Don't Push Your Luck

July 22, 2008
By Deborah Sands, Merrick, NY

Sometimes I laugh at the amount of bad luck I have. I mean I haven’t come down with the plague or anything yet (I’m sure that’s next). But, when it comes to “the luck of the draw,” “beginner’s luck,” or “a lucky guess,” my name never seems to come up. I’m always the one who has the toilet paper hanging off her shoe or thinks the boy is asking her to dance when he is really after Marianne, Queen of Populars. One thing in my bad luck’s domain has been preventing me from making friends. Every day I sit alone at the back left table in the Southbrook High Cafeteria and silently eat my peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread cut in halves. I pretend to be engrossed in my homework planner or fascinated by my split ends and try to convince myself that my bad luck is the source of my solitude.

The first thing I saw was her blue and gray tennis sneakers. It was a Tuesday morning in October. I remember because it was the first day I noticed the leaves changing colors and I shivered walking up the school steps, wishing I had taken a sweater out of winter storage. As I was running down the hallway trying not to be late again for Mr. Fitzgerald’s English class, I suddenly found myself in mid-air, cursing myself for not tying my shoelaces when I left the house. The next thing I saw was a pair of blue and gray tennis sneakers and a hand with perfectly manicured fingernails reaching down to help me up. I grasped the mysterious hand and wondered if this person knew she was risking catching my bad luck if she touched me. I looked up and immediately saw the girl’s aquamarine eyes, which were as clear as the gems on the necklace my mother gave me for my birthday last year. She pushed the waterfall of blonde curls that cascaded her face behind her ears and released my hand.
“I’m Cassie,” she said, smiling sweetly. “I just moved here from Vermont. They left the part about the slippery floors out of the school handbook, I see.”
“Yeah,” I chucked nervously, shifting my weight to my other leg. We both knew that I tripped over my shoelace and slippery floors had nothing to do with my wipeout. That’s one thing I could never fathom about Cassie; the way she always turned even the most awkward moments into jokes.

That day in the cafeteria, I took my normal seat in the cafeteria and slowly undid the tinfoil wrapping my sandwich.
“Is this seat taken,” a familiar voice asked.
“N-no,” I stammered, moving my books aside for her.
“Thanks,” she said. “You’re my only friend here.”
When the bell rang for the end of the period, I had not touched my homework planner or my hair once. It had been so easy talking to Cassie and for some reason she seemed to be interested in what I had to say and for the first time someone had actually called me a friend.

Over the next few months Cassie and I became as close as a couch potato and the remote control. We went to the mall, told each other our secrets, and most of all made fun of all the Populars. For once, I felt like a teenage girl.

One day when we were at the mall, Cassie waved wildly to a group of girls sitting in the food court.
“Since when are you friends with Marianne and her entourage,” I asked.
“Oh, we all did a Spanish project together. They are actually pretty nice, you know,” Cassie shrugged and with that dragged me into the next store.

The next day at lunch, Cassie did not sit down next to me as I had grown so accustomed to. She sat giggling with the group of girls from the mall. When I looked over at her and waved, she just broke into a fit of laughter with the girls. After school, I asked Cassie why she ignored me at lunch.
“Oh, right,” Cassie mumbled quickly, “Marianne said I’m not allowed to be friends with you anymore.” With that, Cassie walked swiftly away.

The following day, I went back to my normal routine of split-end staring and sandwich eating. I’m not going to lie, I did miss talking to Cassie. Most of all, I missed having a friend. Cassie looked over at me when Marianne wasn’t looking and gave me a sad smile. Her eyes had lost the color they had when I first met her. It’s funny because that aquamarine necklace that reminded me of her eyes broke the week after I got it when I dropped it down the garbage disposal. I quickly gave her a half-smile back and returned to my sandwich smirking.

For once, bad luck didn’t seem so bad.

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