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Montana’s left hand was tangled tightly in Ali’s hair, her right throwing wild punches, though each one had to hurt. Ali’s right hand was trying to pull Montana’s hand from her hair, her left pulling Montana’s hair from her messy bun that had looked so good earlier that morning. Both were screaming and yelling vulgar words at each other.
I remember pulling on Montana’s arm. She could seriously hurt Ali. Ali was a little, super skinny, Montana was skinny, too, but she had muscles, strong ones. Montana shook me off easily. I stepped back, out of the way, because Montana’s punches were becoming more deadly. I noticed the crowd was growing, blocking authorities out.
Montana suddenly let go of Ali’s hair, stopped punching, and stepped back. Ali let go and looked breathlessly at her, blood dripping from her nose. Montana’s arm reared back and snapped forward, slapping Ali so hard, she fell to the ground, crying out. Ali stayed on the ground, breathing hard.
“Ali O’Gordon, I will kill you if you start that kind of crap again. Don’t test me, don’t test me.” Montana stepped back into the crowd, and I jumped forward to follow her. I saw her cut across the grass, heading towards the sophomore building. I ran to catch up with her.
“Montana! Montana, wait!” I hurried up the steps after her. She was yanking on the doors, but they were locked. I could see the tears running down her face. She gave up and sat down on the step, her hand over her mouth, trying to stop crying.
“Hey, it’s just a rumor, no one believes her.” I patted her back, sitting down on the step next to her. We had all heard Ali’s rumor that Montana was pregnant with Raymond’s baby. I had given her a warning, knowing that Montana would pummel her.
“That’s the problem,” the muffled words from her hand made my stomach turn. “I am pregnant.”
Montana’s baby, a baby girl named Elaina, was born that July. I remember how happy Montana was to hold her baby the first time. Montana’s dad was there, her completely unsupportive mother didn’t even call. My best friend, who was the toughest girl on Earth, had been transformed into someone so emotional, I barely recognized her. I had to hold Elaina for an hour, because she was crying so hard over her mother. I remember feeling out of place, like I was in the wrong room. Montana’s room was one over.
“Ok, I’ll hold her now,” Montana wiped her face with her hands, then stretched her arms out for her. I handed the warm bundle to her. Montana pulled Elaina close to her, kissing her little nose.
“What am I going to do?” Montana asked me, suddenly looking vulnerable.
“Come stay with me,” I pulled Elaina’s blanket up a little, and then sat down in the chair by her bed.
“Really? You can’t be serious.” Montana glanced at me, then back at Elaina, who was waving her arms around a little.
“Yeah, my mom loves you, she won’t care,” I assured her. That day I left the hospital to go home excited. Excited about my best friend and her baby moving in with me.
“Mom?” I called out when I got home. I dropped my raincoat on the floor by the door and walked into the living room, where she was watching a movie.
“Yeah?” She asked looking at me, eating popcorn.
“You know how Montana’s mom won’t let her back into her house? Would she be able to move in here?” I crossed my fingers behind my back.
“I don’t care, as long as she doesn’t stay forever.” My mom went back to her movie.
The next day I parked my car as close to the entrance to the hospital as I could. Inside, I could barely wait to get up to her room and tell her.
I stepped out of the elevator and headed towards her room, past the nurse’s station.
“Umm, miss? Where are you going?” The head nurse looked at me suspiciously.
“Just to Montana Smith’s room. I’m a close friend.” I indemnified myself quickly.
“Ms. Smith check out late last night and left,” the nurse looked at me like I was a little crazy.
“Do you know where she went?”
“She didn’t say,” the nurse went on with her work, leaving me to worry. I walked slowly to the elevator and back downstairs. I sat in my car awhile, sitting and thinking. I made a mental list of everywhere she would have gone. The list was short. One entry exactly. Her grandmother’s house, in Red Oak, Vermont.