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Just Friends

By:Billy Taylor

April 16th

Today is a special day for two reasons. The first is that it’s the twelve-year anniversary of meeting my bestfriend Ethan Knight. The second is that it’s the nineteenth birthday of my bestfriend Ethan Knight. Before I go on, the story of how we met should be told.

My parents and I had moved house, the small house we lived in had become too small. I was six and had started at my new school with a whole load of kids I’d never met. Ethan and I were in separate classes during my first week of school, so we didn’t meet. Until one day, his Dad asked my parents if I wanted to go to his seventh birthday party. Ethan’s Dad knew I was new in school so it should be a nice opportunity for me to try to make new friends. It was the last thing I wanted to do because I was a stubborn child, but looking back on it now, I’m glad my parents forced me to go. Meeting Ethan is my favourite childhood memory.

I was still frowning at my freckled cheeks in the mirror even after they had dropped me off. I tied my long, dark blonde hair up in the mirror. My Mum had spent forever brushing it, but I hated having my hair brushed when I was younger. I ventured into the kitchen and grabbed a slice of cake that had been placed on napkins along the side. It was an indulging chocolate fudge cake. I swear each slice was the same size as my face. I popped it onto a plate. I was a clumsy kid and knew I’d drop cake somewhere. The other kids in attendance were all screaming and running around in the garden. Meanwhile, I was sitting on the sofa inside, eating Ethan’s birthday cake, alone.

After two or three minutes of silence, a boy came running past wearing a top hat, cape and white gloves. Don’t forget the magic wand. I’d never met Ethan before so I had no idea who I was looking for to say happy birthday to. After he ran through the kitchen he casually walked backwards, poking his head around the corner, staring at me. I gave him an awkward smile and wiped my fingers and face with my napkin.

“Who are you?” He curiously asked, strolling over.

“I’m August, happy birthday by the way.” I said with a mouth full of cake.

He removed his top hat, allowing his long, brown hair to fall across his forehead, half covering his eyes. He extended his right hand towards me and said, “Pleased to meet you August. Do you want to see a magic trick? I’ve been practising all day.”

I paused and examined his appearance. He was so small. I was taller than him at this stage. He was wearing the pearliest white tie I had ever seen. Not that I’d seen many of them, but that tie could’ve advertised teeth whitening.

“Ok.” I said, shaking his hand.

I moved the plate off my lap and onto the sofa cushion beside me. He removed his gloves and threw them over his shoulders onto the floor behind him. He then stuck his hand into his hat and pulled out a deck of cards. Retrieving them from the pack he fanned them out in front of me.

“Before you pick a card I want you to think of a number between one and ninety-nine for me, please.”

I frowned at him and leant back on the sofa and hummed. After a few seconds of consulting in my head I chose the number seventy-three.

“You got one?” He asked, raising an eyebrow at me.

“Yes.” I replied, gripping my knees.

Magic bewildered me growing up. Although, not as much as the guys who could make balloon animals. Those guys were literal geniuses. He shuffled the deck in an emphatic fashion before fanning them out in front of me. I perused amongst them cautiously, I didn’t want to make it too obvious.

“We don’t have all day you know.” He said, nudging the cards closer.

I hadn’t wiped my hands properly after eating the cake and my smudgy fingers marked the card of my choice in chocolate cake. I selected my card and turned it over. And there it was, the seventy-three of hearts. Well, a seven of hearts with a three drawn next to the seven in black marker pen. Still, I found it astonishing.

“How did you do that?” I asked with a grin.

“A magician never reveals his tricks, August. However, nothing is over yet.” He pulled a lighter and a black marker pen from his pocket and waved them around in front of me.

“Will you write your name on the card for me please?”

I rubbed my hands on the napkin again to prevent any further cake prints on the card. I didn’t have a signature or anything fancy at six years old, so I wrote my name and drew a smiley face next to it. My fingers were still greasy so my handwriting appeared messy.

“I will now set this card on fire, doing so will move the card into your shoe… ready?” He said, holding the lighter up to the bottom of the card.

“Wait… you’re setting my shoe on fire?” I asked.

“Why would I set your shoe on fire, August?” He replied, blank faced.

“You said you’re going to set the card on fire and put it in my shoe.”

“This card will go into your shoe after I’ve set it on fire, it won’t be on fire in your shoe. Ok?”

We looked at each other confused.

“Can I take my shoe off first? I don’t want it to burn my feet.”

He flapped his arms by his side. “August, the fire will come nowhere near your shoe or feet, ok?”

I cheekily grinned at him. “I was just kidding!”

He angrily smirked at me and flicked the lighter on underneath the card. Suddenly it went up in flames and within a second or two, dissipated into thin air. It didn’t even leave a mark on the cream carpet. I flicked off my shoes, to my disappointment there wasn’t a card there. Ethan snatched at my shoes and stuck his hands inside them.

“Where is it?” He whispered, sticking one of my shoes right into his face and peering into it.

“I still liked it.” I said, trying to encourage him.

He dropped my shoes by my feet and walked away. Before I could ask him to stay, he’d gone. I suddenly became so alone and wished for his return. Moments after feeling sorry for myself he ran back in with two cartons of juice in his hands.

“I got juice.” He said, thro