Story by Christina Leigh Pritchard

In kindergarten; Juan gave me head lice, in first grade he stole my cookies and by the second grade; Juan tried to kiss me.

He was Spanish but swore he was Irish.

Juan was incredible. He was the only person I knew who had a permanent pass to stay out of Physical Education class.

By the time we reached fifth grade Juan was no longer an Irishman. He came to school with these long black braids full of cheap plastic beads.

“From now on, you have to call me “Juan the ‘Mon’,” He laughed. “That’s my Jamaican name.”

A few weeks later came his most interesting character of all time. He was now ‘Don Juan’.

Juan came to school in a tuxedo and would pass out flowers to all the girls that he thought were pretty. Sometimes, he’d prance around school kissing the teachers and some of the girls on the hand.

By the end of he first school semester, Juan’s charm faded and his true colors shined through, or maybe it was us finally growing up to realize that Juan was dying of cancer. The signs had never been so clear before. All his stories now made sense. Him being Irish, why, we’d never noticed his face color changing constantly. Jamaican braids? His hair wasn’t magical; it was a wig. And the Don Juan act was to get death off of his mind.

His hair wasn't magical...

Then it happened.

We were about to take a science test.

Juan walked into the classroom without his wig on. His eyes were bloodshot and full of tears.

We looked up at Juan timidly. He held a revolver; pointed at his own head. Something inside me wanted to jump up and scream out at Juan. “Don’t shoot yourself!” But I just couldn’t move.

Juan paced back and forth in front of us like a zombie.

“Radiation, therapy, FIGHTING everyday of my life just to live. I HATE it. I just want to die and get it over with!” Juan screamed. He coughed up a little blood.

His eyes set on me for a second. “Why didn’t any of you guys care? Why didn’t you ever ask me what was wrong or why I was always missing so much school?” Juan cried now. He rubbed the blood from his mouth onto his shirt.

Something inside of me turned. A knot twisted my stomach and thorns ripped at my flesh. I wanted to tell Juan that I cared and that I wondered where he was all the time but I couldn’t say it the gun in his hand was like a cloth stuck inside my throat.

“Well, good-bye.” Juan whispered. He placed the gun to his right temple. “All I ever wanted was someone to care about me like I cared about you.” He admitted, spinning the gun’s barrel. My hands went up to my face. I screamed as blood spurted all over me.

“I cared about you Juan.” I cried.

What did you think about this story?


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