A light rain fell upon Cool Winter Elementary as the students were running from the building doors to their awaiting parents. Young boys and girls between ages five to ten years shout and yell of happiness while being held in their mothers and fathers arms. Despite the cry sky's, it was a normal day for Cool Winter Elementary. Even the group of boys at the back of the building that encircled a particular as he was backed up against the cold brick wall.
"C'mon James! Why won't you fight back? Too scared that poor mommy is going to scold you? Oh wait! You don't have a mommy!" teased a twelve year old Kaleb Buttswick. A five foot tall, brown haired, hazel eyed, spoiled brat of a child that was held back in kindergarten and second grade for disrespecting teachers and adults along with bullying other students.
James Nelson; a 4'11 tall ten year old with dirty blonde hair and brown eyes that held hatred for the boy in front of him. James, though used to the bullying, always got angry when his mother was mentioned. He could handle the stupid comments about him or his family, but never his mother. Nearly three years ago James' mother, Rosie, had gotten hit by a car when James accidentally threw a ball into the road. James had witnessed the whole thing and blamed himself for his mother's death. The news had spread throughout the school to everyone. Kaleb took the opportunity to use it against James and would say something about it everyday that they met. His actions only made things worse as James had slipped into depression.
"Well? What you waiting for?" Kaleb said with a mocking smirk on his lips and nose in the air. James only glared with daggers, not saying a word. He never said anything nowadays. Kaleb scoffed and said,
"That's what I thought. You're nothing but a broken toy. And do you know where broken toys go? The dump. To be forgotten. To whither away and never be seen again. To disappear. So why don't you disappear and never come back, huh? It would make things so much better." James started to growl from the comments. Kaleb scoffed and rocked on his heels with a fake pouty face. "Oopsy. Did I hurt you? Yes? Good."
James, already pushed to the boundary, punched Kaleb. Kaleb let out a yelp and held his now broken nose while taking a step back. Removing his hand from his face, he looked at the blood on his hand before looking up to James and glaring. James glared back and stood his ground as he prepared himself for a fight.
"Get ready for the pounding of your life Nelson," said Kaleb as he stalked towards James.
"I can't believe you James," said James' father, Chad, as he set a suspension slip on the island counter. "I thought you knew better than this. What were you thinking?" James didn't answer. He only stood there and stared at the ground with little regret of what he did. James had gotten into a full-on fight. Both coming out beaten, and bruised with cuts here and there that leaked little to no blood. Chad sighed and rubbed his face, stressed from everything that went on earlier that day and then the fight. He put his hands on the island top and leaned against it while staring at his eldest son. "What if Lila was there? What if she saw what you did and thought that it was fine to do? What if she saw and did that herself? She's too young to understand and she looks up to you. You shouldn't be doing something like that."
James stood there in silence. He heard but didn't want to listen. His father was right. He shouldn't have gotten in the fight but if Kaleb just shut his mouth! "Are you listening to me?" came Chad's voice. James only nodded before walking to his room, not bothering if his father had anything else to say to him. Once he entered, he saw his twin brother on his side of the room, the right side. Travis, a boy that looked exactly like his twin but with blue eyes. He sat at his desk doing homework and didn't notice his brother walked in from the earbuds blasting Five Finger Death Punch into his ears. James looked at him blankly before walking over to his own desk and turning the lamp on. The light shone on his right side and the papers on the desk that said 'homework' on the top. James looked at it confusedly. When did he put that there or even get his homework? "I grabbed it before we left school again," said Travis, his earbuds off and out as he looked at his twin across the room. Travis' reply was a small turn of James' head to show he heard.
Travis sighed and turned back to his work. With the way James acts, it's like the rest of them don't matter anymore after their mom's death. Travis and Lila both looked up to James like he was a superstar that would always do what's right. And he did. At first anyway. James was the only child that would always get his A's in class and be that perfect, kind, caring student that everyone knew and all teachers liked. He was the 'angel child'. Of course, until the day at the park when their mother was hit. Travis didn't like the silence between them and decided to start up a conversation. "Hey James? Did you know we're moving next month?" he said turning around with a hint of hope in his eyes, hoping that his brother would speak. James snapped around in his chair with a 'are you serious?' look mixed with a 'please tell me you're joking' frantic face. Travis now worried and confused and shook his head saying, "Yeah. Dad told me and Lila before he got the call about your fight."
James still had the same look and only turned to look around the room. 'Moving? Why would they be moving? Probably because of Kaleb and the fight...' James' thoughts raised steam and made his blood boil. He was going to move and Kaleb was going to think that it'll be because he was afraid of him. Their father was going to make them move and he would look weak!
James began to growl unknowingly and gripped the chair handles tighter and tighter. But stopped confusedly when a hand was felt upon his shoulder. He looked at the hand before looking up to the owner of said hand. Travis stood there with a worried look. "It's not that bad, ya know. We could start over and make new friends and all that at a different school. And we won't have any bullies to worry about either. Dad made sure that there wasn't going to be any and that the school was one of the best there is," Travis said warily. James growled and glared at Travis. "He's going to make me look weak," he snarled.
Travis was taken by surprise. "W-What?" "With us moving, dad is going to make me look weak. If we move, Kaleb will think it's because I'm afraid of him and he'll spread word around the school that we moved because I was weak! I'm not moving until I put some sense into that-!" "James?" Both boy's heads snapped to see little Lila standing by the door. She was wearing a blue pajama night gown and held her favorite teddy bear as he wet hair cascaded down her back and over her shoulders. A curious and worried look on her features as she held her stuffed toy close to her chest and was half hidden behind the door. "Yes Lila?" travis said since he knew his brother was now going back to the quiet person he was before. "I heard yelling," she said innocently. James let out another small growl before throwing his hood over his head and turning to his desk with his head down and pencil in hand. Lila was taken back from her older brothers actions and started to go behind the door even more for fear she had angered her brother.
Travis let out an aggravated sigh and walked to Lila, lightly pushing her out the door. "It's alright Lila. Big brother just needs some time to himself. It's been a rough day and a lot handle," he said softly. Lila gave a small nod of understanding and walked out the room, Travis closing it behind them. James was now alone in the quiet room. He listened to the now heavier rain drops hit the window as he sat at his desk and looked at his paper with a distant, thoughtful look. Travis was partly right. It had been a long day, he did need some personal time, but 'a rough day' and 'a lot to handle' was normal so it didn't exactly affect him.
"Oh wait! You don't have a mommy!" echoed Kaleb's voice in James' head. The thought made James' blood boil once more. That darn b*****d was going to think he was weak if they moved. That would make things so much worse than what they already are...
Soon dinner came around and the small family ate, not a word said the entire time. Once dinner was over and the mess was cleaned, James went straight to his room as the others went to the living room for family night games and movies and all that that James didn't wish to participate in. James closed the door behind him and sat on his bed. He looked over to his nightstand and saw the picture of him and Travis sloppily eating cake on their fourth birthday with their pregnant mother in the background. She was only three and a half months pregnant at the time so her stomach bulge was barely noticeable, yet still could be seen. He picked up the picture and held it in his hands that rested on his lap. It hurt him more and more everyday to see his mother before remembering that she was dead. James sighed and set the picture back before going to his dresser and picking out some night clothes that he put on and went straight to bed afterwards. He laid there on his side as he listened to the laughter of his siblings and parent from the echo in the vents. They were playing Bingo and it was obvious that Lila was close to winning from the squeals and laughs she made. This made James more sad. How could they just move on? He couldn't see himself doing anything like that unless his mother was around to cheer him on and to 'be a good sport' when he pouted over losing. James growled and turned to his other side with his pillow over his head to block out the happy sounds of his family down stairs.
"Hey papa?" asked Lila as she put the movie back into the case.
"Yes Lila?" was Chad's reply.
"When will Jame come play with us again?" she asked innocently and curiously looked up to her father next to her.
Chad looked down to her with surprise and met the young ones gaze. He sighed and looked off to the side with pity and sorrow. "I don't know sweetheart. James is going through tough times and doesn't know how to deal with it."
"Then shouldn't he ask for some help? You and Travis always say that if you're having trouble, to go ask for someone to help you," Lila said, curiosity and innocence lingered through her voice as she didn't understand.
Chad looked at her with sorrow and leaned down, picking her up from the floor. "He doesn't want help, even though he needs to talk, he wants to take care of it himself."
"So he's trying to be like you? To deal with problems without others help? Don't you have to be an adult to do adult things?" Lila tilted her head to the side and held her teddy bear close as her father began to walk to her room.
"He's just... James is...." Chad sighed as he didn't know how to put the situation into words that is daughter would understand. "It's complicated Lila. You'll understand when you're older," was his final reply.
Chad made it to Lila's princess themed room and set her on the bed before covering her with the pink sheets and purple blanket. "Hey papa?" called Lila with a soft voice.
"Yes Lila?" chad said, putting her nightlight into the wall plug.
"Is James sick?"
Chad chuckled. "No, James is not sick."
"Then why does James act the way he does? He used to be so nice and happy. But after the incident with mommy, he hasn't been the same. Why?"
Chad looked over to see Lila looking up to him with curious, worried brown eyes. He swallowed the lump in his throat and held back the tears that threatened to come form his eyes from his daughter's curiosity and innocent questions. She had a right to be worried but this was different... "James....I guess you could say....blames himself for what happened to mommy.""But it's not his fault."
"Yes, I know. You know and Travis knows but James.... interpreted it differently."
"He... His thoughts processed it differently. James believes that," Chad took a deep breath and sat on the edge of the bed, "that because mommy was helping him, and she was..." Chad couldn't bring himself to say it as he looked at Lila and took another deep breath before finishing, "...because of him. James thinks that the accident happened because of him."
Lila looked down at her bed and held her teddy bear closer. Chad noticed her actions and set a gentle kiss to her forehead with a small 'good night' before walking out the room and turning off the lights.
James laid in bed and tried to fall asleep. Yet that was hard to do from the stress and anger that was going on. He turned onto his back and stared up at the moonlight ceiling. "Why?" he softly asked the darkness. The door creaked open and james looked over to see his five year old sister standing there. He sat up and looked at her with question and annoyance. "What are you doing up?" he asked sternly.
She slightly coward behind the door from his tone but walked forward to him nonetheless. Once beside the bed of her brothers, she held out her teddy bear to him. James' face contorted into that of confusion and looked between the bear and Lila."Papa and Travis said that you were going through tough times. Whenever I go through tough times, Teddy helps me. Maybe he can help you too," Lila said softly with kindness.
James was even more confused. Lila never let anyone have her bear. She wouldn't even allow them to touch the thing. So why was she letting him have it now? James continued to look between the bear and its owner that looked at him with such a look that James had only seen his mother gave him when he was younger.
Slowly and hesitantly, he reached out and grabbed the teddy bear and retracted his arm just as slowly. Lila smiled and gave her older brother a surprise hug. "Sleep well big brother," she said before letting go and walking out the room, softly closing the door behind her.
James sat there and stared at the door in shock. Not only had his sister given him her bear, but she also hugged him. He looked down at the bear in his hand and the short scene replayed in his head. James then laid back down and stared at the ceiling once more. A few minutes later, he turned on his side and held the stuffed animal to his chest like a four year that felt as if the darkness was going to rip it from their grasp. He then slowly dozed off into a deep sleep.
The sounding of an alarm went off through the room of the twin boys. Travis sat up in bed and pressed the snooze button, glancing over to his brother across the room. James still laid there as soft snores were heard from the slumbering form. Travis sighed. This would happen every morning. He would wake up and turn off the alarm, then he'd have to go and wake his brother.