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February 22nd, 2017

Bandia
"Okay, last question. Who knows the two pyrimidine bases found in DNA?"

Bandia had been away from school for a few months. Today was his first day back and he has been enthusiastically answering every question, usually wrong though. This one was no exception: "Cytosine and uracil."

I didn't even wait for the teacher to respond. "Well, uracil is for RNA. The right answer for DNA is cytosine and thymine."

Mrs. Ball looked at me, completely ignoring Bandia. "That's right Aaron. Good job!"

Mrs. Ball started putting the test papers in a folder, "Okay, please remember that the Science Bowl is in less than a month. Please study for some amount of time every night.

As we were packing up, Bandia looked over at me. "I always forget which base is different in RNA and DNA."

I decided to share my secret. "You know, everybody knows DNA is made up of ACGT. You just have to remember that the last letter alphabetically is the one that changes in RNA. So T becomes a U. It's not perfect, but it's usually enough to get it right."

Bandia thought about it for a minute, then nodded. "Good one."

Mrs. Ball must have been listening in and smiled politely. "That's a good memorization technique, Aaron."

Everybody pulled out umbrellas from their backpacks as we got to the front door. Well, everybody except for Bandia and I. I looked over, "How did everybody else know? Well, my dad can pick up up but it'll be a few hours before he's off work. You want to wait in the library?"

Bandia was adjusting his coat. "Nah, let's just walk. It's only a couple of miles."

I looked out. The rain looked like it was moving horizontally with the winds. "Uhhh..."

"Come on, you're warm blooded right. Your body will maintain a constant body temperature."

I looked down to think about it. "I guess that's true."

Experiencing the horizontal rain drops was even worse than I imagined. It felt like they were partially freezing, so I was being pelted with tiny ice daggers in addition to getting wet and cold. I don't know why I listen to Bandia sometimes.

I noticed Bandia grab a handful of Holly berries from a bush as we walked down the sidewalk. He looked at the berries and asked, "So do you have any neat tricks for memorizing what acid and base mean in pH?"

"Yup! I remember that question was the kiss of death for me before because I couldn't remember it. So now I think about the word -kiss-. In Spanish, that's beso. Or Base-OH. So more OH ions are..." I stopped talking as Bandia popped several Holly berries into his mouth. "Those are Holly berries! They're toxic. Don't eat them."

Bandia looked at me and made a point of chewing and swallowing the berries. He threw a few more in his mouth. "Oh, I eat these everyday on the way home. I think Poison Control actually did a study and found they're pretty much harmless. I looked into it and they're actually not bad. It's about cats or dogs or something."

"That doesn't sound right..."

He pulled a few more berries off and handed them to me. "Here try one, they're not half bad."

I looked at the little red berries. "This just doesn't seem right."

"I'm obviously alive so it can't be that bad. Just try it once, then you'll know the truth."

I threw three berries into my mouth and chewed. I swallowed them quickly to get the taste out of my mouth. "Eww, how can you eat these? They're so bitter."

Bandia just laughed and slapped the back of my shoulder. I gave him a few more of my secret science as we walked the rest of the way to my house.

We got to my house first. "Hey, you want to wait in my house for the rain to stop? If it doesn't let up, I'm sure my dad can drive you once he gets here too."

Bandia was staring at the roof of my house. He completely ignored my question. "You know, I've always wanted to lie on the roof of a house when it was raining. I bet the sound of the drops and the look of the clouds is amazing up there."

"That doesn't seem particularly safe..."

I don't think he even heard me. He was already halfway up a large tree. I watched him jump from a branch onto the second story roof just as I started climbing up after him. It was a little slippery on the roof, but I just made sure to have a large surface area so that friction would hold me on. Go science! We both lay down on the roof. I stared at the white clouds and said, "Hey, this is pretty neat! I don't think I would have come up here though."

Bandia sounded disappointed, and said "Yeah. I thought the rain drops would be louder. I guess it's the wrong roof type." He stood up and went to an edge. He stared down at the ground, "You know, I've heard you can jump from pretty high on dirt when it's wet and not get hurt. Then he jumped.

I made my way over to the edge as quickly as I could. Bandia was down there just standing up. He looked happy. "It worked! You try it!"

I don't know enough physics to calculate if this should work, but it doesn't seem right. But he's down there and okay. What other evidence could I want. I stood up and looked down. I closed my eyes and thought about what I was about to do.

Then I heard my dad's voice, "AARON! STOP! GET OFF THAT ROOF!"

I opened my eyes and saw my dad had just pulled up in the driveway. It took a few seconds, but I moved away from the edge and climbed back down the tree.

My dad hugged me. "You're soaking wet. What were doing up there? It looked like you were about to jump."

"Bandia jumped off the roof. I guess the wet dirt makes it so you don't get hurt." I looked around but Bandia must have left.

I felt my dad's grip tighten on both of my shoulders. I saw fear as he looked directly into my eyes. "You’re seeing Bandia again? Did you stop taking your medicine?"