There was a knock on the front door and Sam Wilson opened it. There stood two police officers.
“Sam Wilson?” the officer said.
“Yes,” Sam replied.
“Are you Chris Wilson?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Boys, I’m afraid we have some bad news for you,” the taller officer said. “We regret to inform you that your parents were killed in a car accident this evening.”
“What?” I cried.
“I’m sorry,” he said and they turned to leave. Sam nodded his thank you and closed the door. We stared at each other for a long moment. Then it happened. I lost it.
“No!” I shouted. “No! It can’t be true! How can they be dead?”
Sam grabbed me and shook me. “Chris, calm down.”
“Calm down!” I cried. “My parents are dead and I’m supposed to be calm?” I shoved him away and ran to my room, slamming the door behind me. I grabbed my baseball and hurled it across the room. It shattered the mirror that was on my wall. Great, I thought. That’s all I need, more bad luck.
My parents had gone out to dinner earlier that night. They couldn’t be dead. They were just late. They just had car trouble or a flat tire or something. They were alive, I told myself. I’ll sit up and wait for them, I decided. So I sat up that night and waited for my parents to come home. I waited…and waited…and waited. I was waiting for the impossible. It finally settled in then. My parents were dead. Gone forever. I walked over and stared into my broken mirror, my face streaked with tears. I didn’t even realize that I was crying. Who did I have now? Who will love me the way my mother had? Sam could never compare. Would he love me more or less now that he didn’t have my father to praise every little thing he did? Sam was eighteen and was about to go away to college. Would he still go?
After that night, my life changed. I did, too. I wasn’t me anymore. I was somebody else. I was angry all the time, angry with everyone. All my friends were nearly afraid to talk to me. My teachers were afraid of what I’d do to them. I wasn’t me. One night at my house, all my friends were there. Francesca was there. She was always so pretty, but she didn’t like me that way.
“Chris,” Francesca said. “We’re worried about you.”
I sat down and gazed at her. “How come?”
“Chris,” Francesca said. “You’re just not yourself lately. I know you’ve been through a lot and I know that’s probably the cause of the change, but you need help, Chris.”
I glanced at Benny and Jake. They nodded their agreement. “I think she’d right,” Benny said.
“Who asked you?” I shouted at him, getting to my feet.
“Chris, calm down,” Jake ordered. “Listen to them. They know what they’re talking about.”
“And you do?”
“Look,” Benny said. “All I said was that I think Francesca is right. You need to get help.”
I snapped. Without realizing what I was about, I rushed at Benny, my hands wrapping around his neck. And I began to squeeze tighter and tighter and tighter until…everything went black. When I woke up, I was on the couch in the family room. I glanced around for a moment, confused. I couldn’t remember what had happened. A moment later, Sam walked into the room.
“You’re awake,” he said. “Good.”
“What…what happened?” I asked.
“You tell me, Chris.”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t remember?”
“No,” I replied.
“Try,” he said.
“I can’t. I don’t remember anything.”
“I called the doctor, Chris,” Sam said, hesitating. “He’s on his way over.”
“Because I think you have a problem…”
“Not you, too,” I said, under my breath.
Sam looked at me, but ignored my remark. “I think you have a problem, Chris. It’s like you snap at the slightest thing and then you don’t remember anything.”
“I don’t need help, Sam,” I said. “I’m fine.”
“You tried to kill Benny, Chris,” he said. “Does that sound fine to you?”
I stared at him in disbelief. I tried to kill Benny? “Is he all right?” I asked.
“He’s fine,” Sam said. “Jake had to knock you out to get you off him.”
The doctor seemed to think that my condition was depression. He couldn’t think of anything else that it could be. Later that day, I saw Benny at the carwash, where we always hung out.
“Benny,” I said, with a nod.
“Hey, Chris,” Benny replied.
“I’m so sorry, Benny,” I apologized. “I didn’t see what was happening.”
“But we did, Chris, and you refused to listen.”
“I didn’t think I had a problem,” I said. “But I was wrong.”
We stared at each other for a long moment. Then Benny smiled. “I forgive you. Truce?” he asked, offering his hand.
“Truce.” I accepted his hand.
We turned and walked back to my house.
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