The Bracelet

January 6, 2015
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It was late August when school began. I sat at the window, my head against the glass, peering outside into the distance. I remembered the days of summer that had since been stolen away from me. I would play ball with my friends in that field next to the school, hardly realizing the dark building looming there waiting for us to be trapped inside. I was free, and it wasn’t fair that I could be taken from that freedom. That day was the day when the new girl came. It was in first grade, and I thought she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. As the bell rang, the students still lurking around their desks reluctantly took their seats. The new girl walked to the seat in front of me. She turned and, looking directly into my eyes, she confidently asked, “Is it okay with you if I sit here?” In the heat of the moment, I just nodded, saying nothing. She thanked me and sat in the seat right in front of me. Thinking back, having seen the people I’ve seen, known the looks of ‘pretty’ that have come and gone, she wasn’t really that pretty. She had a big nose that looked almost silly, and her face was peppered with freckles. Her eyes were plain and she wore huge glasses that accentuated her large nose. Her nails were chipping and chewed. Her lips cracked and her teeth were crooked. Her hair was wild, sticklike, and mousy brown. Yet, somehow at that age, her smile and her sweet voice struck me as beautiful. I could feel my heartbeat rise every morning when the beautiful girl with the mousy brown hair walked into class and seated herself in front of me, never forgetting to smile.
It was September in the second grade when I decided that I wanted to be her friend. Every day I walked her home from school. Every day I waved goodbye as she went into her house, leaving me behind. Every day I walked myself home, happier than I could imagine because I got to be with the most beautiful girl in the world. Once I held her hand, and we skipped all the way to her house. Some days she would invite me to play at the park down the street after she told her mom. It was always okay with me and we would swing on the swings laughing for hours.
It was late October when we went trick-or-treating together. We walked up and down what seemed to be thousands of streets, gathering more than enough candy to feed a family for several months. The people at every door thought that we were so cute, they thought we were beautiful. I thought the girl with the mousy hair was beautiful. At school, the teachers let us sit by each other because nobody cared. It was in the third grade when I grew the nerve to tell her that I liked her shirt. She looked as if she had never received such a compliment and gave me a hug. I would never forget the day when the girl with the mousy hair gave me that hug.
It was November when our teacher told us that we needed to play with other people. I went and played with the other little boys, and she went to play with the other little girls. Of course, I still walked her home from school every day, but at school we no longer talked. In the fourth grade, I still would watch her, but not in a creepy way. It was an innocent, childish act, looking at something that was beautiful beyond belief, the girl with the mousy brown hair.
It was early December in the fifth grade when I had to ride the bus. My parents switched apartments to the other side of town, so I could no longer walk home with the girl with the mousy brown hair. We hardly ever talked any more, but we remained friends. She made me a friendship bracelet to say we would be best friends forever. She understood that I couldn’t walk with her anymore. I tied the bracelet around my wrist because I wanted to still be her friend, even after we had drifted apart.
It was January in the sixth grade when we ate in a cafeteria for the first time. The big boys and girls in the eighth grade started picking on us. They called me a sissy and her words not even I knew the meanings of because we would sit together at lunch. She stayed strong and fought back, but I just shivered under the insults. She would hold my hand and tell me it would all be okay. It was that year when my friends made fun of me for wearing the friendship bracelet. Since it was pink and red, they called me a girl. I will never forget the day when I ripped the bracelet from my wrist. As it dangled in front of me, I felt a pang of guilt, but I pushed the feeling away. I put the worn and ripped piece of fabric in my drawer but I told her it broke.
It was late February in seventh grade when I asked the girl with the mousy brown hair to the Valentine’s Day dance. She agreed and we went dressed in matching outfits. I danced with her the whole night. I will never forget the day the girl with the mousy brown hair leaned her head on my shoulder on the way home because she was tired. I remember that once I got home, I ran into my room and pulled out the red and pink friendship bracelet and tried to tie the ends back together again, but once it was ripped, the loop wouldn’t be able to be reformed again.
It was March in the eighth grade when the girls in our class decided that the girl with the mousy brown hair was ugly. It was that March that I stopped talking to her because my friends made fun of me for still being friends with a girl since first grade. It was that March when I tried desperately to tell myself that the most beautiful person I had ever seen was ugly. I tried to tell myself that her nose was too big and her lips were too small. It was me who tried to convince myself that her stick-like mousy brown hair was gross. It was the wrong shade, the wrong texture, the wrong length. It was that March that I began to believe it.
It was late April when I realized I hadn’t talked to the girl with the mousy brown hair for a year. I saw her again our freshmen year walking down the hallway. She wore black jeans and a sweatshirt that looked like it would have fit her father. I tried to say hello but she only gave me a cold stare. It was that April when I regretted. It was late April when I cried every night because I wanted my best friend back. It was then when I began to wear the bracelet again, but this time it was on my belt loop because that was the only way I could attach it to me without connecting the ends again. I hoped every day that she would see the bracelet and stop me in the hallway. But it wasn’t the same. The color had faded from years of being stuffed in a drawer with all the clutter that gathered there. To this day I don’t know whether or not she saw it. To this day I don’t know what she chooses to remember about me. Whether she remembers the good days or the betrayal is up to her, the girl with the mousy brown hair.
It was early May when the sun woke me up one day and I realized I was a sophomore. It was May when I found her phone number written on the ‘do not call’ list scratched onto the bathroom wall. It was May when I hoped she would forgive me. I begged her and pleaded and said how sorry I was for the terrible things I had done over the phone, but she just said, “It is done.” I cried that night harder than I had ever cried before. I cried because the girl with the mousy brown hair would not forgive me.
It was June in my junior year when I went to prom. I had asked the girl with the mousy brown hair, but she apologized and said that she was already going with someone. I went alone. At the dance, I saw her lean her head on the boy’s shoulder and it sent a dagger through my heart, right where I had put the bracelet in my pocket that day. It was June when the boy she trusted at the dance threw her into his truck and drove off into the night. I saw the suspicious act at the end of the dance, and I ran after them, being the only one to hear her screams in the night over the loud music. I was the only one who saw in the pitch black night. It was my junior year that I followed them into the middle of a field and beat that boy half to death. It was in June when I had the girl with the mousy brown hair in my arms again, except this time it was different. She was weak and crying. She was thin because she hadn’t eaten enough and sad because nobody cared about her. It was June when I held the friendship bracelet around her wrist and got to see that beautiful smile once more. I would never forget the day when the girl with the mousy brown hair kissed me on the cheek.
It was July after our senior year when I got the letter. The letter was from the girl with the mousy brown hair. It told me that she was glad of the years we spent together growing up, but that she couldn’t keep talking to me as we had in the past. The letter explained to me how hurt she was since that March when I stopped talking to her and joined the voices calling her ugly. She told me how many piercings I had given her heart in just that year. The letter was a goodbye. Since then I have yet to talk to the girl with the mousy brown hair. I haven’t even seen her, but I know that we shared a lifetime of friendship, and she had felt a lifetime of betrayal. I knew that she didn’t need me, but I know that I need her. So I keep the friendship bracelet in my pocket to this day, no matter how pale or shredded or mangled it becomes, in hopes that someday the girl with the mousy brown hair will wear hers, too.






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BeilaThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Mar. 6, 2015 at 12:39 am
I'm feeling so many things right now, all evoked by this piece. In many ways, I am the girl with the mousy brown hair. In many ways, I am the boy with the faded bracelet. This is a beautiful account of the tragic and wonderful, uplifting and heartbreaking ways that relationships lead us through life. I connected with the piece on a very deep level, and I have a feeling neither he nor she will ever let that battered, wizened bracelet go. The months and years concept was clever, but I think perhap... (more »)
 
Sharkbait replied...
Mar. 8, 2015 at 11:58 pm
Thank you so much for your imput! It means a lot, and I can see that it is kinda long.
 
guard-girl said...
Jan. 7, 2015 at 10:20 am
This is really good You paint a very real picture, and it is extremely descriptive. It felt like I was actually there with the narrator :) I also noticed that you never said any of the characters' names. Did you do that on purpose?
 
Sharkbait replied...
Jan. 7, 2015 at 12:16 pm
I'm so happy it was descriptive enough, thanks for your comment! And yes, I did use nameless characters on purpose. I like the way that they bring out emotions instead of the plain facts; besides, I wouldn't know what to name them, ya know? I guess this way, it seems that readers can connect better without a predetermined outlook on who the character is. (some names mean different things for different people) I'm glad someone noticed that they had no names :)
 
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