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I'm running. Running from the memories, that, just months ago, kept me from running. I don't want to remember during the last few moments on my stay on Earth.
I stop at the edge. I squeeze my eyes shut, balling my fists. The water is roaring. In my mind, I find the comfort I was looking for. My eyes fly open. For some reason, everything feels different. The waterfall is still there; the birds still chirping; the helicopter still above, searching for me; but now all I feel is at peace with myself.
And I jump.
To my death.
My stomach is in knots as I hug my Blue’s Clues lunch-box to my chest. Mommy is coming downstairs, and I'm considering hiding from her. Anything to stop me from going.
"Chloe! Aren't you excited for your first day of kindergarten?" Mommy asks. I shake my head shyly.
"No. I don't wanna go." I whisper. Mommy gives a tiny grin.
"Then I guess you aren't a big girl now." She shakes her head in mock disappointment. "You're five years old! I thought you were a big girl." I press my lips together.
"I am a big girl! Silly mommy." I hug the lunch-box harder.
"But you don't want to go to kindergarten."
"Fine. I'll go--but just for today." Mommy smiles, and pulls her keys out of her pocket.
"Ms. Cooper, I don't feel good." I tell my short, brown-haired first grade teacher, who is sitting at her desk, tapping away on her Dell laptop. She turns and fixes her blue eyes on me.
"I'm sorry." She brushes a lock of my sweaty blond hair out of my eyes. "Try using the bathroom while I get together your homework packet." I nod, half-smiling, half-grimacing.
I run to the bathroom, just managing to lock the stall door before I throw up my FruitO's. Eew. Those cheerful colors don't look very cheerful the second time around.
I wipe my mouth with a square of toilet paper, flush, and walk back to the classroom. Ms. Cooper looks up, staples something, and hands me my red homework folder.
"You can get your stuff and go to the office. Get well soon, Chloe! We'll miss you." I manage a small grin, and grab my purple light-up backpack.
"Bye, Ms. Cooper." I walk out, and head to the office.
"Hello?" The office lady looks bored.
"I threw up. Can I call mom?" She nods, and points to the phone.
"Dial 7-7 before your number." She fixes her attention on her computer once again.
I dial slowly: (77)555-1514. My fingers stumble over the buttons.
"Hello, Hale residence." Mommy's voice says.
"Mommy!" I want to fling myself into her arms.
"Chloe?" She's surprised.
"I'm sick, mommy. Please pick me up." I lower my voice. "I barfed my FruitO's." I hear my mom cringe at the thought of half-digested FruitO's floating in the toilet bowl.
"Okay..." Mom's keys jingle. "Lay down and I'll be there in five."
"Thank you, mommy. I love you, mommy." I disconnect, looking at Office Lady. "Mommy says I have to lay down."
"Fine. Second door on the left."
I fall asleep there, in a cocoon of plaid blankets. I barely register mom's cool fingers lifting me up.
I run into mommy's outstretched arms. She tightens her arms around me, scooping me up.
"How was school?" Mommy asks in my ear.
"Good." Giggling, I squirm. "I learned..." I pause dramatically.
"How to spell...beautiful!" I'm so excited! I know how to spell beautiful! Bee-you-tee-ful!
"Perfect! Just like you!"
I squeeze my eyes shut; clutching mom’s hand like it's the anchor keeping me from floating away.
"It won't hurt." Mom reassures me. I don't believe her though. If shots hurt, this will.
The door opens. So do my eyes. A nurse enters the room in Scooby-Doo scrubs.
"Hi, Chloe! My name's Lynne." She turns to mom. "Her first TB test?" Mom says yes.
"Don't worry. It shouldn't hurt that much." Lynne promises.
But it does. The needle goes just under the skin on my arm. I can't help it, but I watch. The skin seems to bubble a bit. Gross. I squirm. It's been under for, like, a minute.
I consider screaming 'STOP IT!', but I don't.
Finally, finally, it ends.
"Good job!" Lynne says, putting a Garfield Band-Aid on my arm. "You can pick out a sticker." She hands me a box of stickers. I pick out a Snoopy one.
I look into Lynne's hazel eyes, and tell her thank you. She smiles and leaves.
Mom looks at me.
"You up for some frozen yogurt?"
"YES!" I hug her.
My yogurt is a mixture of mango, chocolate, mint, red velvet cake, and pink lemonade. It's delicious, but not as good as the immense look of pride on my mom's face.
"You got in!" Mom hugs me, a letter in hand.
"I got in?" I raise an eyebrow. "To what?"
"Yes!!!!!" We twirl around, and then I dial my best friend's number.
"Chloe?" Odessa picks up.
"I got in, Dess!" I shout.
"Really?" She sounds sad. For a split second, I think she didn't. "I did too!"
We babble on together for what seems like hours. I'm reassured that Dess is going to be in the same fourth grade class as me, at the same new school.
A half year later, tears pour down my cheeks as my black van rounds the corner, and out of sight. Dess is leaving me. See, her mom got a job in Tasmania, where Dess's family comes from, and they're moving there. Permanently.
Good-bye, Dess. I love you.
"Hey, you wanna come to my birthday party?" I look up from where I'm picking grass, alone. It's Delia, a girl in my class. She's never really talked to me before. She's a friend of Beatrice, my only friend. "It's Chris's too." Delia gestures to her twin brother.
"When is it?" I ask shyly. I'm surprised that Delia, who's everyone's friend but mine, who's pretty and friendly, is asking me, the shadow. Inside, I'm asking why.
Delia gives me details, and I tell her I'll ask mom.
As the recess bell rings, I say a silent thank you to her.
"Hey!" I giggle as Chris splashes us with his cannonball into the pool. Chris's friend, Dan, follows.
Delia and Beatrice are talking (naturally excluding me) and another girl from my class, Toni, and I am swimming around.
But it feels great. Is this a friendship blooming? Is this how friendship feels?
It hurts when your friends dump you. It really does. Delia and Bea ignore me whenever they see me. No 'hi' or 'what's up?'. At least Toni is still my friend. Is that why they hate me? I know Toni doesn't like Chris, but why ignore me? Once, I was their friend. Now they backstabbed me.
Great 'friends', eh?
That night, I cry myself to sleep.
The tears start the moment I hear the news.
Mom is dead. She lost the fight with cancer.
Delia and Bea's arms encircle me, hugging me tight.
I love you guys. Thank you.
Good-bye, mom. I love you.
“Why, Delia? Why?” I shriek. “You knew that I was dating Seb.”
“Yes, I did.” Delia smirks at my red cheeks. “Did it ever occur to you that maybe, just maybe I was jealous?”
“Not really.” I growl through bared teeth. “I was happy, Delia. I was happy with Seb.”
“But maybe Seb wasn’t happy with you. Maybe that’s why he cheated on you.” I gasp, outraged by Delia’s comment.
“You can barely say he cheated on me. You were the one who convinced him to hook up with you. It’s all your fault!” My fists are clenched, and I can’t help noticing that I could easily, so easily just swing one of those fists at her face… “And besides, you told everyone that I cheated on Seb, when it was the other way around!”
“It wasn’t that bad, Chloe.” Delia insists.
“Yes it was. You lied to me.” My voice drops as I try not to cry. “Delia, I thought you were my friend.”
“Well sorry you were under that delusion.” Delia says, a slim wily smirk sliding onto her face. “Because, really, who would be friends with you—a freak. A loser. An outcast.”
Freak. Loser. Outcast. The words of hate ring in my head as Delia turns on her heel and stalks away, leaving me friendless.
I sit alone at a lunch table. Delia and Bea walk right by, completely ignoring me.
In the words of Coldplay, from the song “Shiver”:
"So I look in your direction
But you pay me no attention
You know how much I need you
But you barely even see me."
I wish Dess was here.
I've had enough.
I have no friends.
Dess is 19 hours away
Dad has a new wife.
I don't belong here.
My death is quick.
I love you, Dess.
Bye, backstabbing 'friends'.
THIS IS THE END.