Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kids

Kids. By Wolfgang Kaiser


     Do you remember being a kid? Do you remember the last time you were honestly happy? As a kid, you probably didn’t think as much. You weren’t so cynical, so deep in thought. Being a kid required having fun. Being an adult requires the exact opposite.
     Girls didn’t make such a big impact on our hearts, back then. If a girl broke up with you, you would move on right away. It wasn’t such a big deal. Women today stay with you until they KNOW they mean a lot to you, and just for the attention, they leave you, knowing that us men will follow them like faithful pets.
     The only stress was school. We didn’t have anything to worry about. For example, we didn’t worry about women. See above paragraph. The only thing that was stressful was the homework keeping you inside and away from your friends.
     Family problems? Out of the question. As a little kid, you’re just so cute; you bring a smile to everyone’s faces. How could parents possibly fight around your light blonde hair and your beautiful blue eyes?
     Getting laid wasn’t a worry. Honestly, whenever you had morning wood as a little boy, you didn’t know what to do with it. And, you thought it was okay to walk around your house just in your underwear, tent and all. No sex and no masturbation mean no lust, which meant NO STRESS.
     In fact, every kid has that one moment, what most people call a “coming of age” moment, where kids… lose their innocence. They really aren’t kids anymore. That very moment happened to me, three years ago, when I was in the sixth grade. Cecil and I were thrown in to a disaster that changed our lives, forever.


     I remember playing with Cecil since I was a baby. We grew up together; we shared every class together since kindergarten. We constantly made teachers angry, we were always so loud.
     We had houses on the same street that were both within walking distance of our elementary school. So, I walked past Cecil’s house every morning and walked with him to our school.
     Cecil and I played so much, whether it was in the classroom, out in the playground, or in our houses. In fact, I remember when we first discovered how to make paper airplanes. One day, Cecil came over with the “Big Book of Paper Airplanes”. He would only make the standard paper airplane, because they were the easiest to make. I always made the hardest ones, and they were always perfect. Cecil was always jealous.
     In class, a week after Cecil had brought the book to my house, he brought it to class. Now, Cecil and I were lucky enough to sit in the back of our third grade class together for the entire year. We made two expert-leveled planes. We both made the “Spacecraft”, which glided for a great distance and had an extremely pointy tip.
     Cecil had the GREAT idea of throwing our paper airplanes in the classroom. Seeing as I didn’t know any better, I joined him. The old hag of a teacher turned to write something on the board, we jumped up on our chairs, and threw them. Seeing how lucky we were, Cecil and I threw the Spacecrafts right as the wind decided to pick up in our classroom.
     They changed flight patterns; we intended on flying them away from the teacher. But it went straight for her. She turned around to see pointy objects flying right at her.
     We laughed when the airplanes hit her breasts.
     We laughed, the rest of the class laughed as well.
     We were grabbed by our ears and sent out into the halls. That was the fun that Cecil and I had together. Whenever we had recess, there was one thing we would do, and one thing only.
     Four square.
     Unfortunately, our school did not allow new rules with each new server. Teachers were always watching. There was one rule that we had to follow, or the ball would be taken away for the recess. You couldn’t do cluster bombs, or bubbles, or anything like that.
     You could only hit the ball under hand, with your palms pointed down. If you hit the ball using side arms or “overhands”, you’d be out immediately. You were sent to the end of the line, and that usually meant waiting about five minutes for another turn, when recess only lasted ten to fifteen minutes.
     Another rule was not to tag team. That’s where Cecil and I broke the rules. We were always a team and we always kicked ass.
     We did this throughout our elementary years. We started in first grade, and we were taught by the best how to play it. In the sixth grade, we were killing all the little kids at four square. It was no longer hard to win, we dominated. But then again, we always dominated. The little kids followed our rules, like we were referees or something. It was always great, having smaller kids looking up to us. Cecil and I both did not have siblings, which was why we considered each other brothers.
     The sixth grade was the first time I had a girlfriend. The first time I lost a little bit of that innocence, was when I kissed. That innocence stealer, her name was Alicia. I’ll never forget her.
     Alicia had already kissed boys before, so she got right into tongue action. Within a few seconds, I went from “EWW!” to “Good God, this is the best thing ever!”
     Alicia was also the cause of the first fight between Cecil and I. Cecil LOVED Alicia. She didn’t even look his way, and came straight to me.
     We only fought for a week, and that was the awesome part of being a kid. We couldn’t dwell; a girl never broke friends up like they do now.
     Alicia and I didn’t date too long, either. I think it was a solid month, which was considered “forever”, in sixth grade speak. Alicia and I still remain good friends today.
     Cecil and I always walked home and hung out at his house, and it was always a blast. Even when I would come over for just an hour to do homework, we still laughed and had fun.
     On Christmas Break of that year, we were playing in his front yard. Normal kids would have built a snowman, or had a snowball fight, but Cecil and I built a massive snow cave that we could fit inside. We spent at least an hour in there, just talking.
     We heard Cecil’s Dad call our names, and we crawled out. There he stood on the porch, holding three rectangular tickets. When we asked, “Disney World?” He responded by saying, “Even better. Universal Studios.”
     Apparently, Cecil’s Mom had to stay behind to work, so it was just us three going. I booked it home to ask my parents, and they said yes. So, I ran all he way back, nearly tripping on ice a few times along the way.
     We were set to go the next day. I packed my bags for two days. Of course, I packed shorts and t-shirts. We were going to Orlando. I spent the night at Cecil’s house that same night, and we headed out early morning.
     Cecil and his Dad packed at least thirty discs to listen to. They had great taste in music. I knew that as soon as his Dad said they didn’t have any hip-hop CD’s.
     It was a fourteen hour drive. We left at about eight, so we were going to get at the hotel around eleven, with the time change in mind.
     About ten hours in, I took a nap. I sat in the middle in the back seat, and Cecil sat in the front with his Dad. The sun was going down; the time said six o’clock.


     I woke up around 8:00. I opened my eyes for a second to see the time. Cecil and his Dad were discussing the song they were listening to. Cecil said it was “Kids” by a new band called MGMT. Cecil explained to his Dad how the name was short for “The Management.”
     Cecil’s Dad was sliding on ice. He curved left and right a few times. Then he took a hard right, as if he was dodging something. I guess I’ll never know. He screamed, and put his hand on Cecil’s chest, to protect him.
     The car… tilted. I had never been more scared in my life. We were completely horizontal, and we were tipped to the left. The glass had broken on all the windows on the left side, and the glass hit Cecil’s Dad a few times. The impact was so rough; Cecil and his Dad were knocked out.
     We slid for a while, and hoping it would flip back, it didn’t. We flipped upside down. All the glass was broken.
     There I was, upside down. My long brown hair was hanging down, the blood rushing to my head. I had to get out. I was already screaming in pain.
     I reached for my seatbelt, and pressed the button. It wasn’t the smartest choice, one, because I flew down head first, two, because glass went straight into my forehead. Stitches later made me look like Harry Potter.
     I crawled outside of the car; glass was going into my hands. I was bleeding too much already. I got out, and ran to the passenger door to save Cecil.
     The headlights of the car were off, but the radio was still blaring. I couldn’t get the door to open, and when I tried, glass pushed farther into the tips of my fingers.
     I crawled in, and the chorus of “Kids” said, “Control yourself, take only what you need from it.” It made sense. I needed Cecil. I had to save him. From what I could see, I followed the seatbelt and unbuckled him. He fell on me, and I heard a gigantic pop.
     Cecil was still out. I crawled out and grabbed his arm to drag him to the side of the road. There were glass shards all over him; there was an open gash in his cheek.
     I saw headlights from the distance, coming up full speed. I had about a minute to save Cecil’s Dad.
     I quickly ran to the other side of the car, slipping on the ice, to save him. The semi-truck couldn’t see us, our lights were off, and we were on a dark part of the highway.
     I crawled under again, and I was right under Cecil’s Dad. The glass in me was pushed in deep. I knew it was going to hurt when I unbuckled his seatbelt.
     I thought right. He fell down on top of me. I got out from under him, and I tried to pull him.
     He was stuck.
     His leg was caught under…or above the steering wheel and it wasn’t going anywhere. I kept pulling and crying, pulling and crying. There was nothing I could do.
     The semi saw us when it was about forty feet away, and naturally, the driver slammed on his brakes, but the ice caused him to slide.
     I moved out of the way. The semi couldn’t stop.
     And Cecil’s Dad was gone.


     I remember the funeral just a couple of weeks later. Cecil and I didn’t talk. He never came over. He didn’t go to school. I didn’t blame him though. He lost his father and it was all my fault.
     My hands were okay; they had cuts all over them. I had to go into surgery to get the glass removed and my hands stitched up. As I said, I had a big scar right down the middle of my forehead.
     My parents and I showed up first. It was only a few minutes before Cecil’s Mom arrived. In the back of the car, Cecil and his grandparents came out.
     Cecil didn’t say a word to them, and as soon as he saw me, he ran over. He tackled me with a huge hug.
     “Jeremy, I can’t thank you enough for what you did.” He wouldn’t let go of me, and I could hear him sniffling. I continued to apologize for his loss. He pulled back with his mouth wide open.
     “You can’t blame yourself for that.” He said. He had a gigantic scar past his right cheek.
     Cecil’s Mom walked up to me, and Cecil backed up. She hugged me and looked at all of the scars on my hands from the glass. She started crying and hugged me again.
     “Don’t ever blame yourself for what happened, Jeremy. You tried. You did your best.” She said.
     As the service went on, Cecil sat by me. His Mom sat there crying, and Cecil was crying as well. I couldn’t cry. I knew that his death was my fault. I could’ve moved his leg. I could’ve pulled him out, and I have to live with that for the rest of my life.
     Cecil put his arm around me.
     Two coffins were going down. One for Cecil’s Dad, and one for the truck driver. That was why there were so many people at the funeral that I did not know. Cecil’s Mom was screaming and holding onto her husband’s coffin as it was being lowered.
     Cecil couldn’t cry.
     I wouldn’t see him for a week after that.


     My doorbell rang, eight days after the funeral. There Cecil was on my doorstep, asking to play. I asked my parents if I could go out to play. They seemed weirded out, probably because they didn’t expect me to be okay already. They shrugged their shoulders and told me yes, they didn’t see a problem with it.
     Cecil and I went to the park to play. It was still a bit cold. At the park, our school playground, the equipment was still wet from the snow and the rain. That was when Cecil and I had the most fun in our past years.
     We played tag for about an hour. We kept slipping and hurting ourselves, but that was another benefit of being a kid, the pain went away. I slipped again, and from a distance, I saw the kid I hated more than anyone else in the world walking toward us.
     Avi.
     Avi was an eighth grader. Since I was in the first grade, Avi had picked on me. Avi was the bully you would only see on television or on movies, the ruthless and heartless kind.
     I went over to play in the sand pit, and Cecil stayed on the swings. He continued to talk to me until I pointed over at Avi. He stopped talking mid sentence. Cecil started swinging higher and higher.
     As soon as Avi stepped on to the playground, I said, “Hey Avi. We’ll leave; we don’t want any trouble…” Avi walked straight past Cecil, straight to me in the sand pit.
     He pushed me down so hard, that it knocked the wind out of me.
     “Say something else, Jeremy. I dare you.” Avi said.
     “LEAVE HIM ALONE, AVI!” Cecil said.
     Avi just stood there, ignoring Cecil. He kicked me in the stomach. I screamed in pain, and clutched on the sand until I had two full handfuls.
     “So? What do you have to say?” Avi said.
     “Fuck you.” I said back. I threw the sand right into his eyes. He screamed and took steps back, and tripped over the curb. He hit his head on the sidewalk.
     “Get him, Jerry!” Cecil said. I followed his orders, jumped on Avi, and started wailing on him. I didn’t stop until Cecil told me to.
     “All we wanted to do was play, Avi. Leave Cecil and I alone!”
     I ran all the way home, and I hid in my room. I didn’t know if Cecil was okay, but I’m sure he went home to his Mom.
     To my surprise, my doorbell rings about an hour later.


     I remember a year before then, when Cecil and I loved to go fishing. There was this log, a tree that had fallen into a lake. We took our shoes off, grabbed our fishing rods, and balanced ourselves along to the end of the tree, where we cast our lines.
     I stuck my feet in the ice cold water, but Cecil was always afraid that some sort of fish would come and bite his toe. I always called him a wuss, and I always got punched in the arm.
     Cecil and I never knew exactly what to do when it came to catching fish. Either way, Cecil caught three fish within the first hour we were there, and I caught nothing. I was bored, but he was having a blast.
     Either way, the reason I bring up this memory is because that day, he told me everything bad in his life. I had never had anyone so close, so willing to talk to me. He told me how his parents were always angry, and that they were always fighting. That’s why he took me to the lake that day.
     He slept over at my house that night, and continued to tell me that I was the best friend he has ever had. He was mine as well.

I was called down to the living room. My parents sounded angry, too. My parents knew I had beaten Avi up, I could feel it. I thought it was weird that they were mad at me for getting revenge on a bully that they knew picked on me since I was a little kid.
I walked down the stairs, and Cecil was sitting on my living room floor. On one couch, sat my parents. On the other couch, sat Cecil’s Mom and Avi’s Mom.
I just stood there on the last step.
“Jeremy, did you have an encounter with Avi today?” My Mom asked.
“Yes.” I said back.
“What happened?”
“He came over, pushed me down, and kicked me in the stomach. So I threw sand in his face to protect myself. I shouldn’t have punched him, but I was so angry then.”
“Why did he push and kick you?”
“I don’t know. We were just playing tag, and I said, ‘We don’t want any trouble…’ Then he pushed me down.”
“Who’s we?” My Mom asked. Everybody turned and looked at me with strange looks.
“Me and Cecil.”
Cecil’s Mom covered her face and ran out of the house. She ran home, and left the front door wide open. Cecil went out the front door as well.
“Jeremy. Sit down.” My Dad said.
I walked over, and sat down on the couch, next to Avi’s Mom. She was glaring at me. It wasn’t my problem her darling baby boy was beaten by a little kid.
“Where is Cecil now, Jeremy?” My Mom asked me.
“Didn’t you just see him leave?” I asked back. “He just ran after his Mom to comfort her!”
“Honey… I don’t know what you’re talking about.” My Mom was staring at me. She burst into tears. “Cecil is gone. He died that night, with his father. Glass shot into his heart, and he was killed almost instantly.”
I ran to my room, and I threw up.

My parents made me see a shrink a while later. It wasn’t fair. With every “How does that make you feel?” I cringed even harder. To make matters worse, Cecil was staring me right in the face the entire time. He refused to leave me.
He even spoke while the shrink spoke as well.
“Yeah, Jeremy, how does that make you FEEL?” He would laugh maniacally. He would never leave me alone.



Cecil was dead. I guess I wasn’t paying attention to the details. The man speaking at the funeral probably said Cecil’s name quite a few times, but I didn’t pay attention. I guess I was in shock. Maybe I should’ve checked Cecil’s pulse whenever I pulled him to the side of the road.
It took me quite a while to get back to school after that. If anything, I remained a social ghost for quite some time. I guess no one could really ever replace Cecil. He was my best friend.
     Do you ever miss being a kid? Was there that one thing that was taken away from you as a child, and then you realized that your life would never be the same?
     Cecil was that one thing I lost. That one person that left me, and forced me into adulthood. If he were still here, I would still be a little kid at heart.
     Cecil’s dying wish was for me not to blame myself for what happened that night, on the way to Universal Studios, and I promised myself I would fulfill his wish.
     Cecil’s spirit still visits me sometimes, and it has never grown up. It hurts him to see that I am growing up without him. When he does come back, it is always fun, always great.
     I hope to God that what happened to me isn’t anywhere near your coming of age moment, because it was and always will be the worst thing to ever happen to me.
     Thank you for listening, and have a great life.
     Oh, and Cecil says hi.

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