The Pursuit of Happiness

April 30, 2008
By Zi Qi Huang, Brooklyn, NY

Epicurus once said that it is not so much our friends' help that helps us, as the confidence of their help. That was a quote I never truly understood but I knew when it came to Jackie, there was an obvious distinction in helping her and believing in the support I can give her.
One morning, Jackie came in with pure happiness on her face. I felt like I was in an animated film, her smile went from ear to ear and all I could make out was her teeth. We have a very strong connection hence we have a clandestine relationship. She confides in me for almost every issue and we would discuss it as if it was an underground war plan.

“Kayla, guess what!” Jackie blushed as her hair flipped back from her face.

I shrugged in apathy and resume back to my newspaper. It was only 7:45am, what could be so interesting this early.

She brushed her hair back behind her thin ears and continued smiling. She would focus on the floor next to my foot and then find her courage to spill her words.

“He replied back! He sent me an email!”

My throat went dry instantly and I stopped scanning the newspaper. Nothing was much more important than what my friend thought as her “first relationship.” Anyone else, I would really care less, but when it comes to her…something about Jackie that makes me ponder a lot. There’s a part of me that worries for her, and as scary as this sounds, I wish I was her shadow – there to watch over her, because she’s just too ingenuous to survive in this cruel society.

She sounded like a bazooka and those words came spitting out like every millisecond. I’m not even sure I figured out her story until I made her repeat everything a second time. I stared at her in disbelief when she told me more about the “bond” with this guy she “claimed” to like. Deep inside, my guts was telling me that this guy was really up to no good, but how can a guy up to no good bring such a picturesque smile to my friend’s face? Sometimes, her situation makes me wonder if it is better to let her fall, or to prevent her from falling. Either way, there is a good chance that I would never have witness this jolly side of her.

“He said he enjoys spending time with me, and whenever I’m near him, I calm him down. Isn’t that exciting to hear? When can I ever calm anyone down by just being there?”

I had no comment. This relationship of hers has been going on for a long time. I can’t say its “wrong” but I can’t say it’s completely right. I guess under the law, it would be illegal, but how can emotions be proven guilty or innocent? I can feel the gratification through her eyes, which makes anything wrong from this relationship, seems worth the while.

“You know there is a good chance that nothing will happen, right?”

Jackie drew her brows together and made a very disappointed face. I really do hope for the best. I hope he proves me wrong. I just hope he truly likes her and he’s not playing with her. It’s really hard to tell. I can’t believe Jackie’s stories 100% because she may be brain washed by his sweet pick up lines! And I don’t know the guy personally to judge him. So many factors come into play, and I can’t make up my mind. Should I be concerned?

“Yesterday, after you left, he came by and sat next to me. Do you know how rare it is for HIM to sit next to me in public? He could have gotten fired, or got suspended! But he kept his eyes on me, like an eyes on the prize.”

“You’re not a child anymore. And certainly neither is he! He can sit wherever he wants, and you can be friends with anyone you want. Except…a teacher? He’s older than you by 10 years. You guys can’t do anything other than being a student and a teacher.” I blurted.

Jackie nearly pinched me to lower my voice, and I finally closed the newspaper and sat straight up. I looked right into Jackie’s blue eyes and I pulled my hair behind my ears.

“I know that is the reason why he hasn’t done anything. The fact that he isn’t supposed to! But I can also tell that you really enjoy talking to him, whether as a friend or more,” I hesitated to continue.

“Kayla, I’ve heard of this speech so many times, he’s not a predator! I’ve been his assistant for the past year, we’ve chatted alone and in public. If he was going to do something “absurd” I’m sure he would’ve already done it.”

“No! Don’t be arrogant! He may just be playing with your heart. He even admitted to dating someone his own age, outside of school. Why are you—“

“I just really like him. I don’t care what others view me as, or view him as. I believe that there is something more to our relationship than the eye can see. As long as our feelings remain true to each other then there’s nothing to hide right? Why can’t people just accept people truly liking each other? Who exactly is setting these age limits, and who is there to prove that I am a naïve teenage girl who will get played and be murdered tomorrow morning? The law is there to protect us, not to limit our rights. I have the right to choose who I will like. Our forefathers wrote the Declaration of Independence. Inside it states that all men are entitled to undeniable rights like, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Technically we both have our rights to be happy. And this is what I am happy with. If he truly likes me back, I am confident that after I graduate, nothing is a barrier. I thought you’re my friend.”

I stared at her, and her eyes seem to form tears. I could tell that those words were drowning in her mind for the past year. I’m sure many people suggested that she take her distance, and I’m sure I’m not the only friend who is worried for her or about the teacher. But as a 17 year old, this is my first time witnessing my beloved friend express her inner most emotion. This is the first time I see her feel so strong about something. She was always a straight A’s student and no one would dare to under estimate her intelligence, so I wouldn’t think she would be stupid enough to get murdered or raped. I had no idea what to say. I couldn’t counter her ideas, and a lot of what she said made sense.

My mind went blank, but my lips could only make out, “I am your friend. Because I am your friend, I will trust you and respect you. But please know I would never try to get in between your pursuit of happiness.” I stopped for a moment, as if I was going to burst into tears.

“But if he dares hurt you in anyway, I’m going to hunt him down like a hawk!”

Jackie broke through her tears and cracked a smile. This is probably the first time she knew for sure that I was there to support her. She knew I was there, that I was a friend.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.


MacMillan Books

Aspiring Writer? Take Our Online Course!