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I'll Never Forget Mandy

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I'm going to see my friend Mandy today. At eleven o'clock. Her parents even called to remind me; eleven O'clock is the time to see her. They needn't bother telling me again though; I could never forget Mandy. We've been best friends since second grade, when she proudly presented me with a woven red and blue string bracelet identical to the one on her own delicate wrist, and told me in all seriousness that as long as neither one of us took our bracelet off, our friendship would never die. In the five years since, she, I and our bracelets have never parted ways.

'Remember,' she had asked me only a week ago, her extraordinary purple eyes bright with laughter. 'Remember when we smashed Mr. Jones's window with our soccer ball?' I did, of course, remember and we had laughed at how angry he had been, and how with a few simple teardrops from her glorious eyes and a sad little sniff of her pointy nose, Mandy had gotten us off scot free. Mandy's good at things like that - with only a flutter of her lilac-tipped fingers she could probably command a flock of pigeons to chirp for us Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata', if she so desired.

I smile at the memory as I fiddle with my string bracelet. Perching on the edge of my bed, I quickly pull on my best dress to go see Mandy. Clothed in black, my mother opens the bedroom door and tells me that it's almost time; it is almost eleven o'clock. I nod hastily and follow her out to the driveway, slamming the front door shut behind me as the car engine begins to wail, puncturing the stillness of the late morning air.

Soon we arrive at an old brick building with stained-glass windows surrounded by neat shrubbery, and my mother asks me if I want her to accompany me inside. 'No,' I tell her, 'I'm old enough to go by myself.' Besides, I want to be alone with Mandy.

With effort I approach the building and push open the heavy front door, but no wave of bushy hair and spirited purple eyes rush to greet me as I step inside. Everywhere I turn, there are flowers and candles and huddles of grown-ups in funny hats talking quietly. Mandy's mother is standing alone by a window, the reflection from the stained-glass painting her face a watery blue. At the front of the room rests a big mahogany box encircled by sprays of towering zinnias, but no one seems to notice as I hesitantly approach it, my footsteps echoing thunderously on the dull wood floor. The box gets closer and closer, until protruding from it I can finally see a few strands of hair and the tip of a pointy, slightly crooked nose.

Mandy is lying in the box, her body seeming smaller than usual in the sea of red velvet lining. Her arms lain limply by her sides, bare of any jewelery or string, I notice that not only is her bracelet missing, but her nails are absent of their trademark purple hue that matched so perfectly the colour of her eyes. Had she only been able to see her scandalous un-purple nails, I know she would have gasped in horror and run home at once to apply some of her beloved sparkly polish. But Mandy cannot see the indignity of her bare fingers, nor can she scurry home to fix them. Her eyes shut and her limbs still, she's oblivious to the mournful organ music playing in the background, the room full of crying adults and most of all, oblivious to me, standing right in front of her. In that moment, as I remove the bracelet she gave me all those years ago and place it gently upon her chest, I realize that her miraculous purple eyes will never again meet my own.

But I'll never forget Mandy.

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