The wheels of the moving truck continued to spin underneath us as we traveled farther and farther away from the place I had always known of as home.
Cotton candy skies flew by as I peered out the window. Music drowned out my thoughts as the song "Eddie My Love" was blasted through my walkman.
I always had a soft spot for older music and the bliss that came along with listening to it; this song was no exception. The music was smooth with a calming melody that often helped me fall asleep at night when the sounds of my thoughts made sleep nearly impossible.
I was currently trying to sleep, having been in the moving truck for nearly fourteen hours already, and having six more until we reached the little town that would become my new home. Derry, Maine.
The quiet knocking that rang through the dimmed light in my room was what woke me from my deep sleep, sitting up slowly and yawning to myself as my eyes traveled to my alarm clock.
I groaned and groggily rubbed my eyes, scanning my room for where the knock could have come from. In the process, I noticed two brown eyes peeking in my window and the corners of my mouth began to upturn into a sleepy grin. Stumbling across my room to the window, I struggled to force it open in my half asleep state.
I finally threw the window open, a little louder than expected, which made the boy's face briefly fill with panic, as I pulled him quickly through the window.
The boy was short, coming up to about my shoulder, and his legs struggled to prop himself up over the window sill. He always struggled, no matter how many times he had come through that window, and this time was no exception. He tumbled onto my floor, making a small thud with the weight of his body and groaning all the while. I giggled quietly and helped him stand back up.
"You okay there E? Are you sure your legs are working properly?" I teased him, still whispering.
Eddie rolled his eyes and flipped me off just before crawling into my bed and almost immediately falling asleep.
I crawled in as well, and let sleep take over as the sound of Eddie's soft breaths surrounded me.
The sunlight trickled in through the cracks of the blinds and the whole room became bathed in a warm golden light. It was completely quiet with the exception of the birds perched on the tree opposite of my window.
I'd been awake for nearly two hours now, just absorbing the silence and thinking quiet thoughts to myself. Eddie rolled over slowly and I glanced over to make sure I hadn't woken him up.
Sleepovers with Eddie were a normal thing at this point. I was the only friend Mrs. Kaspbrak trusted, and Eddie often spent the night.
Some nights he would go visit his boyfriend in an attempt to live a normal life under the control of his obsessive mother. I didn't mind being used because I cared for Eddie and wanted him to live a good life without worry of his mother ruining it for him. As long as he was back in the bed by the time my parents woke up I had no problem with him sneaking out.
Eddie had been my best friend since I moved to Derry five years ago. He was the first person to ever reach out to me and made sure I never felt alone in my transition. When I met him he was even shorter than he was now and more scared of living beyond his bedroom. His mom had given him anxiety about stepping out of his house, even just to go to school, and he was at one of the lowest points in his life. His constant fear of germs, injuries and basic life was stunting his ability to experience life, and ultimately putting him in a dark place.
I had also been going through a rough time. Having just moved to Derry in June, school didn't start until September, leaving me to spend three months in a new town with no friends. My siblings made the time a bit easier, but I was still lonely and yearning for a person to call my friend.
I met Eddie on the first day of school at Derry Middle, as he was the smallest boy in my classes and kept a bottle of hand sanitizer on his desk in order to "keep the germs away". Thinking back to his attitude towards life when we first met to now makes me smile because I can see how far he has come, and how much happier it has made him.
Henry Bowers and his gang had come over to Eddie's desk and proceeded to dump the contents of the bottle all over Eddie and his things.
"Watch out Girly Boy, don't want the germs to get ya," Bowers sneered as his friends laughed around him.
The color had drained from Eddie's face, turning it from its normal rosy shade to an almost paper white. Under all of the hand sanitizer dripping from his head I could see the tears forming in his eyes, leaking on to his pale cheeks.
I got up quickly and made my way across the room, pushing past chairs and people until I was front and center to Eddie. I looked him in the eyes and seeing the fear and sadness filling the rich chocolate orbs, I turned to Henry and did the unthinkable.
I punched him.
I'm not normally a violent person, but at that moment I felt and odd obligation to protect the small boy behind me.
We had been friends ever since.
From ice cream dates at the diner to fighting over who was the better Street Fighter player at the local arcade, we had each others backs from the moment we met.
I still felt the need to protect the small boy even after all these years. He was like my brother, and only friend. Without him I would have been alone.
Oh, what a nightmare that would have been.
The neighbors also had a boy around my age, as well as a younger boy around the age of my little sister. He was tall and lanky, at least a whole head taller than me at the time, and quiet. I first met him when his family came to say hello after we moved in. He stood behind his mother and talked to his little brother quietly after waving to me. He sparked curiosity in me, as I began to wonder what he was like, and what it would be like to be friends with a guy like him.
His name was Bill.
The name sat on the tip of my tongue, and a small smile began to creep its way onto my face.
I don't know what it was, but something about the mysterious boy intrigued me and I wanted to know more.
I didn't see Bill much anymore aside from the occasional catching of his eye in the hallways at school, or a run in on the way home. Georgie, his younger brother, had passed away due to cancer almost a year ago, and Bill hadn't been the same ever since.
I may have only met him once, but I could see the lack of a gleam in those chocolate brown eyes, and the constant look of sadness dancing across his face whenever I saw him. The memory of him in a good place had faded, and the new, solemn version had replaced it.
The boy needed help, I could see it, and I knew I needed to try and help somehow.
I saw Eddie sit up slowly, and was knocked out of my thoughts.
"Good morning bitch," he groaned, and I began to laugh.
"Good morning sunshine"