Although it happened years ago, I remember it like it yesterday: the staring eyes, the utterly blank faces. I can still feel the absolute terror I felt, as well as the terror of the others.
“Do you think it will hurt?” one of the others asked me, before the ceremony began. She looked incredibly nervous.
I wasn’t sure how to answer her without making her more nervous than she already was, so I responded carefully.
“Of course not, why would someone so pretty ever need to get hurt?” I said, and she giggled. “Besides, even if it did, you’d be surrounded by your friends and family, right?”
She was still smiling when she replied: “I guess so. Including you, huh?”
“You said I was surrounded by friends. Including you?”
I smiled back.
We parted, and I realized that talking to her not only calmed her nerves, but my own as well. It had never occurred to me, however, that it would hurt…
I glanced at the clock. Eight minutes until show time, whatever it could be.
My older brother, who I was very close to, spoke up. He was wise for his relatively young age, and whenever he spoke, everyone got silent. Today, as eventful as it was, was no exception.
“What did you tell her?” he asked me.
“The nervous one…over there. You know, the one who was flirting with you.”
“She was not.”
“It’s okay, baby brother. She was cute.” he said teasingly. “What did you say?”
“I told her that it might hurt, it might not. I mean, it happens all the time, she shouldn’t worry about it. Even if it did hurt, I said she would be surrounded by her friends and family.”
My brother grunted in satisfaction.
“Good choice, kid. She probably needed that.” He paused for a moment to glance over at her. “She kind of looks like you, I might add.”
I glanced over at her, and she was standing in a corner, still looking nervous. When she caught me looking at her, she grinned. I smiled back, and then quickly glanced away.
“It’s show time, brother.” my older brother suddenly whispered. Indeed, it was, and we began.
My brother and I were up first, and we marched out, before a sea of uninterested stares and gaping mouths. My pretty friend was marched out next. A divider was placed between us.
Before the division took place, I allowed myself one final glance at her. She was beautiful, I decided. That was the last time I ever saw her.
Mrs. Clover divided 24 by 2 in front of her elementary school class.
There was no pain, 2 realized. The other, pretty 2 disappeared with a flash. Under himself and his brother, 2 saw a new number, 12, appear.
2 was pleasantly surprised…one of his children looked just like their mother.