Okay This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

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     There we sat, she, thinking everything is the same, but I, afraid even to speak for fear of crying. She sensed my pain, like she always could, and nodded.

“So, everything’s not alright with your dad. What’s wrong?” she asked, concerned.

“Cancer,” I said, “he has cancer.” Tears came to my eyes, like they always did when I said that word.

“Okay,” she said. “Okay.”

How she fit 16 years of mutual support and friendship into that one word I will never know. As soon as the word passed from her lips, it revealed years of memories: camping in the wilderness of my backyard, our secret fort in her basement, eating a whole box of popsicles one winter day.

I knew what she was thinking, as usual: We’ve taken on the world, Krista, it’s about time we beat cancer. She was right. Ever since we were young, it’s been us against the world. She’s been my confidant, my ally, my fellow soldier in the war that life in the suburbs can be. We’ve encountered our fair share of crossroads; we’ve been knee-deep in trouble. Every time we’ve somehow managed to be victorious, but this was territory we had never explored; this was much more than school fights, plans gone haywire or broken curfews. This was a new obstacle, something we couldn’t talk our way out of.

Her strength gave me strength, and she didn’t need to say a thing. Words weren’t necessary with a best friend. Over the years, we have unconsciously created a language of eye rolls, hand movements and postures. Before speaking, sometimes even before thinking, she can understand me, and I can understand her. That’s the way it’s always been.

In the end, that’s all it took. Two syllables, a simple “okay.” A tiny word from a best friend to change my outlook on everything. And in the end, she was right. My dad would beat cancer, we would put it behind us, and continue to take on whatever challenges life tried to throw our way.

Okay, we both think, what’s next?

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the October 2005 Teen Ink Nonfiction Contest.






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