By Fritz Ali
It was a hot summer morning, I was on vacation and the smell of concrete and earth filled the air, the sounds of chatter, cars and tweeting birds came through the window and the air was warm and humid. I was lying in bed, sweating without having moved a muscle. My shades were down but the warm light fought against the darkness of my room, crawling through the tiny slits and holes in my shades, casting eerie shadows on my wall. I remember how ordinary this day seemed but the triviality of this day soon faded away.
I picked up my phone and I wish to this day that I had not turned it on. But I did. My eyes took a second to regain focus, it was the 8th April 2015, 09:54am, and I had received a new message from Enea: “Guys! Yannik is in hospital, he had an accident at the pool in Egypt.”
At first I thought he was joking, it seemed too serious, too real, too much. I had never been confronted with anything of the likes before, I was only 12. I ran to my mum, she was sitting at our dinner table and appeared to be on the phone with someone, when she saw me she hastily avoided eye contact, she didn’t have to say a word, I knew who had called her, I knew what news she had just received. She quietly muttered into the phone that she had to go. She put the phone down and walked up to me to hug me. She said that she had just called Tamino’s mum, they have also just received the message and she wants me to meet up with him.
15 minutes later Tamino was at my door, we used to be very good friends but in the last few months but we had separated due to numerous reasons. He had glossy, red eyes and his hair looked like a bird’s nest, he had obviously just gotten up.
“Hey” I said.
There was an awkward silence, because neither of us wanted to address the situation but it was lingering over us like a shadow, or a wave that is about to come crashing down on us, and it did. Minutes later we were in deep conversation about Yannik. We shared our memories and we mutually agreed that he was going to make it, “he was a fighter, always has been” we said. I told him about my first year at BMS when I was still awkward and chubby and I’d spend my breaks sitting alone and watching others play football, I remember like it was just yesterday, how he came up to me.
“Hey, you’re the new kid right?” he asked
“Yeah” I muttered
“Do you like football?” it seemed more like an offer than a question, and to be honest I despise the sport and was absolute garbage at it, but I really didn’t have any other options.
“Sure” he took me to the football court and announced that I was in his team now. We played all break and it was one of the best days of my life. After this I became more social and became friends with Yannik and some of his friends, including Tamino.
I don’t know what I would be like today if it weren’t for Yannik and I am extremely grateful for what he did that day. Tamino went home and I spent the rest of the day with my family. I went to sleep at 10pm but woke up at 1 in the morning and started crying like I never did before. I don’t know why I cried, but I balled my eyes out that night. The next morning my mum brought me hot chocolate. She had been crying, and she seemed to have aged 20 years over night. She gave me a long hug and when she moved out, all the pieces started coming together.
I immediately went into a stage of rage, tears were streaming down my face and I was punching down on a heavy bag. I can’t remember how I got there but when the storm of rage started to settle and ultimately faded away so did all other emotion, for a few seconds I felt nothing, no joy, no pain, no anger, no ecstasy. Nothing.
Realization never really struck me, not to this day, I still wake up thinking I might see him in school, I still think I might just wake up from a bad dream or come to see that I was the victim of a disgusting prank. But I don’t, and it is excruciating to think of him, every day I come to realize more how much I needed him and I hate myself for only realizing now because I could never appreciate his presence before I felt the agony of his absence.