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The Secret among Friends
As soon as I walk through the huge doors of the school three girls run up to me. My mother warns me to stop hanging around them, even though I secretly still do. They are Kathy, Chloe, and Emma.
“Hey Annie!” I hear Chloe, Kathy’s right-hand girl yell. “Kathy has something to say to you!”
“Hey guys. What is it Kathy?” I ask. She’s looks straight to Chloe, signaling her to tell me what she wants.
“You are going to Kathy’s house Friday. Be there at seven o’clock.” I could her disgust in her voice that I was being invited. When I looked to Emma, I saw shock, joy, and what may be a hint of fear in her eyes.
“But I have something else planed with my family. We’ve been planning on doing this all year.” I explained. But I didn’t see any compassion in her expression.
“Then get out of it!” Kathy yelled.
“My mom said I can’t hang out with you anymore. Remember?” I was trying to think of anything that would let me keep my mom’s promise, no matter how badly I wanted to go to Kathy’s sleepover.
“So, that didn’t stop you before.” She had a point. “Tell her you’re going to your new friend Sophie’s house.”
“Alright.” I said reluctantly. I’ve lied to my mom before, but never about why I couldn’t go on our family day.
“Great! See you tomorrow night then. We’ve got an exciting surprise planned.” She said as she was walking away, the other two following her like ducks. Chloe, with her evil glare shot towards me, and Emma with her sweet smile, waving at me. The rest of the day I sat through class listening to teachers drone on about things like the civil war and the area of circles.
On Friday I finally gained enough courage to ask my mom if I could go to the sleep over.
“Please mom? I promised Sophia last week I could go!”
“You know better than to promise someone something when you can’t keep it. Although she’s new to you, you can go this time, but you know you will be missing out on a lot of family fun!”
“Yes Ma’am. I know.”
At six o’clock, I packed my bag and had my mother take me to an address. Luckily, they had never seen Sophia’s house. After I knew she was gone, I ran down the three blocks to Kathy’s house. I walk into the house and turn the corner to the small area under the staircase where we always meet. When I stepped through the door way they didn’t notice me, until I plopped down my bag.
“Where are your parents?” I ask.
“They went out tonight!” Kathy responded with an attitude.
Immediately, I’m given what looks like a bunch of neatly folded silk, with a complex design as the pattern. On top was a beautiful cerulean blue mask with intricate gold designs that glittered in a way that made you want to look away, yet drew your gaze toward it.
“What do I do with this?”
“What do you think? You’re supposed to put it on!” Kathy answers with frustration.
When I unfold the cloth, I see that what it really is is a Japanese kimono with the complex design of two dragons dancing. As I slipped the precious silk over my head, I couldn’t help but wonder why I was putting it on, along with a mask to cover my whole face.
I walk out to see people in masks of pink, green, and purple. All of them covered in a complicated pattern. Green for Chloe, purple for Emma, and of course pink for Kathy. All of the girls were dressed in magnificent costumes. Almost as if it was Halloween night and they wanted to win a best dressed in the contest at the school dance.
“Oh good! You’re ready to go. You look fabulous! Our first stop is Goodby’s Flowers and Gifts.” Emma told me the second she noticed me. Again I saw that glimmer of fear flash in her eyes, the same look I have seen since Thursday that has been giving me the feeling that something is not right.
“Goodby’s Flowers and Gifts? Isn’t that the shop that Savannah and Jenny own? You know the richest girls in school?”
“yes, yes. We all know who they are and how much money their family has. And no, they do not own the shop, their mom does! Now are you ready to go or aren’t you?
I turn as Chloe’s voice bellows in frustration still over me being here. I open my mouth to say something, and immediately snap it shut know it would only make her angrier. All I do is nod.
We walk the six blocks to the shop in silence. I glance at everyone. Emma looks as though she may be feeling a little on edge, making me feel edgy as well. Kathy has a look of triumph and looks as though she’s about to win a prize, and every time I was about to speak,
Chloe looked at me with a look that kept my mouth shut. I can tell when we’re around the corner from the small flower shop, when the smell of sweet honeysuckle burns my nose. I take a breath and open my mouth to say something, my curiosity over-powering Chloe’s looks she gives me that shows she’s not afraid to slap me if I say one wrong thing.
“Why do we need to go to Goodby’s anyway?” I say while shooting Chloe a glare showing I’d slap her back.
“We were given permission to pick something up. Now, stand right here and look for a woman with red hair wearing a yellow dress. Oh, and if you see anyone else coming toward the shop, tell us.” Kathy answered with what sounded similar to understanding.
“Got it.” I say. Trying to sound confident.
“Another important thing, keep your mouth shut until we get back.”
I made the sign of zipping my lips, locking the zipper, and throwing the key away as a kindergartener would do.
It’s been at least fifteen minutes and I’ve been looking for this women. I decided that I’ve been set up for a prank and they already left. As soon as I began walking away, I hear sirens and see police cars speeding down the narrow road. Wondering what could be happening, I stood there wide eyed.
I stood there until three girls in bright masks and dresses grab me as they ran by.
“What’s going on? Why did the police drive by?”
“Ummm, I think a fire started. Here, put this in your kimono. I was hurriedly slipped a small, black, leather bag and I stuffed it up the huge sleeve of my kimono.
When we arrived at Kathy’s house, I quickly slipped to the back room. I checked to see what was in the bag. Money! It’s full of money! I think back to what Emma told me about the fire. I think even further back to what I remember before they came. I remember sirens, police sirens, alarms, but no fire engine sirens. I remember the scents. I smelled honeysuckle, the smell of freshly cut grass, yet no smoke. It was then that I knew that they robbed Goodby’s Flowers and Gifts. I storm out hoping they didn’t do it.
“You robbed the shop! There was no fire! It was all you!” I yell accusingly.
“Yeah, so what? You’ll get your share for being look out.” Kathy tells me as though it was no big deal.
“Look out? I never wanted to do any of this.” I tell her, my anger directed fully at all of them. “And Emma! I’ve known you practically forever! How could you do something like this?” I shout.
“Annie I…” I didn’t give her a chance to finish before grabbing my bag and running out.
Where do I go? My parents should be home by now. I could always make something up of why I’m no longer at Sophia’s. When I get to my front door, I look for the key we keep under the squirrel flower pot. After I’m in, I immediately drop to the floor and begin to cry. What am I going to say to my mom? I think. I’ve been tricked into being an accomplice! I sat there and cried for an estimate of half an hour. After I was done cleaning myself up, I threw the mask and the kimono to the very back of my closet where no one would ever find it. The very next day, a man in a grey suit came and took us in for questioning. He brought me to an enormous dull building. I walk in the waiting room and see everyone who knows the Goodby family. When Kathy and her two followers see me, Chloe runs up and acts as though she’s hugging me. But she’s really whispering to me, “Lie, lie through your teeth or I’ll be sure you’re the one who takes the blame.” I hesitate a while and then nod reluctantly.
When my name is called I’m pulled out of a full waiting room and into a room with white walls, a window looking at the city, a single table with two chairs, and a tape recorder on the table. After I sit, the man in grey begins questioning.
“Please state your name and age?”
“Annabelle Smith. Age 13.”
“Very good. Now I’m going to ask you a few questions and you need to answer honestly.”
“Tell me what you know about what happened at Goodby’s Flowers and Gifts last night.” Suddenly the bare white walls started to close in on me.
“N-nothing, I just found out myself. I heard it was robbed, it’s a real shame.” I say lowering my eyes.
“Are you sure that’s all you know?”
“Alright, you’re free to go.”
When I got home that night, I cried more. I’ve lied to a detective! I think, I can’t anymore! No more lying. But what if I don’t, then I’ll be accused. I’ll either be put to jail with them, or alone. A week later, after having nightmares, crying each night, and failing my tests, I go back to the detective.
“So you’re saying you did it?” The detective asks.
“No, sir. Not at all,” the walls no longer are closing in on me. Now it seems they’re opening up. “I was tricked into helping. You see, these girls said they had permission to get something for the party, and it wasn’t until after it happened, when I was changing out of my costume they had me wear, I thought and realized it was a robbery and not a fire like they said.”
“Who were these girls who took you along?”
That’s when the walls closed in on me again. “Miss Smith, we really need you to tell us. These same girls robbed another place nearby.”
Another place? Maybe this detective was right. He does need to know.
“Katherine Morris, Chloe Holmes, and Emma Wilson.” I cringed and felt more upset saying Emma’s name.
“You named three girls. Only two have been robbing places. I think Emma Wilson has the same story you do.” For that instant I felt hope that she was still the same Emma that I knew before. “Alright, thank you ma’am. I believe that’s all we need to know. I hope you’ve learned your lesson.” I nod and walk out.
That next day, neither Kathy, nor Chloe were at school. I hope they have learned their lesson like I have.