What came first? The Forgiveness or the Friendship?

Mark Michelson had been friends with my father since I could remember. No, maybe friend wasn't the right term to use. If thirty to forty year old men can have best friends my father and Mark Michelson were it.

He and his wife were seated next to my parents in pictures of birthday parties and holidays, games and get-togethers. When Mark broke his arm trying to teach himself how to ride a motorcycle when he was sixteen there was my father grinning next to him in the hospital on the badly developed Polaroid.

He'd probably live with us if his house wasn't in walking distance of his own.

I can even vaguely remember Mark's arm around my dad's shoulders while I ran around the collapsible legs of rowed chairs, staring angrily at the back of my cousin who had taken off vengefully with my Gameboy. In a time before understood what the word funeral meant.

He'd shown up at my house every basketball game to yell things like 'goddammit' at our television and my father, who'd be split between agreement and the cautious glance he was sending at me, would brush me into the back yard to play with the boys.

One too many reprimands from my accidental repeats, I guess.

I wouldn't. Instead I'd find a place away from them and play by myself until it was time to go in.

It only really took one day, ten seconds really, for that to change forever.

"Hey Alexis." Nicholas studied the sloped volcanic shaped mountain I was making and raised an eyebrow in silent amusement.

"What do you want?" I mumbled, shoving my hands deep into the top and pushing them down until it was nothing but a mound again.

"I just thought you… well… seemed lonely is all." He dropped down across from me but made sure to keep his jeans out of the dirt. "Want some help?"

I looked up, dropped the mud ball from my palms, and crossed my arms.

"No." I stated.

I could feel the stickiness seep into the sides of my shirt.

He rolled his eyes and reached out for a piece, quietly smoothing out the edges and shaping it. When he stopped and spread out his palm I noticed it resembled a tiny little chair. A sofa chair.

"Here." He smiled, reached over, and slipped it into my hand.

My eyes trained on it. I loosened my arms and dragged a finger over the top.

"That's really cool." I flashed him a smile.

Half of his mouth lifted up in acknowledgement. "Thanks." He said before taking another clump and starting something else.

This time, when he set it down, it resembled a table.

"I can make chairs." I found my mouth opening in a hurry without thinking. I didn't want him to do everything.

"Cool." He nodded. "But don't make them too big. They have to fit under the table."

"I know." I rolled my eyes. "I'm not stupid."

"I… didn't say you were…" He trailed off.

"Sounded like it." Was my comeback.

"Well I didn't." He mumbled. "And I don't think you are."

I pretended like I hadn't heard him, even though my face was flushing with heat from the compliment, and I stretched out my palm.

"You can have it." I offered.

He took the ball with his other hand; I watched as the tips of his fingers turned dark brown and then faded into tan.

He was the first person who ever wanted to be my friend.

It wasn't until later that night that I really understood why he'd been so nice to me.

The front door swung shut, the telltale sign that we had a visitor, and I jumped out of bed to see who it was.

By the time I made it into the hall I could already distinguish that a conversation was in progress.

"Did… I hope…" Was all I could make out from the distance but I already knew who it was.

"Of course." My mom came in loud and authoritive completely unlike Nicks calm and dainty. "He does everything he's told. Wish someone else's kid was like that…" She complained and Mrs. Michelson laughed.

I stepped onto the stairs leading into the kitchen.

"Eric will grow out of that bratty stage. All kids do."

You can't grow out of being Satan's spawn. Evil is in your blood.

Mom sighed. "God I hope. If he breaks one more thing in my house I'm going to forbid him from coming over."

They both laughed this time.

I made it to the third step before I halted.

"So did they hit it off?" His mom asked curiously.

"I was in the office. But the boys say they were fine."

"Fine? Or course they did." I didn't have to see the rolling of her eyes to know it was taking place. "I thought it'd be nice, you know, to have a friend. All those boys are always rough housing too much. They're too hard on her."

"She can take it." My father cut in. "She's tough."

I watched him open the refrigerator with his side turned to me. He leaned down, grabbed a bottle, and let the door fall closed.

Neither woman said anything in return.

"Or… not?" He questioned hesitantly before he retreated from the room.

"I know, she doesn't make friends very well." My mother leaned against the counter and shrugged. "But she doesn't seem very bothered by it. I mean… she's a pretty happy kid."

Yep, that was me, pretty happy. I almost snorted.

Nick came bounding into the kitchen then, backpack in one hand and his father's car keys in the other.

"Dad wanted me to give you these." He handed them up.

His mother took them and thanked him. "Well still." She said, like adults do when they're about to wrap up a conversation. "It's not going to hurt him to be nice to her." She turned to her son. "Right, Nicholas?" And her fingers smoothed through his hair before he jerked away; half glare, half grin.

"Whatever." He grumbled. "Can we go now?"

"Mark, how long are you going to be here?" She yelled into the other room.

"Uh… we're in over time, Angie. I don't know." He replied distractedly.

She tapped the table for a while before deciding that that answer was acceptable.

"Fine, but if you're not home in two hours I'm going to lock you out."

"Oh, okay." He agreed. And he didn't seem too broken up about it.

Then the two were out the door; I quietly found my way back to my room.

"Morning Lexi." Something was in my room.

For a moment I wasn't quite sure if I'd even heard it.

I laid there in silence for a while before I peeked out over the covers and verified it was in fact standing there.

Nick beamed from the side of my bed.

"What do you want?" I questioned.

"I was wondering if you wanted to… play with me or something. We could go to the park. Ride bikes?" He asked politely.

"I don't have a bike." I told him.

"Oh." He paused. "Well we could walk there. Or you could borrow Eric's or Jonathan's. I'm sure they wouldn't mind."

Eric would break his bike before he let me enjoy it. What was this kid thinking?

"No thanks." I rolled over and tried to fall back to sleep.

"Okay, well… we could do something else. How about we play checkers? Monopoly? Ris-"

"Look." I sat up suddenly; cutting him off. It caught him by surprise and he took a few steps back out of caution. "Just tell your mom we hung out, okay? You're… boring anyway."

His shoulders went rigid and a slight tint came to his cheeks. I pretended not to see the look of guilt light up and then dim from his eyes.

Dropping out of bed, I dug through my dresser roughly, and stomped my way into the hall.

He finally remembered his vocabulary.

"But this has… Lexi… I… wait!" I slammed the door to the bathroom and locked it tight.

Every girl learns this trick early on when she wants to get away from persistent boys. The bathroom is sanctuary. Always run for it. Though the older they get… the less affect it has on them…

An hour later I was fully dressed and ready for breakfast. Opening the door, I walked out, and tripped over a pair of crossed legs lying in the hallway.

Strange. I didn't know people could lose legs.

"Hey." My eye trailed up dirty sneakers, denim jeans, and a red and blue striped polo shirt before they landed on the speakers piercing green eyes. "You took long enough."

I glared at him, stumbled to my feet, and headed for the stairs. "Leave me alone."

"I'm sorry, okay! Don't you ever let people apologize?"

"No, I don't!" I threw back.

"I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. Lexi today has nothing to do with my mom. I wanted to come."

"Lalalalalalalalalala! I can't hear you!"

"I'll… buy you an ice cream." He was getting closer.

I didn't even respond this time.

"And… I'll make sure the guys leave you alone."

That stopped me. I whirled around to face him. It would have been nose-to-nose if he wasn't taller than me.

"Look, I don't need your help. So just go… a… way."

I turned again, prepared to leave it at that, but his hand caught my arm and held me in place.

"Alexis." He said calmly. "When someone is trying to say sorry to you, it's only nice to accept it."

"Well I'm not nice!" I demanded.

He stared me down in disbelief.

"Yes you are." He stated evenly.

Nicholas Michelson was also… the first boy I ever hit.

He dropped back, expression stunned, and his eyes began to shine with unshed tears.

For a moment I stood there dumbly; not able to believe I'd actually just did that.

He wiped a finger shakily against the inside of his mouth and came back with blood.

My eyes couldn't look away from it.

"Are you okay?" I asked. My voice cracked and I had to resist the urge to sit down next to him and cry like a baby.

I had never felt so guilty in my life.

"No!" He yelled.

"Uh… mom, dad!" I took off down the stairs in search for either one, my heart pounding in my chest, my voice in hysterics.

My mother stepped out of her office; glasses perched on her head as she stared at me.

I could hear the cling on tools dropping to the pavement of our driveway were my father had been.

"What is it?" He jerked the door open and stared at me.

Most of the worry left it face when he saw that I was fine though.

He scratched the back of his head in confusion.

"Is… something wrong Alexis?"

"Nick!" I said and pointed towards the top of the stairs. My father took the steps two at a time and disappeared from view.

"Baby." My mother bent down and smoothed my hair out of my tear streaked face. "Tell me what happened."

Years later I couldn't tell you why. There's just something about being responsible for injuring another human being that makes your fears that much more dire.

Hours later, after they'd made sure he was okay (he'd only cut the inside of his cheek on a tooth) and I'd gotten done crying my eyes out, we sat side-by-side on the living room couch.

"I said I was sorry." He repeated dejectedly.

"I know." I sullenly remarked back.

Minutes went by as we continued to sit in silence.

I didn't know what to say. Every part of me just wanted this moment to be over with. I was hoping I'd wake up soon and this would all have been a dream.

I'd actually hit someone. I'd actually hurt someone.

I fresh batch of tears were forming in my eyes when he turned to me.

"So… does this mean you forgive me?"


"What I did was worse." I whispered.

He nodded. "Yeah… it was."

And we crested into silence once more.

Then his shoulders suddenly shook... and my heart did a nose dive into my stomach with fear.

"You're not going to cry, are you?" I didn't look at him.

"No." He snickered.


And he… laughed; half of his bottom lip slightly swollen, his mouth curved up into this brilliant smile… and he just laughed.

"Crap, ow ow ow." He groaned and held a hand over the offended area.

Without realization, my fingers found his, and I squeezed.

I think it was then that I knew there was something in Nicholas Michelson I might never see in anyone else again.

Boys just weren't like him at that age. Nobody was like him.

Then again… it might have just been me.

Yuppers. I'm rewritin it. This could go totally similar to the first draft... or I could push it down a flight of stairs into an entirely different universe, I haven't decided yet. All I know is I'm going to test my revision skills with it.

It'll have the same characters but they might show up more or less depending on what I think up this time around. And I might even add some more (because I described Amber, Carmen, Danielle, and Jon but never really gave them any leading roles. That might change). Lexi might be a little quirkier too. Because I'm feeling weirdly quirky lately. And probably just as sarcastic/in your face/grr as usual. If I could add more, I would.

I went over this three times before I posted it, adding in details every single time too. So... that might become a new thing for me too. The first time around I just tried to write a story I could finish and without too many plotholes. This time I'm going to try to buckle down and work with my details, wording, and grammar.

But, my point being, this shall be an interesting ride. I'll try to start working on Maybe I Didn't Mean Too...'s revision and repost as well. Also the upgrade on Material's chapter nine (because I dislike it greatly).

Does anyone like this version better?

And please review... ECHO... ECho... echo...