Throughout this writing process, I’ve done a lot of work in and out of class to make this story the best it possibly can be. I’ve done a lot of revising and adding scenes to try and make my writing better. I hope you enjoy this story.
~ Hazel ~
I listen as the steady beeping of the monitor fades away, and the world goes black. I don’t know how long I’ve been out of it, but according to my superiors, it’s been at least a couple days. When I finally come to, I can’t remember anything from the surgery. Scanning the room, I’m looking for any sign of where I might be, and I see silver walls with monitors around me. I’m alive, so I think the surgery went well. Suddenly, I feel a piercing ringing in my head. I cover my ears and yell, but it does nothing.
“Hello Hazel,” I hear a deep voice interject from the door, and the ringing stops suddenly. Everything comes back to me- I’d volunteered for this surgery. I had willingly gotten a chip implanted into my brain so that the organization could keep watch on my every move during my missions. Because of this surgery, they can now see what I am seeing, and they can make me see messages from them, saying what to do and what not to do.
The man at the door has gray hair, a lanky build, and green eyes that seem to pry into my thoughts.
“Hazel Winwood. Thank you for volunteering. How do you feel?” is the first message I see appear in my line of vision.
“I feel fine. The only thing that’s happened is some ringing in my ears,” I say. That’s probably an understatement. When the ringing happened, I felt like someone had somehow inserted a sound of 120 decibels into my brain.
“Oh, the ringing? Yes, that was me. Just making sure you were reacting normally to stimuli.” He checked off a box on his clipboard.
“So just the ringing?” he inquires.
“Haven’t felt anything yet.”
“Good. It’s looking like you’re going to be one of our best subjects yet,” he assures, still checking off boxes. He exits the room, leaving me alone.
~ Chase ~
I see another dreaded sign for the school dance. Every single year, from when I was 11 until now, I’ve dreaded dances- and I’m 16. You’d think that I’d be able to man up and ask someone, but I’ve gotten rejected so many times, it’s just not worth it anymore. Instead of continuing to worsen my mood, I head off to Physics. I try to immerse myself in the science, like I can most of the time, but this stupid dance can’t seem to leave my head. I look around the room at the girls in my class. I see someone with black hair and green eyes. She’s pretty, right? Answer: Yes, Chase, she is very pretty. And way too out of your league. It’s a week before the dance, so she probably already has a date. It’s like the devil and the angel on my shoulder, but one of them is trying to get me to talk to a girl for once in my life, and the other is trying to talk sense into me. My sensible side wins that fight.
“Chase? Chase,” my teacher demands. Everyone is staring at me, and I realize that I’ve been involved in my thoughts for the first ten minutes of the class. I mentally scold myself. This is why I can’t get a girl to talk to me. I’ve been this way ever since I was a kid: alone, isolated, rejected. I’m a part of something, a part of something that doesn’t allow for much free time or control over my own decisions. I’m a part of this organization, and I have been for years. It’s the only thing I’ve ever belonged to.
~ Hazel ~
I’ve been left sitting alone in the room for two and a half hours when gray-haired man comes in again.
“Agent Winwood. We have a mission for you.”
“Finally,” I think to myself. Out loud, I say “Ok.”
“We need you to infiltrate the other side.”
I feel my heart beat faster than ever, and my pulse starts racing. Infiltrating the other side is one of the most honored, yet dangerous, missions anyone can be assigned. Most of the time, they give assignments like this to adults. Me? I’m barely 16.
~ Chase ~
Physics was my last class of the day, and I’ve never been more relieved to be in my room. I collapse on my bed, and stare up at my blank ceiling. Why am I like this? I’m sure there’s plenty of girls at my school without a date. I can just ask one of them, right? No. All of them would say no, and I’m not about to experience that again. I’d much rather be here, with my comics book and tech projects. My room is pretty much my lab. I’ve built computers, made inventions. I never have homework, so I have to occupy my time somehow, right? I’d prefer to do something other than thinking about my girl problems, so I choose to do this. My dad is an inventor, too. He told me that even when I was little, I liked to go into the garage and to work with him so I could see him build things, so I guess this has been a passion of mine for a while.
I’m working on my minuscule Iron Man suit prototype when I hear a knock come from the door.
“Come in,” I yell, without looking away from the project.
“Hey, Chase,” I hear my dad interrupt. “Whatcha building now?”
“Just another prototype. What’s up?”
“Well, your mom and I have some news for you.”
“What?” I ask nervously.
“Well, it won’t really effect you if you don’t want it to.”
“Ok…what’s going on?”
“We have some new neighbors moving in. They’re buying the house next door. Man and a woman, with a daughter about your age.”
I look down at the floor. I know that both my parents see this as an opportunity for me. They want me to get more “social” and to talk to people other than them, but they don’t understand that I’m better off on my own. There’s a lot of pressure on me to do well in school, and in…other things.
“Chase, come on. You know what I’m going to say. It would be a good thing for you to at least meet her and become friends.”
“Dad, I know.”
“Just try, ok?”
“Sure,” I say, but that’s only because he looks disappointed. I only plan on seeing her once. I’ll go outside, look at her, then nothing will have ever happened. I’ll retreat back into my own little world.
~ Hazel ~
“Me? Are you serious?” I ask gray-hair man.
“Yes, Hazel. You’ve proven yourself very well.”
“Ok. How am I going to infiltrate the other side?”
“Well, we did some research on agents of the other side, and we found one you could get in contact with. He lives near here too, and we purchased a house next door to him. He’s your age. We set you up with a fake family to make it look like you’re just moving in.”
“What’s his name?”
~ Chase ~
I’m in the middle of watching my favorite show when I hear a moving van driving across our street. Is this the new family who’s daughter I’m supposed to socialize with? I quietly walk away from my bed and look out the window. I have to strain my neck in order to see anyone, but when I do, I see the girl. She has a flannel shirt on with jeans and converse. She has light brown hair, green eyes, and freckles. I want to get a closer look, so I run downstairs to look out the living room window. The girl is looking around at our neighborhood, when she sees me looking through the window. I want to leave right away, but I’m frozen in my tracks.
Instead of giving me a judging look, she smiles at me, and instead of smiling back, I keep staring. I probably look like an idiot.
~ Hazel ~
What a way to be welcomed into the neighborhood. I see a boy looking out the window of his house. I think he’s watching me move in. It dawns on me that this must be Chase, so I have to somehow get him to be my friend. I smile at him, but he doesn’t smile back. He just keeps staring. He looks like an idiot.
~ Chase ~
That was the most I’ve interacted with a girl in years. I have no idea what to do when one makes eye contact with me, let alone smiles at me. I decide that I don’t need to know, because I am fine on my own, despite what my parents may think. I’m halfway up the stairs when I hear the doorbell ring. My mom walks up to the door and answers it, like a good neighbor. I run as fast as I can up to my room. I don’t want to do this.
I can hear conversations downstairs that go something like this-
My mom- “Oh hi! You must be the new neighbors!”
The girl’s mom- “Yes! We’re very excited to be here.”
My mom- “And who is this?”
The girl’s mom- “This is Hazel. She’s 16.”
My mom- “I have a son that’s 16! Would you like to meet him?”
My mom- “CHASE!”
Ok, Chase. This is it. You’re going to go talk to a girl. She’s pretty, and you’re going to talk to her. Just say hi, and it’ll all be fine.
I parade down the stairs, and I see Hazel and her mom standing at the door. I try to smile at them. She smiles back at me, and I clearly see that she’s had more experience with this.
“Hi, I’m Hazel. What’s your name?”
“Um…I’m Chase. Chase Brooks.”
~ Hazel ~
So this is Chase. I’m not sure how he’s an agent for the other side, because he’s probably the most awkward person I’ve met in my life. He’s got tousled brown hair and brown eyes. He’s wearing jeans, high tops, and an old t-shirt. His hands are in his pockets, and I can feel his nervousness.
“What school do you go to?” I prompt, trying to start a conversation.
“Oh…um, I go to Wright. What about you?”
“Uh…homeschooled,” I say, trying to be as nonchalant about my true identity as possible.
“So, what do you like to do?”
“I like comic books and science.”
“That’s pretty cool. I like superheroes. Can you show me some of your comics?”
“Yeah, sure. I’m actually working on an Iron Man suit prototype right now!”
“It would be better if I hadn’t failed at making like a zillion before this one,” he replies with a smile. This one is more genuine. He seems to open up to other people better when he can be himself.
Another message shows up in my vision. “Good, Agent Winwood. Keep getting him to open up. Get him to like you.”
For a couple minutes, I forgot that the other side was making me talk to Chase. I remembered what I was here for, and followed Chase up to his room, my real mission now in the front of my mind.
~ Chase ~
“So, this is my room. Yeah, not much to see, I know. The Iron Man prototype is over there on my desk,” I say and gesture over to the lab.
She walks over to my desk and looks at the prototype. Before I can tell her not to touch anything, she grazes her finger over Iron Man’s helmet.
“Ow!” she yells, and jumps away from my desk.
“Yeah, sorry, that’s my bad. I forgot to tell you that it’s still probably dangerous to touch,” I chuckle.
“I had no idea,” she says sarcastically.
“So, why’d you decide to move to the neighborhood where literally nothing ever happens?”
“I don’t know, just looking for a change, I guess.”
“Cool. Well, I hope you like it here.”
“I like what I’ve seen so far.”
PANIC! This is what I was afraid of. Was that comment directed at me? Does she want to be friends? More than friends? We barely know each other. It’s not that I wouldn’t like being friends with her, it’s just…why would someone like her want to be friends with me?
Instead of voicing all my doubts out loud, I look down at the ground and grin.
~ Hazel ~
“Good, Winwood. I think that’s enough for today. I can see you’ve gained his trust. Tomorrow, we continue. For now, I need to speak to you alone,” is the new message I see appear across my line of vision.
“Oh gosh, sorry Chase. I totally forgot that I have to go home and unpack. It was really good to meet you. Maybe we can talk again tomorrow?”
“Yeah, I’d like that. See you later, Hazel.”
I smile at him, and this time he smiles back. I walk out of his room, down the stairs, and out the door. As soon as I’m out of eyeshot, I sprint down the street and towards my house. I go up to my room, and I wait patiently for another message.
“You clearly have some experience with this.”
I grab a piece of paper and write “Not really. He’s just easy to manipulate.”
“Obviously. You must get him to trust you enough so that you can go looking around in his house for proof that he’s part of the other side. As soon as you do that, we can infiltrate his house and arrest him.”
“He actually doesn’t seem that threatening. Do you really think he’s on the other side?”
“Yes. Are you questioning our research, Agent Winwood?”
“No, of course not. I’ll get right to it.”
~ Chase ~
I haven’t been able to stop smiling the whole day. I just talked…to a girl! More importantly, I talked to a girl and it wasn’t the most awkward thing that’s ever happened to me. I sit on my bed, but I feel a lump underneath me. It is none other than Hazel’s jacket.
“Yes! An excuse to go talk to her again!” I think. Whoa, Chase. Don’t get ahead of yourself. You just met her.
I yell up at my mom and tell her that I’m going over to Hazel’s house to return her jacket. I don’t get a response, but I assume that my parents are fine with it, especially considering that I’m talking to someone.
I try to coolly stroll over to her house, but I can’t be cool. It’s just not in my DNA. I walk up to the porch and ring the doorbell. While I’m waiting, I’m trying to get into a position where it looks like I’m comfortable. I land on just standing there with her jacket. Her mom answers the door. “Hi! Chase, was it?” she says.
“Um, yeah. Chase.”
“Oh, well, Hazel left her jacket at my house. Is she here?”
“Yeah, she’s in the basement.”
“Ok, thanks, Mrs…”
I saunter down the stairs into her basement and lean against the wall. She doesn’t hear me come down, she’s so immersed in her movie. And what other movie but Star Wars?
“Man, I love Star Wars!” I interject.
“Oh my gosh, Chase! I didn’t hear you come down.”
“Hey. You left your jacket at my house.”
“Oh, whoops! My fault.”
“Which episode is this?”
“Empire Strikes Back.”
“That’s my favorite!”
“No way, me too!” she responds enthusiastically. “Wanna watch with me?”
“Oh yeah, sure. But what about supper?”
“We can just order a pizza or something.”
“Sure! I don’t think my parents will mind.”
“Alrighty, let’s do this,” she commands.
Maybe it won’t be so bad to have a friend next door.
~ Hazel ~
“Good. You’ve gotten him in your house. Now keep reeling him in. Soon, we’ll have him right where we want him.”
I realize that even though this is my mission, I don’t want Chase to get hurt. He’s too nice, too innocent, to ever hurt anyone else. I look at him on the couch. He’s shoving popcorn in his mouth as fast as he can. How can anyone want to hurt him? I certainly don’t.
~ Hazel ~
“So who’s your favorite character?” he asks, mouth full of popcorn.
“Vader. How about you?”
“No wayyyyy! You like the villain?! I’m sorry, I can’t condone that.” He throws a piece of popcorn my way and it hits me in the shoulder.
“Oh, don’t think you can get away with that, Rebel Scum,” I retaliate. I toss popcorn back at him.
“Rebel Scum?! We. Destroyed. Your. Death Star!” he says, playfully punctuating every word with a popcorn throw. I throw my arms up, pretending like I’ve had enough, and grab a pillow. I smack him in the side of the face, and he graciously falls to the side, onto the couch. His previously messy hair is even messier now. He snatches up the other pillow and hits me with it, but I don’t fall. We go into an all out pillow/popcorn fight for 15 minutes, until Chase realizes we skipped the iconic “I am your father” scene.
“Noooooo! Please go back, Hazel,” he begs.
“Only if you say Vader is better than Luke!”
“Fine,” he concedes, and murmurs it under his breath.
“Thank you,” I say, rewinding. We settle back on the couch, closer than we were before. Once we get to the scene, he grabs my arm, and we both quote along with it. I look at him, and a nerdy smile has taken over his face. I can feel one on my face, too. I look at him and grin, and he looks at me and grins back. His face is red because of the fight we just had.
“You want to know something, Hazel?” he asks.
“You’re the first person in years that would ever hang out with me when they didn’t have to. Since I was 10, I’ve been isolated from humanity, and when I first saw you, I didn’t think I was going to have anything to do with you.”
“When I first saw you, I thought you were the weirdest person ever.”
“And now? Well, now you’re my best friend.”
“I think you might be becoming my best friend too.”
~ Chase ~
I think I have a best friend. WHOA. This has never happened to me. No one’s ever liked me enough to be my partner for a project, let alone my best friend. I have way too many issues for someone to want to be my friend. She doesn’t know who I am, what I’ve done, and I feel bad for not telling her. I’m part of something that she can’t be a part of, or she’ll get hurt.
Despite all of this, Hazel is the best possible friend I could ask for. She’s nice, smart, funny, and we have a lot of things in common. Despite all the things that should be keeping us apart, I think she was meant to move in next to me. It’s like she has a purpose for being here. I know that sounds stupid, but I think it’s true.
~ Hazel ~
Chase Brooks. This is the same boy that I’m supposed to corrupt and get for the organization. They would kill me if they knew this, but I really really don’t think that Chase has anything to do with the other side. Maybe there’s another Chase Brooks. It’s just so hard for me to ever imagine Chase hurting someone. He’s too nice, too innocent.
“Wanna watch Return of the Jedi?” My concerned look melts into a smile, and so does his.
“You know it,” he says with his nerdy smile.
I walk over to the DVD section of the basement and grab out 2 movies.
“Now,” I say. “Bonus features edition or normal edition?”
We look at each other for a few seconds. “Bonus features,” we say in unison.
I laugh, then I put away the normal DVD and insert Return of the Jedi into our Blu-Ray player. When it starts playing, I jam out to the theme song, and he joins me on the other part. After it’s done, we both laugh, and get ready for the opening scene with R2D2 and C3PO.
Things I learn about Chase while watching this movie:
He has almost every line in this movie memorized.
I thought I was a fan of these movies.
He is an even bigger fan.
His favorite character is, in fact, Luke Skywalker.
I never knew I could bond this much with someone I was supposed to hurt.
~ Chase ~
Return of the Jedi is over, and it’s almost midnight. I know that I have to go home now, but I don’t want to. I want to find out what other movies we like and I want to marathon them with her.
“That was the most fun I’ve had in years,” I admit. “We should do it again sometime.”
“Lets do it. How about Back to the Future?”
“This right here: this is why we’re friends.”
“Ok, Chase,” she laughs. I realize I’ve been staring at her for longer than I should. It’s like the day at the window, except she can stand me now. And that’s why I have to tell her. I have to tell her what I’m a part of, all the baggage that comes with me.
“Hazel! Wait…before you go…”
“You, uh, you…forgot your jacket again,” I sigh.
“Oh, gosh, sorry! I’ll see you later, Chase.”
“See you later, Hazel.”
~ Hazel ~
As I walk upstairs after cleaning the basement, I think about Chase. Is he really an agent for the other side? Is this nice, nerdy kid just a cover up? I don’t know what to think anymore, because what I’ve been loyal to for 10 years of my life is all falling apart because of a boy. But he’s not just any boy: he’s smart, nice, funny, kind, genuine, and a million other words that I can’t think of.
I am starting to truly believe that he is not a part of the other side, which means that if I help my organization, he will get hurt for no good reason. I can’t ever let that happen.
~ Chase ~
Why is it so hard for me to tell her? It should be easy to talk to her, about anything really. Even though this should be the most simple thing I’ve ever done, it’s the most difficult. This part of me, no one knows about it: literally no one. Even if I am a part of some organization, I’m still me. In fact, I’m me because of what I do. My secret has taught me to stay strong through all the rejection, all the pain.
As I’m sitting at my desk working in the lab, I pull out my organization files from my drawer. I see my name and my picture shown on the cover. I looked really bad in that picture. My hair was messy, and I was smiling like a serial killer, but that’s not the point. Inside the files were all my mission reports, failures, successes, and all my information. I close them, and look at my reflection on the front cover, and I have to ask myself if that’s really me anymore. Is it who I want to be? Can I find my true self with my missions, or can I find my true self with my projects, and with Hazel? Am I really going to give up what I’ve been a part of for 5 years, just to be a part of something that could end in two minutes?
~ Hazel ~
I can’t do this to him. He’s innocent, and hurting him would make me a monster. I have to tell him. I run over to his house.
“Hi Hazel! Are you here for Chase?” his mom asks.
“Yeah, I am, Mrs. Brooks.”
“Awesome! He’s up in his room.”
I walk up the stairs to Chase’s room and knock on the door. I hear the rustling of papers, then he opens it.
“Hey,” I say softly. He looks at me, confused, and I look back at him. I have to just do this, or both of us are going to get hurt.
“Chase, look. I’m so sorry, but this can’t happen. If we become any closer, bad things are going to happen to you, and I don’t want that. I can’t hurt you.”
“Hazel, what? Why would bad things happen to me?” I see all hope and happiness leave his face, and it feels like someone has reached into my chest and pulled out my heart.
“I…they just would. I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you why. My hands are tied. You wouldn’t understand.”
“All I understand is that I can’t live without my best friend.”
“Chase, I have to go. I’m sorry.”
“Hazel, no. You can’t just leave like this.”
“Chase, just trust me.” I can feel his disappointment radiating, but someday he’ll thank me for this. I walk out of his house for the last time.
Right as the slam of the door ends, I can feel the tears leaking. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ve only known him for a couple days, but it feels like we’ve been best friends for our whole lives. I know I need to forget him, but I just can’t.
~ Chase ~
I don’t know why this hurts so much. I’ve gone 6 years with people rejecting me, ditching me. So why does this feel any different? It shouldn’t, after all. I slowly open the door to my house, and parade up to my room. I know that I should probably be crying now, but I’m not. I think this is because I’m still in shock. Hazel didn’t just ditch me with no explanation, and I’m going to see her again tomorrow. I guess I’m still in denial. Anyway, she just did what I couldn’t. I’m a part of an organization, a secret organization. If she got involved in that, she would get hurt.
“Chase, Hazel’s mom just brought this for you!” my mom calls from downstairs.
I walk down the stairs, and I see an envelope with my name on the counter. I grab it, and retreat back to my room.
This is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write, or do, for that matter. But I have to, for both of us. I can’t have either of us getting more attached to something that can’t happen. If you’re wondering why I made you leave or what this is about, let’s just say that everything in the world is keeping us apart. I’m me, and you’re you. Unless something major happens, we’re never going to see each other again. I’ve gone back to where I belong. Please don’t come after me, or it won’t end well. In any other situation, we would most likely still be watching a movie. But in this situation, if we would’ve stayed friends, you would’ve gotten hurt, and I could never bear to see that. I really hope you understand, and that you forget about me, even though I’ll never forget about you.
Ok, now I might be crying.
~ Hazel ~
I’m sitting at home, making sure that the thing I did was right, when I see cars lighting up outside of my window. What I thought was horrifying at first- they’re at Chase’s house. What I realize is horrifying now- they have my organization’s name on the side. I rush outside, and the gray-haired man steps out of one of the cars. I feel confused and humiliated. This is what I was trying to prevent, so how’d they get here?
“Good work, Agent Winwood.” He shakes my hand, and to my horror, I see Chase looking back at us. There is a look of hurt, betrayal, and understanding on his face. His eyes tell a different story. He is scared for his life, as he should be. He continues looking at me, all but begging for help, as they pin his arms behind his back and push him into the leading car.
“Wait! How did you get here?” I ask.
“We know the address, Hazel. After all, we did choose where you would be based. We figured it was time enough to take matters into our own hands.”
I step into the van with the gray-haired man, and we follow Chase’s car back to the organization. The question I am asking myself: do I help Chase and risk my life or do I pretend I don’t care about him?
~ Chase ~
How did I get here? I didn’t do anything, but somehow, I’m siting in the corner of a car, going somewhere I don’t know, with my hands pinned behind my back and my dignity gone. And Hazel set it all up. I should’ve known, I should’ve taken a hint. Hazel’s goal all along was to get me into this situation, and she did that my earning my trust. How did I not see this coming? No one’s actually talked to me in 6 years, and Hazel’s too good to be my friend.
And then it hits me. Hazel is a part of the organization that’s fighting mine. This is why she had to leave and why she thought I would get hurt. All of her “kindness” had led up to this moment.
I’m immersed in my thoughts when I feel the car stop. They clamber out of the van, and pull me along with them. I’ve been taken to a remote facility, and I have no idea what’s going to happen to me. The facility just looks sketchy, with its silver walls, endless cords, and corpse-ish smell. I have no idea where this is, where I am in town, and I don’t care. All I care about is how I’m going to get out, and if Hazel even cares about me at all. I’m scared, and I’m not afraid to admit it. We walk in the doors, and they shove me into a room that’s pitch black. In other words, I can’t see anything. At least, I can’t see anything until the door opens an hour later, and who is standing there but Hazel Winwood?
“Chase, I’m so so sorry. I made you leave all because I was afraid something like this would happen,” she says quickly. I can see tears starting to form in her eyes.
“Hazel, normally I’d say it’s fine, but this is anything but fine. I am in who knows what, who knows where, and I don’t know what’s about to happen to me.”
“Yes, and like I said, I’m so so sorry.”
“You really didn’t want this to happen?”
“No, Chase, I tried everything to prevent this from happening. I know you’re not a member of the other side.”
“That’s the thing, Hazel: I am a member of the other side.”
“What? You really are?”
“Yes, but you’re still my best friend.”
“Chase, this can’t happen if we’re supposed to be enemies.”
“Yes, yes it can. We can ignore everything. You and I don’t have to listen to our organizations.”
“Chase. Listen to me. We will see each other again, but we have to leave each other if we want to survive. I’m sorry. I can get you out of here, but that’s it.” I can see that she’s trying to stay strong, but she doesn’t want to stay.
“Ok,” I agree.
She holds her hand out to me, and I take it. Maybe I wanted to hold hands with her, but not in this situation. We run to the exit of the facility, surprisingly easy. Hazel’s so smooth with her organization, I don’t know how I didn’t see it earlier. Now that I know what she really is, I can see the vibe she gives off, but I know that when she was with me, it wasn’t all fake, which is why I can’t give up on her, which is why I won’t stop until she’s safe.
“Ok, lets get out of here,” I say.
“Chase, I can’t come with you. I told you that.”
“Hazel, come on. You’ll be safe with me.”
“No I won’t. I’ll be safe here, at least for a while. This isn’t goodbye forever. We will see each other again, I’ll make sure of it.”
“Chase, no. You have to leave before it’s too late,” I say stubbornly.
“Fine. I’ll see you later, Hazel Winwood.”
“See you later, Chase Brooks.”
I begin to run, but then I turn around. “Oh, and Hazel?” I say. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” she responds with tears welling up.
“No, really, thank you,” I say, my voice starting to break. “For everything.”