9 Open wounds
-You know?- said Veronica- when I saw Carlos for the first time he really called my attention. But as I started knowing him in some point I must admit I hated him.
Cynthia couldn't believe she could be talking like that of a person who was not there to defend itself. But then he remembered how Carlos used to behave and she had to admit nobody liked him at all. However, since she was angry at Veronica she wouldn't admit she was right.
- But I must admit he surprised me- continued Veronica- he got better with time and he became the person he's today… and even if sometimes he makes silly comments I really prefer this than the previous version.
Enrique said nothing. He just listened without interrupting which in Cynthia's opinion was very positive in a boy.
- And now…- she sobbed. Cynthia really got shocked. She had only seen her like that once before- Carlos is the second friend I lose… First Darwin… and now him.
Cynthia trembled and started to sweat after hearing the name of someone who had been buried deeply in her mind. The name brought her back to her 4th year in elementary school when she had known Veronica and Darwin
Veronica and Cynthia had been friends since the first day of classes that year. She had come from another city due to his father's job. He was a lawyer and judge and was assigned to that city and so the family had to move. She had to say goodbye to all her friends and all that she knew. Her parents had told her that it was necessary and that she would get used to it and she would have new friends.
- I don't want new friends- she had told them crying- I want the ones I had before.
When she entered the class she just found new faces all over and the students that had come were in their respective circles talking about who knows what. That didn't attracted her at all and went outside where she found a little Veronica fidgeting with a cell phone. She seemed to be the kind of girl who would never smile so Cynthia was a little afraid of her. She found a place to sit nearby and started playing with their cell phone without talking.
- I wonder what my friends are doing back home- she wondered with sadness- I'm sure Sophia had brought pancakes again…
Soon afterwards the classes started and she was taken to the front to introduce herself. She had seen a new girl in her previous school crying for the nervousness and she had thought that she had been exaggerating but now, she was in the same situation and she really wanted to cry. She felt very uncomfortable feeling the looks of all the other children on her. She gulped and tried to keep her voice steady.
- M… My name is C… Cynthia Pereyra- she said feeling as if it was the first time she spoke in her life- I co… come from t… the Old Capital City. Nice… Nice to meet you.
She looked down listening to the murmurs that the other students started after her introduction. She really wanted to return to her seat and become invisible.
- Thank you- said the teacher who made a sign to other student- please introduce yourself.
- My name is Veronica Gamarra- said the girl who had been outside with Cynthia. She looked at the class with decisive eyes and a natural smile- I come from White City, hope we can get along well.
The murmurs started but Cynthia perceived they were a different kind. She wished she had been able to speak like that.
- Thank you- said the teacher again- now our last new friend, please introduce yourself.
- Darwin Florentino- said the boy who seemed angry for some reason and said no more.
The class burst into murmurs again and they didn't seem nice. However, she felt good not to be the only "new" girl in the class.
In the break, many people got near and asked her many questions. This made her feel better but at the same time she didn't like to attract the attention so much so she used the excuse that she wanted to buy something at the store. She bought a sandwich and found a private place where she could be.
- It seems someone got a nice spot- said a voice and when Cynthia looked up she found the angry boy Darwin and Veronica who seemed to have come together- Hi.
- Erm… hi- Cynthia replied not knowing what to do. She was a little afraid of this boy- if you want to you can be here…
- Sure- said Darwin who seemed in better spirits than before- I just bought food and this place is nice so...
And saying no more he sat next to Cynthia and started to eat. Veronica smiled and apologized with her eyes. Cynthia also smiled and shook her head. Veronica sat down and started to eat.
- I hate to be the center of the attention- said Darwin- it's always the same when I'm in a new school… they always looked at you like an interesting animal. I hate those piercing looks on me.
Cynthia understood why he had been angry when introducing himself. To be honest she had felt the same.
- I think it's stupid, don't ya think?- he said after swallowing some of his food- I mean… we're just new students, nothing strange.
- I think the same- said Cynthia smiling- it was very unconfortable…
- Definitely…-said Veronica but immediately Darwin and Cynthia looked at her with doubtful eyes- what...?
- You didn't seem bothered at all…-said Cynthia- you really sounded so secure and normal…
- Like a shark in a river…-said Darwin and Cynthia laughed.
- It's like a fish in the water- corrected Veronica- there aren't sharks in rivers… and maybe I looked secure but I was really nervous back then.
That was the start of a funny conversation that continued day after day. Carlos came to the school the next year. The teacher made a tall brown skinned boy who stood up in what could be considered a proudly manner.
- Carlos Manzaneda- introduced himself with confidence and looking at every person in the class to the eyes- I come from Spring City. It's nice to meet you.
Cynthia didn't like Carlos at this moment. His gaze was sharp and analytical and for some people like Darwin it seemed as if he was challenging him.
- I swear he was grinning at me- said Darwin in the break after they bought the typical sandwiches and going to their "spot"- I tell you… he's looking for troubles and I'll sure give them to him.
- That boy was an ice statue- said Veronica- I didn't see him grinning. You must have imagined it.
- Hey… I know what I saw and he was clearly…- he didn't end up the sentence since when they arrived to their place it was already occupied by the same boy they were talking about. He looked at them with those analytical eyes again. After a while he continued eating ignoring them.
- Hey, new boy…-said Darwin who seemed angry advancing to a close distance- This is our spot so go away!
Carlos didn't look at him and just continued eating not saying a word. This made Darwin snap and he advanced but Veronica stopped him by grabbing his sleeve.
- Hi, Carlos, right?- said Veronica using her most polite and diplomatic voice and Carlos looked at her and nodded- this has been our spot for a year so you would make us a big favor if you find another place.
- I understand, miss- said Carlos also using a very educated tone- but I don't see the problem… this place is big enough and I don't mind sharing it.
- WHAT?- Darwin exploded- GET AWAY, NEW BOY! THIS IS OUR PLACE!
Carlos looked at him coldly and just ignored him. He continued eating.
- You're being impolite- said Veronica not smiling anymore- this is really our spot.
Carlos looked at her and smiled faintly before placing his his hand on his chin like analyzing the situation.
- I found this place as soon as the bell rang- he explained using a clear voice that reminded Cynthia that of a teacher- and I was just enjoying a nice meal before returning to the class… then I was interrupted by a group of people who not only did not introduce themselves but also start shouting at me demanding that I go… now tell me, miss… who's being impolite here?
Veronica was left speechless something that Cynthia hadn't seen before. She had to admit this Carlos was good at speaking but she still didn't like him.
- When we arrived you didn't greet us- said Cynthia supporting his group- and you didn't introduce yourself either.
- Yeah that's right!
Veronica looked at her with thankful eyes and Darwin cheered for her comment. Carlos raised an eyebrow and looked at her. Definitely that gaze made her feel as if she was under cold water. Carlos just smiled before replying.
- The etiquette demands that the ones arriving the last are the ones who must introduce- explained Carlos with confidence- I was first in this place so you're the ones who should introduce. Furthermore, I already introduced myself in the class. Technically speaking I'm at disadvantage since you know my name but I don't know yours…
Now it was Cynthia's turn to be speechless. His logic was undefeatable and for some reason his head started to ache.
- ENOUGH OF THIS- said Darwin advancing and taking Carlos by the collar- I SAY THIS IS OUR SPOT SO GET OUT!
The plastic bowl in Carlos' hands dropped to the ground scattered all around. Cynthia stepped back when he saw the eyes of the new boy showing a dangerous light.
- You dropped my food- he said and every word seemed to be able to pierce any shield.
- SO WHAT?- said Darwin who didn't seem to notice the threatening gaze of Carlos- IT'S YOUR FAULT FOR NOT LEAVING… WHY SO IMPORTANT… DID YOU MOMMY DID IT FOR YOU? IF THAT'S THE CASE...
- Darwin!- shouted Veronica seeing how his friend was sent to the floor by a punch from the new guy.
Darwin touched his face with a shocked look. Carlos advanced to him and Darwin now could see the cold and piercing aura Carlos was emanating.
- I hate people wasting food when many others don't have what to eat- he said with a cold and terrible voice that made Cynthia's wanting to run- and wash your stinky mouth before mentioning my mother again! She's not to be mentioned by the likes of you!
- I'll call the teachers!- said Veronica running from the place.
- Hoo hoo ho!- Darwin grinned while standing up and advanced to meet Carlos- I see you're not only words… fine, then. That one was for free but let me give you your change.
He punched Carlos who blocked the hit easily and countered with a jab directly to Darwin's mouth and kicked him in the leg making him lose his balance and fall again.
- Keep it!- said Carlos waiting for Darwin to stand up- it's obvious that you need it more than me.
Darwin stood again and Cynthia noticed his lip was bleeding. She was just paralyzed in her place without knowing how to react. His friend advanced again and Carlos was ready but then Darwin threw dust into Carlos' face and he used that moment of distraction to punch Carlos who received some hits but didn't fall and after a moment he countered and the two boys exchanged blows without backing down. Cynthia was horrified but soon she heard the voice of a teacher who was running next to Veronica.
- YOU TWO, STOP!- he said and Carlos obeyed taking distance from Darwin but the latter just jumped the distance and kicked Carlos in the stomach- I SAID STOP!
Carlos knelt grabbing his belly but Cynthia could have sworn he had grinned. The teacher pulled Darwin by the ear.
- He had already stop but you kicked him?- the teacher seemed furious with Darwin- come with me!
Cynthia was taken along with Veronica and the two boys to the principal's office. He asked what had happened and Veronica told him a very inaccurate account of the events in favor of Darwin.
- We just wanted to eat in our spot- she had said- when this boy started to shout trying to get us out of the place. Then he hit Darwin and he defended.
When asked, Cynthia just said that all was as Veronica had said and looked down. She knew that lying was wrong and didn't like to do so. She saw Carlos who only smiled showing no fear.
- What do you have to say to this?- asked the principal to Carlos- what's your version of the events?
Carlos greeted the principal and introduced himself. He mentioned how the things had been in the exact order and so accurately that the principal smiled.
- You only have to see Cynthia- said Carlos pointing at her and she jumped- she's an honest girl and you can see in her face what the truth is.
Cynthia felt really ashamed and she thought that this boy was too much for being the same age as them.
- However- Carlos said in an apologetic tone- I must recognize my fault at the matter since I had the opportunity to just let go the situation and go away… for that I apologize and I'm sorry for taking your time for this unimportant matter, Principal Gallegos. I'm ready accept any punishment you consider to be fair.
The principal and the teacher who had come with them exchanged looks and it was very obvious they were really impressed by Carlos. Cynthia was also very impressed even though she was on the opposite team.
- To be done with this, Mr. Principal- said Carlos- I assure you this will not happen again. As you can check in my record, this is the first time I have this kind of problem.
The principal had taken both records, his and Darwin's and Carlos had paid attention to this detail and was using it in his favor.
- I see- said the principal reading Carlos' record- I must admit it's impressive. You have this record even being one year younger…
Cynthia exchanged looks with Veronica. Darwin was also stunned. Carlos had not only shown a great level of education and speech but he had also fought on same or even superior grounds with Darwin. For the reaction of the principal his record must be really impressive and even outstanding.
- And he's younger than us?- Cynthia couldn't believe her ears. Due to his height almost no one would believe he was younger since he was the tallest boy in the class- who is this Carlos?
- I think it's clear who says the truth- said the principal and Veronica was totally red- I'm dissapointed Miss Gamarra. I didn't believe you were able to lie like this. You'll have to clean the bathrooms along with Miss Pereytra and Mr. Florentino all this week…
Veronica looked as if she had been forced to eat a sour fruit. She looked at Carlos furiously but he just ignored her and put all his attention to the principal who now had placed his attention to Darwin.
- Mr. Florentino- he said and Darwin looked aside- I suppose I don't have to remind you of how near you are to be expelled. So I suggest you to calm down and start studying. If I hear about a second commotion like this one from you. There won't be a third one. Is that clear?
- Yes, Sir.
- Good- said the principal and grabbed a small whip used for physical punishment- now come here. I'll give you a reminder.
Darwin got near and received a whip in the butt that made him jump and pat the place which seemed to be in a lot of pain. The principal looked at Carlos.
- Just as you said, Mr. Manzaneda… you are also responsible- he said and Carlos just smiled and nodded getting near.
The principal whipped at him and Cynthia felt it was the same strength he had used with Darwin, but Carlos didn't even blinked and just returned to his place saying no more.
- You can go now- said the principal- and I don't want to hear about something similar again.
- Sir, if I may- said Carlos and the principal nodded- I'd like to save the trouble for my mother, so I'd be eternally grateful to you if you could not mention this incident to her, please.
- Don't worry, Mr. Manzaneda- said the principal smiling praising his bravery- if I had to report every small detail of what happens here, I'm afraid I'd have armies of parents swarming my school.
Carlos laughed shortly and then after nodding he got out along with Cynthia and the rest. Once they were out they looked at each other. Veronica and Darwin had only fury in their eyes, Cynthia just frowned a little. Carlos just smiled and met the eyes of everyone until he just nodded.
- Good day to you, classmates- said he and then he turned around and went to the class.
Veronica was furious and Darwin seemed to be ready to explode any moment.
- How dare him!!!- shouted Veronica who was so red he was like an apple- who thinks he is? That sweet talker and that principal… He dared to call me liar!
- Well…-said Cynthia- what you said was not exactly what happened...
Veronica looked at her with fury and Cynthia just shut up knowing she was right and Veronica couldn't deny it.
- I told you he was in for troubles- said Darwin punching his own hand with hostility- but he'll pay for this…
The next day at the break they had the same guest in the same spot welcoming them with the same smile like defying them. Definitely, it was a not good way to start a friendship.