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“I don’t want to move away.”
The words hang in the air between them, like dust, slow and stuffy.
“I don’t want you to move away either,” says Toby. They’re both sitting cross-legged on the hardwood
floor of his bedroom, facing each other. Matthew pokes at a small bug crawling across the floor, so does Toby.
“You could leave, too,” Matthew says.
“You know I can’t,” Toby replies.
Matthew does know, but he likes to think it might happen, somehow. The thought of being torn away from his best friend hurts him, especially because someone like him doesn’t often earn the title of best friend.
Ever since he’s known Toby, they’ve been practically identical, which, in Matthew’s opinion, is really great, because it’s pretty much like having a twin brother. He’s never had a twin, let alone a brother, and while he thinks he has some cousins on his mom’s side, they’re all grown-ups and they live far away. He doesn’t know if his dad has any family his age.
He likes Toby because Toby never thinks he’s weird or messed up for the things he says. Toby
doesn’t whisper about him, like his classmates do, or yell at him, like his teachers do, or scribble notes
onto a little yellow notepad, like Ms. Stacy does every Thursday at 4:00 after school. The best part is
that Toby doesn’t sigh. His mom seems to do nothing but sigh; sigh at the news, sigh at the grocery bill,
sigh at his report card, sigh, sigh, sigh, until he’s sure she must be nothing more than a big mouth of
never-ending sighs, like a draft from an open window.
Toby listens to him and understands. He cares. Even when all Matthew is saying is rants about his classmates and bad grades, rants about getting picked on or not being invited to so-and-so’s birthday party, Toby sits patiently and listens.
“Dad says I’ll meet new friends.”
Toby frowns his answer, “Yeah, but I won’t. I’ll just have to live with the fact that whoever else moves in here could be old and cranky.”
“You don’t know that. It could be someone our age, a kid. They could be nice.”
“I doubt it. Even if a kid moves in, they won’t be like you. It wouldn’t be the same.”
Matthew doesn’t reply, he picks at the torn hole on his jeans.
“I know I’m the reason your mom wants to move,” Toby speaks up.
“Don’t keep blaming yourself for it, okay?”
“No, it’s fine. I know she’s scared of me. That’s why you’re not supposed to talk to me. But I’m always here whether she likes it or not.”
Matthew laughs at the thought of his mother fearing his best friend, but he doesn’t disagree.
A week later, moving day has arrived.
“It shouldn’t have to be like this,” says Toby. They’re sitting back to back, heads tilted towards each other close enough that Toby can’t actually focus on Matthew’s face without going cross-eyed. “You could do something to convince your parents not to move.”
Matthew considers this, but before he can reply, he hears his mom walking up the stairs, and then the sound of her shoes on the hardwood as she walks towards his room. Suddenly, the door is pushed open and his mom peers in. Toby quickly moves out of view and watches. Matthew’s mom comes in, fake smile and tired eyes. She helps him to his feet and walks him out of the empty room. For a second in the doorway she turns around. Matthew’s mom looks right at him, but simply shakes her head and walks into the hall. She knew he was there.
But from his hiding spot inside the mirror, he knows all she saw was herself.
Credit To – Irish Insanity