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Leaving

It began in the early November of my second grade year. Jocelyn was a short, Hispanic girl with long, black hair and chocolaty, brown eyes. She was also my best friend. We had known each other since Kindergarten and being neighbors only strengthened our bond.

It started on a Thursday. Everything was normal on the afternoon bus. Jocelyn and I were sitting five rows back on the left. When the bus turned the corner into our neighborhood she went silent. “Krista I have to tell you something when you get to my house.” I nodded and gathered my things. The bus screeched to a stop in front of our houses and we ran to our houses. I dropped my stuff in the living room, kissed mom on the cheek and told her where I was off to. Running the rest of the way to Jocelyn’s doorstep, worry flashed in the back of my mind. I pushed it aside.

I rang the doorbell and Jocelyn’s mom and older twin answered it. “Hola Krista! Jocelyn is in her room.” Her Spanish accent was thick but I understood. With a Gracias, I skipped down the hall that was just past the front door. At the end of the hall was Jocelyn and Mikey’s room. I found him playing a Lego Batman game on their computer. She was sitting on her bed with her face shaded from view, waiting. Grabbing me by the arm and towing us to the bathroom across the hall, I finally noticed the solemn mask she wore. She closed and locked the door. Leaning against it, she slid down until she was on the floor with her face in her knees, arms wrapped around herself as if to make her own little world. I knew this position like so many. I sat next to her lightly touched her shoulder.

“Jocelyn? What’s wrong?” She looked up. Her silent tears streaked her tan skin. I realized, for the third time since I had met her, just how small she was.

“Mama told me last night that…” Her body shook with a small hiccup. I watched her through the short silence. Finally, she took a deep breath.

“I’m moving in April.”

I could tell you I was heartbroken and that we both hugged and cried only to find out that she wasn’t moving and lived happily ever after. I could tell you we’re still best friends, gossiping about boys, giggling over inside jokes and doing crazy things. I could even tell you we have plans to go to the same college together. Alas, life isn’t that nice.

I stared at her with a blank face. On the inside I was cracking up. That could never happen. We were supposed to grow up together through blood and tears, to help each other when our boyfriends broke up with us. You can’t do that when one isn’t there! It can never happen, right? However as I looked at Jocelyn I, almost, changed my mind. Her usually bright, fun-filled eyes were filled with pain behind those tears. Despite my doubts, I hugged her. That was the only thing to do. Not cry or laugh. Nor leave her or faint. My best friend was hurt and I somehow knew that this was the one thing that would help. Mrs. Samora seemed to know what had gone down in her bathroom because no one disturbed us while Jocelyn pulled herself together.

The days past so quickly, I barely have any recollection of anything. To school to Jocelyn’s to home. It was the same other than Jocelyn. She cried every other day. I was powerless to help. How can you put a band-aid on a cut on the inside? The charade was getting out of hand. If only I had known that it would get worse. Jocelyn was getting depressed. It didn’t take a genius to figure that out. The closer April got the more Jocelyn clung to me. She only left my side to go to her class and to let me go home for dinner or bedtime. We might have done something fun. Like I said it was a blur. For her birthday in March I got her a best friend necklace. She immediately clasped it around her neck and launched herself at me only to capture me in a bear hug. I didn’t hug back, what was the big deal?

I ignored the U-Haul that appeared in early April. It was probably going to Goodwill anyway. What a foolish child I was. I didn’t go to Jocelyn’s house for 3 days. I couldn’t take her suffocating me over a little misunderstanding. If only she realized that there was nothing to fear. Then, on the third Friday in April Jocelyn didn’t come to school. She must be sick. It’s a good thing I didn’t go to her house yesterday or I would’ve caught it. I knew in the back of my mind that she had been healthy yesterday even though I hadn’t gone to her house. When I got home I decided to visit her with a flower. It would make her feel better. I went over her house expecting a warm welcome. Ring the bell and…nothing. Ok so they might be mad at me. Ring it again and nothing. I peeked through the windows. A bare room was left. There were no couches or tables. No chairs or toys. There was a gray carpet, a gray wall and a dark counter in the back. My mind was surprisingly blank. No excuse came to mind but I would not accept that she had moved. At least it was like that until I saw the For Sale sign near the mailbox. I said nothing. Ever so slowly I walked back to my house. Up the stairs in front, up the stairs inside, around the corner into the yellow room that was mine and silently shutting the plain white door. Sliding down the door just as Jocelyn had on that dreaded day in the bathroom. I let my own silent tears fall. I wasn’t consciously aware of them at the time. I was trying to remember Jocelyn, without success. I knew what she looked like but I couldn’t remember what we had done together. I wouldn’t be able to remember anything until years later. I could not be angry at Jocelyn, as many people would think, she had warned me. My mind chose not to believe a very common incident in life would happen in my own life. I, astonishingly, couldn’t be sad either. It just didn’t feel right to be sad. The best word I could think of at the time was empty. I was empty.

The rest of the school year would pass. I would stand alone with the few memories I had. Jocelyn was very social and had many friends, if you could call them that. They didn’t even notice that she wasn’t at school and didn’t try to soothe me. I would find the word for them later. They were, as I now call them, fair-weather friends. I did have my family. I did not, however, want them to worry about my insignificant problems. My baby brother had been hurt by his babysitter’s husband and needed Mommy and Ben. He had real problems. I knew Mommy suspected something because she would constantly ask me if I was ok. I wasn’t but I couldn’t tell her that.

We moved during the summer after Blake recovered and I went to a new elementary school in a small town called Mt. Pleasant. I wasn’t quite the same. I had no friends because I had become a little anti-social. It wasn’t until 5th grade that someone got close to me. I’ll never see Jocelyn again. I know that. I’ve come to realize that our friendship was built on a dream. I think trying to remember what I did with Jocelyn for those three years helped me realize that. The truth is I only have a few memories left. I know not to blame anybody for what happened. Not even Jocelyn's mom is to be held responsible. Life happens. I do blame myself for one thing. I should’ve cherished those last few months with Jocelyn. Instead I pushed her away. That was the start of a new me. It may be not a fresh new me but a new me none the less.





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