A Buddy, A Pal…A Friend

Truc Nguyen, Staff Writer

“A friend. What I wish for…is a friend. One that will never get angry with me. One that will stand up to the bullies that hurt me and be with me forever and ever.” Amy mumbled, her fingers were twiddling with each other as she quietly spoke. The illuminating being in front of her smiled as it sat atop the railing of her balcony, arms crossed as its eyes peered down at the little shy girl.

“Your wish is my command.” and then disappeared into the foggy air. Amy looked around the balcony, over the railing and up in the air. Any traces of the being was long gone, almost as if it was never there in the first place. The disappointment settled in when she realized that this was all probably part of her imagination. There were no such things as the 1000 paper star genie, what was she thinking? Mom probably told me that lie to get me to do something productive. She sighed before turning toward the doors that lead her back inside.

What stopped her in her tracks was the little boy who looked her age, standing there smiling at her. His smile didn’t look at all mischievous or wicked, it looked kind and inviting but even so, her arms clutched the giant jar filled with paper stars close to her, becoming wary of the kid. How did he get into my room? Why did mom let this random kid into the house in the first place? Who is he?

“Hi, Amy!” the boy waved as he stepped closer. The closer he got, the further she moved back until she was sitting on the floor. Leaning back against the railing, she was staring at the boy as his smile turned into a grin, displaying a missing front tooth. His charcoal black, disheveled hair slightly fell over his eyes. His eyes, she was drawn to them the most. She didn’t think such a color existed until she saw his. They were gorgeous, sapphire blue eyes.

“Don’t be scared, please. I am what you wished for. You wished for a friend, right?” he questioned. She blinked at him, staying quiet for a few seconds.

“S-so…the genie is real? Where is he?” Amy asked, looking around again before her eyes trailed back to the boy.

“Genie’s gone. He created me for you, to keep you company. Those thousand stars in your arms are as useful as decorations now.” he shrugged, explaining to her what happened. She looked at the jar in her arms, contemplating if this was her imagination or real.

“What’s your name?”

“Well, I don’t have one yet. I was hoping you’d give me one…” he scratched the back of his head with a sheepish chuckle.

“…Jasper…I like the name Jasper…You’re going to be Jasper from now on…” she carefully thought out the name and felt it suited him. The boy, Jasper, smiled that he now has a name for someone to call him by. The name repeatedly left his mouth, he enjoyed the way it sounded. All too caught up in his happiness about his new name, he forgot that Amy was still staring at him. Calming himself down, he then held out a hand to her. Her curious eyes stared at it, wondering what he was doing.

“Well go on. Grab it. From this point on, I will be your best friend forever! I’ll be there whenever you think of me.” he cheered. Amy hesitated. Her left arm slowly reached out and grabbed his palm. He helped her stand up and, for some reason, something in her suddenly broke. Her lips curved into a small smile before she found herself laughing. Carefully, the jar was placed down on the ground before she threw herself at him, embracing him in a hug. Her shoulders shook as she laughed with happiness. Finally…Thank you…I have a buddy..a pal..a friend…

One week following that enchanting day, Jasper was around her all the time because she couldn’t stop thinking about him. Amy finally has a friend and she can’t forget about it. For one week, the two were always next to the other to the point where even her mom couldn’t separate them. They played in the park together, walked home together from school, joined at the hip within a week.

Now, she was getting beat up in an empty parking lot. There were three kids against her and she stood no chance. They were yelling at her, accusing her of something that she didn’t do. Jasper left somewhere, he was going to buy ice cream for the two of them to share, he told her he’d be right back but it’s already been 10 minutes. At that point, Amy started giving up hope that he’d be back.

Just before she passed out, purpling bruises decorating her waist and scratches all over her arms from being tossed around on the pavement, footsteps came running back. Within the blink of an eye, all three bullies were struggling to get themselves out of the lot while Jasper helped Amy lean back against the tree to ease her discomfort. Her face was twisted in pain and Jasper felt horrible he couldn’t be there soon enough. He apologized for minutes until he realized something. His head whipped towards the entrance of the lot and Amy, even though it was painful to her ribs, burst out into laughter as she realized what he was being dramatic over.

It was the ice cream. The pint of ice cream that he disregarded when he saw his best friend being attacked. She gently placed a hand on his forearm and though she didn’t say anything to him, he understood and sat down next to her.

“Thank you.”

“I’ll always be there for you.”

As the years went by, Amy got older and so did Jasper. Even so, they were still inseparable. At the age of 16,  Amy got her first boyfriend and Jasper did not like him one bit. There was something off about the guy and he didn’t want Amy going out with him. When he voiced his concerns to her, she went off on him, yelling about how he can’t just tell her who she can and can’t date. Needless to say, they haven’t seen nor spoken to each other for the next two following weeks.

Within those two weeks, Amy sensed something was going on with her boyfriend. He’s been acting different lately and she was getting suspicious. A week later, she went to school early to try and talk to him but to her shock, she found him kissing some other girl right in front of the building. Despair, anger and hurt washed over her as she watched the two. Tears threatened to fall from her eyes as she continued to comprehend what was going on and how they haven’t noticed her yet.

She felt hurt that her now ex boyfriend decided she wasn’t good enough for him so he went and cheated on her. She felt despaired because that was her one chance to feel like she was worthwhile to someone but he went and destroyed her confidence, making her build up her walls again. Lastly, she felt angry at herself, because it wasn’t the sight that made the tears fall, no, it was the recollection of harsh words she threw at Jasper two weeks ago and how she wished she listened to him, that made her cry. She wished she could go back and believed him, trusted his words about this guy but he was nowhere around this time.

“Amy…” a voice spoke behind her. Her back straightened as she slowly turned around. There was no time for her to profusely apologize to Jasper once he engulfed her body in his arms. There were no words spoken but they both understood one another. When they pulled away, Jasper told her to stay put whilst he went over to the boy and brought a fist straight towards his nose. Amy burst out into laughter, tears still gently rolling down her eyes, as the two walked down the street.

“Thanks, Jasper.”

“I’ll always be there for you, Amy.”

Time passed, Jasper comes and he goes but the two never lost their touch. Of course, they see each other often but not as often as he had hoped. Needless to say, he was always there for her whenever she needed him most. When her mother passed away, he was the shoulder she wept on. When she said ‘I do.’ on that altar with the love of her life, he was there to speak at her venue. When she had her first kid, he was the godfather.

The more life went on, the older Amy got and Jasper aged not too far behind. He also came around less frequently. At some point, he thought Amy had forgotten about him. And Amy had, years went by and not once did Jasper cross her mind. She was living her content life away without him. He stood, waiting in the shadows and watched as the memories of him faded from her mind. All he wished, was for her to think of him again, to remember that he existed so he can go and hug her as tight as he could.

Such is but a pipe dream

It wasn’t until Amy was in her hospital bed that he felt that familiar stir again. With a blink of his eye, he was facing her room number. His hand shook as he twisted the knob and entered. The sight before him caused him to stagger back. Her hair no longer the vibrant red that he enjoyed admiring. She’d gotten old and still, he felt he had not spent enough time with her.

“Hey, pal..” she gave him a small smile.

No matter how hard he tried to be angry at her, how much he wanted to ask her why she forgot about him, how badly he wanted to to yell at her for leaving him alone, he couldn’t. She was here, in front of him and that was all that mattered at the moment.

“They gave me a week before they have to…you know…” she looked down at her hands, hating how much she’d put him through and yet he couldn’t do anything about it. Gently, he took her hand with a small chuckle.

“It’s alright…You’re not going alone. I’m going to be there with you to breathe our last breath…I guess I should’ve told you sooner but when the genie created me, he made me so that you would never be lonely…I guess what I’m trying to say is…without you, there is no me.” Nothing was said after that. They just stayed near one another, enjoying each other’s company.

Within the week that she has left, Amy asked a nurse to buy her as much origami star strips as possible. She spent every waking moment folding and counting. The nurses tried to get her to sleep but she ignored them.

Finally, on the last night of her week, she reached one thousand. The memories came rushing back in soft waves and the illuminating being from her childhood reappeared, sitting at the end of her bed. At that moment, Jasper walked through the door, the smile on his face faded away once he noticed what was going on.

“Amy..no. Please..”

“Jasper, I beg you not to hate me for this…My wish, is for you to live on. Find more children and be a friend to them as you were a friend for me, grow up with them. Make them happy as you’ve made me. But promise me..promise me you’ll never forget me…” he helped her lay back on her bed when her hand went to hold her chest in pain.

“No matter what form I am in or what other life I reside, I will never forget you. My first buddy…my pal…my friend..” The genie was gone and she looked at Jasper as the nurses rushed in. They didn’t seem to notice him and she knew they couldn’t see him when one of the ladies went right through him.

But in that moment, the moment before the plug left the wall, she watched Jasper. She watched him reverse himself, his hair reversing back to the charcoal black she remembered, to the young guy at her wedding. Back to the teenage boy that punched the idiot who cheated on her. And inevitably, back to the tousled hair kid who greeted her in her bedroom the day she made her first wish. She was conscious enough to watch the little boy figure she loved fade away just before her eyes closed. Not once did his gorgeous sapphire blue eyes change.