By Book Nerd
Jasper laid on his bed, staring at the ceiling. He closed his eyes and pictured looking out at the ocean. The sound of waves crashing into the shore, seagulls squawking, and Rhonda’s laughing. He imagined he told he one of his world-famous jokes and had her rolling. She had a red flower in her hair had her hair swooped to the side. He was wearing swim shorts and sandals. She had said something to him and took his hand, leading him to the water. They both watched the sunset as she whispered something in his ear. His eyes opened, and his smile was disappeared as his reality came crashing back.
“Yo, Jasper. You got a sec?” Josh asked through the door.
“Yeah, come in,” Jasper said, sitting up. He watched Josh close the door behind him and sit at Jasper’s desk. “What’s up?”
“Did my sis tell you about our family?” Josh asked.
“That your dad used to be King? Yeah. I didn’t believe her, but she was pretty adamant about it.”
“Well, she’s telling the truth. Heh, for once. I guess that’s why he had such a stick up his ass all the time. But you don’t want to hear about that.”
“Okay, um, can I ask you something?” Jasper asked.
“Is it about my eye?” Josh laughed.
Josh sighed. “Only if you say what’s your deal.”
“My deal?” Jasper asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Yeah, your–” Josh put a hand over his eye and winced. Jasper moved to go help, but Josh put his hand up. “I’m grand. It just hurts sometimes. Nerves and all that.”
“Yep.” Josh put his hand down. “All good. So yeah, your deal. Everyone on our team has something wrong. My eye, Franklin was in a fire, Carmine has that large scar on her face, but you seem normal. If you share, I won’t tell anyone. Unless you want me to.”
“I don’t care. I used to steal stuff. It started out as a way to get money, but it turned into something I just did for fun. One day, my mom…kept calling me while I was on a “Job,” and I kept ignoring her. I didn’t learn until later she was on her deathbed and was trying so hard to talk to me before she passed.” As Jasper was telling the story, he had to try hard not to break down. “I hate myself every day for not answering. So, I guess you could say my pain is more internal. My brother hates me. I’m pretty sure my sister doesn’t, but I don’t know. Hell, I didn’t even go to her funeral because I was so ashamed. I mean, I went, but I stayed in my car while the service was happening.”
“I’m so sorry, Jasper. ****. I don’t know what to say.”
“Me neither. Before I was brought here, my brother and I had a huge argument about it. I stormed out of the restaurant we were at with our sister and was brought here.” Jasper wiped his face.
They sat in silence for a while before Josh said, “My father took my eye.”
“What?” Jasper’s head shot up.
“I got into a fight with one of the staff members at our house. I refused to call them servants. Less demeaning, I feel. I was adopted. He made fun of me and said I was a purchase my father felt like he had to make. I pushed him so hard it caused him permanent eye damage. Dad heard about it and felt like I had to repay the guy. I thought he was gonna make me apologize or something small.” Josh shook his head. “Not when a King is involved. He called the staff together and made me apologize to him. However, that wasn’t all. He had told me that I had to pay for damaging his staff. An eye for an eye. So, he had arranged for my eye to be removed without any painkillers. He said I needed to learn my place. *******.”
“Holy ****, dude. Just because you punched him?”
Josh laughed. “I’d do it again. Though, I don’t want to lose my other eye. Wanna see?”
Jasper nodded. Josh lifted his eye patch, and he opened his closed eyelid. A fake eye was in the socket. It was a blue eye. After Jasper saw it, Josh put the patch back. “I wanted to be different.”
“Now I’m speechless,” Jasper laughed.
“You think it’s funny?” Josh asked. His tone was cold.
“N-No!” Jasper said, then relaxed as he saw a smile spread across Josh’s face. “You’re just messing with me.”
“Yes, mate. Jesus, man, calm down,” Josh laughed. “It feels good telling someone. I didn’t want to share with the class.”
“I’d imagine show and tell would be awkward,” Jasper laughed.
“I want to say that it’s not your fault your mum died. You didn’t know. Sure, you could have checked, but it’s not your fault. That’s my two cents.” Josh stood up and walked towards the door. “I heard that food will be served in an hour. They’ll bring it to our rooms. I don’t know what tomorrow will be like, but we’ll make it through to the end, I’m sure of it. And who knows, when I win, I might just make you one of my knights.”
“Funny, I was about to say the same to you,” Jasper said as Josh closed the door.
Jasper had gone to the bathroom when he returned; a tray was on his desk. He looked around to see where it could have come from. The tray had chicken, peas, mashed potatoes, and water. It also had a card on it that told him to leave it outside his door when he was done. The food was still sizzling, so it had just been made. He didn’t care. He was starving. When he was finished and put the tray outside, Jasper looked around his closet and saw a few more tracksuits with his number on them.
Jasper went back to his bed and turned on the monitor. After clicking through the channels, he turned it off in frustration.
“Seriously? All these channels and there’s nothing but static?” Jasper asked. He turned over and closed his eyes. “Tomorrow’s the day. I’ll show Ben and all of them. I can make it. I WILL make it.”
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