“May I join you?” said the creep in the long, black trench coat.

School just started, and we were all sitting at the table, waiting for the first block class to get over. This kid we have never seen in our entire six years here, came up to us. He had a long, black trench coat, snot dripping out of his nose, dirty nails with who knows what under them, and an odor that would turn away anyone.

Now let me get this straight. My friends and I are friends with everyone; we are very accepting people. Our first thought when we saw this kid was awful. We didn’t even want to know who he was, but we gave him a shot. The second thing he said to us made us jump right out of our pants.

He said, “My name is Stuart, and I remember everything.”

What is that suppose to mean we thought. We have never seen him a day in our life; what does he remember? Was he at a party we went to? Did we know him when we were younger? Was he joking with us or did he really know something that we just couldn’t remember.

As time went on we all avoided him. We made sure we did not make eye contact with him, but all I could think about is what he knew. Has he seen me someplace else, is there something that just isn’t connecting. I wanted to ask him, but I also was not sure I really wanted to know.

Days and weeks went by with my curiosity higher than ever. He not once said another word to us, but what if he was only talking about one of us? What if this is not even about me, although I felt it was because of the feeling in my stomach.

Many weeks later he finally came back around and I had the ambition to ask him what exactly he knew. I was so nervous, sick to my stomach and could feel my face changing to the color of a bright red tomato. I could feel my lips trembling, making it a struggle to even talk. Finally I got it out.

“Stuart, what do you know?” I asked.

He looked me in the eye with the most caring, innocent look while snot was still dripping down his nose; he wasn’t saying anything. I was getting really frustrated because he would not answer my simple question. I feel my whole body shaking from anger and then I hear myself just scream. My brain was shut off, my words were now in control.

“Stuart! Tell me now what you know! You have made me wait half the school year and I think it is finally time for some answers!”

Stuart finally opened his mouth to talk, but all I could focus on was his breath. I tried so hard to keep my focus towards his words because I wanted to know so bad. I took a deep breath, trying to get myself to focus. Stuart finally started to talk.

“You really want to know!” He yelled, “Remember when you and your little friends over there stole multiple items from that really expensive jewelry store, including that man’s watch?”

I was shocked! How did he know about that; we are minors, but also got away with it. So many thoughts were running through my head, especially confusion. I needed answers. I just stopped thinking said yes and he continued.

“Well that young teen you blamed was me. You little immature girls made my life living hell!” His voice was shaking like he was about to cry. He had been holding this all in and at this point you can finally see the frustration on his face. I knew he had more to say, but I was not ready to hear more. I had heard enough. He continued.

“ I was sent to jail for six months, meaning I missed school. My parents kicked me out because they did not want to be around a thief. I started doing drugs and drinking, which made me go crazy!”

I honestly was speechless. I ruined someone else’s life. I crushed his world because of my stupidity. What could I do to make this better? Was there really anything I could do at this point I thought to myself. He kept talking.

“I am getting my life back together.” He made sure I understood this. “Granted I am an inmate at the mental hospital,” he said with a harsh look. “I have to see a counselor now, and live in a group home because my parents kicked me out, but I am doing okay. I am managing on my own.”

I could just see the sorrowful look on his face, but I felt so helpless. I needed to fix this and I thought to myself, how could I make this all up to him. How would it be possible after all this time of pain and suffering. I know I couldn’t give him back the time wasted but I could try absolutely anything else.

I thought about about confessing, but what will that do at this point. It had happened over a year ago; people will think I am crazy. I continued to think about it, hoping the right idea would appear in my crazy, adolescent brain. He stopped talking and walked away before I could say anything to him.

I didn’t see him around school for about a week. Although I was curious about where he was and what happened to him, I needed to figure out something before he came back.  This was eating away at me, and I just needed to come up with an answer. I was having long, sleepless nights because my conscious ate away at me. Every night I just lay there hopelessly wishing there was really something I could do.

Finally it came to me. I could talk to his parents, get him back home, then get him new clothes. I thought this was a great idea, but how could I explain this to him, and how would I get ahold of his parents. Was this really something I wanted to do? Was this something that was going to actually help? I can’t give back the time I took away, but I can try to make it up to him, I thought to myself.

I kept trying to get ahold of him, but weeks went by, and I never heard one thing from him or about him. I even checked the homeless shelters and still no news. I finally thought, maybe I would go straight to his parents’ house, but how could I get his parents address, and how would they feel about their son? I decided to go with it, because I was not sure what else I could do. I went to homeless shelters to get some answers. I told the shelters I was his sister, because I did not feel they would give me information without me being related to him. I told them I didn’t know where our parents moved to, and sure enough one of the shelters gave me Stuart’s home address. I was terrified to go but I knew I had to.

The next day I followed the directions and ended up at a small house in the middle of nowhere on Lower Avenue. Upon arriving I knocked on the front door and got no answer. I still was not sure what I was going to say but I knew seeing them would give me some hope. I was ready to talk to them and clear my conscious and not have this image of pain and suffering running through my head constantly, every hour of the day every second at night.

They opened the door after about three minutes while I stood with nervous feelings and the guilt coming up through my throat. Still having this feeling and still shaking out of my skin, I introduced myself and told them where I was from. They were very welcoming, but boy was I shocked. They were the cleanest, most middle-class people I had ever met. They had a big open family room, with an abnormally large kitchen, but I soon learned that Stuart’s mom loved to cook. We started talking and slowly ease into things. We started on the subject of Stuart, and they were saying how he was so nice to everyone and everyone absolutely adored him, “He had so much going for him, I just don’t understand how someone could accuse him of such a thing. He would never steal anything. He was such a kind young man that would do anything for anyone.”

I finally started to realize how much I really ruined his life, and how he was a completely different person because of my stupidity. Stuart’s mother continued to talk, but you could hear the choking sound of her throat, which tightened up like she is about to cry. She stopped talking and broke down.

I was never able to tell them I accused him, I was just too weak. All I was able to get myself to do was to leave some money so they could hire more people to help find Stuart.

Weeks and months went by and no one heard from him. I would continue to keep checking in with his family and the homeless shelters. There was never any news or answers for his sudden disappearance. The summer was almost over, and I still hadn’t heard anything from him. I was nervous  but also annoyed he hadn’t appeared and talked to me. There were only a few more weeks of summer left and I desperately needed some answers.

Finally, during the last week of summer, he showed up at my house. I will never forgot the ringing of that door bell and the feeling of my stomach dropping when I opened it and saw his face, but was it really who I thought it was. No odor, no torn up clothes, minty smelling breath, and nice and clean nails. Could this be true? Was he really out going to get help? What was I supposed to do now that he beat me to what I was going to do exactly.

Finally, after standing there for what felt like a year, he spoke, “Look at me. I finally was strong enough and face my problems. I finally was able to get better and start to change my life. I am going to talk to my parents tomorrow.” He had excitement on his face.

“But what can I do now to help you? I have been waiting for months just to be able to talk to you and make things right.” I was annoyed.

“You should be happy I left and got help after all you and your friends put me through. Why are you frustrated and annoyed?”

“I am annoyed because I cannot help you get better now. How am I going to clear my conscience? Tell me that, Stuart.”

“Well I do not think that is my problem. You put me in this situation and just because I was strong enough to get out does not mean you can turn this around on me!”

I was furious, but also kind of content at the same time. I knew this is what he needed and I was ready to stay by his side to make sure he continued down the right path. I knew this would help me live with the pain I caused and help me deal with seeing others hurt or accused of things they did not do.

School started up and I was excited to introduce Stuart to all my friends the way he should’ve been introduced a years ago. Since he returned home, he and I talked constantly. Together, we were able to figure things out at home for him. There were new rules, but that was to be expected. I was trying to help him with his transition and his parents seemed to enjoy having me over, which made me feel like I was making up for all the troubles and time lost.

Things had been going great for awhile, then he had a complete mood change. I think it was because of all he was going through. Then, out of nowhere, he completely broke down at school, in the hallway. He yelled, “You put me through living hell, you should have to go through what I went through!”

He told me that he stole something and was blaming me and I would have to go through everything he went through. I thought he changed, how could he be doing this. I was shocked, especially after all I tried to do to help him. Did everything I do really mean nothing? I was just so shocked.

A couple of days went by and I hadn’t seen him, I knew he was up to no good. Maybe he was really being honest and blamed me.

Weeks went by, and I hadn’t see him. A rumor was going around school that I stole the music teacher’s laptop, which had been missing for about a month. Everyone was looking down at me. They thought I was someone who I was not. I was up all night, thinking how Stuart could do this to me, and why he was putting me through this. Then it clicked in my head, maybe he was doing this to prove a point, but how could he after everything that happened and I accepted him?

I finally saw him after a month of dealing with the blame and dealing with everyone treating me like absolute crap. He finally spoke to me at school during gym class, “Now you know exactly what I went through. I think, now, you can say that you helped me, and I can say I am better.” He said this with the most serious look.

“But, Stuart, how could you put me through that?”

He had nothing to say after that. He just walked off like nothing had ever happened.

Was it really over? I thought to myself, was this the end of the nightmare? Could I finally forgive myself for what I had done and forgive him for what he had done to myself?