Sharon’s note: Relationships are hard. Worth it, but hard all the same. Sometimes they hurt each other. They way you get over it is to remember that you aren’t on opposite sides. This person cares for you and they are trying the best they can. You owe them to do the same as you face the issue together. Warning: This has less to do with the story and more to do with the fact that people have a tendency to turn toxic under stress, and we’ve all been under a lot of stress lately. We can all be better. I believe in us.
“You’re lucky Alon thought you were funny. You could have gotten us both killed!” Panther bared his teeth at me, and I really looked at him. This wasn’t like before. He was actually mad this time.
“Look, I’m sorry. I should have talked to you first. Okay?”
“No, not okay.” He turned back to me and he wasn’t crying, but his eyes were shiny. I bit my lip and looked at the ground. It would have hurt less if he’d punched me. “You think you know the rules because someone told you a rumor at school, but you don’t know anything. These people do bad things. My own brother nearly killed me. The only reason he didn’t was because trying to make himself look all merciful and stuff. He’d kill you just for being friends with me. I can’t even leave you to protect you because I owe you a lifetime of friendship.”
I stomped his foot as hard as I could and he yowled. “You jerk! That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. If you leave me behind I could die anyway.”
“Ow! I said I wasn’t going to go anywhere, didn’t I?” He hoped up and down on one foot and pouted at me. “You don’t have to worry. I’ll protect you.”
My jaw almost dropped. “Protect me? Who just got a promise from a guy you were scared of not to kill you?”
“And you could have gotten us both killed for saying the wrong thing because you never stop and think before you do something, stupid!” He stomped his foot and winced. I shouldn’t have stomped him.
I looked at the ground for a moment, and took a deep breath. “I already said I was sorry. I’m still sorry. I’ll listen better next time.”
“I’m sorry too.” Panther mumbled.
I looked up. “What are you sorry for?”
“I shouldn’t have said that, and I’m grateful you tried to help me.” He shrugged. “Alon is one of the scarier guys in the Woods. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about him coming after me.”
My nose wrinkled. “If he’s such a big wig, why is he doing the wishing rock thing?”
Panther opened his mouth, hesitated, then closed it looking confused. “I don’t know. I never asked.”
I shrugged. “Anyway, since you ate my sandwich, we should go home. I’m hungry.”
“Hope you didn’t want peanut butter since you gave away the jar.” He smirked.
I stuck out my tongue.