The Elder of Us: Excerpts from the Journal

Here is another excerpt from my young adult novel, The Elder of Us.

From my journal, entry _____________ 

We were so-called friends defined by the transitive property of equality which said that if a=b and b=c, then a=c, with a being me, c being him and b being her. She was our glue and our connection; therefore, we were friends.  

We had met a few months back when she had finally introduced me to her boyfriend, Eddy, and he and I had forged on what was an inevitable relationship.  Because we both loved her, we had to get along and we were going to make it work, even if the animosity between us both was clearly evident. Eddy was also friends with the other boy.   

With the other boy it was different and more tentative. To me it always felt as if he were waiting for something to happen, as if he were an outsider looking in on what was his life.  He was pleasant and funny, but always tentative.  

I loved his knowledge of the film industry and his knowledge of movies.  Somehow he was always older than his sixteen years and despite a very heavy Spanish accent, he commanded a very strong command of the English language, utilizing words where they normally would not be used by someone of his young age.  I admired and envied this in him, because although he was afraid to speak to the masses, he could speak to us and his ability to engage words was a skill I had yet not mastered.  Of all of us, he was the most eloquent and I wanted to take that from him.  

Then again, I was young too and my primary focus then was to analyze everything around me.  I was always a bystander and not necessarily a participant because while everyone’s life seemed to move forward, mine seemed to stand still as I sat and watched all of the action going on around me.  My life, as we’ve explored together in prior pages of this journal, was quite sad and lacked any of the excitement so prevalent in all of their lives. 

The other boy and I had this much in common because we were both voyeurs of their lives (hers and Eddy’s), he acting almost like a movie critic deciphering and scripting the next move, while I enjoyed the psychology of the moment, empowering myself as a judge and jury of one, hoping the others would wait for me to grant approval of their actions.  Of course, all of this was in my head because back then my ability to be self-aware was totally deluded, but for a teenager I was much evolved – or so I liked to believe. 

She maneuvered us all with the skillful art of a puppeteer, creatively bringing us together when needed and deliberately bringing us apart at her whim.  She played us brilliantly, orchestrating our individual tunes to add color to her life and we all enjoyed being played because attention from her was a prerequisite for validating our invisible existence.  She was the only one who saw us and neither Eddy, the other boy or me was willing to give that up.  

One day she and Eddy had a fight and Eddy locked himself in the bathroom with a gun.  I don’t know whose gun it was or why Eddy even had a gun, but the boy called me and told me what was happening.  I made it to her unsupervised apartment (mother working night shift – kids left to their own devices alone) where she was in the bedroom crying, Eddy was locked in the bathroom and the boy was trying to reason with him.   

I don’t remember all of the details or how we finally got Eddy out of the bathroom, but the boy and I made it happen as we watched her and Eddy reconcile, make up and continue to play the drama that was just unfolding in their lives.  I remember sitting next to the boy, ignoring the happy couple for the first time (who were locked in the bedroom at this point), nervously laughing because we had both been scared by the situation although we never thought Eddy would do anything with the gun.  Bravery was for neither one of us our strong suit.  We, however, had averted the situation somehow and in that moment our bond was finally solidified.  

On that day, the other boy and I became friends because once you’ve been a party to suicide prevention or you’ve avoided being a witness to a crime of passion, there is nothing else to do but to become close.  And though our relationship would suffer from life’s ebbs and flows, in the end we would find our true link, embracing each other’s quirks and finding the locks that froze our bond.  Much later, when Eddy was long gone from both ours and her picture, we embarked on a lifelong journey neither of us ever saw coming – we became the inevitable friends.

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