Title: Friends Like Enemies
Genre: Humor/Young Adult/Drama
Summary: What would you do if the closest and dearest friends you had suddenly left you out to dry? This is something Mitch Phoenix has to face in this tale of friendship, love, betrayal, and self-discovery.
“Aah,” said Mitch Phoenix, reclining in his lawn chair next to the pool. He sipped his lemonade and stretched, yawning lazily. “Nothin’ like the last week of freedom before school starts.”
“Says you,” muttered his friend Matt Young, throwing a small pebble into the pool. He was sitting on the edge of his lawn chair, glaring at the pool as though daring it to mock him. “For me, this last week is such a drag. In a mere seven days I’ll be back in the hellhole that is Deer Forest Middle School—“
“—where people judge you, criticize you, and turn you away if you don’t conform to their impossible standards,” Mitch finished for him, rolling his eyes. He had heard this speech a million times before.
“Well, it’s true!” insisted Matt. “Everyone bases everything on appearance.”
“Oh, and I suppose you don’t care about that sort of thing,” replied Mitch sardonically. It was common knowledge that Matt was obsessed with his looks and was constantly looking in a mirror whenever possible.
“Because that’s what they’ve turned me into!” cried Matt. “Some kind of…of…person…like a…vanity monster!”
“Sounds more like a hypocrite to me,” grinned Mitch, shaking his red hair out of his eyes.
“You wanna fight?!”
“No thank you,” said Mitch, sipping his lemonade again.
Matt scowled and threw another pebble into the pool. “You’re such a wimp, Mitch.”
“I’m a lover, not a fighter,” said Mitch.
“Oh, ha ha,” said Matt, rolling his eyes.
“I know. I’m just so utterly hilarious.” He sipped his lemonade thoughtfully. “I wonder what eighth grade will be like.”
“The same as seventh grade, only with different teachers,” said Matt, scratching his leg.
Mitch chuckled. “You’re such a downer, man.”
“I aim to please,” said Matt. “When’s Jason getting here?”
“Any minute now,” said Mitch.
Just then, Jason Bradshaw came out of the back of Mitch’s house, a huge grin on his face. He was clutching a giant bottle of wine.
“What the fuck is this?!” shouted Matt, pointing at the wine. “You said you were bringing beer!”
Jason’s grin faded. “Well, yeah,” he said. “But I found this in the basement, and it’s supposed to be a really good year—“
“Dude, I don’t fucking care,” said Matt angrily. “You said you were bringing beer!”
Jason sighed and put the wine on small table. “Well, we didn’t have any.”
Matt snorted in disgust.
“At least it’s something,” said Mitch, getting up. He picked up the wine and read the label. “Interesting.” He popped off the cork and took a sip of the wine. He grimaced and put the wine back down. “Dude, that stuff’s nasty.”
Jason glared at him and snatched the bottle away.
“Good,” he said viciously. “More for me, then.” He started chugging it down like it was holy water.
“Look, here comes Bruce,” said Mitch, pointing at Bruce Trite, who was entering the backyard.
“Word,” said Bruce, approaching them.
“Yo yo yo,” said Matt. He held his hand up in the air. “Gimmee some skin, bro.”
Bruce raised an eyebrow. “’Give you some skin’?”
“Yeah,” said Matt.
Bruce sighed and slapped Matt’s hand. “You’re such a loser, man…”
“No I’m not,” said Matt.
“Anyway,” said Mitch, turning to Bruce. “How’s your summer been, man? We haven’t seen you in, like, eons, practically.”
“It was a month,” Bruce corrected, smirking. “And I had a good time. We went to Lake George.”
“For a month?” asked Matt incredulously.
“Yeah,” said Bruce. “We stayed with some friends. Anyway, I met this guy who’s going into minor league basketball, and he gave me some pointers...”
And so, for what seemed like an eternity, Bruce talked about basketball while Matt continued throwing pebbles into the pool, Mitch tried to listen to Bruce but couldn’t become interested enough, and Jason continued drinking the wine, humming to himself.
“And then, he started showing me these diagrams—”
“So,” Mitch interrupted, eager to stop Bruce’s extremely long monologue,“do you guys think we’ll be in the same class when school starts?”
“Hopefully,” said Bruce.
“I still think the whole system is stupid,” said Jason. “I mean, what’s with having the same people in your class the whole day, except for health and gym, and going to different teachers, but still the same people with you…all day…every day…yeah.”
“I can’t believe he’s drunk already,” said Matt.
“I am not drunk!” shouted Jason.
“Sure you aren’t,” said Matt. “You keep on living in your little fantasy world there.”
“You mean none of this is real?” asked Jason in astonishment. He picked up the wine bottle and examined it. “Weird.”
Bruce rolled his eyes.
“Stop confusing him,” Mitch said sternly to Matt.
Matt shrugged. “What can I say? It’s my favorite pastime.”
“What time will your parents be home?” Bruce asked Mitch.
“Not for another couple of hours,” said Mitch.
“Plenty of time,” said Bruce contentedly.
“So,” said Jason, drinking some more wine. “How’s you guys’s doin’?”
“Fine, thanks,” said Mitch.
“Not too good, actually,” sighed Matt, throwing another pebble into the pool. “My…my girlfriend…she broke up with me…”
“Oh,” said Mitch. “No wonder you were being so hostile today.”
“Look, I’m sorry I threw that vase at you, dude, but you have to let some of these things go!” Matt yelled.
“I wasn’t…attacking you…” said Mitch.
“Well, I don’t want to talk about it,” Matt snapped, this time taking a larger rock and throwing it at Mitch’s head.
Mitch ducked at the last second, and the rock went flying over his head into the neighbor’s backyard.
“Dude!” exclaimed Mitch, his blue eyes glaring at Matt with pure fury. “Are you trying to kill me? I could’ve gotten a concussion!”
“That was my goal,” snarled Matt.
“Conces—conco—consi—concuss-cions are dele—deli—great,” slurred Jason, draining the last of the wine.
“Dude, you’re wasted,” remarked Bruce.
“Hey!” protested Jason, swaying where he sat. “That’s so not righth, man! You want to take this outside?!”
“We are outside,” Bruce pointed out.
“You piece of carp!” accused Jason, pointing a flailing finger at Bruce.
“Carp! You’re a piece of shiz-it!”
“Oh. You’re saying I’m a piece of crap.”
“Well, you’re a drunken idiot.”
“You’re a…you’re a…” said Jason. “You know what? I would like some more vine.” He got up and went inside the house, staggering and swaying as he went.
“It’s so much fun watching Jason when he’s drunk,” said Mitch.
“How long ‘til he passes out this time, do you think?” asked Bruce.
“If he keeps drinking like that,” said Mitch, “I’ll give it another ten minutes. But it doesn’t matter, because I don’t have any alcohol in there…”
Sure enough, Jason came stumbling back outside a few minutes later.
“No wine,” he muttered, before he tripped and fell in the pool.
“You know, that was just so predictable,” said Matt.
Jason bobbed up to the surface of the water, sputtering and gasping for breath.
“Help!” he yelled, and sank back under.
Mitch rolled his eyes and stood up. “What an asshole.” He took off his shoes, socks, and finally his shirt, then dove into the pool.
He found Jason sinking slowly to the bottom, his eyes closed. Clearly, he had passed out. Mitch grabbed him, thankful that Jason wasn’t too much taller or heavier than he was, and swam to the surface.
Mitch took a deep, shuddering gasp for breath when he hit the air, and pulled Jason to the side of the pool.
“Somebody pull him out!” he yelled.
Bruce went over and dragged the unconscious Jason out of the pool while Mitch climbed out.
“Nice job,” said Matt.
“Thanks,” said Mitch.
Jason awoke after a while, now somber and embarrassed about the whole situation (“Could you have made more of a scene of it, Mitch?”). He then went home, disgruntled and wet.
“I might as well go, too,” said Bruce. He then did, waving goodbye to Mitch and Matt.
Matt sat there quietly.
“You want to leave now?” asked Mitch.
“Why?” choked out Matt.
“Because…you want to go home…” said Mitch uncertainly.
“No,” said Matt, “ I mean, why did she leave me? I don’t get it…I just don’t…understand…”
“What, didn’t she tell you?”
“No,” said Matt. “She just said, ‘Matt, I don’t want to see you anymore’.”
“That sucks,” said Mitch sympathetically.
“Yeah, it does,” sighed Matt. He stood up. “Well, I guess I’ll go now.” He put his hands in his pockets and left.
Mitch laid down on his lawn chair and gazed up at the sky. He wondered when he was going to start having Matt’s problems…
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