He was my best friend.


1. The Beginning

We were just kids when we first met.

I remember our class had free time and me and a bunch of my friends had pushed together a few of our desks and sat around them, taking turns playing Snakes and Ladders. I'd just lost a game and was waiting for my turn to come around again.

Our teacher, Ms. Fisher, was outside with a mother and her son, a new student to the school.

The door to the classroom was slightly ajar, and being the curious eight year old boy that I was at the time, I tried to eavesdrop on their conversation while they stood outside in the corridor, and also get a first look at the new boy.

It wasn't often a new kid started at our school, especially halfway through the school year. Our town had a small population and had hardly any movement to or from it.

While the rest of the class carried on playing happily, I watched the classroom door. Rocking my chair back as far as it could go without me falling off, I stretched my neck backwards even further, and tried to catch a glimpse of the new boy through the slightly open doorway.

That's when I noticed the commotion. No one else did because they were too caught up in enjoying their free time.

Looking back, Ms. Fisher may have known there could be difficulties with the new student, and let us have free time to ensure we'd be too distracted to see or hear any trouble that might take place with him.

I was straining my ears, trying to hear a snippet of what was happening, when I heard it. A small voice begging his mom not to make him stay here, at this new school.

He cried out and one shod foot kicked the door open a little more. My eyes widened when I saw my teacher and the boy's mother restraining him in their arms, trying to calm him down and stop him from running away. I didn't get a good look at him because all the movement involved in his struggle to get free made it difficult to get a clear picture of him.

I wondered why he behaved like that, and if it was all just because he didn't want to come to a new school. It didn't make sense to my eight year old self.

Ms. Fisher caught me watching the scene. Her face was normally pleasant and calm and her clothes were usually smooth and pristine. However, at that moment, she looked like a flustered mess. Her face was full of worry as she quickly pulled the classroom door shut.

Everyone continued their free time, oblivious to the events taking place outside.

Without thinking, I rose from my seat, turned the classroom door handle, and stepped out into the corridor. A little up the corridor, I saw a whirlwind of flailing limbs as the boy kicked and screamed and held on to anything he could reach for dear life, and tried to stop his mother and Ms. Fisher from dragging him back towards our classroom.

His mother looked worried, my teacher appeared upset, and his face wore a look of fear, as though he felt deathly afraid and very scared. It did something to me, seeing another boy that way.

I interrupted all the action with, “Excuse me, Miss. I'm busting to go to the toilet and I was wondering if the new boy wanted to come with me, to the bathroom to wash his face?”

Everybody went still and the corridor became quiet. The boy's mother looked at me in surprise and my teacher cleared her throat as she collected herself.

Ms. Fisher placed the half of the boy she was holding, his legs and feet, onto the ground. She straightened her clothes and took a deep breath before facing me. “You may go to the bathroom, Jo,” she said. She then turned to the new boy and asked him, “Would you like to go to the bathroom with Joseph to wash your face, Dask?”

I held my breath as I waited for his reply. Now that I look back on it, I think we all did, and we were all hoping for the best.

I wondered about his name, Dask. It was an unusual one for these parts of Cheshire, where life was a predictable pattern of school, sport and church and the people a medley of routine and simple names.

His behavior surprised and confused me, intriguing me.

The moment Dask lifted his head to look at me, I felt captured. His soft blue eyes showed knowledge of a life outside our small town. His hair was a golden mess upon his head and his creamy skin looked tinged pink with fresh tear streaks on it. He looked so miserable to be here. I just wanted to make him feel better.

He gave me a once over before he decided I was okay and nodded his head, or maybe he just wanted to get away from the two frantic ladies who didn't seem to know what to with him. “Yes,” he replied to Miss. Fisher, in a quiet, broken voice which had me feel protective of him.

Ever since that day, I've had a soft spot for Dask. Later that day, I introduced him to my friends. That was the beginning of our friendship.

Dask was a shy, quiet boy, especially that first day, but I soon found out he had a wicked sense of humor and was so much fun when he was happy. Making him smile became my most important task.

We would play, mess around, pull pranks together, and did all the usual things that boys get up to at that age. He became my best friend.

Our parents befriended each other too, which gave us even more opportunities to spend time together, having fun.

We were different, but we were the same too. Our personalities and temperaments were miles apart, but we enjoyed many of the same things, and we could make one another laugh out loud over the smallest of things.

Little did I know that when we became teenagers, things would begin to change between us.

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