"Come on Ro, just walk away," Max said pulling on Roger's arm, trying to get him to move away from the boys taunting them. If the odds had been better, they would stay and fight, but three against eight was not fair at all
"Yeah, they're not worth it." Adam took the other arm and pulled until they were well out of range of the hurled insults.
The boys walked home from school that day hand in hand. It was always the three of them against what seemed like everyone else in the town.
"You know it's not true Ro. Why do you let them upset you?" Max kept checking behind them to make sure they weren't being followed.
"I don't know. It was Gabriel that started it," Roger said as he combed the spaghetti from his hair with his fingers.
"I saw her trip you. Why did she call you a hoe?" Adam said as he helped pick noodles from the back of her hair.
"I don't know. Why would you call anybody a hoe? A rake maybe, but a hoe?" Roger shook his head trying to dislodge more of the spagheti that had now congealed in his hair.
"You know why she did it? I saw Jason Beckman look down your shirt when he went to sharpen his pencil today in class. Gabriel saw him do it. I think she was jealous." Max put his hands on his hips, already plotting.
"Yeah right. Jason Beckman, the most popular boy in school, wants to look down my shirt. I mean really, what's he gonna see? You know we don't have boobs." Roger pulled his tomato covered shirt away from his body and shook the excess spaghetti off.
"Well, maybe he was just checking to see if you had." Max stopped strategizing long enough to answer.
"Gabriel doesn't have boobs yet either. I know 'cause I saw her behind the slide with Peter Foster. She pulled her shirt up and showed him. He even touched them!"
Max and Roger froze in their tracks, their mouths gaping open. "No way Adam. You're making that up."
Adam's chin went up. "I am not. She doesn't even wear a bra."
"Well, we don't either." Max and Roger answered in unison.
"When do you think we will get "em?" Roger asked longingly.
Adam thought a moment before answering. "I don't know, maybe when we grow up and work-out?."
"Hey come on, let's go to Mr. Kennedy's pond. We can wash the spaghetti from your clothes and take a dip all at the same time. We'll be dry by the time we get home." The three changed directions and took off running through the field to Mr. Kennedy's pond.
Roger wished they were normal. That was always the wish he made. On his birthday and on shooting stars, it was always the same wish. Just to be a normal kid. It was around the second grade that they realized they weren't normal.
Their lives up until that point had been filled with love, laughter and adventure. That was when they ralized that the treasure hunts they thought were so fun were ridicued by others as
dumpster diving. Their house was beautiful and magical to them. But others didn't understand the importance of reducing and reusing. It was a game to them to come up with a new use for something they found on one of their treasure hunts. Others laughed and called their beautiful house the trash house.
"Last one in eats worms!" Max said as he threw his shirt on the ground beside Mr. Kennedy's pond.
Laughter and squeals could be heard just before splashes were made by three naked bodies as they ran and jumped into the pond.
"So what do you think about glue?" Roger asked the other two as they floated on their backs.
"Where would you put it? In her lunchbox?" Max asked before he spits a waterfall from his mouth.
"No, that's not very creative. How about worms in her lunchbox?" Adam offered.
"That's ingenious Adam. How do you come up with these ideas?" Roger's eyes gleamed with mischief thinking about the look on Gabriel's face when she opened her lunchbox. She was such a girly girl, she would probably pee her pants!
"It's just a talent I guess." Adam ducked into the water and came back up with a mouthful of water that he proceeded to shower his brotherswith in a perfect fountain stream.
Giggling the boys set to work digging
worms from the edge of the pond and putting them in a bag from their lunchboxes, lunch boxes that at one time had been cereal boxes but were now covered in duct tape and even had a duct tape handle. That's the thing about picking on one of the Pembrook brothers. Retaliation was swift and sure, it was an unspoken rule.
They would be coming for him soon. Royden looked out the window of his new room. He missed his old room. It was the room of a young boy with parents to guide and nurture him as he grew, until one day he would become the Sheikh.
He looked around the room they said was now his. This room would never be his. It belonged to his parents and would forever belong to his parents. It made no difference to him that they would never again sleep in the bed or play with him on the rugs. One day he would make them listen, and he would move to a different room.
"Royden, it is time," Adamir, his friend, came into the room to collect him.
Royden left the room as a boy of thirteen but returned as Sheikh Royden Sion Byers of Jordan. His parents were killed only a few days prior, and now a boy was left to rule a country. The ceremony that laid his parents to rest was also the ceremony that placed the title of Sheikh before his name.
Be strong, they said. The country needs you to stand tall, they said. Everyone had an opinion of what he should do and how he should do it, but no one told him how to stop grieving for his parents. Only a few days prior his greatest concern was finishing his school work so he could play with his best friend Aamir.
He missed his mother's smile and the way she could make him feel better if he was feeling sad. She always knew just what to say. He missed his father's guidance. His father always took his time in explaining his reasons behind any decision he made. He felt safe when his father was near. Would he ever feel safe again?
He must say goodbye to his parents and his youth and move forward as the ruler of Jordan. He must not show his fear. That is what his father had taught him.
He ate his dinner quietly, the sole member at the table that could easily seat twenty. He remembered the noisy meals his family would have as they shared their day with each other. After dinner he walked back to his room and stood just inside the door. He looked at the chair by the window where his mother should be sitting working on her tapestry, but it now sat empty.
He walked to the table across the room and opened the black and gold box that contained his father's pipe and tobacco. Carefully he picked the pipe up and ran it under his nose. It smelled of his father and happier times. The last conversation he had with his father was about the women of the palace, Royden thought it was time to begin his lessons with them. His father insisted he wait another year. He had not been happy with his father's decision, but he would obey his wishes. Now it seemed irelevant.
He put the pipe back in the box and walked out the door, down the hallway, and into a guest room. If they insisted he have the master suites, then they would be redecorated and his parents possessions would be boxed up and placed in storage. He could not live in a room full of memories. It was best if they were packed up and never seen again. Just like his youth.
He slept and he ate and he sat in meeting after meeting until his life became one big meeting. They asked him to made decisions that would affect the people of Jordan. He listened and tried to understand what they asked. The elders would guide him in making decisions.
They said he didn't have time to see Aamir. Rumning his country was more important than childhood friends.
As the months went by, he became good at masking his fear and feelings. The executive board told him he was excelling as Sheikh. They told him his father would be proud. Then, he discovered many of his board members were using their allegiance to him for their personal gain. They had been guiding his decisions towards their favor.
He fired them and fined them a ridiculous amount of money. Now the people of Jordan said he was cagey and ruthless and just what the country needed. But people he had come to depend on and trust had forsaken him. A lesson learned, trust no one but yourself.
His meals were still spent in quiet isolation, but now it was his choice. He prefemed solitude instead of the disingenuous and useless conversation of people that only wanted something from him.
The lessons he learned over the years he learned well. Never show your emotions. Trust no one. Never depend on anyone but yourself. These lessons, learned so early in his life, got him through.
Roydem rose from behind his desk and walked to the window.
"Sheikh Royden. The executive board is ready when you are."
"I'm coming, Meric." The trees in the courtyard were blowing gently in the wind. He watched as several birds flittered amongst the leaves, seeming to play catch me games. He smiled, a very rare occurrence for him these days. Aamir used to play such a game with him. They would run among the palace hallways trying to catch each other and end up in a pile on the floor, laughing over silly things.
Royden straightened his jacket and put back on his mask of indifference. He turned his back to the window and the life he had before his parents were taken from him so cruelly and walked through the door towards his future, as Sheikh Royden Sion Byers ruler of Jordan.