Or Not

“We're still friends,” she responds, lifting the lid of her Starbucks cup to peek inside. Wisps of steam rise and circle her face.

 

The silence speaks for itself, and she fidgets on the wooden bench, drumming her fingertips on the picnic table between us. "Or not." All I can think is that this year’s snowfall has yet to arrive, but still, her fingers must be cold from the thin layer of frost on the table.

 

I wave at Robert, who nods in quick acknowledgement as he passes us. The cold air bites at my exposed face, and I bury myself deeper in the folds of my jacket. “If you're going to say something, please do. It's practically eight o’clock.”

 

She is frustrated, and doesn't make an attempt to hide it. “Class starts at 8:15. I have fifteen minutes.”

 

I shrug. “Snowden and Wang will be here soon. I have real friends, you know.”

 

Instead of countering my implication, which she used to love doing, Christiana glares. But the fire behind it is gone. Her eyes are empty, like the pretty pictures that hang in my aunt’s house. They have no meaning, no reason; just there for decoration.

 

“So… you don't like me anymore?”

 

I am comfortable with change, except to those I care about. “You've changed too much,” I say. “I'm afraid I can't change you back.” My voice is flat and even, but the underlying message is bitter.

 

She runs a comb through her permed blue curls. “And?”

 

“And your makeup is cakey.” Ice lingers in the air between us. “I will forgive you, Christiana, when you change back. You know-”

 

“It's Kristi,” she mutters, swiping at her eyes, causing the mascara to smudge. “Everyone calls me Kristi."

 

I said when, not if, and she doesn't even seem to notice. I stare at the frizzy mound of blue piled on top of her head, wishing that it could just revert to its plain, straight brown. I wish she could go back to being who she was, even when it annoyed me. Just press ‘undo’.

 

There is no undo button in life.

 

“But I'm better now. Can't you see that?” Her sentences are cold and clipped, almost harsh like the winter air.

 

“What happened to the greater good? What happened to observing society and trying to-”

 

“They're here. Nick and Thomas.” She sounds weak all of a sudden.

 

“Snowden?" I turn around. "You owe me a dollar.”

 

He takes a limp dollar bill out of his wallet. “Here.”

 

“Thanks.” As I slip it into my jacket, I notice her getting up from the table, tossing her half-finished coffee into a trash can, and walking off.

 

“Have fun vandalizing the back halls today!” I call after her, a sarcastic joke at her expense. Then I turn back to my friends, ready to forget about her. This day is pretty much ruined.

 

Thomas frowns. “She looks familiar… Oh, wow, is that Christiana?” He stares as she makes her way to the seventh grade science wing.

 

I shake my head no. “It's Kristi.” Then I head to first period, finding comfort in the squeaky crunch of ice under my boots.






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