia. I don’t think Aileen would’ve.
“Well, let’s fix that.”
Claire taught me how to Ollie that night. Basically, you stomp your back foot on the tail of the board and drag your front foot up to make it level up and jump. And then, your board basically comes up with you. I felt like I was a pioneer, or someone really important like that, and it both fascinated and scared the hell outta me.
“So, what kinda music do you listen to?” Claire asked me as she guided me through the steps of a rolling Ollie.
I grimaced at the question.
“I like rap and hip hop.” I lied through my teeth. In reality, and this was something I didn’t even tell the group, I liked this really weird alternative band called The 1975 because they were really counterculture-esque. Sometimes, I dreamed about stuff, and The 1975 sang about the same stuff. They were just real about everything you know?
They were real about life.
They were real about love.
They were real about the system, and maybe that’s why I like them so much.
“Ew!” Claire laughed and crinkled her nose.
“I mean good for you man, but I hate rap.” She chuckled.
I nodded as I tried the rolling Ollie again.
“So what type of music do you like?”
“The 1975!” She exclaimed with a large grin on her face.
I blanched, as I tried to keep my thoughts coherent. “You like The 1975?”
I felt like the world had been pulled out under my feet. There was another.
“Yeah! I really like their new song, This Must Be My Dream, it’s super real you know? Wait do you like them too?”
I nodded wordlessly, and I guess she could see the shock just rolling around on my face.
I was absolutely floored.
“I thought all guys liked rap and all girls liked soft songs.” I stammered out in shock.
“Excuse me?” Claire looked kinda pissed all of a sudden.
I don’t think I understood the weight of my words or theirs at that particular moment. I think that I was just so disillusioned and shocked with the weight of my discoveries, that I didn’t even know what I was saying.
“Nothing! I just meant! I mean… never mind. I think I have to go home now. I’ll see you some other time.”
I turned and almost sprinted into my house. A skater chick, who was also an artist, and she liked The 1975 as well, the importance of the moment didn’t dawn upon me until much, much later.
But for some reason, I couldn’t get the scent of roses out of my nose.
Anyways, I knew skating which was seen as a sort of crime in the Woodbridge community because the skaters always waxed the curbs and made everything super slippery. Maybe this was why my parents told me to stay away from artists and songwriters, I told myself silently.
As soon as I got inside the beige colored house, I suddenly heard the screeching of my brother’s and my parent’s voices.
It was an argument, again.
“How come you only have a 3.8 GPA? Why aren’t you more like your brother?!” That was my mother, and she sounded pissed.
I crept inside silently, and opened the door to the living room as softly as I could to observe the absolutely tragic scene.
My brother, Cyrus, was standing against a wall and boy did he look pissed as well.
“So what? I don’t wanna be stuck in an office when I grow up and havta look at numbers all day!”
“Are you saying you want to become an artist? Are you saying you want to be poor and useless to society?” My father this time, and his voice had gained a deadly steel.
“Maybe I do! Maybe I don’t fucking care anymore!”
“Watch your mouth!”
“I’m going to my room!”
The 14 year old stormed off, yanking himself out of my mother’s grip.
I felt bad for the kid, I mean, he had never been the diamond in the rough my parents expected, and whereas I was always the valedictorian or the highest achiever, my brother cared more about his games than anything.
We were almost the exact opposites of each other, and so I wasn’t really close to him, or at least I haven’t been for 3 years. We didn’t fight a lot, we just never really talked.
But today, I decided it would probably be good to talk to him.
“Cyrus. “ I whispered as I crept upstairs and into his room. “Are you okay?”
The kid already had a League of Legends tab open, and was queuing up for a game.
“What do you care?” He responded with a grunt. “Go study or something.”
“Come on Cyrus, talk to me.”
He paused his queue.
“Why do you care all of a sudden?” He asked with a raised eyebrow.
I didn’t know the answer to the question. I actually wondered that myself, but I didn’t tell him that. Instead, I told him that I just wanted to talk and watch him play. It had been a while, maybe a couple years, since we had last played together, actually.
I had been too preoccupied with school work and extracurricular activities to give a damn about his childish games, but that day I decided to humor him.
“Okay…” He said hesitantly, and logged into a game.
“So what rank are you anyway?”
Cyrus scoffed, “You wouldn’t believe it if I told you.”
I knew a bit about League to make a reference.
“Why, you Bronze?” I teased.
In League, there were ranks and it went from Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Master, and Challenger, with Bronze being the lowest and Challenger being the highest.
The kid scoffed again, “Please, don’t compare me with those scrubs. I’m challenger rank 51.”
My jaw dropped.
“Excuse me?!” I thundered. Being challenger 51 meant he was ranked #51 out of 2 million players in North America. I had no idea my little 14 year old brother was good enough to go pro.
“Shaddap!” The kid whispered back impatiently, “I’m supposed to be sulking right now. Plus it’s not like you care anyways, you have your oh so very important school career to worry about.”
I grimaced at that.
“Come on Cyrus, don’t be like that.”
Boy did he get pissed.
“Don’t be like what? You don’t even fucking know me and I’m your own brother. All you ever wanted was to be good at school, and great fucking job you did it! Does it feel good? Huh? Huh?!”
I didn’t reply.
It was true, ever since I was younger I was always the one my parents paid more attention to, because I was the one with the good grades. I was the one who they favored because the letter A defined me more than my brother, who was characterized by a B+. When I was little, I would insult the kid and call him a B+ adopted kid, because he wasn’t good enough to fit into our family, or as I thought so back then.
Over time though, the letter grades and the school, I mean, what do they even mean man? The letter A doesn’t even stand for anything, like it doesn’t even stand for a single word. It’s just a freaking letter. And it wasn’t like there was a difference between an A or a B either.
It was as if numbers defined as in this damned world, where 3.8 and 4.33 were the scum of the earth, and 4.5 and above were the people who were role models. It wasn’t like they had personalities, or actual souls- no, they were just numbers- I was just a number.
And that made me really fucking depressed.
Jesus, now I probably sound like one of those old hippies who want nothing but world peace and free love. I’ve more important things to worry about anyway, I told myself convincingly, like good grades and college and all that jazz. But in the back of my mind, I couldn’t shake that incredible feeling of guilt and something else- something that made me feel all wrong.
Whatever, I needed to focus on the date with Aileen tomorrow anyways.