Broken Gold

Alec and I walked down the left side of the hall; rebellious as we were.  It was the clear rule that students walked on the right side of the hallway, but we weren't going to follow that.  Behind our proud smiles were the imperfections my best friend and I were clearly trying to hide.  We weren't doing a very good job.  I took another step, and Alec followed.  I took another, and crashed into a cluster of long, flowing locks of brown hair.  My head fell back as I tried to recollect myself; then my vision refocused - and there she was.  Sally Pearson; the most beautiful girl I'd seen in my entire life.  She stood with such confidence; such poise.  And as she turned around to see who'd gotten in her way, her green eyes glinted with curiousity.

"Noah?  What are you doing?" she asked.

Suddenly, my rebellious, tough-guy attitude disappeared, and all that was left was the unconfident fifteen-year-old I really was.  I opened my mouth to speak, but all I could do was stutter and mumble my best attempt at words under my breath.

Alec stared at me, waiting for me to respond.  Luckily, he knew my eternal love for her, and he saved me.

"Uh, sorry, Sally.  Noah... isn't really around today.  Well, he's here, in body; just not in mind." Alec said, then whispered, "He stayed up way past his bedtime last night." 

"Alec!" I said, and shoved him.  Then, I looked back.  But Sally was already gone, walking down the hallway, her hair flowing elegantly behind her back.  I watched her with adoration.

"Noah, quit staring.  She doesn't like you - get over her."  I looked down, knowing he was right, then pulled Alec through the rest of the hallway.

We weren't just wandering the halls for a reason; we were going to the post on the news board - to check if I'd gotten into a 'Midsummer Night's Dream'. 

Of course, everyone had already checked.  All the typical actors and actresses of the high school were hovered around the board, high-fiving, or comforting each other.  And of course, there was Ben - hugging Sally Pearson.  Probably because he was in.

He saw me, then grinned widely; even more than he already had been.  "Noah!  I got in!  I'm playing Theseus!"

Of course.  A leading role.

A forced a smile.  "Good job, Ben!  Do you know if I got in?" I asked hopefully.

Ben looked at me for a second, thinking.  His smile slowly faded, as he tried to hold back his happiness.  I knew confidently what was coming.  "Sorry, Noah.  You didn't... you were really good, just I don't think you were what they were looking for."

My mood sunk even lower as I grabbed Alec by the arm and paced away.  Lucky it was the end of the day.  I went to my locker, and quickly pulled out my books. 

"Noah, it's not that bad.  It's just a play.  Plays are stupid, anyways.  You can join the football team, or something." Alec said, trying his best to comfort me.

"Yeah, like I can do that." I said, rolling my eyes. "I'm 5'4, and I barely have a single muscle on my arms... do you really think I could pull off football of all sorts?"

Alec didn't answer.  I guess he agreed.  We slowly walked down the hallway in silence, as I tried to decide what I was going to do.

                                                   ***

Once I stepped inside, I could already see my sister in the living room, watching television.  She was in her last year of elementary school, and was just about to head off to high school with Ben and I.  Madeleine turned, and stared me down for a moment.

"I heard you didn't get in the play." she said. "Sorry to hear that."
I'd always had a good relationship with my sister - we had to stick together, seeing as we were the shadows behind Ben's brilliant masterpiece.

I smiled weakly and dropped my bag on the floor of the hallway, not bothering to hang it up.  I could hear the chatter of Ben on the phone, ranting away to his friends about his latest achievement.

"I can't wait, Dan.  This is probably going to be a performance I can put on my resume!... Yes, I know!... Yeah...Uh huh?...Okay, well I'll talk to you later.  Bye."

As soon as Ben hung up the phone, I came into the kitchen.

He was sitting at the kitchen counter, his eyes automatically adjusted on me.  He was only wearing his jeans; probably tired after rugby - and was revealing a strong six-pack.  My brother had been given yet another opportunity to show an imperfection - but proved once again that he didn't have any.

"Hey!" he said as soon as I sat down across from him, a smile on his face, as usual.  He at least had something to be happy about.  I sat unexpressionally, as usual.  He must've been used to this, though, because he kept talking, leaving my devastation un-noticed.

"You should come watch the practices sometime, for the play, Noah.  Even though you didn't get in, maybe watching more of acting will be able to get you prepared for a new role when it comes around!  I, after all, did have to do that.  I can't believe I got in - I wasn't very good, and I swore that Peters kid was going to get the role.  But no, I did!  I'm very excited - you, Maddie, mom and dad should come see it on the opening night!  I'm going to be so nervous and -"
I couldn't take it any longer.  I slammed my fist on the counter-top, my eyes burning with fury and jealousy. 

Ben stopped mid-sentence, and stared at me, confused.  "What is it, Noah?"

I closed my eyes, and took a deep breath; calming down before I once again spoke.  "Why?"

"Why?  Why what?  What are you talking about, Noah?  You're really confusing me." Ben responded, obviously telling the truth about his emotions.

"Why, Ben, does everything you touch turn gold?" I said, loudly and confidently - more than I ever had in my life.

Ben stared back at me.  The television that had been blaring originally stopped, and I could hear Madeleine listening.  I didn't care usually, but this time I did.

"Maddie - go upstairs, please.  I'm talking to Ben." I said sharply.  I could hear her hurt in the evergrowing silence.

I turned back to Ben, who still looked at me with the same confusion he'd shown before I told him.

He opened his mouth, and words flowed out like I never could have done.  "I don't know, Noah. I didn't even realize it was that bad.  I mean, yeah, I like to act and all, but I'm not that great.  I'm just being myself.  I have no intention of hurting you."

I shook my head and stared down at my feet that hung off the barstool.  "But can you not express yourself a little less?  Think of what it's like, being in your shadow?  Both Maddie and I are, and I can speak for myself saying I really cannot take it anymore!  What do you expect me to do, just live in silence my whole life? I'm sick of it!"

I jumped off the barstool and stormed toward the stairs, where, of course, Maddie stood, in shock.  "Good job, Noah."

I ignored her, and ran to my room.  This was going to be a long night - and one that I would not be able to tolerate, as of yet.

The End

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