Blood Bond

Here's To Your Awful Puns

"Here. Let me try for you." A voice offered taking the dollar gingerly. "Here you are." A soda and a hand appeared before my lowered eyes.

"Thank you," I said quietly without looking up.

"You could at least look at me! Even after all those years of telling me you had a curse named Josh, I thought you were still my friend!" I looked up wearily at the tall boy before me. "Man, you look horrible! No offense dude, but look at you! Have you slept at all?"

"Yes." I struggled to keep looking up.

"What’s wrong with you?" he whispered. "You haven’t looked that depressed since the Winter dance last year! And I’d know since you made me stay with you and that perv the whole time—No! Please tell me you’re not with that creep! That’s gotta be it… Oh, Tonia… I am so sorry." Josh pulled me into a friendly hug. I just stood there. I felt tears and buried my face in his shoulder and he stroked my hair. We had been friends since kindergarten and I used to always play with him during recess. We had dated once, but decided we were better as friends. I had missed his friendship ever since the October-November Break began.

"I missed you so much, Joshua!" I cried. He hugged tighter.

"Me, too. I’m so sorry. I was going to call you several times, but you know how my brother can’t stay off the phone!" He waved his arms frantically.

"By the way, I’m not a dude."

"There you are! Are you okay?" He grew serious.

"I guess. I just don’t know what to do."

"Are you for serial ('serious' in his language)? Just say 'I’m leaving, you perv!' What else is there to it?" I looked up at him. "Oh! Man, he is sick!" I liked my relationship with Josh. He never made me have to speak: he put the pieces together by himself. He had to be smart because the two of us used to compete to see who was superior—mentally and physically. We probably both had the same score since I’d beat him and then he’d turn around and beat me.

"I know. He told me if I left him then he would—well, he didn’t say. I can only imagine he’d force me to be stuck with him," I mumbled.

"Man, that’s some situation. I don’t know how to get you out of that, but do you want out?" He caught me by surprise.

"That’s the scary thing. I don’t know." He nodded knowingly. What would I do without him? He looked at all sides of the equation, thinking not just of his view, but of others, too.

"Well. Better think about that first. That’s all I can say. I have to go get my brother. Elijah's probably poking dead bodies thinking they’re alive! See ya around?" he asked. I nodded. He waved and ran off in search of his little brother.

"Sweetie? Are you coming back? Or are you just going to stand around that soda machine all day?" I looked over at the nurse, rejuvenated. Josh could always cheer me up. I wished I had him as a brother. He actually cared about my happiness, but Kyle was getting better, or he had been until he went and got lost somewhere. I sprinted over and she smiled.

"Feeling a little more than okay?"

"Yes, ma’am." I nodded.

"Honey, don’t call me that. You make me sound old. Call me Judy." She smiled.

"Yes—Judy!" I caught myself. She shook her head playfully.

Her smile soon faded. I looked to where she was looking. Daryl came walking over, hands in his pockets. He looked irritated. He eased up a bit when he reached me.

"This kennel must really work! She’s like a puppy again!" he exclaimed, hugging me for a second.

"She should be a puppy, but you force her into adult situations." she muttered. He ignored her.

"Well, he’s still not here. Where should we try next?" Daryl asked, flopping down on a bench. He glanced from me to the spot next to him a few times. I walked over. I sat down carefully and he put his arm around my shoulder. "Hey, old hag, do you know where we could look? Don’t be assinine."

"For you I’d say a rehabilitation clinic and she should look at her house."

"Funny. Flattering. Really it is, but I’d suggest my house in my room. If you don’t have an idea, then shut the hell up."

"Well, I never—"

"Really? And here I thought you’d get that all the time." He shrugged, standing up. He reached out a hand and I took it, depressed again. "Now look what you did! You depressed my not-so-innocent, innocent puppy. Nice going. Let’s go, Tonia." If he hadn’t said my name I'm sure I would have forgotten it.

I looked back at the nurse and she pointed to my pocket. She mouthed, "My number" and acted as if I had never looked back at her. I fought the urge to look in my pocket: if I did he could see it and then I’d never know what it said. I’d have to fight impatience and wait.