They had sleek, blonde hair to their waists, straight white teeth, tanned limbs and only wore brand label clothing. They were the social queens of Myrtle High and it was an honour to be noticed by them. I was surprised then when they approached me one balmy, spring morning. Tayla wore a denim mini-skirt that showed off slim, brown legs, and a clinging designer T-shirt. Micky pranced along in skin-tight jeans and a low-cut, lace creation.
“Hey Shannon.” Tayla opened the conversation. “We’ve noticed you’re looking good these days. That hair cut really brings out your best features. ”
I felt flattered and warm inside. Had they really noticed my efforts to look good?
“So how would you feel about hanging with us sometime? We’re going to the beach on Saturday and Dave and Nick will be there.” Micky gazed through sultry eyelashes. “Think you could come?”
I hesitated, suspicious of the attention. Why would they suddenly pick me out of the crowd? I certainly wasn’t in their league. I was just me. Average looking, average academically, average at sports. “Why now? Why do you want me to come along?”
Tayla answered. “We think you could fit in with us. We’ll help you with your looks and makeup. Redo your wardrobe; give you some lessons in boys. Show you how to have a good time.”
It was tempting. The girls and their group of cronies were the envy of the whole school. Pride wormed its way into my heart and I brushed aside my misgivings.
“Cool.” I said. “I’ll be there.”
The girls flounced off and were at the end of the corridor when Tayla turned around. “By the way,” she called. “There is one thing you need to do first.”
I caught up to them wondering what it could be.
“You need to get rid of Lesley.”
“Yeah. She’s a real loser. If you want to hang with us you’ll have to cut her out.”
“Lunchtime tomorrow at the cafeteria. We’ll say you have an announcement to make. You get up and say you’re moving on. That Lesley no longer features. That you’ll be with us in future.”
Laughing, they strutted off, wiggling their hips and flirting as they passed some jocks.
I felt sick. I might have known terms and conditions would apply. Lesley had been my friend for years. I thought of her smiling round face and laughing eyes. I thought of the way she helped with my school work and listened to my endless litany of problems. I couldn’t do that to her…or could I?
I spent a restless night, my mind shifting from one view point to the other. Lesley could be annoying at times. She was a little frumpy and she didn’t like the beach. Maybe it was time for a change. A new image, new friends. I pictured myself swanning the corridors of Myrtle High, hair sleek and shiny, skin flawless and boys falling at my feet.
On the other hand, were those two vamps to be trusted? They had never bothered with me in the past and had a reputation for letting people down. What if this was their warped idea of fun. What if I betrayed Lesley and ended up with no friends at all.
Lunch time arrived and once the students were settled, Tayla banged a plate with a spoon. “Attention everyone. Shannon has something to say to us.”
I climbed onto a chair and faced my peers. Tayla and Micky had smirks on their faces and their friends were grinning like hyenas. “These two girls have invited me to join their group.” I began. “However their offer is conditional on me publicly ending my friendship with Lesley.” I looked at Lesley and saw confusion and hurt twist her features. “Well I’m here today to say that life doesn’t work like that. Lesley is the best friend I’ve ever had. She’s honest, caring and good fun. I’m not giving her up for a bunch of girls who don’t know the first thing about true friendship.” I turned to Tayla and Micky as I hopped off the chair. “Anytime you want to hang with Lesley and I, you’re welcome.”
The cafeteria was pin quiet, frozen in motion like a waxworks museum. Then a girl stood and slowly started to clap. Others joined in until the room was shaking as they applauded and stamped their feet.
Smiling, I linked my arm through Lesley’s. “Come on friend. Let’s get out of here.”
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