The True Meaning of Friendship…
Chapter 1 Brrrrring! “There goes the school bell. I just hope Gary Doesn’t leave me behind on the way home today.” I said to my friend Lisa. “Why wouldn’t he? I mean you know how boys are.” she said.“It’s all about the cartoons” we both said imitating my brother and burst out laughing. I looked around and spotted Gary. I said bye to Lisa and started my way up to Gary. I stroke my hand through my loose auburn hair. I started thinking about my brother and me. We looked almost like twins. He has auburn hair, so do I, he has freckles on his nose, so do I, he has pale skin and so do I. The only difference is that his eyes are brown and mine are violet colored. I’m the only one in my family with purple eyes. It’s kind of cool to have something to be proud of. Gary always gets all the attention, mostly because he’s already gotten a full scholarship to a college and he’s only eleven! I know, he’s a genius.I reached Gary and looked up. The sky was filling up with black and gray clouds.“What took you so long Susan?” asked Gary. I was about to reply but was interrupted by a clap of thunder. I shivered. “Never mind.” He said swiftly. “It’s about to rain so we better hurry. Besides I don’t want to miss my show.”I smiled a little but didn’t say anything. I was really afraid of lightening.Who said ten year olds aren’t afraid of anything anyway?Gary started walking with me far behind him.“Wait up!” I yelled as loudly as I could. He didn’t even turn back or slow down. I walked as fast as my legs could take me but I just couldn’t keep up with him.Not long after, Gary was out of sight. It started to rain. I didn’t even have an umbrella with me and my house was still three blocks away. After a few moments, I stopped to catch my breath. I didn’t even care that I was soaking wet. I was just about to start walking again when I felt an exceedingly heavy hand on my shoulder. I tried to budge but the hand had a very tight grip.I turned around to see who was stopping me and to my horror it was a very mysterious looking tall man, maybe six or seven feet tall.At that very moment, all I knew was that this man wanted to kill. Chapter 2 Some how, I broke free of his grasp and ran as fast as I could. I didn’t even care about the freezing rain smacking me on the face. I could hear the man’s feet thudding against the wet pavement. I could hear the steady rhythm of rain falling also on the pavement.He was just about to catch me, but when I crossed the street, he was stopped by a silver Mercedes just passing by.What luck!I kept on running and running. It felt like centuries before my nice little brick house came into view. I shuffled through my bag for my key. I wanted to hurry just in case he was still following me.I found my key and put it into the key hole and entered the house not surprised to see my mom scolding Gary for leaving me behind again.I closed the door and locked it. Mom and Gary both turned their faces toward me.Just as mom saw me she couldn’t help but squeal and collapse on me.“Oh sweetheart!” her pleasant voice soothed me.“I’m so glad you made it! I was worried sick about you. You’re brother is so careless. He knows you’re afraid of lightening yet he left you also in the rain. You are so brave to have come straight home instead of running back to school like last time.” Mom started kissing and hugging me. I decided not to tell her that I had no choice but to run forward because of a man chasing me. I mean, she called me brave. I didn’t want to burst her bubble.“Can I watch TV now?” Gary asked. He just had to ruin my moment of glory.“No young man, starting from today you are grounded for two weeks.” Mom replied.“Oh c’mon Mom! My favorite show is on.”“Well, serves you right for leaving your sister in the rain to die.” Mom said.I shuddered as she said the word die. I hope no on noticed.Gary groaned but he didn’t argue. He knew it was no use arguing with mom. One of my favorite things about her is that she sticks to her ideas and beliefs. No wonder she’s such a good lawyer.Gary and I went to our rooms. I threw down my wet backpack and changed into some nice warm clothes. I ate a snack, did my homework, and watched a little TV. After I had eaten dinner, I was still worried that my strange stalker would capture me the minute that I left the house. But fortunate for me, I had a plan. The next morning, I secretly kept a small pocket nice in my school bag. I ran downstairs to the kitchen knowing that I was going to be late for school As I entered the kitchen I notice that Gary wasn’t chomping down his breakfast like he usually does. In fact, he looked like he was about to faint.“Morning.” I said kind of uncomfortably. “Good morning Susan, dear.” mom replied. I took my seat from across Gary and started to eat my breakfast which was a bowl of cold cereal and milk.“What’s wrong with Gary?” I asked with my mom full.Mom shot me a look that said where is your manners young lady?Getting the message, I swallowed my food and repeated “what’s wrong with Gary ? He’s not acting like his usual annoying self.”Gary didn’t even say anything back. I knew something was definitely wrong.Mom sauntered over to Gary and put her on hand his forehead.“Gary Anderson Michel, you are burning up!” mom exclaimed “I think you’re running a fever. That’s it, no school for you today. Now go back to your room and I’ll bring you some medicine before I leave to go to court.”Oh no, if Gary ’s sick and can’t go to school then that means I’ll have to walk to school alone!“Susan, you can handle going to school alone, right?” mom asked reflecting my thoughts.I nodded. I just hope mom didn’t notice my face because I felt like crying. I guess she didn’t because she rushed out of the kitchen holding Gary by the arm.I suppose now it’s time to put Plan B into action.
Chapter 3 Plan B is really clever. The plan is to take a different and much safer route to school. Of course it’ll take much longer to get there, but like they say, safety first.I stepped out of the doorway and carefully locked the door behind me. I didn’t want to put mom and Gary in any sort of danger whatsoever. Whoever was after me would surely check my house.I started walking and every ten steps or so I would turn around to make sure that no one was following me. Thank goodness no one was. It was a gray and cloudy morning but I safely got to school.I told my best friend, Lisa, everything that had happened. She offered me a ride home with her mother but I refused. If I could make it to school alone safe and sound, then I should be able to make it back home that way too.It was a risk I was willing to take. I let out a deep sigh. “What a relief!” I said to myself. I was half way home and nothing bad had happened. I couldn’t have been happier. But my happiness was soon cut short by a brainless bird that plopped on the sleeve of my right shoulder.Some people say that you shouldn’t wipe of a bird’s waste if it lands on you. It brings bad luck or something. But I didn’t want mom to yell at me for ruining my purple blouse.So, I put my book bag on the sidewalk and bent down to look for a tissue.As I was cleaning my shoulder, I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my side and faster than the speed of light, I felt a wet cloth close over my mouth. Then everything started getting darker and darker and darker……….
Chapter 4 I tried to open my eyes but it took time for my eyes to adjust to the piercing white light.Finally I could see everything clearly. But I couldn’t understand anything clearly.Had I died? Was this heaven?“Hi there!” my thought were interrupted by some boy’s welcoming voice.I turned around to see a boy, about twelve or thirteen, staring right at me with his hazel green eyes. He was really fair and looked kind of cute with his dark chocolate colored hair, super star smile and rosy cheeks.He was, I have to admit, really scrawny. He almost looked like a corpse.He was wearing torn clothes that were completely worn out.As a matter of fact, so was I. When had I changed? I couldn’t remember.“Is this Heaven?” I asked awkwardly.“No,” the boy said chuckling. “This is, um, this is the…..” he trailed off. I looked around.The square room had walls made of cement. There were no windows and only one door with a huge lock. The whole room was lit by several dim lights. There were dozens, no, hundreds of kids. Some were fat, some were skinny, and some even had missing body parts.“What is this place?” I asked to no one in particular.“No one know exactly. We all remember where we were and what we had been doing before we get here, but no body really seems to know where we are.” The boy said wiping a tear from his eye.Before I could ask further questions, four gigantic men and a short man all appeared through the doorway. All of then were wearing tuxedoes and gold jewelry.I took a step back, they were scary looking. They came up to each child and took some money from them. I noticed that whoever gave some money or didn’t have any money at all was whipped with a leather belt.Pretty soon they came up to the boy and me. The boy gave them a whole lot of money and in return they gave him a stale piece of bread.They looked at me next. What was I going to do? I didn’t have any money. A man, who in my case was the largest and tallest person in the room, whispered something into the short man’s ear. Apparently, he was their boss.The short man looked straight at me.“So…..” he said in his deep, crackling voice.“This is the girl. Well little girly, you are going to simply love it here.” He said and pinched my cheeks, hard. The man had a bad Spanish accent.“Bubbles, teach this girl everything she needs to know. I’m in a good mood this evening, so don’t mess anything up. Understood?” Bubbles nodded.The five men left the room.I turned to the boy. “So that’s your name, Bubbles?”“It’s what everyone calls me here ever since I can remember.” He lowered his head and looked down at his feet in disappointment.After a few split seconds he looked at me with a serious face. “Every morning at five o’clock sharp, we’re taken to our places. Ours is at a nice clean place near a stop light. All you have to do is ask people for money.” Bubbles said.“You mean beg.”“You can say that.”“How?” I asked raising an eyebrow.“It’s easy, just make up some story like my mom’s got cancer and needs an operation or my mom died and needs money for food. If you can, start crying. People are suckers for crying children.”I sat down cross legged on the floor; there was no other place to sit anyway.I couldn’t believe what Bubbles was telling me. He bent down beside me and gently stroked my hair.“And if I refuse?” I asked, my voice nothing but a dry whisper.“You’ll end up like that boy.” Bubbles said pointing to a boy standing off by himself in one corner in the room.I looked at him and nearly fainted. A six year old looking boy was missing an arm, had a broken leg and was deaf. It as obvious on account of he had no ears.I knew that those men had done all that to that poor, innocent child.I felt like screaming.I slowly rose to my feet. I felt nauseous. Bubbles also stood up. I heard a loud bell ring.“Time to go to sleep, we’ll have to wake up early in the morning tomorrow.” He said.At that very second, I started to cry right there on Bubbles’ shoulder, I couldn’t help myself.I felt a million eyes looking at me. But I didn’t care.The only thing I did care about was my family. I was never going to be able to see my mom, or Lisa, or my house, or school or even stupid Gary !I cried all through the night with Bubbles consoling me at my side.He kept telling me to calm down and to stop crying.He promised me that he would get me out of the place and back to my family, but I knew he was just saying that to make me feel better.
Even though all the things Bubbles was saying about taking me back home was a lie, it still felt relieving knowing that I had someone.
Chapter 5 I woke up, stretched my arms and yawned.Where a, I? Am I in my room? Was it all just a nightmare?Was I asleep in my bedroom the whole time?Unfortunately, it was all real as day.I rubbed my back. Sleeping on the bare floor was really uncomfortable.I was amazed to see Bubbles sitting beside me looking at a gold locket with a golden chain.“You know, it’s funny, how when you have something, you take it for granted, and then one day, when you loose it, you wish you could at least had the chance to say goodbye.”Bubbles said, more to himself than to me.I nodded my head. “I know what you mean.”My throat ached. It was really dry from crying all night.“Here.” Bubbles said handing me a glass of water. I was so thirsty that I didn’t even mind that the water was dirty and drank it gratefully.I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand.“Are those your parents?” I asked Bubbles.“Yup.” He replied and showed me the heart shaped locket.The man and woman looked just like Bubbles.I held the locket in my hands and examined Bubbles’ parents.A few minutes later, a very chubby woman served us breakfast, a slice of bread with butter. Of course I wolfed down the slice of bread in seconds. I went and asked the woman for some more but she just laughed menacingly and slapped her hand across my face.I walked and sat down where I had been sitting with Bubbles. I didn’t say anything.“You can have mine.” Bubbles said handing me his half eaten piece of bread.I took it and broke it in half and handed it to him.“You need it more than I do. By the way, my name’s Susan.” I smiled a little.Afterwards, neither of us said a word.
Chapter 6 Later, Bubbles and I were taken in a small van to a lonely intersection that I didn’t recognize. I guess I was farther away from home than I had expected.The only good thing about all of this happening was Bubbles.At the intersection, we both talked about our problems, our dream, our family, our aims and other stuff like that.By the end of the day, we had both made nearly eight dollars each. That would save us from a beating and maybe even get us some dinner.On our way back to our new ‘home’, the man who took us there, blind folded us and tied us with ropes, so that we couldn’t escape.He warned us not to make a sound or he would gag us too.When we reached our destination,The same four men came to collect money from us.“Nicely done, kid.” The short man said handing me an orange. “I guess we should reward you for your hard work then.”And he walked away to collect money from the other kids.I started wolfing down the pieces of the orange knowing that it would never satisfy my stomach.Bubbles joined me. He had also gotten an orange. We ate in silence.Finally it was time to end another miserable day and go to sleep. I was kind of feeling awkward around Bubbles at the intersection that day because neither of us had said a word to each during the last week.I’ve known Bubbles for six weeks now and it’s not like him to not share his feelings. I knew something was wrong.
Chapter 7 The next day at our usual spot, Bubbles looked like he had a lot on his mind. At last, I worked up the courage to ask him what was wrong.“Anything you want to talk about?” I asked gently.He didn’t answer my question. He just kept quiet.Back at the head quarters, I started getting butterflies in my stomach every time I looked at Bubbles. I think I was starting to like him.Freaky.As long as I’ve been here, Bubbles has always taken a beaten for me when ever I was sentenced to one. I had thought that he was just being nice. And needless to say, but, I think that he liked me too.Maybe Bubbles liked me as more than a friend.There was only one way to find out, I had to ask him my self. I’m like my mom, I like confrontations. I had to ask Bubbles straight up.As I started walking up to Bubbles, I started to get a feeling that something bad was about to happen.But, what could be worse than being kidnapped? My head hurt, my feet felt swollen ad I had an extremely bad pain in my lower back. I opened my eyes to see Bubbles.So much for my confrontation.“What happened?” I asked“You slipped and fell.”“On what?”“A banana peel.” He said flatly and we both burst out laughing.Out of nowhere, a man who was sitting on a nearby bench coughed loudly. It was the guard by the door. It was the signal to keep quite.Bubbles and I stifled our laughs to giggles. YES!!! I got ten whole dollars. I skipped happily to Bubbles. I noticed his unusual serious face.“Look at how much I saved.” I sang and showed him the money I had made.My voice echoed a little bit. The streets were awfully quiet this time of day.I looked at Bubbles. His face was intense and he looked like he was waiting in line for something.Suddenly, a shiny black Liana came and stopped in front of us. The dark window rolled down to reveal one of our usual givers, a lovely, blond haired lady.“Here’s a dollar.” She said sweetly.“Please ma’am, this young girl is far away from home. Please take her back to her family. She’s being forced to beg and she can’t live a rough life like this anymore. Please, take her back to her home.” Bubbles pleaded with watery eyes.I was dumbfounded. What was Bubbles saying?“Um, I don’t know.” The lady said in an uneasy tone.After a few seconds of hesitation she leaned over and opened the passenger seat.“Get in.” she ordered. “But….” I started to say. Bubbles pushed me in.“I promise I’ll never forget you. Remember me. Okay? Bye Susan.”“Bye Bubbles. I love you.” I said with tears flowing down my dirty cheeks.He slammed the door of the car and the door of our friendship.The car accelerated and I looked back at Bubbles for the last time. But I was shocked to see that a huge monster truck with the short Spanish man in the driver seat run over Bubbles, taking him from the world for all eternity.
Chapter 8 A police man escorted me to my house. My mother opened the door and embraced me tightly. I hugged her back relieved to be back home. I never thought that I would see my family again.“My baby, my poor, poor baby.” mom said through sobs. Even Gary comes and says, “Good to have you back sis. I really missed your pestering ways.”Not much of a warm welcome from your own brother, but it was good enough for me. Mom thanked the officer and he left after receiving the answers to a couple of questions.And you know something, sometimes, I feel Bubbles’ spirit with me. And he really did keep his promise. He never forgot me. “Wow! That actually happened to you Grandma!” Emma, my granddaughter said in awe.I nodded in reply.“Okay, time to go home, Em.” Her mom came into the room and said.“Sweetie, make sure to…..”“Don’t worry about a thing mom.” Sofia, my daughter said. “I’ve taken care of everything. You’re story is going to be published in the newspaper next month.Bubbles’ will be really happy.“Thank you.” I said to Sofia with gratitude. Then I turned to Emma, “Em, I hoped you learned the true meaning of friendship.”“What?” asked the six year old innocently.