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So- called Friends This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

They come like foot soldiers drunk on stealth, slipping past ditches and dikes that we throw around our fragile bodies till they are planted firmly, in our minds and our thoughts and in laughter that escapes our lips. Those whispered comments, those snide remarks, those words made even more hurtful when the mouth spouting the half-truths hide behind the smile of a friend.


Maybe you wonder, “How could she?” Maybe you lapse into thought trailing a finger across a photo frame that holds a snapshot of the two of you with your arms around each other. “She wouldn’t say that about me.”How naïve you are, to put your trust in friendship when you really ought to have been sinking deeper into cynicism. Should have known better, no?



And, soon enough, you find an arm reaching out and pulling you into a corner, her voice whispering in your ear, “How come you never tell me these secrets of yours anymore, eh?” A dig in the ribs, and when you wince it’s from pain that is hardly skin-deep.



Eyebrows perched with the slightest tinge of malice grin. You wonder how you could’ve shared your mother’s brownies with her, once upon a time.



You look at her, feel the grip of her fingers on your arm, and a sudden quall of bitterness washes over you. Gossip is a concept not alien to you, oh no, most certainly not. You have been bred into, playground liaisons and pinky promises from sp many years ago morphing into the slightly more delicate wholly more complicated friendships of today. You know, just like you know the back of your hand, how an innocuous remark can find its way to the ears of the wrong person. You know, just like you know the words to your favorite song, how karma will come around.



And resentment, it rises in you. And you find yourself being pulled in, into the snare, and soon enough you are leaning against the water fountain in school and telling that girl from Economics class “oh, you have no idea. She gets around like none other….” Your conscience protests bleakly, but what do you care?



The damage done, the blow dealt, the words spoken.



But she won’t come around and ask you outright. That would violate the Girl Rules. No, she’ll find channels. Her disapproval will find ways of getting expressed. Maybe a sidelong glance while you two stand in lunch line, or a text message that doesn’t sound wholly light-hearted. “Hey, it’s not like you’ve been talking smack about me.” You laugh it off, lift your shoulders in a show of good-natured teenage living, but inside you know the seeds have been planted.




You find ways to justify it, to ease that conscience so rapidly slipping away. “She started it.” “Her words not mine.”What’s it to me anyways?” But when you see her in the walls, you bump into her in the coaching class, and the first things that come to your mind is “hey, we should hang out.” The things that remain unacknowledged hang weightily from your shoulders, a veritable albatross.



You sit across the table under the cheerful lampshades of an artfully decorated coffee shop and sip your overpriced coffee, manicured fingernails drumming on the table. You jiggle your foot, you make light conversation. “Did you hear about…….?” and “He told me he was going to dump her in no time at all….Gosh, I don’t blame him, she’s so clingy! “You are united under the same banner again, in the willful slander of another person’s character. But hey, you reason, at least she’s not talking smack about me.


At least, not today.




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