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Us and Them

By @ZoeAmber

Lillie

Wednesday / September 25rd / 3:50 PM

“If you’re wondering if the steroid rumours are true, they’re not.” Says Hayden, with a nervous laugh.

I smile while I try to clean out one of the ripped cuts on his knuckles. “Considering the lecture you just gave, I don’t doubt you one bit.”

On my way to the yearbook committee office, I walked right into a heated conversation between Hayden and his brother, Adrian.

I know all about Adrian’s past possession of drugs mostly because it’s a momentous piece of ammo in my family’s arsenal against the Cassidy’s. I hate that this thought crosses my mind as I’m sitting in the vacant nurse’s office alone with Hayden, who is making jokes like we’re not supposed to be mortal enemies.

Hayden’s smile fades and he lightly shakes his head to his thoughts. “He’s not a bad kid, he’s just an idiot sometimes.”

He says and squeezes his fist. I look at him and smile. “He’s lucky to have a big brother like you, then. Though, your enforcement methods may need a little work.”

He smiles back sweetly, his kind eyes flick between mine and I get warm shivers down my spine. It feels odd to actually compliment him for the first time. Suddenly, I accidentally press the antiseptic too hard on his last cut and Hayden flinches and withdraws his hand.

“Oh no, I’m so sorry.” I laugh at the broken silence and grab for his bloodied hand. “Hey, I’m not done!”

“No, no, no, no.” He replies in a faulty stern voice and snaps his hand back and forth. “It hurts.”

I grab his wrist and pull it closer. “Don’t be a baby.” I manage to get out through the giggles.

“Oh, we’re doing cheap insults now, are we?” He says, eyebrows raised. For a second, all the looks, and snickers and huffs are gone once our eyes catch each other’s. And I feel like I’m back in the sand box with my old friend, digging up dinosaur toys and exclaiming in discovery that they were in the same place we had buried them together.

Our laughter fades to smiles and I flex my brows and bite my lip. “This is so weird, isn’t it,” I say, honestly.

“So, so weird.” He grins with a laugh and puts his hand back down to let me continue my work.

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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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