Axel: sixteen years old; high school
“Let’s go, Axel!” Most of the students call out as they stampede towards the exit.
I just wave a hand at them for my response, showing them my twin dimples for a blinding grin. Girls automatically gush and giggle, looking at me with longing as if they don’t want to leave just yet. It always works all the time.
“Hey Axel, the bell has already rung. Let’s move our asses off to the other room.” Jethro, my best friend-cum-neighbor, says.
“Have you forgotten?” I quirk a brow at him, still holding my bored pose since the first period -- slouching on my seat, thighs wide and chin propped up by a palm. “The professor’s not coming today. He got into trouble with a student, remember?”
“Oh, yeah right.” Jethro drops his bag back to his seat and turns to the window outside our classroom. “Aren’t we going to have a sub-teach or something?”
“Was that even true? You know, Mr. Connor seems not the type to sexually harass a girl much more a student.”
“No idea.” I shrug and lean back to my seat.
“Of all the geniuses in campus, you’re the only one who doesn’t look the part, you know. You’re not studios nor a nerd. You barely go to library. You surround yourself with so many friends with different personalities. You’re as cool as cucumber, verging to apathy.” Jethro shakes his head which makes me grunt and frown.
“Stereotypical? You’re better than that, Jet.”
“No, it’s actually true. Just look at Betty, Don, Maggie? Oh, let’s not forget Brian with his thick glasses.” Jet says matter-of-factly, enumerating the geniuses and nerds in campus. “Oh, it’s little bro with another girl again!”
Of all Jethro says today, this is the only time my interest piques. I quickly stand from my seat, creating a huge commotion when my chair noisily collapses to the floor, before peering from the window towards the gym two stories below. I notice Jethro’s startled reaction at my side but I ignore him.
“Isn’t that the same girl who asked you out the other week? Did you turn her down?”
No, I didn’t. In fact, we’ve been texting ever since, although lately her replies have suddenly become fewer and far in between. She even starts sounding cold with every message. Now I know why. She’s warming up to another dick. Fucking slut!
“That freak!” I mutter under my breath, feeling my pulse starts to become erratic and my eyes squint to where he sits.
Annalouie Webber. What a pretentious name. It sounds like a girl I want to laugh at it. Laugh at his face, show him how I mock his very being. He’s three years my junior. No, four years at most. Right now he’s thirteen while I’m sixteen. Until my birthday a few months from now, only then our four-year gap resumes.
He’s younger but he acts around me as if we’re equal. If he has nothing to say, get ready to be ignored. And he mostly has nothing to say. Hell, he doesn’t talk at all. Freaking rude! The most you can get out of him is either a shrug or a grunt and a long goddamn creepy stare, it fucking pisses me off.
Right now, he’s sitting on the gym bench while on their PE. Women flock him like moths to a goddamn inferno. But he remains as stoic as shit, never interacting nor making eye contact. Not even reacting to the guys’ glares as if their girlfriends were snatched by him. Which I think might be true.
Where I’m cool, the freak is cold. The only thing he can probably call his best friend though is the sketchbook he always keeps close every time. Brat must be drawing some nasty shit again. Things that are inconceivable to human understanding. Bet he’s drawn little devils in there, too. His minions.
“Why do you hate him so much, man?” Jethro asks at my side. “He’s your brother, and younger than you. Give him some slack.”
“He’s not my brother!” I growl and scowl, wanting to spit fire from deep within me.
I don’t answer Jethro’s former question because I can’t recall what exactly ticked me off about that damn brat. Maybe along the years we spent living together under the same roof, my annoyance has piled up into an enormous grudge. I can’t forget the day we first met. That was on our parents’ wedding day.
The long path to memory lane
Axel: nine years old; fourth grade.
“Oh, are you Axel? The bride’s little son?” One of the many guests asks while pinching my cheek.
“Yes, ma’am.” I answer politely and grin at her, showing my cute signature dimples.
“Oh, look at that face! You’re so adorable!” She gushes, elbowing her seatmate who then joins in at praising my cuteness.
Soon enough, people flock around me and commend how behaved I am and how adorable I look on my little tuxedo. I smile even wider, resulting to my dimples deepening even more. My blue eyes sparkle from their attention while I’m swooning on my black, polished shoes.
“And who might be the boy carrying the rings?” One of my fans suddenly beams while looking at the back, a little to the left side of the church.
“I think that might be the groom’s son! That’s Annalouie.”
Annalouie? I frown and look behind me. What kinda name’s that? It’s sounds like a girl’s. But there’s only one kid that’s standing near the church’s entrance that’s close to my age and it’s surely a boy. He’s, indeed, carrying the pillow with the rings on it. I peruse his entire form with distaste.
Like me, he’s also on a tuxedo, only he’s wearing a white pair with red bowtie which is the only thing that gives color to his attire. His hair is sleek to the side and curling on the tip, imitating my mom’s favorite oldie singer, Elvis. His eyes are colored in moss which sparkle brightly on his chubby, pinkish face.
“Look at how adorable he is! He’s dressed like Elvis Presley!” The girl who gushes to me earlier quickly betrays me and is now standing up, approaching the other boy and snaps a picture with him.
I frown but quickly school my expression. I won’t let my real emotions show. Mommy said I should behave really well so that my new dad will favor me. I heard he’s rich and if I’m being a good boy, he’ll support my studies and give me things I want which my previous dad couldn’t provide.
So with my practiced smile, I approach the boy and start up a conversation with him. “Hello. I’m Axel Bailey. My mommy’s the bride. What’s your name?”
The boy jerks his head up as if startled before staring hard at me. His green eyes turn dark and his already pink cheeks redden even more. He averts his gaze and looks down his white, polished shoes instead.
“Louie.” He mumbles barely audibly.
“Louie?” I repeat, my voice inflects slightly in mockery. “I thought it’s Annalouie?”
“Hmm.” He furtively nods and turns towards the door as if wanting to bolt away. “It’s my parents’ names.”
His answer leaves me speechless. So Anna must be his mother’s name. I wonder if she’s still around? My real dad died from liver damage even before my mommy could divorce him. Mom said he’s a horrible drunkard. I faintly remembered him staggering back home, fighting with mom before beating her up. Or sometimes me.
“Where is she?” I can’t help but ask which brings his attention back to me. “Your mom, where is she?”
Annalouie shrugs his little shoulders before dashing outside. What is wrong with him? He approaches a man outside the church who’s wearing an adult replica of his own clothes. I know him. He’s been in our house several times before. My mom’s new husband. My new daddy, Mr. Louise Webber!
I scowl at Annalouie’s deliberate way of snubbing me. My mood even become sourer seeing him clutching his father’s thigh as if Louise will be stolen away from him. Oh, if that’s what he’s afraid of, I’ll definitely snatch his dad away from him. He just wait and see!
My mother soon arrives and the wedding ceremony commences. I’m annoyed that I have to share a seat with the snub Annalouie at the first pew but I endure it for mine and my mom’s future's sake. Not to mention the video rolling at the center aside from the constant snapping of pictures everywhere. Hence, I plaster my sweet smile all throughout the ceremony.
When the wedding finally ends, we immediately proceed towards a luxurious hotel where the reception will be held. There are a lot of happenings a nine-year-old like me can’t comprehend. Adult people laugh to things I don’t get. Until I got bored and find my way towards the comfort room.
Before I can get to one though, I feel a presence following behind me. When I look around, it’s Annalouie the snub. To my surprise, he smiles. Although just a little, barely noticeable, but I can tell it’s definitely a smile. I frown down at him and turn away, doing exactly what he did to me earlier.
When I chance another glance at him, his smile has vanished. His lips turn down into a sad pout and his green eyes glisten like he’s about to cry. My heart flutters, just not sure if it’s of triumph or alarm though. Wait, why would I be alarmed at his miserable face? At least, now he knows how it feels to be ignored!
“What are you doing?” I huff when he still follows me until to the comfort room.
“I… I w-want to go with you.”
“I don’t wanna! You go later after I’m done!” I scowl before slamming the door shut to his face.
Serves you right! Huh!