October 10, 2009
Flowers began as seeds, just as great friendships begin early in life. As they sprout, they grow unaffected by others, but as they get bigger and bloom through a few seasons, weeds can start choking them and they get in their way of growing. Typically, for most teenage girls, these weeds may include other flowers that want to grow there or weeds like gossip and lying. If they don’t pick out all the weeds, the flowers will be strangled. Their friendships will die.

Tradition had always been important to Carlie Nichols. The most important tradition of all, however, concerned not only her, but her best friends, Blair Conaway and Alice Pierce too. ‘ABC’, as their parents had nicknamed the trio, had been best friends since they met each other in elementary school. The first day of summer vacation after fourth grade, and—to them—the first day they could call themselves middle-schoolers, they had met in the park and swore wild oaths to be friends always and never let anything or anyone come between them.
That was before they knew what adolescence would do to them.
As the three girls got older, they found their niche. This naturally meant that they began to drift apart as they made new friends who shared their interests. They were still friendly toward each other and still invited one another to their parties. Alice, Blair, and Carlie had even upheld their tradition of picnicking in the park on the first day of summer vacation for the past three year.
Now, sitting on the rust-colored blanket Blair had dug up from her attic four years ago, under the oak tree they’d meet at every June 6 at noon since fourth grade, was Carlie. Alone.
She let out a sigh and laid back, beginning to doubt her old friends would come. Carlie knew that Alice and Blair might not come, but it wasn’t because they didn’t want to see Carlie—it was because they didn’t want to see each other.
The past year had changed so much between the three friends. It all started with a nasty rumor about what Bethanne (Alice's best friend) had done over winter break with a boy at a ski resort. Somehow, because Blair had been at the same resort, the rumor had been traced back to her. A war with bombs of flaming, juicy rumors began and just trying to remember all of the horrendous things that had been said gave Carlie a headache.
Carlie didn’t want any part of it. She didn’t see why she should have to pay the price of losing both of her best friends to the stupid gossip that went around their school. Why couldn’t everyone just get over their stupid drama and remember how things used to be when they were kids? Things were so much simpler when the worst thing that could happen over winter break was not getting a new bicycle for Christmas.
Carlie’s eyes had drifted shut as she lay in the warm, early summer sun, praying that Blair and Alice would make an appearance. “Hey,” said the familiar voice of Blair. Carlie’s eyes immediately flew open as leaped up from the picnic cloth and hugged her friend.
“I’m so glad you came!” she said as they relaxed on Blair’s old tablecloth, “I didn’t think either of you would with all that happened this year.”
“Well, I didn’t think it was very fair to you. I mean, none of this was your fault. You didn’t even try to get involved. Yet, you’re the one getting burned. I’m sorry.” Blair said regretfully.
“That’s okay. You are the ones that got hurt…”
From behind the two girls, Alice crept up silently. She as still so upset at Blair. They had promised they wouldn’t be jealous of each other’s new friends, and yet Blair had torn her best friend’s reputation to shreds. At the same time, she knew that Carlie didn’t mean what she’d said. It wasn’t okay that this had come between all of them and damaged their friends to the point of disrepair.
“H-hi,” she stuttered. Carlie’s eyes widen as she realized who was talking and what it would mean for their friendship. Blair’s lips settled into a tight line.
“Oh. Hi,” Blair said—her words like ice.
“Look, I just wanted to say that I’m sorry. Especially to Carlie,” Alice said. The dam that had held in all of her thoughts about the fight with Blair had burst and there was no stopping the flood. “But how could you tell people that about my best friend? How would you feel if I said that your friend Melanie had done that?” She paused and took a breath.
“Alice, I—“
“Shut up! I’m not done yet. I don’t know whether you did that because you were jealous or because you don’t like her, but Blair, you promised.“ Tears ran like rivers down her cheek now, “You swore that things wouldn’t be like this! We all did! You broke our oath; if it weren’t for that, we would still be friends. But you did what you did, and you can’t take it back.”
The air hung heavy with tension and humidity. No one moved or spoke. They hardly even breathed. Carlie was waiting on the edge of her seat wondering what Blair would say to her and Blair was probing her mind desperately to figure out how she could possibly explain herself.
Finally, meekly, Blair said, “It was all a lie in the first place.”
“Of course it was a lie!” Alice screamed, her face as red as a pepper. “You think I don’t know that? Of course, Beth didn’t do anything with that boy! You think her tears haven’t proved that to me?”
“No!” Blair cried out, nearly as loud as Alice had. “I never started any rumor! All I did was tell Melanie that I saw Bethanne at the resort! I said that she was talking to a cute local boy that ran the ski-lift.” Wetness droplets began rolling down her cheeks too. “And you know what? Maybe I was jealous. But not because she was your friend, Alice. I know that you’ll sill be my friend no matter how clique-y our school is. That was never in question.”
Again, silence weighted down the air.
“So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m sorry. I’m sorry for fighting back with all those terrible comments about your friends and I’m sorry for not apologizing sooner. If you’re willing to be friends again, I am.” Blair’s eyes shined with hope as well as fear of rejection.
“Oh, Blair! I’m sorry too. I wish I’d talked to you before getting angry and just adding fuel to the fire. Will you forgive me?” Alice felt her heart pleading and hoped Blair could see how truly sorry she was for believing a story that was blown completely out of proportion. Blair just nodded and they both hugged each other, reminiscing about the time when there was nothing to apologize about.
Carlie coughed, expecting her apology as well. She normally wasn’t the pushy kind or the kind to get upset, but they way she saw it; both Alice and Blair were more than blameworthy of the things they had apologized for. Blair had been right in saying that it wasn’t far to her. They both knew Carlie was the quiet type. In all of their senseless fighting, they had left her alone. They were her real friends and without both of their friendship, the past six months had been lonely. The guilty girls turned to face their judge and jury. Their creased foreheads and downcast eyes, showed their shameful regret and their realization that their fighting had been pointless and stupid. They said nothing save for “Can you ever forgive us?”
Playfully, Carlie paused as if she were considering their plea. As she’d planned all along, she just hugged them and said in the midst of the triangular embrace, “Of course.”

“This time,” Carlie said, “Let’s really swear that we’ll always be friends.”
“Now that we know what we’re facing, maybe it will come easily. We’re not the same innocent little kids we were four years ago, that’s for sure!” said Blair, turning to Alice.
“We have a clean slate ahead of us.” She told them with an anxious smile and chuckle. “High school.”

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