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Breaking Tradition: The background leading up to "A Lesson in Relationships"
Posted by ally, Oct 10, 2008. 1369 views. ID = 1874

Breaking Tradition

Posted by ally, Oct 10, 2008. 1369 views. ID = 1874
This post was written in 94 minutes.
This post has been awarded 4 stars by 1 reader.
This post is Part 2 of a writing series titled Glass Sentiments.

They were in separate rooms in separate houses across town, but both had the same desperate loneliness in their eyes and both were sitting with their feet drawn up to their chests and their faces hidden.

One of the rooms was cluttered with books and papers with "Adrien" scribbled at the top and furniture that seemed less like furniture and more like an obligatory place to collapse when exhaustion took over. The room was dark and colorless, as if the decorator had thought nothing of the aesthetics of the room and only of the functionality. School work seemed to pour from every available opening.

The boy named Adrien seemed to be staring at nothing, his eyes wide with suppressed tears. He was, in fact, staring at a smashed-up calculator on the floor in front of him.

He didn't blame the calculator, of course. It was the person whom the calculator belonged to who had ruined his life. The person who, across town, was staring at nothing with the same wide-eyed gaze. The boy named Nathan, who was the only one who could relate to how Adrien was feeling, because he was feeling the same thing.

Nathan ran a hand through his sandy hair and blinked a few times to bring his eyes back into focus. He had been lost in thought, but now that he was back to reality, he realized what he had originally been looking at. Hanging on the opposite wall of his room was a photo of himself standing next to a short, curly haired boy with an awkward smile. He remembered when that pictured had been taken, of course, because it had been only a few weeks ago.


The short boy standing next to him was his age, but he was a grade ahead of Nathan. Naturally, there was competition between the two boys - Nathan was top in his class, and Adrien could have been top in his class, had he not skipped a year. As it was, before that picture had been taken, Adrien spent most of his time studying, vying for the top spot in his class. Nathan, content to let his natural talent for academics lead him to the top, spent most of his time introducing himself to all 321 students in his class.

He noticed Adrien one day, or rather, he noticed Adrien's birthday, when he was compiling student records for the school office. Here was a boy who was his age, and yet, he had never heard of him before. The strange boy's name remained on Nathan's mind until, walking out of school one day, he heard the word "Adrien" roll off of someone's tongue.

It was a tall girl who had said it, with blonde hair and deep, blue eyes. Had he not been so fixated with the boy she was talking to, Nathan probably would have approached the girl first. But the girl left his mind just as quickly as she had entered it, and he instead itently watched the boy who had just said goodbye to the girl and was walking towards the parking lot.

Jogging a little to keep up with him, Nathan waited until they were both far enough from the rest of the student body (in case he was about to make a fool out of himself by approaching a student he had no business knowing about) and then reached out and tapped the boy on his shoulder.


"Hey," Nathan said simply, grinning at the boy's shocked expression as he turned around. He was carrying an armful of books and was wearing a dark maroon sweatshirt that cast a rosy glow onto his cheeks. Nathan felt the grin sliding off his face as he waited for a reply from the silent boy.

Finally, the boy answered Nathan with a quiet "hey," and turned to walk away.

"Wait! Can't we talk?" Nathan asked desperately, grabbing the boy's arm. For some reason, he had the distinct feeling that if this boy walked away now, he would lose something very precious.

The boy seemed to take in Nathan's tall structure for a moment, then opened his mouth agan.

"Fine."

The boy's tone was cold, but even so, it put a second smile on Nathan's face.

"I'm Nathan," he said, his eyes mimicking the smile playing around his lips. "And you are ... ?" Nathan knew the answer.

"Adrien," the boy replied shortly. "I'm graduating this year," he said, the pride evident in his voice. Nathan wondered if he introduced himself this way every time he met someone.

Then again, it didn't seem like he frequently met people.

"I'm graduating next year," Nathan said, clearly perplexed. "But..." He didn't want to tell Adrien how he had seen his birthday in the student records and had spent the last few weeks hoping to get a chance to ask him about it.

"I skipped a year," Adrien said, as if he knew what Nathan was about to ask.

It made sense to Nathan, so he didn't press the subject. They talked about other things, like how many hours a day Adrien studied and what his highest grade was to date, and Nathan seemed perfectly content to discuss academic achievements until something tugged at the back of his mind.

"If you spend this much time studying, when do you get to do other stuff?" Adrien stared at him, as if he didn't quite know what to say. "You know, like, hanging out?"

"I don't," Adrien answered, looking at the ground. If he had been looking up, he would have seen Nathan's shocked face.

"Well, we can hang out sometime," he said, smiling at Adrien with the naivety of someone his age. For the first time that day, Adrien smiled back at him in return.

-

They didn't hang out much, but they did hang out. A day or two per week, Adrien would give up some of his study time, and the two of them would sit in the grass outside the school and drink soda and watch the clouds. Sometimes they went to the movies or played soccer at the rec field or took pictures at the town lake. It didn't really matter where they went, because all they really needed was each other's company.

But for all their smiles and laughs, there was tension there too. They were both brilliant boys, and jealously began to worm its way into their relationship. Adrien was especially susceptible to envy, and he had only known Nathan a week before he was regarding him with a slight suspicion. To Adrien, being on top was everything. He could have no distractions.

Adrien had met Nathan three weeks before the biggest test of his life, and the morning of the exam he joined Nathan for breakfast. They talked about lunar calendars and tennis over a platter of pancakes, and there was a mutual contentedness between the two. Just before Adrien headed off to take his test, Nathan slipped something cool and black into his hand.

It was a calculator, made of dark black plastic and shiny metal bits. In the corner, the initials "NL" were carved, and the entire thing was covered in pencil scratches.

"My lucky calculator," Nathan replied to the surprised look on Adrien's face. "You might need it."

"I appreciate it, but ..." Adrien turned the thing over in his hands. "What if this isn't ... the proper kind or something?" He tried to shove the calculator back at Nathan, but he refused it.

"Use it, Adrien." Nathan began to walk away. "It’ll work out fine, I swear! Just trust me!" He raised an arm to wave at Adrien, then called out "good luck!" and turned away. A smile tugged at the corners of Adrien's lips.

-

And then it had all gone downhill from there. He had handed Nathan's calculator to the exam inspector before entering the room, and it took her less than a second to bring up a screen of programmed formulas. Formulas that clearly were not allowed to be brought into the test.

So a few days later, he met Nathan on the grass outside the school where they used to watch the clouds, and he let all his anger and frustration pour out onto the boy. It felt good while he was doing it, and it felt good while he was walking away, but by the time he got home he almost wished he was dead.

Adrien was still staring at the calculator (he was almost regretting the damages he had done to it, but not quite) and the tears were closer than ever to spilling over. He was grasping at anything in his mind to stave off the sudden flow of sadness that was threatening to consume him, and the only thing he could find was the envy that lurked in his head.

Nathan was smart and popular. Adrien was simply smart. Surely that had to have been planned. Nathan wanted to sabotage him ... the whole thing had to have been set up ...

With a growl of rage, he threw the terrible black plastic mass into the opposite wall, just as Nathan ripped the picture off a similar wall in his room. With shaking hands, he stared at the photo of the two boys one last time, and then dropped it slowly into the garbage, feeling the tears that were finally leaking from his eyes.

He knew what Adrien thought of him now.

It was hard, but like the picture, Nathan had to slowly tear down the memories of the two from his mind and discard them one by one.

Copyright 2008 ally. All rights reserved. FifteenMinutesOfFiction.com has been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work. For permission to reprint this item, please contact the author.
 


   
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This post has been awarded 4 stars by 1 reader.
This post is Part 2 of a writing series titled Glass Sentiments.




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