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Us and Them

By @ZoeAmber

Act Two / Melanie

Saturday / October 13th / 4:11 AM

“Shh! Shut up. They’ll hear you.” I whisper in a high tone with a bit of grain in my voice from being awake so late. One of these days he’s going to break his back doing this kind of s**t. 

He makes his way up the slanted roof and to my window on the second level of our house. I open my window as far as it can go and offer him a hand. He pretends to slip on the shingles and I grab his forearm impulsively. He grins back at me mischievously and once he clears the window into my bedroom I smack him in the chest.

“Hilarious.” I whisper as he removes his jacket. “Now, what are you doing here tonight of all nights?”

“Oh, I was in the neighbourhood.” Adrian says with a smile, his freckled nose brushed pink from the cold. He’s a terrible liar and he hates that I know that. He joins me on my bed and his face grows serious.

“How’s she holding up?” He asks.

“Devastated.” I raise an eyebrow. “Him?”

“Downright bereaved.” Adrian shakes his head. “You’d be more likely to think he was at her funeral by the look on his face.”

I let out a sigh of defeat and he pulls me into him. His body is warm and he smells like the air after it rains. I close my eyes and feel him place his chin and lips against the side of my head.

Let me guess.

You would probably assume that most of time, Adrian smells like cigarettes and weed and has a backpack full of drugs that he slyly distributes in shady areas all over town. That he can always be spotted at the craziest parties dealing “molly” and “acid” and canoodling in the back with every girl that sets her eyes on his pale skin and dark wispy hair. I’ll bet you think he’s the kind of kid that does all that and more. But you’re way off.

Like, so way off base that you may as well tack on things like “Queen of England”, “Accountant” or “cat lady” onto that description.

Do you want the truth? In reality, Adrian Cassidy is a high-school sophomore that loves film, old-school arcade games and is, get this, an aspiring comic book writer and artist. It just so happens that he also has a part-time job that requires him to transport and distribute pharmaceuticals that are a little less than lawful in nature. One that is easier to get into than it is, out of. And it’s not like he’s tried.

Can you imagine going into work one morning, heading to you’re boss’s office and saying:

“Gosh, Bill, I really am not feeling this anymore. I mean, I appreciate the opportunities and all the money you’re giving me, but I’m gonna have to put in my two-weeks notice.”

And then Bill, places a Glock on the table like it’s freaking a paper weight and says:

“Hmm… no, I don’t think that’s a good idea, Jim. Gonna have to give that one a hard no-go. But I’ll see ya Monday for the 10AM meeting, okay? Say ‘hi’ to the kids for me!”

You get the picture.

Oh, and by the way.

You’ll have to pardon me for not filling you in right away on the whole Adrian-Cassidy-being-in-my-room-and-being-very-comfortable-doing-so kind of thing. We’ve actually been friends or, at least, partners in crime since junior high.

I know what happened to my sister back in elementary school, so I knew I’d have to be stealthy.

It’s unsatisfying to say that Adrian and I are close but it’s the closest word to the truth that I can think of. He’s kind to me, more than any other guy in my life, except my Dad (when he’s not slapping people left, right, and centre). Which is hilarious because my father is partly why Adrian is even here right now. Hayden Cassidy, Adrian’s brother, dropped my sister off an hour ago and my ears are only now beginning to adjust to a volume lower than the screaming coming from her room on the first floor.

“I saw my parents with her after the game when I met up with some other pushers. Didn’t quite seem like they were hitting it off for some reason.” Adrian says, sarcastically.

“I wonder what gives you that idea?” I turned to him and smoothed both hands over my arms. “Stefan Cassidy is horrifying, he gives me the jeebies.” I whisper. “he so quiet, it seems like he could strike any minute, like Dracula.”

Adrian gives me a look.

“Well, at least Dracula doesn’t hulk smash everything in his path.”

I wince a little with recent events in mind, and Adrian recoils a little.

“Sorry, too far?” He says, now sitting side on and rubbing my back.

“Too far.” I answer.

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  1. Kathleen Fazio

    Feb 2, 2022

    omg I love it so much! you are an amazing writer.

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    0 Replies Feb 2, 2022
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