Whisper 1.30

I’ve always loved birthday parties. We mark our years by them.

But this party leaves me shredded to the core.

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In addition to the party crashers, everyone I invited came: the Nixes, Faith and Felicity, Frank, Arkvoodle, and, of course, Chauncey. This is Chauncey’s last party.

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I knew he was getting old. He’s a little older than me, and he’d been complaining lately of feeling tired and not having much energy. But we had no idea that tonight, his time was up.

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Mike Nix, who’s known him even longer than I have, looked like his heart would break.

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Faith and Felicity tried to comfort Marigold, who had never witnessed a passing before, but they were so sad themselves, they hardly knew what to say.

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Poor Mara, with her gentle heart, looked like the world was ending.

Hetal, who never could stand her mom’s boyfriend, was untouched.

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While Annie wept, and Frank and Arkvoodle looked on with remorse, Chauncey smiled. He looked more at peace than I’d ever seen him in life.

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And that’s when I lost it. Chauncey. My oldest friend! My first crush. My first best friend. My first roommate. Chauncey. What will we do without you?

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Was it the grief, the overwhelming emotions? Something touches my friends and transforms them.

Annie looks like she’s been zombified.

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And Frank! I have never seen him like this! If it weren’t for his same golden eyes, I wouldn’t recognize him with what long, pointy ears he has, what long pointy fingernails, what long pointy teeth!

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And the strange robed figure in black curdles my stomach and sends chills up my spine. All the grief is shocked out of me for that brief moment.

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Marigold soldiers on and prepares to make her wish and blow out the candles, and I let out what is meant to be a cheer, but what becomes the longest, saddest, yowling keen. It’s a broken heart keening, a fear-inspired keening, the keen of one who sees her place in the line, with all her closest friends standing before her, knowing that, one by one, there is a single direction in which we head. It’s the keen of a mother who doesn’t want to leave her child. Oh, you in the black robe! Listen well! And give me time! And let my friends linger, too.

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Whisper 1.2

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I really want to go to university.

Take some time to develop skills and earn some money first. You’ll have a better time, and there’s really no rush.

I guess college is a goal I can work towards. Gives me a reason to save. Now I just need a way to earn some money.

I’ve always wanted to be a street artist. There’s money in that, right? I’ve been practicing a lot. I don’t want to get busted, so I just spray on the floors and the walls at home.

I’ve been seeing Chauncey, too. First, we just called each other. Then he started coming around. Now he’s here every day.

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I ask him to move in. Not as my boyfriend–we’re not there yet. Just as a roommate and a friend. My best friend, actually. I can’t really believe he says yes. I’ve got nothing–not even enough money to fully furnish the place. So he’s sleeping on the floor in the spare room. The entrance to the bathroom is in that room. I try not to stare when I walk past.

He’s so dreamy.

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He’s a great roommate, too. He’s been helping to keep the place clean. And he’s got a job as a weather man.

I still can’t believe my luck, meeting him on my first day here. It’s like it’s fate.

Don’t be so sure. Take some time to get to know him.

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I get a call from the city to paint some ground murals. I don’t know how they found out about me. Perhaps Chauncey has some contacts at city hall, and he told them about my work.

While I’m finishing up the mural, a wild horse approaches me. It’s majestic.

“Want something to eat?” I ask. Then it gets spooked and runs off. I hope I see it again.

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Chauncey wears the cutest bunny slippers. He’s got a furry chest, too. I don’t usually like a lot of body hair, but on Chauncey it looks good. What does it feel like? Soft? Or coarse.

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We have some nice times. Chauncey surprises me by having a painting delivered, because he was thinking about me, and he thought I’d like it. We talk all the time. He reads a lot, and works on his laptop. We don’t even have a proper table, but he doesn’t mind. He just sits with it on the floor.

He pays his rent on time. He cleans. He enjoys my cooking. Life is great.

Sure, he’s got quirks. I notice that he gets really upset whenever he takes a shower–he gets panicky. I wonder if he had a bad experience with water as a kid. He also never takes off his clothes. Even when he showers, he’s got swim trunks or his boxers on.

It’s little things like that that give us each our individual charm.

Then, with no warning, storms come. Chauncey rages into the bathroom while I’m washing my hands and slaps me.

This is out of nowhere. What did I do?

It’s not you.

I keep running through my mind what I might have done. Is it because I didn’t clean the shower stall? Is it because we don’t have furniture? Did I forget something? Am I just an awful person?

It’s not you.

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“What’s that for?” I ask.

“Like you don’t know.”

This is abuse. Now you know. It’s not too late.

I don’t know. I realize I did nothing wrong. And even if I had done something, this isn’t an acceptable way to handle it. He’s got issues.

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I think about asking him to leave. I feel like I lost a friend. In fact, I did. I lost my best friend. Maybe we can be friends again. But there’s no way I’m going to get romantically involved with him now. Soon as I earn enough money and finish with college prep, I’m leaving for university. When that happens, I’ll be glad to leave Chauncey Grimm behind.

I guess you never know somebody until you know them.

Better to discover now, before you’re more entangled.

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