Can the bonds of FRIENDSHIP overcome all odds?
Breaking
The Code
CHAPTER
22
Closure
The sun rose slowly at 6:3o in the morning, but Bethany was already up. She had a lot to do before she left “for school.” She grabbed her backpack, emptied it of her school supplies, and filled it with the things she might need on her adventure: a change of clothes, the jar of orange sand, the scale, some snacks, a notebook and pen. She pulled the pendant over her head and slid it under her shirt. She grabbed her camera off her dresser and draped it around her neck. Just in case. She took a deep breath and glanced around her room. This would be the last time she’d be here, and that was a little frightening. Saying goodbye to everything you’ve ever known is a little rough. Even though she hadn’t lived in Payton City for very long, she had really grown to like it here. She had made friends, she had made memories. She felt that, for once, she actually belonged somewhere. But Sapphire was out there, and Bethany knew that she had to help. Sometimes in life, you have to make sacrifices. The right thing is hardly ever easy.
Bethany took one last look around her room and flipped off the lights. She slowly made her way down the steps and into the kitchen, where she met her mother, who was bent over the table, musing through the morning paper. “Hi mom.”
Mrs. Jones looked up. “Oh, good morning, sweetie.” She smiled at her daughter. “You headed off to school?”
Bethany nodded. “Yeah, I’m gonna head out.”
Mrs. Jones stood up. “Okay, have a good day, and remember: when you get home, no television or computer. You’re grounded.”
Bethany rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I know.” Bethany began on her way to the front door. “Bye mom.”
Mrs. Jones smiled. “I’ll see you later.”
Bethany placed her hand on the doorknob, then paused. She stayed there for a moment, just thinking. And suddenly, Bethany let go of the knob, ran back into the kitchen and hugged Mrs. Jones tight.
Mrs. Jones was startled at first, but then she laughed and hugged Bethany close. “I love you, Bethany.”
Bethany let a tear escape her eye. “I love you, too, Mom.”
They held each other for a moment, just mother and daughter. And then Bethany let go, adjusted her backpack, and stepped out of the door, and she didn’t look back once.
Dylan sat in his seat in first hour, frowning at the empty seat in the back of the room. He missed Bethany already. He had stopped by her house on his way to school to say goodbye, but she had already left. Already set out on her adventure to find Sapphire. Part of Dylan wanted to go out and find her, to adventure with her. That’s what friends do, right? But the other part of him knew that he had to stay here in Payton city. He had to resolve things with Travis, or his heart might never be complete again. So he just frowned at the empty seat at the back of the room, wondering where she was at now.
Bethany stopped and looked around. She found herself back at the police station where she was last night. She planned to retrace her steps from yesterday, to see if she had missed anything. She stared down at the tire tracks from the car she and Dylan had ridden in yesterday. It looked like liked they went all the way down State street and over the hill toward the country. Bethany smirked. She had herself a lead.
Travis stared blankly at the wall across from him. His lunch sat on the table in front of him, untouched. The seats around him were empty. He wasn’t sitting with the guys today. They never really wanted anything to do with him unless Dylan was around. But Travis hadn’t spoken with Dylan in over a week, and he was certain that Dylan was done with him. Oh well. He tried not to mope about. They had had a good friendship while it lasted. Six and a half years was a long time to spend with someone. Travis wasn’t really sure how Dylan stood him for so long, but boy did he appreciate it. Travis missed Dylan, sure. But he knew that Dylan was happier being friends with Bethany, and he just had to accept that fact. But he was still upset at Dylan for what he had said the other day, and for breaking his word. But even best friends have faults.
Suddenly, Travis felt a hand on his shoulder. He brought his head around and found himself face to face with Dylan. Travis pursed his lips, preparing himself for a long lecture.
Dylan took a seat next to Travis and took a deep breath. “Travis, we need to talk.”
Bethany rubbed her thumb over her pendant and studied the fence in front of her. She scanned the sign.
Payton City Department of Science and Development
Bethany looked past the sign and toward the locked gate. “This must be it,” she figured. She peered at the building. It was rather small, and very dim. It reminded Bethany a little bit of those hospitals one might see in a horror picture.
She knew Sapphire was in there somewhere, but she hadn’t the slightest idea how she was going to get her. Busting was dangerous and illogical, and stupid. Very very stupid. She needed to be clever and quick-witted. She really wished Dylan was here to help her. He always had a brilliant idea.
Bethany slid her backpack off her shoulder and placed it on the ground in front of her. She dug through it and pulled out her notebook and pen and proceeded to sketch what the building looked like. She wasn’t the best artist, but she was able to draw it well enough that someone could understand it. Someone in particular.
Travis just stared at Dylan. “You... You really feel that way?”
Dylan nodded. “I sure do,” he responded. “You see, I’m beginning to believe that this was all timing.”
Travis cocked his head. “What do you mean?”
Dylan took a deep breath. “Well, I think that when we first met and became friends, we weren’t meant to. You see, I hadn’t found myself yet. I didn’t know who I was or what I was going to become. And so when we became friends, I didn’t know anything else. Everything I did had to be okay with you. Everything we did was all your idea. I didn’t know my potential when I was trapped in our friendship. I didn’t-“
Travis put up his hand. “Wait, hold on. Trapped in this friendship?”
Dylan frowned. “No, that’s not what I meant.”
Travis scowled. “No, I think that’s exactly what you meant.” Travis clenched his fist around his spork. “I was nothing to you, just an obstacle in the way. I kept you from making friends. I was ‘selfish,’ just because I didn’t want to lose the only friend that I had. But no, you broke your promise to me and befriended Bethany, and just as I knew she would, she stole you from me. That’s all they do, girls. All they do is hurt people. That’s all they know how to do.”
Dylan grew very red in the face. “How can you say that? You don’t know Bethany, you don’t know her at all. You don’t know anything about anything. All you know is your pain. You’ve been basking in it for so long, it’s all you know now. You center your life around what your mother did, and you shut everyone out because of it. You push away people who want to be your friends. You constantly tell yourself that the problem is with them. They’re wrong, they’re wrong. But you never once consider the fact that maybe, just maybe, the problem isn’t with them.” Dylan narrowed his eyes. “It’s with you.”
Travis just stared at Dylan. “Who... Who are you?”
Dylan frowned. “What are you talking about?”
“Who are you? You’re not the Dylan I used to know.”
Dylan smiled slightly. “Of course I’m not. I had to find myself in myself. I had to break away from everything that I knew and make more friends, different friends with different interests. Friends that I could learn from. I spent so much time with you, I basically became you. Do you know what it was like, everyday, to spend it with only one person? It was like I was staring at a mirror, and boy, did I get sick of my reflection. It was so much monotony, so much of the repetition. I was stuck in the mold I had made for myself, and I didn’t know how to break free.”
Travis furrowed his eyebrows. “Yeah?”
Dylan continued. “But when I met Bethany, it was like the door to my cage was blown clean off. I saw things that I had never seen before. I talked of things I never would of dared to before. I found who I was meant to be, and I had to find it by experiencing something new. I was letting you control me, and neither of us knew. But Bethany, she helped me see what it was like to live in confidence, to be sure of yourself and live with purpose. And now that I know who I am, I can go back to the things I used to do and people I used to know and start over. I can re-energize what I had before with the power I found within myself. Now that I know who I am, I won’t let anyone else pull me from that.”
Travis thought for a while. “Dylan?”
“Yeah?”
“... Do you really think that I’m the problem?”
Dylan blinked. “Well, I think it’s a very likely possibility. I mean, Bethany tried several times to reach out to you, and every time you shot her down.”
Travis looked around the cafeteria. “Bethany?” He thought back to the day they met, and how he had made fun of her and scorned her. He winced. “Oh, yeah.” He bit his lip. “Is she here today? Maybe, maybe I could talk to her.”
Dylan’s face grew tight. “She’s not here today,” he managed, trying to suppress his emotion. “She’s... She’s out.”
Travis shrugged. “I guess I’ll see if I can talk to her when she gets back to school then.”
Dylan swallowed loudly. “Yeah, maybe.”
Travis looked over at Dylan. “She... She won’t be coming back, will she?”
Dylan exhaled slowly.
Travis studied Dylan’s face. “Dylan, what’s going on?”
Dylan closed his eyes and sighed. “Travis, can you keep a secret?”
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