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JZChew

Singapore

Message to Readers

This is my first competition. I'm not in to win, but to learn. I hope that my readers can give me feedback, so I can develop further. Thank you.

Loyalties

February 16, 2016

Aristotle once famously said, "A Friend to all, is a friend to none."

Friends are like luxuries. The foolish never appreciate what they have in them, until the ones they care about get tear away, leaving a void in their hearts. Like shooting stars in the night, burning bright and beautiful, before burning away, disintegrating against the heat of the atmosphere will violent, self-destructive force, unleashing a maelstrom of hate upon those around them. Such is the death of a friendship. To hold all the friendships in each person's world, is impossible. Who dictates that? Human nature. Most understand that, acknowledging it. 

However, some choose the route of pain, subjecting themselves to the pain of trying to never choose a side, to perennially sit on the fence. Hoping to never offend anyone. This the story of Jarec, who learnt through his own pain.

It was the first day of school. A new school. A clean slate. A do-over, another restart. Jarec halted at the door of the classroom, hesitant to step in. 'What if I get involved in a fight? What if I get bullied?" A thousand question raced like tigers through his mind, hunting the deer that were the answers. He had already resolved to never be the outcast he once was, no matter the cost. No matter who he had to sacrifice. He would become the king of his clique, his own little kingdom in the sea of people. This would be the class he would belong to for the next two years. The deep breath before the plunge. The last blink. Then he stepped in.

It was not much at first. A motley crew, 39 other souls. Some small in stature, but fearless in heart. Others wanted to return to their pasts, others looked to the future. First impressions were clear. Some were awed by their peers, others stared with suspicion and even a little contempt. Yet in spite of their differences, they were destined to become a family. A weird, strange family, put together from many pieces. Jerec's first, calculated choice? Begin chatting with a tall, skinny young man, clad in the attire of the school, outwardly nervous, but his drumming fingers, like gazelle running from the lions, belied his anxiety. Here he was in an unknown environment, ready to trust the first one who offered him friendship. Jerec sensed an opportunity, one to utilize him.

As the day proceeded, a bond formed between the duo. Days turned into weeks, rolling into months, and into a year. All the while, the bond grew. the tall one trusting the other implicitly. Despite this, he sensed something. Like he was being used, that he was merely a pawn. A piece on Jerec's chessboard. Cursed with a fiery, short temper, the tall one often found himself at odds with those whom Jerec would court, hoping to secure their acceptance. Although Jerec had often stated that he would always stand by him, the tall one often found himself deserted, standing alone in against his enemies, all the while watching Jerec either stand aside or even fly his enemies flag. By the end of two years, his patience wore thin.

Then came the catalyst. The firestorm that would sweep away everything, burning in oblivion. All the lies and apologies in the world could never have stopped the oblivion that was coming. 

For as every man worth his salt knows, even the most noble of men will become salivating dogs when courting a lady. Jerec's heart had fallen to another, someone who was on excellent terms with his "friend". Let us call her 'V'. As far as Jerec was concerned, his tall friend was a competitor, someone to put down at all costs. Conveniently, there was a party coming up, one where he was organizer along with his friend. To make everything even sweeter, V was invited as well. And it was the haze season. A single hazy day would have forced his friend to postpone, for the tall one was, underneath the temper and outward anger, someone who did care about others, and the last thing he wanted was for someone to fall sick due to the haze. 

The day came, and the sky was filled with smoke, scented with fire and the ashes of betrayal. Predictably, the party was postponed. With his perceived threat gone, Jerec made his move. Like the Roman Emperor Nero of old, he worked behind his friends back, seeding the idea of a alternative location, that the whole issue was not due to the haze, but to issues with his friend. However, no secret could have ever remained under wraps for ever, and through a series of informants, his friend came to know of it. 

Retribution was quick and swift. The betrayal was halted, and alternative plans made. However, the damage was done. The friendship, broken. Cheered on by his other friends, Jerec had thrown in his lot, the schemer within exposing himself. The air was filled with the sounds of armageddon, each ready to fight. 

The fight was brutal, swift and quick. Neither won, there were only losers. A friendship lay smashed, like the ruins of Rome after its sacking by Alaric and the Visigoths. Now both retreated, venturing further away from each other.

But for the tall one, he was free. He had no worries; he was free to engage in friendships with those he did care about. Jerec sought new friends now, his old ones disgusted by his behaviour. And so he started again, ever hunting for new groups, wondering why he never seemed to fit in.

By JZChew
junzhichew@gmail.com

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