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Realistic Fiction > The Song My Teenage Heart Plays

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message 1: by Allison (new)

Allison | 679 comments **JUST A NOTE BEFORE YOU START READING**

Serious trigger warnings for this book. And I mean SERIOUS. I deal with a lot of topics that are hard to deal with in this novel, so just be warned.

message 2: by Allison (new)

Allison | 679 comments Chapter One: Johnny
Some Important Backstory

My family lived in Kansas when I was little, and in Kansas it’s almost necessary to have a basement because of the threat of tornadoes. I remembered my first tornado, my only tornado. I was six at the time. I remember being excited when I heard the tornado sirens, not understanding that tornadoes were killers. My mother had scolded me, saying, “Stupid boy, you know nothing,” and my father had told her, “He doesn’t know, just leave him be.”

I loved my father. My mother was okay. She was mean. She didn’t care about me after what happened in that tornado. I had a twin. Her name was Elizabeth and she was my best friend. That tornado killed her. She was at her friend Lexi’s house and they didn’t make it to the basement in time. I didn’t really understand what had happened to her. The concept of death hadn’t really been explained to me yet. My parents would just tell me through tears, “Elizabeth left for a while.” They never told me where she went and why she left, but I grew up believing that she would come back someday.

It was when I was twelve that I understood what death was.

I don’t mean to depress you right now. I’m just trying to help you understand why I’m...unstable. Why I’m haunted. Why I have my emotional barrier.

My dad was in the army. He was shipped off to Afghanistan. I didn’t realize that he was going to war, where people died. I just thought he was going to the same place that Elizabeth was, maybe to rescue her. Over the years I had developed this fantasy that she had been taken by bad guys and my dad was going to break into their hideout and save her, bring her home. And then my whole family would be happy forever and there would be no more tears. And then my mom would love me and not ignore me ever again.

I had always longed for her hugs. Humans have a natural wanting to be in the presence of other humans, to feel them. It goes along with the basic need to love and be loved. So, I would always come home from school and the conversation would go like this:

Me: “Mommy?”

Mom: “Yes, Jonathan?”

Me: “Hugs are an expression of love.Will you ever hug me, so I know you love me?”

Mom: “I’m not going to hug you. Go play outside and leave me alone.”

So I’m sure you understand why I felt neglected all the time. I would go outside and I would watch the kids in my neighborhood playing on the other side of the street, looking at me like I had done something wrong. “I heard he killed his sister,” one would say, and another would reply, “No, his dad killed his sister--that’s why he doesn’t live with him, he’s in jail.”

But I never listened to them. I never told them the truth either. I was afraid they would accuse me of lying, then they would make fun of me as I started crying.

It had been a couple months since my dad left, and Christmas was coming fast. I couldn’t wait for a note from my dad, so every day I would sit outside the window, waiting for the mailman, and when he came, I’d run out the door, trudging through the snow in my bare feet, and rip open the mailbox to find bills. Nothing but bills. But I never lost hope. I knew a letter was going to come.

There was one day, about a week before Christmas, when a sleek black car showed up in front of our house and someone in fancy dark green clothes and hat stepped out, holding an envelope. Maybe it was a letter from my dad. Maybe because he was a hero, they decided to deliver his letter to me through the government, all formal and official. My heart started to beat swiftly. This was it. I could already see the words on the page: “It’s okay, Johnny, I’ll be back with Elizabeth soon and we’ll both give you twelve hugs every day.”

I shouted for my mother to come quick. She ran down the stairs, looked out the window. “No,” she whispered. Her face paled.

“What’s wrong, Mommy?” I asked her, tugging on her arm. “Why did you say no? Isn’t that man here to deliver Daddy’s letter?”

She rushed to the front door, ripping it open before the man could walk. He had badges pinned on his shirt. He looked like a really important person. He took off his hat. “Mrs. Flake, your husband was--”

“NO!” My mother snatched the envelope out of the man’s hand, ripped it open, scanned the page inside. “No, it’s all a mistake!”

“Mrs. Flake, I give my most sincere condolences.”

“No, take this back, it isn’t for me, it’s for a different person. He didn’t die.”

“I’m sorry,” the man said. “I really am. He was a good man.”

“He is. That’s why he’s still alive.”

The man pulled a peppermint stick out of his pocket, handed it to me, then ruffled my hair. “Your dad was a hero, son. I’m so sorry he’s gone. He was going to send this to you for Christmas.”

And that’s when it hit me. My dad was never coming back. He was dead and so was Elizabeth and I would never see them again and I would never get any hugs. I took a step back, felt a tear slide down my face. I looked down at the peppermint stick. It looked like stripes of blood painted on the snow. Nobody would ever love me now because the only people that had loved me were gone forever.

I shoved the candy into my pocket and ran to my room, where I stayed for the rest of the week, only coming out when I woke up to gunshots Christmas morning.

You would think, naturally, it should get better for little me now, because I had already been through so much tragedy. You would think that fate would decide to leave me be for a while, rebuild my life and be as normal as possible.

The gunshots I heard had come from my basement.

I timidly walked out of my bedroom, not wanting to wake my mom. Her bedroom door was shut and the lights were off. I tiptoed down the stairs, avoiding the creaky spots, and looked at where the Christmas tree had been the night before.

But it wasn’t standing up. It was on the ground, the branches broken, all the ornaments shattered, blood staining the carpet. The paper that my mom had received the day that man came lay by a picture of my dad, the blood on it already brown.

“Mom?” I whispered. Maybe it wasn’t Christmas and it was really Halloween, and my mom was trying to scare me. “Mom, this isn’t funny.”

I looked towards the basement door. It was open, the lights on. I hurried down there, fear rising in my chest, and I saw my mom’s crumpled, bloody form slumped against the wall.

My screams echoed through the house for a whole day before someone found me.

message 3: by Allison (last edited Dec 02, 2015 06:18PM) (new)

Allison | 679 comments Chapter Two: Kathrina
When My Sadness Started

I had discouraged Johnny from giving you his story all at once, but he wanted to get it over with. The less he reflects on the past, the better, and the less he freaks out. And the less he freaks out, the closer he gets to getting out of therapy and the less we have to lock him in the empty room by my dad’s office so he doesn’t do any harm to anything. Or anyone. I figured that getting my story over with would be the best option for me, too.

Johnny moved here and right when he started coming to my dad’s therapy sessions I befriended him. I basically befriended everyone who came to therapy, but Johnny was different. He was too young to be there. There was too much sadness behind his eyes for a thirteen year old. He never smiled, never said anything. All he did was frown and cry and scream.

There was one day where my dad had started talking to him about the steps that would be taken to move on from all the death in his family, and he started to get angry. He yelled and tears were sliding down his cheeks. He stood up and grabbed the papers off my dad’s desk and threw them across the room.

I saw this all through the office door, and felt pity for Johnny. I turned the door handle and walked in, waved to Johnny. He saw me. He sniffled, trying to stop crying, set the lampshade he was about to throw on the desk.

“I’m Kathrina,” I said to him. “What’s your name?”

“Johnny.” It was the first word he had uttered ever since he moved to this city with his grandma.

“I’ll be your friend,” I said.

He sat down, started crying again. “I miss my family.”

It took a while for Johnny to get his outbursts under control. And he would only ever stop screaming if I walked into the room. So I attended all the therapy sessions and sat by Johnny the whole time. Sometimes my dad had to leave to take a call real quick, so I talked to Johnny. He slowly opened up and told me everything that had happened to him, and whenever he started to get angry or sad I would hug him. He really liked hugs.

I showed Johnny around town. I walked with him to school. He lived just a couple streets away from my house, so we saw each other often outside of therapy also. I would protect him from his past, he would protect me from my fears about my sister.

Joy wasn’t the best sister on the planet. She was seventeen, hung around bad examples. She rarely talked to me, and when she did, she was criticizing me. She had started to go down a scary path when she turned fourteen and felt she needed a “super cool” boyfriend. She chose to attract the attention of the best looking guy in school, and she finally got her boyfriend and they’d been a couple ever since then. Joy spent more time with him than she did her family. Her excuse was that “Mark is having a bad day and I have to help him.” Soon, that turned into her sneaking out of the house to hang out with him and his friends, all of which smoked and some of which drank. When she was fifteen, she smoked regularly. And on her sixteenth birthday, she took her first sip of alcohol and quickly became addicted.

Johnny was a huge relief for me. He gave me a chance to get out of the house when Joy came home and started fighting with my parents. My parents would look at me, their expressions saying I was excused and I would walk down to Johnny’s house. He would open the door, walk me around the block, then to my backyard, where we picked berries from my mother’s garden in the spring and ate them on the trampoline. It was always around that time when my friend Brandon came out of his house next door and plopped down beside us on the tramp, stealing a raspberry from me and a strawberry from Johnny. Then he would always say, “So who wants to jump onto the tramp off of the fence today?” and both Johnny and I would say no, so Brandon did it by himself.

Brandon never knew about what happened to Johnny. He just thought that Johnny was mostly a bummer to be around and he never questioned why. He went with the flow, never asked Johnny to change, but never was willing to hang out with him without me there. “I take on the emotions of other people,” he would always complain. “So I can’t hang out with constantly depressed people without being constantly depressed myself. Not to be insensitive or anything but that’s how it is.”

Brandon’s little sister, Crystal, was better. She was a year younger than the rest of us and was mostly quiet and kept to herself. Although she didn’t know what happened to Johnny, she knew something was up with him so she was nice to him all the time. She never said he was boring, never used the word “depressed” to label him. Jennifer was okay too, although she would always tell him to lighten up a little bit. Isaac was the same. Brandon was the one that bothered me the most, the one that bothered Johnny the most.

It had been a regular day when things changed. I was walking home from the high school with Johnny. We were freshmen, fourteen years old. Johnny had been having a particularly hard day with Brandon so he wanted to ditch the bus and walk to avoid him. They had always had problems so Brandon never took it personally when I left with Johnny.

When we got to Johnny’s house, he tried the door. It was locked. He had forgotten his key that day. The garage door was locked, and so was the back. His grandma often forgot to leave at least one of the doors unlocked when she went to one of her quilting club meetings. “Darn,” he muttered under his breath after trying the last window on the main level. “She locked it up tight this time.”

“You can come over to my house if you want. I was going to make sugar cookies as an after school snack so you can help.”

“Are you sure it’ll be okay with your parents?”

“My dad told you at your last therapy session to connect with people more. Of course they’ll be okay with it. It’s therapy.”

He looked at me, ran his hands through his dirt-brown hair, rolled his eyes. “It’s always therapy. Fine. I’ll go.”

“Good boy. I’ll even let you choose what color the frosting should be.”


I giggled, blushed a little bit as I caught him looking at me. “Come on, let’s go. My mom’s gonna be worried if I don’t get home soon.”

“Then I suppose we should run. Go!” Johnny started sprinting down the street, rounding the corner just as I started to jog. I wasn’t ready. If he wasn’t going to start a race fairly, I wasn’t going to try. I was going to make him wait for me.

Right before I went onto my street, though, Johnny had already come back around the corner and grabbed my arm, pulling me backwards. “What are you doing?” I tried to pull my arm away but he wouldn’t budge.

He slowed just before I tripped, released his grip on my arm and held my hand. “Just follow me, okay? Keep your voice down. Be quiet. We’re sneaking around the back.”

My gaze dropped to our hands. His dwarfed mine. “Why?” I asked, looking back up. “It’s my house. I’m welcome through the front door.”

“Just trust me.”

I rose my voice at him a little bit, pulled my hand away from his. Wind blew my flaming red hair into my face, distorting my vision. “What’s going on? I demand answers, John.”

“Kath,” Johnny reached up and moved my hair away from my eyes, then rested his hands on my shoulders. “There’s police in front of your house. They won’t let anyone in, won’t let anyone out. That’s why we’re going around the back.”

I held back a gasp. Why would there be police in front of my house? Did something happen to my parents? Had Joy committed a crime or something? “Do you know what happened?”

“No. I’m sorry.”

“Then we better find out.” I took a breath, took Johnny’s arm. He shifted so we were holding hands again. Then we started jogging to the street behind mine.

I was crying with fear by the time we got to my house. There were so many police cars parked in front, their lights flashing. Some of the neighbors were standing in front of their houses, watching the spectacle. It made me scared that I didn’t know what was happening.

There were no ambulances or fire trucks. That was a good sign to me. But all those police….

Johnny pulled me down behind some of the neighbor's bushes. He wiped a tear away from my cheek. “Hey, Kath, calm down.” He pulled me into a tight hug and I rested my head on his shoulder. “Listen to me, no matter what happens, it’ll all be okay. Do you trust me?”

I took a deep breath, caught the smell of clean autumn air and cologne. “Yes.”

“Okay. Then come on.”

It all happened in a blur. We crept around the house to the backyard. Then we sprinted as quietly as possible through my backyard to one of the basement windows. Johnny sat down and swung his legs over the edge. “You know,” he whispered, “you guys should really put ladders on these things.” With that, he gripped the edge of the windowsill with his hands and slowly made his way down like a rock climber. When he couldn’t go any farther, he let go and landed with a quiet thud. He motioned for me to do it the same way. I looked down at my white dress and raised my eyebrows. It came to about my knees. If I could run in it, maybe I could jump down in it….

Johnny rolled his eyes and looked at me like, Seriously? Wrong day to be girly, Kath. He pointed to my feet. I looked down at my black Converse and shrugged, confused. He rolled his eyes again and pointed to my feet, then got down on his hands and knees. He looked up at me over his shoulder, raised an eyebrow.

I sighed inwardly and pulled my shoes off, held them in one hand. The grass was cool and wet under my bare feet. Cautiously, I sat at the edge of the windowsill. I never realized how far it was to the bottom, and I thought in that moment that maybe my family should’ve put ladders on these things. It would’ve been much more ladylike.

Thinking about feathers and air and other things that were light, I positioned my feet on Johnny’s back and stood up. He grunted a little bit. I stepped down, gravel rustling under me. Johnny stood up, leaned into my ear and whispered, “Please, never wear that dress again when we’re sneaking into your house.” I giggled a little bit, then automatically felt bad. There was something happening in my home--something bad--and I was giggling like a doofus. Johnny nudged me a little bit with his elbow, then bent down and started to pull the window open. We always left one of the basement windows unlocked in case there was an emergency and all the doors were locked.

He hopped down first, landing on the carpeted basement floor with a silent thump. Then he turned around and helped me down. I headed towards the basement stairs, started climbing up, Johnny right behind me.

When I got upstairs, I was greeted by my crying parents and a note shoved in my face. My heart thumped in my chest as I unfolded the crinkled, tear-stained paper.

Dear family, it said. You guys have never understood me. Mark’s having a really hard time and I love him so much and you guys never support me and him. That’s why I’m leaving. We may meet again someday in the future, but I’m not sure. Take care.

There was silence. I looked around at all the faces in the kitchen: my mother and father, the parents who had loved me so dearly, Johnny, my best friend, the police, people we didn’t even know and they were here to help us out. But Joy was gone. And even though she had been a horrible sister I had still loved her.

My muscles tightened. I dropped the paper and stumbled to my room, locking the door behind me.

message 4: by Allison (last edited Dec 02, 2015 06:16PM) (new)

Allison | 679 comments Chapter Three: Isaac

The First Happy Thought of the Whole Book

My vote was to start the story off on a happy note but **random fact of the day** nobody ever listens to Isaac! Why would we ever listen to him? He’s an idiot! I don’t know why I’m an idiot. Ask the three people who wanted to start off the story on a depressing note. Crystal had thought I could wait because, apparently, “my childhood was mostly uneventful”.

Dang, that was offensive.

My childhood was most definitely NOT uneventful.

First off, I am a very interesting person with a very interesting childhood. Example: I had made it a goal of mine in fifth grade to kiss as many girls as I could before I got married but that kind of fell through the cracks when the first girl I kissed slapped me really hard in the face and cried.

I really don’t like it when girls cry. They have this really sloppy way of crying, with tears all over the place and lots of spit because they yell a lot while they’re crying. At least, that was my experience. After she slapped me, I asked her, “Why did you slap me?” and she was like, “You jerk, that was my first kiss and I don’t even know you!” I said, “Um, sorry. I just thought girls liked getting kissed by handsome guys.”

She slapped me again and ran away, crying harder.

Another time, when I was in sixth grade, I thought it’d be fun to climb the rock wall and stand on the top, declaring that I had a crush on a certain girl and there was no way she could resist this. So I was standing on the top and I ended up falling off, long story short, I broke my arm and lots of people laughed. I was called “Clumsy Lover” for the rest of the school year. It was embarrassing.

I don’t even know what to make this chapter about. Crystal’s looking over my shoulder right now, telling me just to introduce myself, but I think that’s kind of boring. It’s just formal and it’s not fun. And I think the reason they even invited me to write in their book (trust me, it was all their idea, not mine) is because I could add some comic relief. Because seriously. Johnny trying to tell a joke just fails. It flops over, makes choking noises, and dies.

So all Idiot Isaac’s useful for is telling jokes.

Crystal’s telling me to delete that last paragraph. I’m not going to.

The thing is, I’m underestimated. (Crystal is now leaving the room, telling me that I’m impossible. I get that a lot.) Since I’m kind of a goofball and rarely serious at all, people just assume that I’m stupid. But I have a brain in that head of mine, and it’s filled with lots of smarts. Trust me. It shows on my grades. (I hope you caught my sarcasm there.)

Now Crystal’s coming back and saying that I should stop being an idiot. So fine. I’ll do the formal introduction.

First off, I think this introduction’s going to be stupid. I’m not a very good writer in the first place, so I’m just going to come out and say things clean cut. No description here because my description is like a walrus just barfed all over the page.

I think that if you’re going to be in my head this whole novel, I shouldn’t have to tell you what’s in my head. You either already know what’s in my head, or you’ll find out later.

Anyway, my childhood was peachy. It was an amazing childhood. And teenage life has been pretty good too. I never really understood why people were complaining about life because, dang, life was easy for me. Nice family, nice friends, nice school, nice everything. I played guitar and piano and sang in the school choir and composed my own music by the time I was twelve. In junior high, I was that guy everyone knew about and everyone liked, but I wasn’t exactly popular. I was fine with that. I had my close friends and that’s all I needed. I was average in sports. I was average in academics. And I was totally smooth with the ladies.

It was smooth sailing for me.

Well, you know, until I met Crystal.

(Ouch, Chris, why’d you punch me? I’m just telling the truth. Okay, please stop hitting me. It hurts. You have an arm on you.)

The thing was, Crystal drove me nuts. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the girl. Absolutely loved her. She was my best friend. She was just always so confusing. Confusing like: oh no why’s she crying, now she’s laughing what does that mean, dang why is she so attractive, who does she like, why isn’t she at school is she dead, oh great she’s mad at me, she hates me now. And other stuff like that.

She was a bit over the top at times. Once I failed English because I decided to make her cupcakes for her birthday instead of working on my ten page essay. She got really mad at me once she found out. I thought it’d be kinda sweet and she’d hug me or something, but once I told her all she did was punch me in the chest and said, “You idiot, homework’s more important than me!” And I was like, “Uh, no, I’m pretty sure a human being is more important than ten pieces of paper.”

And she punched me again!

And then she hugged me.

And then I was confused.

You know, but what could I do about her? We were close. We were best friends. She made me feel good about myself. I kept her. And along with her, I had to keep all the other girls that were just dying to be friends with me.

A-hem. Kathrina and Jennifer. Yup. Girls. Gotta love the confusing creatures.


And now Crystal’s mad that I “forgot” Nellie. I didn’t forget her. She just doesn’t come in yet. Last time I checked, she moved in two weeks after I turned sixteen. So ha, Crystal, I win.

(Actually, Chris, should I start there? No? Start on my birthday? But that’s embarrassing. Fine. Whatever. Do you want to take it over? I don’t think my dignity’s strong enough to write it myself. Yeah, thanks. You da girl.)

message 5: by Allison (new)

Allison | 679 comments Chapter Four: Crystal

I'm Sorry You Had to Bear Through Isaac's Chapter

He’s a weirdo. As you can see.

Anyway, Isaac’s sixteenth birthday was a really weird day. He decided that since he was “technically” a “man” now, he would dress like one. So he wore a suit and tie to school.

I don’t even know, okay? He’s Isaac. What would you expect?

Oh yeah, he brought a cake too. A chocolate cake. To school. He said that we were supposed to eat it at lunch and sing happy birthday to him really obnoxiously so everyone around us would be jealous that we were friends with him and they weren’t. He brought balloons and streamers and put them all over our table. If I had known he was going to do that I wouldn’t have bothered with his locker that morning. It just inflated his ego even more. He was acting like he owned the world the whole day.

Until his pants ripped and he had to walk around the school with chocolate cake stuck in his hair.

He’s the biggest dork on the planet.

We were all sitting at lunch. It was a normal day besides for the fact that Isaac was freaking out about getting older. At first, he was fine with it. But then we reminded him that he was going to be getting his driver's license soon, he’d have to get a job, he’d have to start looking at colleges and start getting even more serious about life.

“What?” Isaac said. “I’m already serious about life. Look at me. I’m dressed up.” He motioned to what he was wearing. His suit was sleek black, his tie red. It was a little bit too small, but he didn’t seem to care. He had swept his unruly hair to the side instead of letting it hang in his eyes like normal.

“Well, yeah,” Kathrina said, “but what about earning money to pay for a house when you’re older? Homes aren’t exactly cheap these days.”

“And you haven’t even started dating yet,” I mentioned. “How are you going to get married if you don’t know what type of girl you want to marry?”

He paled at that. “M-marry? No. I was just going to live in the woods or something and be friends with the bears. I don’t need to date.”

Jennifer spun towards me, her blonde hair hitting Kathrina in the face. “Isaac, not wanting to date?! I think he’s an evil clone. Our Isaac loves being around girls.”

Johnny spoke up. “Maybe there’s a certain girl he wants to date but he’s too chicken to ask her.”

“That’s exactly it.” The color came back into Isaac’s face. “Thanks, Johnny.”

Brandon grabbed Isaac and put him in a headlock, messing up his dirty blond hair. “Aww, Isaac’s in love with a giiiiiiirrrrllllllllll….”

“Shut up.” Isaac escaped Brandon’s arms and punched him in the arm. “It’s just a little crush, that’s all.”

“Would you mind telling us who this little crush is?” Jennifer said, raising her eyebrows at him.

Isaac flushed. “Uh, I’d rather not.”


“Nope. Oh look,” Isaac stuffed the rest of his cake in his mouth. “Darn, I’m finished with my cake, I guess I’d better go make up my math grade now. See ya guys later.” He sprung up from his seat, accidentally knocking over my tray, sending my lunch to the ground.

I sighed as he winced and turned pink. “It’s okay,” I said. “It’s not messy, at least.”

“Sorry. I’ll get you a new one if you want.” Isaac started to bend over to pick the hot dog and apple up, but he stopped as a ripping noise tore through the air. He abruptly returned to his seat at the table and started to turn beat red. “Hey, Brandon, Johnny, did you guys happen to bring an extra pair of pants?”

“You ripped your pants.” Kathrina looked at him with a blank expression. Jennifer covered her eyes. Brandon snickered.

“Yeah.” Isaac put his head in his hands and groaned. “I knew I shouldn’t have worn this suit. It’s too small.”

I took off my jacket and thrust it into his chest. He took it, looking somewhat uncomfortable as he tied it around his waist. It was bright blue and totally clashed with his suit. Jennifer took a peek from between her fingers and made a small whimpering sound as she took in what he was now wearing. Jennifer was somewhat OCD about fashion. Isaac looked up at her and saw the horrified expression on her face, then hid his face in his arms. “I’m such an idiot.”

I rolled my eyes. “No, you are not.”

Johnny looked at what was left of the cake. He scooped up another piece and handed it to Isaac on a paper plate. “Here. It might make you feel better.”

“Thanks.” Isaac didn’t look up as he took the plate and settled it into his lap. “Everyone’s going to laugh at me.”

“No they are not. Maybe you’ll start a new trend or something.” I put my hand on Isaac’s shoulder. Jennifer paled, a confused look on her face, like, Seriously? Are you CRAZY?

Brandon stood up and walked behind us to throw away his tray. Isaac now had his chocolate cake on the table and was eating it really slowly. There were a couple slices left in the container so I started to get another. Brandon tried to yank the plate from my hands. “Why, thank you for the cake, Crystal! Now if you could just let go of it….”

The plate came free of my hands, the force knocking Brandon backwards... and sending the cake right on top of Isaac’s head.

Isaac looked up, pulled the piece of cake from his hair, trailing chocolate frosting down his bangs. He sighed. “I’m going to go now, before something else happens.”

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