XLII - “The best time of your life”

XLII - “The best time of your life”

Grand rising Reader.

Back in school, around 17 years old, I was having a pretty rough day.

Nothing major had happened.

But it was one of these where nothing appeared to go right.

I stumbled through the day, and at the end, I had a free fifth period.

I went to the studio (essentially a common room), and saw one of my closest friends there.

"Yo" I called over.


"You good bro?"

In classic avoidance, I said "I'm grabbing a drink, you want anything?"

"Coke will do bro, I'm not working now"

That made me smile.

Now my bro was smart.

He ended up going to Cambridge, and was always working, but he still lived an incredibly balanced life. Ambition was one of our key similarities.

Even then, some people still saw us as opposites (understandably).

Do you remember the time when one of your closest friends "became" that person?

I do for him.

We were in Year 9.

Going into Year 10, our forms were getting split up.

We had to pick three people who we wanted to be with in our form group next year.

At the time, me and my friend were in the same circle. There was around 8 of us.

We'd all been through a fair bit together in recent years.

Nevertheless, I had two friends who said they were putting me down, and I was returning the favour.

That left a third slot available, and I decided to go with my friend who I was currently buying a coke, and would end up at Cambridge.

I felt as though we had grown in the past year together, and I didn't think much more of it, until later that day.

After we had filled out our three names in morning registration, we headed out to first period.

Later in the day, my third period had finished slightly early prior to lunch.

"Ahh" I thought to myself.

I got a chance of jumping on a tennis court here.

It was summer, and the tennis courts were hot property on break.

If you were out a minute too late, the four courts would be full.

I grabbed my racket, and headed out.

And who was only one of two people there?

The man himself, who made the third slot on my list.

First one on the court.

"You're out early?"

"Yeah bro, finish your work and out when done"

"Well, that's no surprise from you" I thought.

"Let's get a game on quick, before the hordes of orcs come bearing down on us" he said.

That's right, we love Lord of the Rings.

I put my bag down, unzipped my racket and started walking to the other side.

As I walked past, I thought, I'm curious.

I stopped, turned and:

"Hey, what three names did you put down?"

"Well, you, then..."

I didn't need to hear the rest.

My instincts had been right.

I smiled inside, and continued walking to the other side.

If you're curious about the tennis result, just know I got my ass whooped.

Nevertheless, that summer time, my instincts were triple confirmed.

This full story will be for another day, but I was on the verge of being expelled, and for a few weeks, I was.

It was the penultimate day of year 9, and my mental state was in tatters, with 0 care in the world.

It should have been obvious, all my boys were getting pulled out of class - it should have been so obvious as to what was happening.

But I did not care.

I had zero feeling.

Finally, when one came back in I said "Dude, where are you all going?"

Sheepishly, he said, "It doesn't matter".

I shrugged it off, we were all playing games and messing around.

It was the penultimate day of the year.

But when my name was called next alongside two others, I knew exactly what it was about.

I never returned to class that day, and it wasn't until a few weeks later, I saw my third on the list friend that Summer.

He lived fairly close to me, and it went a little like this:

"On the day you were all pulled out, what did they ask you? What did you say?"

"Pfft, you know bro, did they do it, what happened, blah, blah, blah."

"What did you say?"

"I didn't see SHIT".

That was my brother.

Anyhow, wasn't I buying a coca-cola for him?

That's right.

On a crappy day.

Up to the counter I head.

The lady behind was always pleasant, and she smiled.

I don't think I offered much more than a nod and pulled out my wallet.

"You know, you shouldn't be like this".

"Excuse me?", I was a little perplexed.

I must have looked worse than I thought.

"I guess you wouldn't believe me if I told you this period was the best time of your life"

I stared blankly for a second.

"I hope not".

She laughed it off and walked away.

I left, went back to my brother as he slapped the chair next to him.

A nice comfy one, which no doubt he had to fight off some of the surrounding people to reserve.

I handed him the coke, looked up and said "You think this is the best period of our life?..."

He gave me a puzzled look as I continued.

"Like, it's all downhill from here?"

He didn't reply instantly.

He could see in my eyes, it was a serious question, not just some banter.

He looked away, looked back at me.

I was still looking at him.

"No man, I don't. I think life has barely started."

10 years later, I can tell you he was absolutely right.

The Game of Life

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