The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

Ferris wheel at placer county fairgrounds fair. Photo courtesy of Johnstoncreativeartsdotcom via Wikimedia. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

The Simuhlashen

“So how’s Cody doing?” my best friend Anna asks me. “I used to see him all the time, but I haven’t seen him over at your house recently.”

Now that I think about it, I don’t even know how Cody is doing. Every time I try to talk to him, he responds with a high-pitched screech or absurd threat, or at the very least “crazy girl that I don’t know”. Coming from him, I guess that means he’s doing fine, but I have no proof. I don’t know why I even try to talk to him.

“He’s good,” I respond. There’s no way I’m going to tell her how awkward our relationship has gotten. He’s my own brother and I can barely even talk to him. At first I can’t think of a better answer. “Well, you know…he’s a fifth grader. He’s off the walls.” That’s the truth. I don’t know what’s in that kid’s head, but whatever it is, he’s full of it.

“Really? He used to be so mature.”

“The last time you saw him he could barely talk. Try talking to him now and you’ll see what I mean,”
I say.

“Well, you’ll be at the carnival tonight, right?”

“Yeah, but that’s not an invitation to crowd around Cody. Seriously, you’ll regret it,” I warn.

The bell rings and we squeeze out the door. The bus ride is a riot as always. Leave it to Brady, the caffeine-fueled 8th grader, to somehow nail you in the back of the head with a bag of chips from the other side of the bus. I walk into my house to get blasted in the face with the sound of Green Day.

“Mom!” I yell. She doesn’t answer. She can’t hear me over the speaker. “MOM!” She turns it down with a completely blank stare. “Where’s Cody?” I ask her.

“He went to his room. I think something happened today at school. I would leave him alone right now.” She is strangely calm for the apparent situation. He’s never angry, so something terrible must have happened.

“That’s weird. I haven’t seen him mad since he was little,” I say. I’m curious enough that I don’t listen to my mother’s instructions. Instead, I knock on Cody’s door and say, “Get out here! We’re going to the carnival and we aren’t waiting for you.”

“Go away!” Cody yells. Hm…I probably underestimated his hissy fit.

“Alicia, I told you you should leave him alone,” Mom shouts. I always forget that she’s never wrong. If she’s not a hundred percent sure about something, she doesn’t say it. It makes it seem like she knows everything. I have always envied that ability.

“So are we not going to the carnival?” I ask.

“We’ll see. I’ll try to work on him,” Mom responds.

“I guess that means we’re not going,” I retort. We both hear a loud bang coming from Cody’s room.

“I can hear you!” Cody yells. He has always had good hearing. I guess that’s typical of fifth graders. I walk back to his door.

“What if we go out and get ice cream?” I ask. At first, everything is silent. Then he opens the door. I knew it. I grab my wallet and take him across the street to the ice cream shop. Many of my best memories have been made at that ice cream shop. I can’t picture life without it. “What do you want?” I ask him.

“Superhero,” he responds.

“One small Superhero, please,” I tell the woman at the counter. She blows a bubble with her gum and walks away without saying a word. Cody proceeds to start beatboxing and sits down at our usual spot. I stay at the counter out of fear of another awkward conversion with Cody, then look around. There are dozens of drawings from the shop’s younger fans on the walls. Some of them are from me and Cody, and they make me miss the time we used to spend together. The girl brings back the cup of ice cream and I pass it on to Cody. When I sit down, I finally muster the courage to say something.

“So what happened at school today?” I ask.

“Nothing,” he responds while chewing and pushing the ice cream cup back and forth. I don’t get him to talk much, but when he does I can tell if he’s lying. “Alicia?” he asks after a few seconds.

“Yeah?” I respond.

“What if we were, like, all living in a computer? Like a simuhlashen?” His confidence in saying “simuhlashen” is amazing. I don’t know how anyone could possibly get his hopes down like this.

“A si…a simulation?” I almost say “simuhlashen” also.

“Yeah. Like, what would you do?” Cody asks.

“Umm…” I can’t think of anything to say. Does he actually think we’re in a simulation or is it just another random question that has popped into his head? “I…guess I would be pretty upset.” Cody just continues to eat his ice cream. “Is that why you were upset?” I ask.

“…Yeah.” Cody answers.

This is the first time he’s told me what’s going on in his head since he was a toddler. Suddenly, the idea of us getting along doesn’t seem so far-fetched. I still can’t think of anything to say about living in a simulation, so we continue to sit in silence until we arrive back at the house.

“Hey, Cody! You feeling up for going to the carnival?” Mom asks him.

“Sure,” Cody responds. I guess he just had to calm down a little and get some sugar in his system. We get in the car and Mom drives us to the carnival. Over the ten minutes it takes us to get there, none of us say much. We just watch the sun set and listen to the music. When we arrive, I’m suddenly much more glad that we made it. The lights that are on every attraction give everything in sight a warm, welcoming feeling. The smell of fresh popcorn and hotdogs hangs in the air, and excited shouts ring throughout the dozens of structures around us.

I look over at Cody; even he seems to be amused, which I don’t see often. It should be safe to say he has moved on from whatever was bothering him. I catch a glimpse of Anna and the others walking by. It’s good to see her outside of school. I always thought of school as the place where everyone knows me as “that girl that threw up in middle school”, not the place where I get to have fun with my friends.

“There’s the gang. I’ll text you if I need anything,” I tell Mom.

“You remember to check your phone, too.” she instructs.

“I will.” I run over to Anna.

“You made it!” Anna shouts excitedly.

“Yeah, Cody was upset so we left a little late,” I respond.

“Oh, is he okay? Where is he?” she asks.

I look behind me and suddenly can’t see him or Mom. “I’m…not sure. We’ll see him later, though.” We proceed to buy every calorie-laden food we can find and hop on every rinky-dink ride we see. I completely forget about my phone or anything other than the carnival. Before I know it, I’m sitting on the ferris wheel and looking up at the stars. The night has gone by so fast. Now is the first time it has seemed to pause.

Suddenly, I realize that I haven’t checked my phone since before I split up with Cody and Mom. I pull it out of my pocket to find five different messages from Mom frantically asking me where Cody is. My heart skips a beat. I stand up in the ferris wheel car and look around. Why didn’t I check my phone? What if something happened to Cody? What if it’s all my fault for not responding?

“Is something wrong?” asks Anna who is sitting on the seat beside me.

“Cody is…” I’m in too much of a panic to talk without stopping. “He’s gone and Mom can’t find him.”

“I’ll help you look for him!” Anna says. After about a minute of surveying the ground that looms underneath us, Anna finally spots a speck of blue in the corn maze. Could that be him? I wait for the car to reach the ground and jump out. I rush into the corn maze, leaving Anna behind.

“Cody!” I call, running blindly through the field. With all of the noise from the carnival I wonder if he can even hear me. “Cody!” I yell again at the top of my lungs. If it is my fault that he ran off, I don’t think I could forgive myself. Finally, I bump into someone.

“Alicia!” Cody says excitedly. Thank god for his sharp hearing which normally drives me crazy. Now, I’m just thankful for it. I crouch down to talk to him face to face.

“Why did you run off? Mom is freaking out out there,” I ask.

“I just got lost,” he responds. I can still tell he’s lying.

“It’s about what happened at school, isn’t it?” I follow up.

Cody looks at the ground. “Yeah.”

I didn’t know what to say before at the ice cream shop, but I think I’m ready now. “What happened? Will you tell me?”

“Some kids were being mean. They told me nothing is really real and that I am living in a simulation.”

“That’s all?” I ask him. “Do you think I’m real?”


“Good. Look, you’re not in a simulation. I know because I’m here, and I know you’re real too. But even if we are in a simulation, I wouldn’t care because you and Mom are important to me,” I say, giving him a big hug. I might not know what I’m saying or even believe it, but I can see on his face that it helps him, and that’s all I want. I hold his hand and walk him out of the maze and back to Mom. She and Anna cry and hug him. Emotions spent, we go home.

The next afternoon, Cody comes home with some pep in his step. “Did you have a good day today?” I ask him.

“Yeah! Apparently those bullies were just playing yesterday,” Cody responds. “They said they were sorry.”

“That’s great!” I say while clapping him on the back. I don’t know what I said or if it was even me that made the difference in the first place. What I do know is that Cody and I have made progress with our relationship, and that’s all that matters.

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