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18+ Language Mature Content

Kaleidoscopes

by hyperview


Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language and mature content.

The first time I met Jaime Cortez was in second grade.

We never spoke much. He was a troubled kid and I was a kid gunning to stay out of trouble, so ultimately we steered clear from each other. I don’t think Jaime ever noticed me during that time, but I knew him. I watched him sometimes; the way he spoke, joked, and played, and I guess a side of me wanted to be part of it too. But mother always warned me to stay out of trouble, so I obeyed.

However, there’s a day in second grade I remember; a day when the teacher went around asking what we wanted to be when we grew up. Most kids said cool things like an astronaut or Prime Minister. I said a doctor since mother told me I’d amount to nothing less. But when the question reached Jaime, he said dead.

He didn’t mean it as a joke, or at least I don’t think he did. As soon as he said it, laughter burst out of me for the first time that whole year, and kept going, and going, and going ‘til they pulled us out of class. And that day, Jaime finally noticed me.

We both got into shit for it. Mother never forgave me, which was tough, but I couldn’t stay away from him despite all the harsh glares I received from her. Soon enough, I forgot about mother’s warnings and scrutinizing looks, and I replaced her with Jaime. I hung out with him every day, followed his plans no matter how ridiculous they were, and hung onto every word he said. We were growing up together—finding ourselves through childhood and adolescence. So even though his mother often called me his shadow, I wasn’t offended.

Jaime’s life was much grander than my own. His mother had him at the tender age of seventeen, which was probably why Jaime was the way he was. She raised him by herself up until he was about fourteen years old, right around the time she met his rich stepfather. A Cinderella story, I guess, though Jaime and his stepdad never took a liking to each other. He wasn’t a bad guy, in my opinion, but Jaime wasn’t interested in him and his stepfather was only interested in his mother, so ultimately, Jaime drifted and raised himself. I stuck by him when his mom and stepdad were absent half the time, and he stuck by me when I stopped hearing from mother and her glares came to an infinite rest.

And maybe that devoted loyalty was what made me accept his offer to Montreal when we graduated high school. “We can leave them all behind,” he told me. “It’ll just be the two of us, nobody else.”

Part of me knew he was only bringing me along because he didn’t want to be alone. He was terrified of the thought of not having anyone to see him the way I saw him, and I was scared of not being seen at all. So I accepted my offer to the University of Montreal, packed my bags, and headed off.

Jaime survived about three weeks in university before dropping out. I stayed a little longer, and as months passed my room filled with medical books and term papers while Jaime’s room turned into a stoner’s dream. I got a job even though Jaime’s parents were gracious enough to get us an apartment. They didn’t know their son dropped out, leaving his life of higher study for questionable substances and obscure nights.

As for me, well, I knew I didn’t belong in medical science, and Jaime knew that too. I remember one night in particular, while watching The Fresh Prince and sitting in the thick air of Jaime’s blunt, he turned and said, “Who are you on the inside? Really?”

And the thing is, I was nobody. Still am. I never thought of it before and the realization made me hellishly sad, but it was the truth. I was nothing and nobody, so I told him that.

Jaime got sad. “Everybody’s something,” he said. “You’ve just got to find out what.”

I guess it’s a bit stupid now that I think about it, but it was important to me back then. It was important to us. So I started smoking a bit even though it wasn’t really my thing. I took to drinking, to swearing, to spending forgetful nights in our apartment or aimlessly prowling the streets at dawn. He caused a shift in me, I will admit; something that would’ve made mother have an aneurysm.

Jaime helped me through the transition. I skipped classes to do experiments with him and sold all my medical books and papers just so we could have enough money for the things I knew we shouldn’t have taken. We’d take lines of speed and talk, talk, talk ‘til the sun rose up and the workingmen trudged out of their homes to their nine to five jobs. We spoke about the past, the present, the future. We delved into ideas about the cosmos, the universe, his mother, my mother, and everything in between. Everything during that time held a celestial glow, some special light that only he and I could see. But through all the hazy nights and drugged revelations, we couldn’t find me.

We tried ecstasy next and mixed it with lines of speed. Jaime went wild. He hopped around the house sweating, talking about many things that made him trip over his words and bite his tongue until it bled. Despite me taking an equal amount, I struggled to keep up with him.

And I told him this. I said, “Jaime, I can’t keep up with you,” so he gave me more just so he wouldn’t fly off the end of the world by himself. But he was running so much faster than I ever could, and there was nothing we could do about it. He stripped every article of clothing. He shaved his eyebrows. He ran out the apartment stark naked and hysterical, screaming about God knows what.

“Jaime? Where are you going? It’s the middle of winter!” I said again and again, but he didn’t care. He told me something about finding Heaven and kept running ‘til I had to chase after him.

And that night, I’m sure Jaime found who he was.

Cops got us somewhere downtown in an alleyway, several blocks away from home. We’d been passed out for hours. Jaime was naked, and even though I wrapped my clothed body around him, nothing stopped him from turning an abnormal shade of blue. We weren’t entirely sure how we got there—not even until this day have I figured it out—but there we were.

We were arrested for drug possession and public indecency. Jaime was eerily calm and in his element while I was completely out of it. I kept saying, “Jaime, what will we do? I lost my scholarship, my job. What will we do?”

But Jaime was cool, collected. He requested for a phone call and when he got one, called his mother immediately. In a few harsh whispers and tense breathing, he hung up. Sat down. “We’ll be fine,” was all he said, and the tension just washed away.

They didn’t let us leave the station until Jaime’s mother came, and since she lived a few hours away we wasted half the day. Jaime and I barely spoke the whole way through. He had his thinking face on, one where there were creases where his eyebrows should’ve been and cracked lips downcast. I knew he was thinking about last night—what it all meant to him. I should’ve been happy for him, I guess, but I wasn’t. Jaime found himself and I didn’t. That was the only thing going through my mind.

When Jaime’s mother showed, she was livid. They both looked the same—two short fused characters just ready to blow. She wore designer everything except for the dented silver cross hanging on her neck. When she saw her son behind bars, she touched her forehead, chest, both her shoulders, then did what she needed to do.

“It’s a miracle you’re still alive,” she said when we finally left the station, but I could tell that deep down, she was annoyed by this too. “Good Lord, what happened to your eyebrows?!”

But Jaime was far gone. He sat in the backseat and looked out the window, eerily content despite his mother’s screaming. From that point on, I only knew one thing: the boy from second grade was right.

Jaime Cortez was dead.

When we got home that day, Jaime’s mother forced him to stay with her. She found out about the dropping out and the drugs and the drinking and didn’t want her son to have any part of it. Any part of me. So in a few months with quick planning, Jaime and I split ways without much a goodbye. I tried calling him at first, and a few chats a week turned into two chats a week, then none at all. When he stopped picking up my calls, I turned to texting, sending messages every other day without any reply. Soon enough, I gave up, and Jaime was out of my life just as quick as he came in.

And me, well, I’m still living even though I don’t want to be. However, I guess Jaime taught me something: finding yourself is dangerous business. I mean, nobody ever knows who they are. We only know fragments of ourselves—pieces we’re sure of, but never the full picture. But sometimes it’s best not to know.

When you do, you’ll only end up wanting to kill it.


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Tue Jan 26, 2016 1:28 am
BluesClues wrote a review...



Interesting that a) Jaime’s mother wanted Jaime to have nothing to do with the narrator after the drugs incident when Jaime was the one who started in on drugs in the first place and b) the fact that the narrator turned to drugs and alcohol—something he considers not his scene—to find himself.

Also something that really impressed me when I read the excerpt for the contest was the fact that the narrator is not the main character. It’s pretty clear from this that Jaime is. The focus is on him, even after the narrator has said the point of their experimentation was to find him, not Jaime, and we learn more about what happened to Jaime as a result of the last incident than we do about the narrator. It’s an interesting choice and one people don’t generally go for.

There’s a very clear, strong voice in the bits you dramatized. Here are some of my favorite lines.

And the thing is, I was nobody. Still am. I never thought of it before and the realization made me hellishly sad, but it was the truth. I was nothing and nobody, so I told him that.


But through all the hazy nights and drugged revelations, we couldn’t find me.


And I told him this. I said, “Jaime, I can’t keep up with you,” so he gave me more just so he wouldn’t fly off the end of the world by himself.


They both looked the same—two short fused characters just ready to blow.


However, a lot of areas that felt important were just summarized, like here.

I hung out with him every day, followed his plans no matter how ridiculous they were, and hung onto every word he said. We were growing up together—finding ourselves through childhood and adolescence.


I understand you wrote this as a short story, and you don’t necessarily want to share entire conversations from these moments. But even just giving us a few particularly memorable lines or events from times like this would make it feel less like you’re skipping over something significant. Think of the way you did it here.

And I told him this. I said, “Jaime, I can’t keep up with you,” so he gave me more just so he wouldn’t fly off the end of the world by himself. But he was running so much faster than I ever could, and there was nothing we could do about it. He stripped every article of clothing. He shaved his eyebrows. He ran out the apartment stark naked and hysterical, screaming about God knows what.

“Jaime? Where are you going? It’s the middle of winter!” I said again and again, but he didn’t care. He told me something about finding Heaven and kept running ‘til I had to chase after him.


We don’t know what all Jaime and the narrator talked about during their last insane night together or exactly how either of them felt at every moment at this time, but we know the important part, that Jaime was going too fast and the narrator couldn’t keep up and they were both scared. All that from just one line of dialogue and a sentence or two about what happened next.

The only other thing that confused me was that the narrator says he knows Jaime found himself that night, but how does he know this? I’m not seeing it. I see Jaime get high, freak out, end up in prison, get mom to come bail him out, and then have to Clean Up His Act, Young Man. Does he say something that makes the narrator think he found himself? Is it simply because of his calm when they’re waiting in prison? A little illumination on this point would be helpful.

Blue




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Mon Jan 04, 2016 12:47 am
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queerwritergal wrote a review...



I love this piece, most because its written in this conversational tone I really enjoyed. The ability to hear the story being told, like someone was sharing a revelation, just made the words so much more...emotional. However, they story feels like its wandering away from an ending. I liked the last paragraph, but the one before it wasn't as impactful. The sudden disappearance of Jaime is realistic, but there's no emotional connection to what has happen. It's not as painful as it should be, like the rest of the piece.
But, honestly, I loved the writing so much. So much.




hyperview says...


Ah, I see what you're saying there. I'll definitely think of a way to change that. Thanks!



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Mon Jan 04, 2016 12:02 am
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InfiniteRectangles wrote a review...



Hello, InfiniteRectangles here with a review for you!

First, I have to say that I absolutely adored this piece. The title was very interesting and it didn't give the story away at all but was very fitting for this story. I loved how you told the story in a more modern sense, the way someone in that situation would tell the story. I have read stories similar to this but the narration didn't fit the content at all, but yours did very well! I really liked how you tied everything together in the ending too. It was a sad ending, but one that felt necessary. My only criticism is that in a couple of places, the narration seemed a bit too simple. For example: "Jaime got sad." This was a very mediocre way to put it. She just told him that she thought she was nothing, and all he did was "get sad"? I think you can do much better than this. Instead of saying that he got sad, show us that he was sad. Show us how his face changed or the tone of his voice changed to reveal that he was sad. Keep your narration simple enough so that it fits with the character, but don't get too simplistic with it. I don't know if you have read "The Catcher in the Rye", but if you have, I imagine the narration style like in that book. (If you haven't read it, I definitely recommend it.)

"Everything during that time held a celestial glow, some special light that only he and I could see. But through all the hazy nights and drugged revelations, we couldn’t find me."

Yes. Yes! I loved this part. It was so beautiful and sad and descriptive! Try to maintain this level of imagery throughout your story (but don't go overboard with it. Remember this is a former junkie narrating the story.) Overall, I loved the story. I just think it could use a little more imagery.

That's all I have for you. Keep writing and have a wonderful day/night! Also, I don't generally review prose, so sorry if it sounds more like rambling than an actual review XD




hyperview says...


Thank you very much for the review! Yeah, that whole 'Jaime got sad' bit was the work of a word limit (I couldn't be as descriptive as I wanted), but now that I've got my grade back I'll definitely take your advice on expanding that bit. Thanks again. c: And yes, I have read The Catcher in the Rye. It's one of my favourite books. :P





Ah ok. Stupid word limits XD Also, The Catcher in the Rye is one of my favorite books as well! *high fives*




I would rather die of passion than of boredom.
— Émile Zola