I simply don’t understand Susan anymore. We used to be thick as thieves, always together, always doing the same thing, always helping each other in trouble and fighting each other when peevish. If I had a problem, Susan would be the first to know about it, and likewise if she was worried, I would immediately be informed. Whenever our things went missing, we would both tip our houses upside-down to find them. If I had an idea for a game, she would enthusiastically join in, and if she was out swimming you could bet your life I would be doggy-paddling beside her. We were always together, doing our thing.
Alas, it was not to last. I first noticed that the good old days were slipping away when she missed an outing with me. We had planned to sneak out in the early evening and raid the orchard, but when the appointed time came Susan was nowhere to be seen. I waited for twenty long minutes in the unceasing drizzle before I realized she was not coming. I knocked on her door and asked to see her. When I finally burst into her room, wet and shivering, I couldn’t believe what I saw. There was Susan, sitting on her bed, headphones on, singing along to her iPod!
“What are you doing here, Susan?” I yelled. “Why aren’t you outside with me?”
Susan looked at me blankly and asked, “Were we supposed to be doing something, Ruth?”
I couldn’t believe it. “You’ve forgotten?” tears welled up in my eyes. “You’ve forgotten?” I turned and fled back home, crying bitterly.
That was the start of a sharp downhill plunge for our friendship. Of course, I tried my hardest to hold it up, but the hill was just too steep. One day it would be a new pair of shoes that held her up on a day ordained for black-berry picking, another day it would be an “awesome party” that she absolutely “had” to go to, even if it meant missing out on a trip to the common to watch wild rabbits. She became obsessed with fancy invitations, makeup, boyfriends, new clothes, new hairstyles. Every time it was a different excuse. And the horrible thing was, the excuses were real. My best buddy was no longer interested in me.
That was the most miserable time of my life. I recall wandering moodily around the house, picking up books and putting them down again. I would raid the fridge, and then put my spoils back. Even when my parents bought me a puppy for my twelfth birthday, I replied with a dull, uninterested. “Thanks.” The reason for my being so glum was of course that Susan had failed to turn up to my party. I was well aware that she was nearly fifteen now, but our age difference had never meant anything before. Clearly it was not “proper” for teens to associate with “kids”. I just couldn’t stand it.
One day, as I was out walking in the park, I saw Susan surrounded by some other girls, smoking. I couldn’t believe it. Suddenly, I made up my mind. I marched up to Susan and confronted her.
“Susan,” I snapped, “What are you doing?”
Susan breathed a cloud of smoke and sneered at me. “What do you want, kid?”
“I want to clear up a few things. What happened to you? Why did you change all of a sudden?”
Susan smiled. “I grew up,” she replied in as insulting voice as you could imagine.
“And so that’s why you’re killing your lungs with smoke, ruining your emotion by dating so many boys, …”
I got no further. Susan slapped me across the cheek. “You mind your manners, miss!” she snapped.
“No, I won’t!” I shouted back. “You left me stranded! You abandoned me! You were my friend all my life, and then you were gone. Do you have any idea what that did to me? What a hole it left behind?”
Her friends were crowding around me now, reprimanding me, telling me to “push off”. I did just that. I spun around and marched out of the park, certain now that I had lost Susan forever. Now I’m on the lookout for someone else to be my best buddy.
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