Pande.Me | Lesedauer ca. 13 Min.

Hi Diary Boy

Malin Loeffler / Elizabeth Slijpen 23.06.2023

“Bye,” he mumbles. In return, he gets a wonderful smile from his mom. Her eyes are raised, and her smile is so long and bright that it reaches her ears. This smile makes him feel sparkles inside, makes him stand up straight. Juth closes the front door behind him and is left in his own world again. Walking to school, he feels his backpack suddenly draining him, pulling his shoulders back.

He sees the Astroemeria they planted at the sidewalk.

“Wait, you never did this?” Aji had wondered that day, titling his head, unable to believe. “So, this is the first time you're doing this?” He raised his voice and his eyes widened after Juth paused.

Juth chuckled and shrugged. They continued laughing.

“But why does it have to be a Alstroemeria, though?” Juth wondered.

Aji shrugged, and instead asked him, “what are we doing next Sunday?”.

Sometimes they baked, other times, they acted, pretending to be one of those actors on TV. Oftentimes, they went to the park, to play football or they simply talked, sitting on a bench, or walking around.

But he doesn’t want to think about Aji. Ever since that day he lost him. Ever since the day he died. It was on 17th, August, at 8:22 pm that he got the phone call. Tilda, Aji’s mom, was the one who called him. He could feel her body shaking as she cried and told that Aji had jumped off a cliff. Suicide. He remembered his body stopping moving. His hands dropping the pencil he’d been drawing with. He could only stare at the screen of his phone. Seeing the seconds of the call go by. He wasn't even able to speak. To make a sentence. To talk. He could only hear Tilda sniffling and her husband whispering to her, “can do it, not alone.”

He sees the school before him. And goes through the gates.

In his classroom, number 207, he sits at his table and takes his sketchbook out of his backpack. He begins drawing but suddenly stops. There is this one boy who is always laughing and joking about something, and he is at it now. He is standing in the middle of the classroom and laughing about something. Somebody said something and that is what is making him smile so and laugh and gesture wildly with his hands.

Yaol Carson is his name.

It's such a beautiful name, Juth thinks.

There are many things that Juth likes about Yaol – the way in which his eyelids flutter when he's confused. The way in which he is always mouthing the lyrics to a song, or stares deep into the eye of a person when he is speaking to them.

The teacher comes in and the room goes silent. Everybody stops whatever they were doing and hurries to their seats. Once at her desk, she almost yells out her Good morning, making some of the students startle.

“OK, so you have a history project due next week,” she says, “and you’ll do it in groups of two. Here is the project: You will do research about an artifact at the Hereford Museum and do a presentation about it. You are only using the museum for this research! No phones, no internet. And now, partner up.”

Everyone rushes about and the room is filled with the sound of footsteps, of chairs squeaking, of people talking above each other. Everyone but Juth. He has his sketchbook open before him and he tries to draw. Nobody comes to his desk anyway. Sometimes, teachers try to coax him into these group activities.

“Why don’t you look for someone to partner up with?” They would say in that pitying voice.

He could vomit hearing that. But oftentimes, they simply ignored him.

“Hey!” Someone, or rather Yaol calls out to him. He would recognize that voice anywhere. He looks up and into the most beautiful emerald green eyes.

“Hey?” Juth cautiously answers back.

“Wanna do that history project together?”

Do the project together? Why? He wants to ask, but instead says, “Yeah… Sure. Why not?”

“You free next Saturday?”

"Yeah. 9 o'clock works for you?”

"That's alright for me. That's planned then.”


That project signaled the beginning of their friendship, of long talks. Juth didn’t know that someone, someone else but Aji, could be interested in what he had to say. Or that someone else wanted to know so much about him.

“The first published representation of an axe was drawn in a British publication in 1800,” Juth said, flicking through the magazine, “I never knew so much about axes, but this is impressive.”

“Yeah, right? Honestly, I never knew about this, and I wouldn’t have chosen this topic to work on. My parents are real strict and they decide everything for me.”

"Oh! Well, we don’t talk about school stuff.”

“Then our parents should definitely meet!” Yaol laughs, and for the first time in a long time, Juth laughs also. Heartily.

Even after the project, the friendship remained, and Juth couldn’t help thinking why. What did Yaol see in him? And wasn’t he betraying Aji? And Yaol who is so kind… but he can’t do it. He has to call him. He needs to end it. No one can take Aji’s place in his heart. He worries that Aji will drop off to be but a distant memory. He listens to the ring ring of the phone as tears fill his eyes. Yaol’s upbeat voice comes on the line as Juth was beginning to think that maybe…


“Juth? You okay?”

For the first time, he picked up concern in… Who was Yaol? His friend? His best friend? But then, what of Aji? Anyway, he heard concern in Yaol’s voice.

“Actually, I wanted to talk to you,” he says and picks up his pencil to draw something. Anything. Drawing has saved him so many times, especially after Aji… He cleared his throat. “I don't want to meet up anymore. Or sit next to you at school.”

"Oh… Wh… Why? Have I done anything to hurt you? I mean, I can be flip…”

“You haven’t done anything. At least nothing wrong. It is just me.”

“OK…” He says after a while. No doubt he is shocked, and rightly so. “If you want that, then I'm not gonna stop you there, right? But if you ever want to talk to me about something, then…”

Juth hangs up and silence washes over him.

Walking to school the next day, he has his earphones in, his favourite song is playing, “Painkiller by Judas Priest but the feelings have returned. The heavy backpack. The shoulders dropping. Life being bland. And it goes on the next day, and the day after that, and the day after. He used to laugh with Aji.

“Life is living! And laughing! Aji used to say, before bursting into peals of laughter.

Juth has had enough of living in the past, of letting the weight of Aji’s death bear down on him so much, of being this weirdo who is whispered about at that, whose teachers look at him with pitying looks. And for what? Aji wouldn’t even have wanted that. He’s had enough. Enough of not seeing Yaol smile at him. Enough of them avoiding eye contact. Of not talking.

That afternoon after school, instead of going home, he makes his way to Yaol’s. Will Yaol be angry at him? Reject him? Then he will explain. He rings the bell and waits, trying to stay still but unable to. The door opens. It is Yaol.

“Hello?” He greets him, quizzically.

“Yaol, can we try and be friends again?”

Yaol smiles. “Come on in!”

This short story is a result from the digital writing and illustrating workshop Pande.Me.
It was written by Malin Loeffler, a young writer based in Germany and illustrated by Elizabeth Slijpen (aka kana), a story artist from The Netherlands, currently working on expanding her portfolio and learning more about storyboarding.