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Chapter 27: Good Riddance

I woke up the next morning feeling doomed. Tonight's the night, I thought, and my stomach turned over. I looked out my window, searching for a cloud. We couldn't go if it rained. But the sky was pure blue.

I slogged down to the kitchen and poured a bowl of cereal. I stared at my spoon in the cornflakes. I couldn't eat. I got up and walked into my father's study. I logged on to the computer to check my e-mail.

There was just one message, from Eddy: "i no what yr doing. =(:-o) =(:-Q) e."

He knows! The whole world turned red.

I charged out the door and across my yard and up the road to Eddy's house. I stomped up the steps and pounded on his door.

"MacWeeny!" I shouted. "I'm calling you out! You hear me?"

My chest heaving, I strained to hear some answer from inside.

"What do you want?"

The voice came from behind me. I jumped and spun around. Eddy stood in the yard squinting up at me.

I paused, remembering how tough he was.

"I said, what do you want?" Eddy sneered.

"I want you out of my life!" The words rushed out of me. "You dirty spy!"

"Oh yeah? Come down here and say that." Eddy cocked his fists.

I hesitated. This was Eddy, my best friend.

"I don't want to fight you," I heard myself say.

"Why? You chicken?"

"No, I just thought ... "

"What?" Eddy thrust out his chin.

"I thought we were friends."

Eddy stepped back like I'd just hit him. "Friends? You call yourself my friend? You'd rather be with some stupid girl!"

A wave of guilt swept over me. "That doesn't mean I'm not your friend," I said, my voice shaking.

"Friends!" Eddy cried. "We were friends all our lives! Best friends!"

A tear slipped down his cheek. He angrily brushed it away.

Now I felt tears on my own cheeks. I came down the steps and faced him.

"I'm I'm sorry," I said.

"Sorry? You're SORRY?"

I saw something flash through the air and heard a huge hollow "WOCK!" inside my head. The world tilted crazily, rolling beneath me. I sat down in the grass.

Stunned, my head a buzzing whine, I looked up. Tears streaming down his cheeks, Eddy stood over me, his fists making little circles in the air.

"Get up!" he sobbed.

Stupidly swaying, I picked myself up. I wanted to hit him back, to hit him and hit him again. I leaped at him, throwing all my weight into a punch to his nose.

Eddy staggered back. His hands flew up to his face. They came away bloody. He stared at them, then came at me swinging, his fists a whirring blur.

I put up my arms to protect my face. His knuckles riddled my ribs with stinging blows. I swung and caught him in the stomach with a wallop that made him gasp and drop to his knees. He threw his arms around my legs and pulled me down.

We rolled in the grass, a tearful, kicking, hitting tangle. I heard myself slur "I'm sorry!" each time I landed a punch, and Eddy sobbed "Friends!" each time he struck back. A knee caught me in the face and filled my mouth with blood. I hit his ribs until my knuckles hurt.

Finally, we lay on the grass, exhausted, weeping and heaving, our faces wet with tears and blood.

I scrambled up, my head a ringing, undersea chamber in a booming, watery blur of pain. My glasses! Where were they? I took a step and felt a crunch beneath my foot. Oh no! I picked up the broken frames and held them to my eyes. Eddy loomed before me, his freckled face spattered with blood.

I dumbly stumbled for the road.

"Good riddance!" I heard Eddy cry. "I hope I never see you again!"

I limped home and staggered up the stairs. I lurched into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. My right eye was puffed, my lip split open. I splashed cold water on my face. Yipes! It stung. I pressed a towel to my lip and tottered to my room.

I fell onto my bed, buried my face in the towel and wept. I cried until I was all hollowed out, and there was nothing left inside of me but aching air.

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