We were candy-colored rebellion, assorted flavors tumbling together through the machinations of fate or maybe just coincidence. Individually, we were nothing: a naïve and childish artist, an abused musician, the mayor’s effeminate son, a gas station attendant with a genius IQ, the son of a gangster, a drug-dependent dancer, a wannabe chef with a heart that was too kind for his own good…but together, we were kings.

Our kingdom was our city—not the fancy, soaring skyscrapers with thousands of windows and no souls, nor the carefully manicured parks filled with historical statuary you could find uptown; rather, the dusty, dingy, forgotten parts. The abandoned warehouses, walls coated with graffiti; the unused subway stations boarded up to keep vagrants out; the train yard with its empty boxcars and rusted-out tracks. Most of all, it was the abandoned swimming pool behind our school, where we gathered around a bonfire nearly every night to share stories and pictures and experiences, sought comfort in each other’s arms and laps and voices, soft touches and hard liquor.

Even so, we dreamed of leaving. We dreamed of where we would go, all of us together because none of us could imagine life without the others. We dreamed of how we would pick a train going anywhere and just jump on it, not a care in the world, leave everything behind. None of us ever did it, of course. Our city was our haven. We knew it like the backs of our hands, like the backs of each other’s hands, and though familiarity bred contempt, it also bred comfort. Here, we could remain kings. Anywhere else, we would have to start over. But it never did stop us from dreaming.

Back then, we ran like the wind all over our kingdom. We ran because we could, ran because we wanted to. We ran because none of us knew the first thing about standing still and why the hell would we want to stop?

We were invincible.

Nothing could stand against us. As long as there were seven of us, we were unbeatable. Our troubles were far away; nobody else really mattered.

We had other friends—of course we did—and girlfriends, too. But all of those relationships were fleeting, temporary. We were forever. Forever young, forever together, forever now.

Until the day we became six.



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