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2010-02-06 03:55:55 (UTC)

How It All Began.

I was seven years old.

After my mother passed away, my dad decided that if he was
going to raise me on his own, he wasn't going to do it the
city. So he packed up all of our belongings, and we headed
to his hometown. Allen Falls, Tennessee. It was at Allen
Falls Elementary that I first met Christian Turner.


"Daddy, I don't think that this is such a good idea. Maybe
we should go home."

My dad stopped, turned, and knelt down. Taking my hands in
one of his, he placed his other hand under my chin, turning
my gaze from the building to meet his. "Hey sport,
everything will be okay. Today is a big day for both of us.
You start a brand new school, and I start a brand new job.
But, I know it will be a great day for both of us. You

He stood up as the bell rang, and I took a deep breathe. "I
guess so..."


"Class, today we have a new student. Everyone say Hello to
Andi." I grimaced at the use of full name, as muttered
responses were all that was to be heard from the 16 pairs
of eyes that were staring at. Miss Collins tried
again. "Now that wasn't very good. Let's try this again.
Everyone say Hello Andi."

"Hello Andi," replied my new classmates.

"That was better. Now why don't you all go back to your
drawings while I get Andi settled." Turning to me she
said "Now Andrea, you got here at a good time. We were just
about to start reading time. Do you like reading?

She showed me to an empty chair at a table near the back of
the room, and introduced me to a little boy with spikey
blonde hair and the brightest blue eyes I've ever seen. His
name was Christian Turner.

Both of us being shy five year olds, we didn't say much to
each other. He talked to the boy on his left, Jacob
Mitchell, while I made fast friends with the girl on my
right. Katie Johnson. It wasn't until a few weeks later on
the playground that Christian and I had our first, of many,
conflicts. I wanted to play kickball with the boys, and he
told me that I couldn't, because I was a girl. I pushed
him, he pushed me back, and I fell, scraping my arm on the
blacktop. Standing up, I looked at my arm where the blood
was starting to flow.

"Oh! Look! She's gonna cry! You gonna cry?" Christian
taunted me, laughing. The other boys laughed too. I could
feel the tears getting ready to spill, and I bit my lip and
forced them back. I wasn't going to let them to see me
cry. "That's why you can't play with us. You're just a
crybaby girl."

I punched him. He cried.


"Andrea Marie Tyler! How could you? You know better than to
hit!" My dad was furious when he got home from work and my
Aunt Cathy told him what had happened. "Explain yourself."

I looked up at my dad. I looked so much like him. From my
brown hair and deep blue eyes, to his stubborn chin and
mischevious smile that always lurked in the corner of his
mouth. Except when he was mad, like now. Still in his
scrubs from his shift at the hospital, I could tell he had
a long day, and I wasn't helping.


I looked at my hands folded in my lap, not able to look
into his eyes. I hated disappointing him. Taking a deep
breath I began to explain. "He said... he said I couldn't
play kickball because I was a girl. I got mad so I pushed
him. When he pushed me back, I fell down and scraped my
arm." I held up my arm, pouted my lip and tried for the
sympathy card. No luck. "Then he called me a crybaby girl,
even though I didn't cry! Even when I started bleeding, I
swear I didn't! But he said it anyways, and all the other
boys were laughing at me, and... and... I punched him."

After we sat in silence for a few minutes, I got brave and
looked up at him. Ours eyes met, his face unreadable. "Is
that all?"

"No. He cried."

I could tell he tried to fight it, but a smile creeped into
the corner of his mouth. "Andi. Fighting is wrong, no
matter what the reason."

"Yes, daddy."

"Now, I've invited Christian and his dad over to dinner
tonight. Don't look at me like that. It just so happens
that Dr. Turner and I have been friends since we were about
your age. If it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't of
gotten the job at the hospital. He went out of his way to
help me. So you're going to apologize to Christian, and the
two of you will get along."

Boy was he wrong. The next few years were filled with
scuffles and arguements, but putting on enough of an act in
front of our fathers that they never pushed it. By middle
school we avoided each other as much as you could in a
small town.

Things first began to changed freshman year. I went out for
cheerleading, and he joined the football team. We had a few
of the same classes, and had the same friends, but things
never changed. We were friendly, but not friends. Does that
make any sense?

But the biggest changed happened the summer we turned 16,
and with our birthdays only a few weeks apart, our fathers
decide it would be a great idea to take a joint-family
vacation to the shore.

A. Tyler

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