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Knock, knock. I hop off the couch and bolt across the room, stumbling over the creamy white dining chair in my path. Finally, they’re here! Excitedly, I reach the door and twist the knob. It remains sealed. Grunting, I tug harder using all of my weight…Nothing. I hear my best friend Emily giggling from the opposite side of the door. Knuckles turning pale, I yank the handle one last time…No such luck. Arms press against my waist as my mom lifts me up and away from the entrance, placing me back on the ground. She removes the bolt from the door and gracefully twists the knob. An ecstatic Emily stampedes into the house, clashing with my chest. Eyes closed tightly, we hug for a few moments.
Opening my eyes, I catch a glimpse of a hate-filled Jackie through Emily’s curly, shoulder-length hair. She stands bitterly with her arms folded across her chest. Pale blonde hair falls across her face and her baby blue eyes peer right through me. I feel the floor shake beneath my feet as Emily takes off into the living room. She leaps toward the green, velvety couch but does not quite make it, as she collides with a nearby coffee table.
“And the screaming begins…,” her mother, Tracey, sighs.
As everyone rushes over to the scene of the crash, the two-year-old howls in pain. This is the Pasternak household of 1996, the site that marks the beginning of three individuals’ lifelong friendship.
Eight years and much hostility later, Jackie and I had actually grown to love each other. Neither of us can recall when, where, or how it happened but all that matters is that it did. Still, Emily and I remained close. As the three of us were inseparable for the majority of our lives, it came as no surprise that our worlds were shattered when the idea of change was introduced.
I had just entered my friends’ house when I realized something was wrong. It was never this clean and certainly never this quiet. Something was up. Passing through the empty kitchen and into the living room, I placed my crocheting bag on the side of the ottoman.
“Em! Jack! Mom!” I shouted up the staircase.
“Up here!” a familiar voice yelled back.
As I climbed the stairs, I could hear the faint sound of a hair-dryer.
“That’s more like it,” I thought to myself.
“Heeeeeey, best friend!” Jackie shouted over the noise.
“Hey, Steph!” called a voice from the shower. Apparently the water was running as well.
“Hey, where’s Mom and why is everything so quiet? I know I haven’t been over here in a few days but something is definitely up,” I noted.
The hair-dryer stopped buzzing and Jackie shuffled into her room, dragging me close behind her. I smiled. She never ceased to amuse me.
“It’s soooo weird, isn’t it? I’ve been drying my hair for the past fifteen minutes just so I don’t have to hear the silence. But anyway, Mom came to us this morning and said she had to talk to us but when I asked what it was about, she said to wait until you came over. We don’t know what’s going on, I guess we hoped you would know.”
She took a deep breath. In the silence, a door slammed.
“That’s Mom! She’s cleaning out the basement. I don’t know what’s going on, Steph, what if we have rats?!” Jackie was freaking out.
“Girls!” Mom called up the stairs. That was our cue.
While Emily finished getting dressed, Jack and I went to wait downstairs. The two of us sat on the sofa and I draped a blanket across us. In just a few minutes, our third musketeer joined us and Mom sat anxiously on the edge of the other couch. For a few moments, we all just sat there, unsure of what to do next. I could feel Jackie’s body shift as she struggled to locate my hand. I lifted my arm out of the blanket and she wrapped her hand around my own. Suddenly, Mommy began to speak.
“I’m thinking of putting the house up for sale,” she blurted, “but before we make a decision, I want to hear from you girls. Moving will affect all of us.”
Immediately, Emily’s eyes swelled up with tears. Grabbing onto the sleeve of my shirt, she cried, “What about Steph?!” Ten years old, Emily could not survive without her best friend. We had already known each other for eight years. Jackie, on the other hand, seemed relieved.
“Ugh, Mom, you should have just said so. I thought we had rats,” she sighed.
“How can you say that, Jacquelyn?! We’re moving!” Emily screamed.
“Em, it’s not even decided yet. And if we do decide to move, it won’t happen in a week. I have my license and Steph is getting hers soon, too. We’d be moving into a different house, not a different country,” Jack calmly reasoned with her sister.
“Yeah, Em, you couldn’t get rid of me if you tried, I’m like a tick. Once I’m there, I won’t leave until you pour salt on me. Or maybe that’s for slugs…” I wondered, narrowing my eyes.
The discussion ended with a group hug.
To this day, my second family still lives nearby and we see each other a minimum of thrice a week. Plans to move are still in effect, as Mom officially put the house up for sale a few weeks ago. Just as we predicted, I will be receiving my provisional license on December fifteenth (if all goes well!) and will be able to visit whenever I choose. Furthermore, Jackie attends college at Monmouth University and at the beginning of 2010, she is set to live on campus. When the time comes, we have plans to organize and decorate her dorm room together. While she is away, I will have the opportunity to be a big sister and help Emily through her high school years. Though it may sound corny, I am grateful to have such a loving family and I plan to spend the rest of my years at their sides.