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m3lla
Level 11 : Journeyman Narwhal
15
Hey guys! This is a short story I wrote :)

It was a warm Monday morning, and the smell of summer was in the air. Many Londoners would've
welcomed such a pleasant start to the week. But not fourteen-year-old Dillan Lockwood. With a
groan, he buried his face into his pillow, wishing he didn't have to go to school. He sighed as he
dragged himself out of bed.
Mum and dad were already downstairs eating their breakfast, and his sister Rose was rushing back
and forth as she tried braiding her auburn-ginger hair. Dillan rolled his ice-blue eyes and wondered
for the millionth time how it was possible for twins to look so similar yet be so different on the
inside. The one common thing they still enjoyed was their staring contests. Here was where he had
an advantage. Dillan was always able to keep his facial expression the same, and Rose would break
down in giggles. But he hated playing charades, which was Rose's favourite.
"Morning, honey," mum said absent-mindedly as she rummaged through her bag. His dad grunted
a greeting, his eyes glued to the newspaper. Rose squinted at her brother and frowned. "Hey, have
you seen my biology textbook?" she demanded. Dillan would have frowned in annoyance, but he
couldn't as his face was locked into a permanent smile. Not a grin, not a smirk, not a small polite
smile, but a big freakish smile, one that always looked the same no matter what. Pretty Rose, being
his fraternal twin, was lucky she didn't inherit this rare genetic condition. Dillan supposed he wasn't
bad looking. But with that smile, he looked like a freakish clown.
Last year, his parents talked to him about a ground-breaking surgery that would help, but he
refused to talk about it. "What's the difference? It's not like anybody would really notice anyway," Rose gave him a quick hug before heading off to her all-girls' school. Dillan walked slowly to his own
co-ed school, his cap pulled low over his face.
Once he stepped through the front gates, the comments came flying:
"Heyyy, Dillan the Joker! Batman is coming for you! BAM!"
"Morning Dill! What are you so happy about on a Monday, eh?"
He ignored them as he walked past, and he gritted his teeth when one boy shoved him and said
something rude. He kept on walking. He was used to this by now.
First up was maths, which was Dillan's favourite subject. He hated English and Drama classes. Dillan
hated anything that put him in the spotlight, where everyone could see his huge and freakily
unbreakable smile. With a sigh, Dillan started looking over his homework assignment until when
she walked in.
She was beautiful, with long chocolate brown hair and large brown eyes that looked nearly amber
in the sunlight. She was biting her lip as she fiddled with the buttons on her blue cardigan.
Dillan stared at her and felt something flutter in his stomach. The teacher introduced her as Layla.
The new girl. Then she sat down at the desk next to his, and he gulped. He dared to give her a
sidelong glance, and she caught his eye and smiled. And of course, he kept on smiling at her, and he
wished he could talk with his eyes.
At recess, he was nearly speechless when she sat down next to him at the cafeteria. He wished he
could wipe away his stupid smile. But Layla didn't seem to mind. She started talking to him, and he
didn't care that some boys were sniggering behind them. Layla didn't seem to care, either.
They started spending time together every single day in the library at recess and at lunch, talking
about books and movies, the places they wanted to visit around the world, about everything and
anything. Dillan started looking forward to school every day.
He had never talked to anyone about his condition before, not until now. Layla was a good listener,
and she talked about what it was like having a heart condition herself and being in and out of
hospitals. She knew what it felt like to be different.
One day, they were walking hand-in-hand after school. She had just told a joke, and he laughed.
She looked at him and stopped walking. He was still smiling, of course.
"What's wrong?"
Layla shook her head. "I wish I knew what you were thinking."
Dillan blinked. "What do you mean?"
She touched his smiling face. "It's hard to really get to know you when I can't see how you feel. I
want to know when you're feeling truly happy, sad, excited, disappointed, even annoyed or angry,"
she said softly. Then she paused and shook her head. "I'm so sorry, Dillan. I don't mean to make
you feel bad. It's not your fault."
Dillan had never thought about how his condition affected others around him. For the rest of that
afternoon, he enjoyed his time with Layla, but his head was swimming with thoughts. After saying
goodbye to her, he ran home. He was out of breath when he found his parents and sister sitting on
the couch, watching television.
"Mum, dad! Can we still go ahead with that surgery you mentioned last year?" he blurted. His
mother's eyes widened, and his father stood up.
"Are you sure, son?"
"Honey, let's talk about it. Every surgery has risks, but the doctors told us you have a really good
chance of making a full recovery..."
So Dillan sat down with his parents and talked. Rose sat next to him and grasped his hand under the
table. His hands were trembling, but he wasn't so afraid anymore. He thought of Layla and his heart
smiled, determined.
He went for the surgery in late October. Before he was wheeled into the operating theatre, his
family kissed him on the forehead and whispered into his ear. He squeezed Layla's hand and she
kissed him on his cheek softly before letting go.
Dillan went through many physiotherapy sessions before returning to school close to Christmas.
Layla was the first to greet him at the gates, and she had tears in her eyes as she cupped his face in
her hands and beamed. For the first time in his life, Dillan beamed back.
At lunchtime, Layla asked him whether he wanted to play a game of chess the library. Dillan
grinned and took out a pack of cards from his pocket. Rose had given it to him that morning as a
gift. "Let's play charades," he said, and this time Dillan gave her a truly unbreakable smile.

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  • OhMyXin
  • Level 12
  • Journeyman Botanist
  • September 13, 2017, 3:52 pm
Oh my... how sweet. Loved it. Keep it up :))
  • m3lla
  • Level 11
  • Journeyman Narwhal
  • September 14, 2017, 2:41 am
Thank you! :)

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