True Meaning of Friendship

July 18, 2008
By Yanique Burgos, Albany, NY

Sara was a dork, plain and simple. There were no two ways about it. With her greasy, unruly and curly black hair, her thick, wide rimmed glasses, braces and second hand clothing handed down from her older sister this was not a hard thing to see. Sara longed to be popular. To sit with Chelsea Kramer in the front of the cafeteria with all the popular kids, instead of being stuck in the back with her only friend Tess Mallard. She wished she could walk down the halls with the rest of the popular kids, laughing at some joke that nobody else was in on. Instead of walking down the hallway by herself, being the object of scorn. She always wondered what it would be like to wear clothes from Hollister, American Eagle or Aeropostale like Chelsea Kramer did, instead of getting all her clothing from her older sister. This was the way that Sara always thought, until that one day that her life was changed forever.

“Do you want to hang out after school?”

Sara could not believe what she was hearing. Chelsea Kramer, the most popular girl in school, worshipped by all, wanted to hang out with her after school?! It was almost too good to be true…almost.

“S-sure,” Sara stammered, still recovering from the shock, “B-but why?!”

“Well,” said Chelsea, “I was looking at you the other day and realized, WOW she’s like really pretty! But, nobody can ever see your pretty face with all of that hair. So then I thought, all she needs is a little haircut courtesy of Chelsea Kramer!”

Now Sara was really in awe. Not only did Chelsea Kramer want to hang out with her, she also said that she was pretty! Despite all this, Sara wasn’t sure. She didn’t exactly trust Chelsea with her hair. Why would she? Chelsea had been making fun of her of her since the fifth grade! But Sara wanted so desperately to be popular and to fit in with the other girls. This could finally be her chance. She couldn’t give up a chance like this.

“Okay,” said Sara, “Where?”

“Your house,” she answered, “and meet me out by the front steps directly after school.” With that, Chelsea sauntered off toward her math class. Sara slammed her locker shut and ran off toward Biology when she was stopped by Tess, her best and only friend.

Tess said, “Hey are you ready to hit the comic book store?”

“When?” Sara asked.

“Today after school, remember?”

“Oh…yea,” said Sara. How could she have forgotten? She must’ve been so excited about Chelsea asking her to hang out, she forgot all about the comic book store with Tess. She knew that Tess was her best friend and Chelsea was just a girl that had been making fun of her since the fifth grade. She realized that it was the right thing to do to honor your commitments and she knew that Tess would have cancelled her plans with Chelsea is the roles were switched. But it was Chelsea Kramer and a once in a LIFETIME opportunity. So Sara made a decision.

“Tess I’m sorry…I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because,” said Sara, “I’m hanging out with…Chelsea after school.”

“Chelsea?!?!” screamed Tess outraged, “I can’t believe that you would blow me off to hang out with Chelsea! She doesn’t even like you and I asked you first! Some friend you are!”

“Me, What about you?!” Sara accuse, “You couldn’t even be happy for me for two seconds!! You know why?! You can’t be happy for me because you’re jealous!”

“Jealous?!” Tess screamed, “What would I be jealous of?!”

“The fact that I’m going to hang out with Chelsea after school today and get a beautiful haircut while you sit at home reading comics all day, like you always do! Do you know why you always do that?! It’s because everyone hates you Tess, everyone, including me!”

“Do you think that Chelsea Kramer actually likes you?! It’s probably a dare or something Sara! Her ‘haircut’ will probably be something terrible and you’re going to be sorry!!” Tess stared at her with tears in her eyes. Then she turned around sadly and trudged down the hallway with her shoulders slumped over and her blonde hair covering her face.

Sara had to admit, the things that she said to Tess were very mean but the things that Tess said couldn’t possibly be true! Hanging out with Chelsea was not some terrible dare at her expense. No, Sara and Chelsea would go home, she would get her haircut and be happy. Then Tess would see.

The rest of the day flew by and then the final bell rang. She ran outside as fast as she could. Chelsea was in a cluster of other popular girls on the front steps. They were giggling and laughing about something. Something that Sara knew couldn’t be about her now that she too, was popular. She walked right up to the girl and said, “Hi.”

“Hey Sara,” said the other girls and smiled. For once, all the popular girls were being nice and even better, they all knew her name! This was one of the best moments in Sara’s life.

“Ready to go?” Chelsea asked. Sara nodded and they walked to Sara’s house together. Sara’s house was small and quaint. It had pale, yellow siding, blue shutters, a white roof and an evergreen door. Her mother had plants and flowers growing in every window and there was a red welcome mat with pretty, white lettering in front of the door.

“I love your house!” said Chelsea.

“Thanks,” said Sara. The two girls went into the house and up into the attic where Sara’s bedroom was. Her room was hot pink. The ceiling came down in a slant. She had a vanity table at the far end that sat next to a small closet. On the other end of the room was her antique, white day bed and facing it on the opposite wall, was a small T.V. with no cable. Her walls were decorated with posters of people like The Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Zac Efron and Ashley Tisdale.

“Let’s get to work on that hair,” said Chelsea, “Can I have a pair of scissors?”

“Oh, of course!” said Sara. She ran to the bathroom and got a pair of scissors, then she ran back to her room. She sat on her bed and Chelsea sat behind her. For about a half an hour, Chelsea worked steadily on Sara’s hair.

Suddenly Chelsea yelped, “Oh my goodness! Sara, I think I chopped a little too much off!” Sara ran to her vanity table at the far end of the room and stared in horror at the disaster that was her hair. All of her long black locks had been chopped off she that she looked like a teenage boy with a buzz cut. She faced Chelsea angrily.

“Chelsea, how could you?!” she accused. Then she saw that Chelsea was giggling to herself and everything became clear to her. Nothing between them had changed. After this, she would not become popular. Chelsea was lying about everything. It had all been an evil prank. Tess had been right. Sara wanted to cry but instead she looked Chelsea right in the eye and said, “Get out of my house, now.”

“Fine,” Chelsea smirked and pushed passed Sara. She walked down Sara’s stairs and out of the house with Sara’s hair in hand. She didn’t look back. She didn’t even care.

Sara threw herself onto her bed and cried. She felt humiliated and what’s worse, she let Chelsea walk right out of the house with a souvenir of her dirty deed. She wanted to blame this on someone else. She knew, however, that no one was to blame but herself. She let being popular overpower her common sense and she hurt her best and truest friend because of it. She was punished and deserved everything she got. She also knew that she would have to face the kids at school tomorrow.

The next morning, Sara opened the big wooden doors at the front of her school. She could feel all eyes staring at her nearly bald head. She could tell that they were laughing. She could hear their scornful taunting inside her head. She wanted to run and hide but she knew that wasn’t an option. She had to face this. She passed Tess and couldn’t look at her. She couldn’t face the fact that Tess had been right…about everything. But then she heard Tess call out her name.

She walked up to Tess and said, “Go ahead. Say it. Tell me that I was a jerk and that you were right. I deserve it. I deserve all of this.”

But instead Tess said, “Be right back!” and she ran down the hallway. She went to the art room and then to the bathroom. When Tess came out, Sara was shocked. Tess had cut off all her hair so that the remnants of it was blonde stubble on top of her head. She matched Sara exactly.

“Why would you do that?!” asked Sara, “I was a jerk to you! I completely blew you off! I am a horrible friend! You had the chance to tear me down, rip me to shreds, and instead you shave your head so that I could fit in with somebody else?!” Then Tess said something that would stay with Sara as long as she lived.

“You made a mistake and you were already punished for it. What kind of friend would I be if I chose to make that worse instead of better for you?! You know Sara, payback isn’t always sweet.” Sara hugged her best friend and said, “Thank you.”

Then the two girls walked down the hallway with pride. They didn’t care that people were pointing and whispering. They paid no attention to Chelsea and the rest of the popular kids snickering and congratulating Chelsea as they passed. They didn’t need to be popular. They were happy just they way that they were.

That day changed Sara forever. She did not become friends with Chelsea. She did not gain popularity. She gained something a lot more powerful. She gained a stronger relationship with her best friend and she also learned the true meaning of friendship.

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