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June and Alice were walking home from school together, just like any other day. But it ended up going in a direction that they never saw coming. There were tensions between the two friends. June hadn’t been spending as much time with Alice as she used to. Alice had found out that June had been hanging out with a group of girls very different from Alice. They were the cool girls at school, thinking everything even remotely related to school was lame. They mocked girls who participated in anything school related, skipped classes and let their grades plummet; everyone wanted to be them. Alice was the exact opposite of them, she was a more reserved kind of girl; she worked hard and got good grades though she herself wasn’t very school-spirited. Because June was spending more time with those girls, she started skipping assemblies, and her grades weren’t as good as they could have been. Alice felt like her best friend was slipping through her fingers.
June saw it differently. She was mesmerized by her new friends. They were adventurous and exciting; they got into trouble and lived life on the edge. June was beginning to find Alice tiresome. She was sweet but terribly quiet and she never took any chances, not at all like her new friends. June was beginning to wonder if she ever had anything in common with Alice.
That day was particularly awful. Alice had discovered that June’s new friends had been trashing her in front of June, and not only did June not do anything, she joined in. She went on about how Alice was boring, that she was too afraid to have any fun. She had to know if that was hoe June really saw her.
Alice just came out and said, “Jenny told me you’ve been insulting me behind my back.”
It completely took June by surprise. Alice was usually so quiet and never accused anyone of anything. After she recovered from her shock, June quickly became defensive.
“Awww, what does she know?” June quickly said, trying to turn the blame on Jenny.
That set Alice off. How could she lie to me, she thought. “It’s not just that. I saw you. They were going on about how I was a goody two shoes, and you didn’t do anything. Instead you said, and I quote, ‘She’s soooo annoying. Seriously, she follows me around like a lost puppy.’ I don’t do that! How could you say that? Do you even know me at all?”
June knew she couldn’t deny it so she got angry. “Well it is true. You’re constantly following me around, nagging me. Telling me I need to bring up my grades, and criticizing how I’m acting! I already have a mom you know!”
Alice wouldn’t stand for that. She said, “I do not act like a mom! I just care about you. I’m worried you’re heading in the wrong direction.”
“Well I don’t need you approval! You have no right to be criticizing my life! You’re so boring. You’re so quiet and you never take any chances. You’re so clingy too. You always want to hang out. It’s driving me crazy. Gosh, sometimes I wonder why I’m even friends with you.”
That had cut right into Alice’s heart. She could only manage to say, “Well maybe you shouldn’t,” before she had to turn around so June wouldn’t see the tears.
June was so shocked all she could do was mutter a soft, “What?”
“You heard me!” Alice cried, “I don’t want to be friends anymore! I never want you to speak to me again,” her voice cracking a little at the end. Then she put her face in her hands in order to suppress the sobbing, and ran all the way home.
June shouted, “FINE. BE THAT WAY!” Then she turned the corner an also ran all the way home. She was so frustrated and angry that all of it hadn’t fully sunk in until she got to her room and slammed her door shut. She had realized she lost her best friend and so she too began to cry.
The two girls didn’t speak to one another for the rest of middle school, and through high school. In fact, it wasn’t until their 10th high school reunion that they actually saw one another. The two girls sat down at a table and began talking to one another. The atmosphere was awkward but they managed to catch up on each other’s lives. They were both married. June had a daughter and Alice had two sons. Alice ended up teaching at an elementary school in Virginia, while June worked for a law firm somewhere in Arizona. After the girls talked for an hour or two they fell silent.
June finally said, “I’m sorry. I regret everything I said that day. I lost my best friend, and she couldn’t be replaced.”
Alice looked up at June with old eyes and said, “Me too. But that can’t change what happened, or what happened after it.”