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For 14, 15, and 16, year old me.

Suddenly Im not fifteen anymore and this iron claymore in my right hand doesnt feel so heavy. That, and its halfway resting on the ground. I look at the evil white haired demon that stands in front of me and get into battle ready position and the sword is back to its normal heaviness. Im really scared but I hold it in. Im the lone warrior here to abolish an entire army, cool. My awesome armor is pretty heavy too, but its not an issue because Im really strong. Its raining and the lightning flashes to highlight every dumb detail of the hundreds of ghosts or demons, or whatever. Its cold but Im not because my blood is burning within me with the desire for battle. The anticipation is almost too much. The demon smiles and sprints towards me. You can hear the demons feet clop through the mud and get louder and louder with each step being closer and closer. I let out a primal yell and encourage him forward. His two daggers dangle at his side in front of his army in front of me. Hes moments away from jumping up in the air and coming down blade first on top of me, I know his every move. He leaps through the air and for a moment I see his eyes, all the way to his dark, cold, soul. And he can see my soul. And we both see each others warmth and hollowness. He stabs at my chest with all of his weight falling onto me but I duck and roll at the last second. He swipes horizontally and I block it and counter with an attack at his shoulder! But

then he ducks that! The clinging and clanging of our swords smacking against one another can be heard across the land. His army does not attack during our bout out of respect for the fight. Honor is one of the last things on my mind though as I dodge yet another one of his attempts at my throat. No, I only think of blood and the death of all who dare to stop me. Just when the blood lust becomes too much he steps away. Youre good. He says. I keep silent and only plan my next move. Youre proud, and you stand up for your people who cannot defend themselves. He paces around me. With this he aims to tackle me and dislodge my sword from my hands. On the ground now, he raises up his dagger and says, . Unfortunately the will of one man has never been too much for- PATRICK! His face goes blank and only stares onto the horizon. PATRICK!!!

Suddenly I am fifteen and late for school.


Chapter One. Middle America, 2008.

Patrick! You have to wake the fuck up! Mom yells from the doorway, fidgeting with some earrings. I only notice this because my eyes are halfway open. Her yelling doesnt really do much to get me out of bed. Its become such a common part of the morning routine that its almost become a bit of a comfort. I dont care for the window being open and the covers being ripped off of me though, which I hate, and thus she must do. Im in the shower with whats left of the hot water and my head rests firmly on the shower wall. I do this and sleep for another forty-five minutes. When I get out I look at the clock and a moment of shear panic comes over me. I hastily brush my

teeth and get dressed. There is absolutely zero thought behind these two actions. I listen to the radio and on the way to school. I walk out of my moms car without saying goodbye and meet Tyler at his locker. Tyler is probably my best friend. Im also close with Michael but I dont hang out with him as much. Did you watch the Office last night? No. I was up all night playing RE4.

Tyler always tells me what happens on television the night before. Sometimes I watch the same things and we end up talking about it all day. Mostly though, Tyler watches TV and tells me about it. I feel like I dont need to watch it because Tyler will just tell me everything I need to know. Jim and Pam did this and Michael did that with Dwight. All I really need is the bullet points, or all I really I care to know. We both walk into Mr. Thomass room. He teaches English and Im positive its fake name. He seems a bit gay too. Not in the obvious ways but the subtle ones. The way he puts his hand on your shoulder when he needs you to listen or how he gets too excited about food. Maybe thats offensive to say. I dont care if he is, obviously, I just think its an important detail. Tyler is still yammering on about The Colbert Report while I write some notes. Mr. Thomas has do these weird writing exercises at the beginning of class every day. Todays is to write a poem about nature. I wrote about a forest fire that Smokey the Bear started. The last line is, No one deserves you, tree.

I show Tyler but he doesnt really think its that funny. Jokes have to be properly formatted for Tylers brain. Hes so used to Conan and SNL that his threshold for laughter is quite hard to break. He says he wants to be a comedy writer. I dont think hes very funny. One time he showed me some cartoons he made on his computer. I was impressed he made a cartoon but it was really dumb. Something about a baby with a British accent and then a monkey punching it. What did you write? I ask Tyler with a healthy amount of spite. Roses are Red. Violets are Blue. I love the sky, because its blue. Silence. Is it supposed to be ironic? Its not supposed to be funny, Im just tired. Thats a poor excuse for a poor poem. You failed. Hey, I didnt try so therefore I didnt fail. You tried and failed. I think I kind of won. Youre whats wrong with America. And the future of it.

Mr. Thomas officially starts the day by asking us to turn in our work and then asks us what we thought about To Kill A Mocking Bird. Personally, I hate it. I already know racism is wrong, I dont need a condescending voice to drill it into my head. I stopped reading after four chapters. Ive been bullshitting my way through these classroom discussions and failing all of the tests. On to the next class, Math. Mrs. Bliss might be the most ironically named teacher. Shes an absolute witch of a human being. When a teacher gets mad at me for not doing my work, I kind of respect them. I like that they want me to succeed. Mrs. Bliss though, truly doesnt give a shit. She lets me fuck off every single day. Im failing math. I wasnt always though because Michael is good at math. I would cheat off of Michael most days. Then Mrs. Bliss caught on and now Im mostly doodling in the back. I talk with Michael before and after class though. Mostly about video games and how much we like Weezer. When are we gonna jam? I whine. I dont know. We still need a drummer. Michael reasons. I told you. Dakota can play drums. Yeah, but hes not very good. And he doesnt own a drum set. But, I do! I dont know. Where would we even practice?

We will figure that stuff out. Maybe. I question Michaels commitment to the band. We were called the Deadbeats, then 13 floors, then Romantic Hopeless when we were going be an emo band. Now were called the Cans and I hate it. Im going to bring it up at our next band meeting. I hate walking through these halls. It smells like shoe rubber and body odor, with pockets of strong cologne or perfume or both.

CHAPTER TWO. LUNCH. I sit with Tyler and Michael. Did you guys watch the office last night? Asks Tyler to complete and utter silence. Do you want to look at my homework? Michael asks me. Youre already done? Yep. Wow. I would but, shes caught on. She knows Ive been copying all your answers. Youve been copying all of Michaels answers? Chimes in Tyler. Yes. But, Michael is retarded. He jokes. Fuck you. Michael retorts. Their banter is usually better than this, but not by much. More often than not Im actually laughing at our little gatherings. So have you just completely given up on math? Tyler is concerned. Like, as a concept? I ask. No, the class. Idiot. Im not an idiot. Youre failing math. Tyler reasons.

Just then a girl walks by and it completely derails whatever thought I had. Shit. It was probably going to be good too. The girl who distracted me was Emily Mezinger. I truly hate her. I hate her because she exposes a very basic flaw in my humanity. That being that I can consciously know shes a terrible person and still want to sleep with her at the exact same time. Wars are started and fought over girls like Emily Mezinger. Quit staring, creepy. What? Huh? I say. You were putting off a real rapey vibe. I was stopping you before anyone saw you. Says Tyler. I wasnt being rapey. Well, thats a solid defense, he fires back facetiously but how about a thank you next time, yeah? Whatever dick. Emily Menzinger. Shes all I can think about right now. I honestly dont know very much about her. I know she wears red lipstick, is blonde, and drives an expensive car her dad bought her. Shes very well liked and has many suitors. I heard she blew Mark Brown once. Now theres an asshat. Mark Brown drives a classic muscle car his family bought for him. His family owns half the grocery stores in town. I think my hatred for him started when he gave me a titty-twister in eighth grade gym. It was horrible. I had long curly hair, then. He called me Frodo.

The fact that she blew him really puts a damper on my opinion of her. Fuck. Shes so pretty. Shes also taller than me. We could never date. Itd be dumb. The very moment that thought turns into the nothingness theres a shake in the floor, the smallest of tremors. You could only feel it in your shoes, a faint hum on your sole. Did you feel that? ask Tyler. Another one hits, a little bit more aggressive. You can hear everyone shudder and be a little bit worried. Then theres silence, as if were all waiting for another one. All of our eyes dart around the room looking for anything to tell us something. I can see peoples shoulders start to fall and be relaxed. Theres a crack and a crash and it seems like the entire room moves two inches to the left. A girls screams. Finally a teacher stands up to say, All right, everything is fine! Its just a little tremor. He can feel the tension in the air or is genuinely scared himself. I hate to say it, but Im a little terrified. A glance around lunchroom and youd see a hundred nervous teenagers clutching the corners of the tables and seats. Michael, Tyler, and I all look at each other and know something terrible is about to happen. Were scared. And then nothing happens. Typical.

CHAPTER THREE. NIGHT. Its Friday night in everywhere America. Do you know where your sons and daughters are? Theyre probably at some awesome party fingering each other and throwing up in places they shouldnt. Tyler, Michael, and I are drinking Tylers dads expensive scotch and smoking cheap cigarettes. High school kids dont understand that drinking isnt a competition and it isnt supposed to be exhilarating. Its a depressant. Its supposed to calm you down. It should feel good to drink, except in the morning. Most Friday nights are spent in someones basement or apartment. Tyler, the oldest of our trio, works with Raymond. Were in Raymonds and his mothers apartment that they share together. Raymond is 19. He dropped out at 16. Raymond buys beer for us sometimes. Im not sure if the people at the gas station feel bad for him, are fooled by his mustache, or simply dont care. Regardless, he buys beer for us sometimes. Tonight though, Tylers dad supplied the booze. I think its scotch. Theres an argument brewing between me and Tyler about whether it is or isnt. It says scotch-whiskey on the bottle, it would say whiskey if it was just whiskey. Tyler says its scotch flavored whiskey, I tell him thats what whiskey is. Raymond is high on some sort of pain-killer marijuana combination and playing playstation 2. Michael draws a card. Its a two.

Can we please just play the fucking game? Michael insists. Two. I never. Go. Tyler complies. Ive never been in love with Emily Menzinger. Tyler and Michael both look at Patrick. Patrick is confused. What? My heart shrinks a size. Take a drink. Michael. No. But, youre clearly in love with Emily Menzinger. No. Im not. Arent we a little too old be making claims like that? Im too old for almost everything I do. Mutters Raymond. Relax man. Im just fucking with you. Tyler sits in silence this entire time trying to keep up. Are you guys talking about the blonde Pat used to bring around? I think the booze brought her around but yes, she would sometimes arrive with Patrick. Answers Michael. Emily used to come around and drink at Rays apartment. We would often drink here. We like it here. We like it because we can drink here. Theres no fuss. So much about drinking as a youth is the stress of getting someone to buy it for you and then finding a place to drink and be drunk in. Finding a place to be comfortably drunk in is unbelievably difficult. Whatever happened to her? She was hot. Raymond is always a little bit creepy.

Emily was very attractive. For some reason, though, she wanted to hang out with me. When I was twelve, she lived down the road from me and would come visit most Fridays. Shed play guitar and sing and Id play drums and never admit that I would rather be playing video games. I was always so embarrassed to admit that I play video games. I still dont understand why. After so long, those innocent Fridays at my moms house turned into us drinking together at Raymonds apartment. Enough Fridays at Rays crumby apartment and shed start hanging out at actual high school parties. And by actual, I mean, shitty. The type of parties Mark Brown would be at.

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