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The Friend

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“What is this?” I say as I roll the tube in between my fingers.

“It’s a cig,” Caylee replies casually. “Why, you want one?”

“I thought you gave smoking up?” I look at her face, intent on the road in front of her.

“No, that was just because my mom was driving me crazy. I was sick of hearing her threats to kick me out of the house if I didn’t quit.”

“Are you crazy? This could kill you!”

She pulls in front of Mike’s house. He’s having a party today, and we were both invited.

“Willa, trust me. I’ll be fine,” she says as she turns off the car.

I roll my eyes and get out of the car. “Whatever.”

Everyone is in front of the house. Our 13 friends are there besides Mike. The guys are playing basketball, the girls sitting in the grass watching. When our doors slam shut, everyone says hello and continues what they are doing. All except for Elliot, who approaches me. I can see in the blue light of dusk that he has a thin sheen of sweat on his body, which makes his bare chest look amazing. He smiles and gives me a big hug.

“Hey, how are you?” He brushes his lips against mine.

“I’m fine,” I say. “You’re sweat is making me feel gross.” He laughs.

For a while, we girls sit and watch the boys play while we talk and gossip. Pretty soon, the sky turns black and the only light is coming from the garage. I was hoping earlier that we would all be good children during the night, but I knew that was wishful thinking. It isn’t long before Mike comes out with beer.

“Who wants some?” he announces.

Mostly everyone gets up to fill their cups, but no one moves as fast as Caylee. By the time everyone has their first drink, she is ready for her third. I glance over at Elliot. Just like me, he decided not to take the alcohol. I stand up and walk over to Caylee.

“Be careful, you might get alcohol poisoning if you drink too fast.”

She leans in close to me, and her breath smells of beer. “Willa, relax. I’ll be fine. Go be a party pooper somewhere else.”

I don’t know why, but that stings a lot. I mean, I’m just trying to help my best friend!

“Maybe I will. Besides, I don’t want to be suspended from school and suspended from the soccer team.”

I can see shock pass her face. I feel content, knowing she hadn’t known that could happen. But she quickly brushes it away.

“Whatever. You’re not my mom, so leave me alone about my choices.” She turns away and pours herself some more beer.

I am shocked. How can she say that? It makes me sick that she feels that way. I turn from her and go over to Elliot, wrapping my arms around his waist. He strokes my face, and I know he heard what just went down.

“Can you take me home?” I whisper.

“Of course,” he says. He kisses me on my forehead, and goes to get his shirt.

“Willa and I are leaving!” he announces to everyone.

“You all sure?” Mike asks. “You want a drink or joint first?”

“No,” I say quickly. I see Caylee roll her eyes.

Elliot and I say our good-byes, and climb his car and go home.

The next day is a Sunday, which is a day that Elliot and I hang out alone. When he arrives at my house, he embraces me and says, “They were caught.”

I look up at him. “By who?”

“The police. There was a noise complaint, so they went over and caught them all drunk and high.”

“Are they suspended?”

He chooses the next words carefully. “Well, Caylee was expelled.” My mouth falls open. “They found a gun.”

Tears fill my eyes. “What’s going to happen to her?”

“I don’t know, Willa. But I do know we aren’t going to see her for a long time.”

It feels like someone has punched me in the chest. I can’t believe my best friend would ruin her life like this. I also can’t believe the next word that comes out of my mouth.

“Good.”





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