Jenna lifted the “sweet sixteen” party invitation out of her purse and stuck it in the lilies on Gabby’s coffin. Then she sat down on a velvet chair in the back corner of the room and closed her eyes, wishing she could change last Saturday night. She looked up when the room fell silent and Lisa, her friend and neighbor since first grade, began to speak.
Lisa’s blue eyes filled as they focused on the paper she held. Her hands trembled as she spoke in front of a full crowd of peers. “Gabby was my best friend, a true friend who could make me laugh. We met in Sunday school class ten years ago and stayed buddies until now . . .
Jenna’s tears dried, but her cheeks flushed and burned with anger.
Best friend? Is she kidding? Half the kids here know she called her “Flabby Gabby” behind her back. How two-faced! I was the one who stuck up for her.
As everyone filed out of the funeral home, Lisa stopped Jenny and hugged her. “This is the worst day ever.”
Jenna said nothing.
Jenna tried to sleep, but couldn’t get that night out of her head . . .
“Hey, Gabby, can you come to the movies with me and Emily?”
“Another time. I’m going driving with Jason, Eric, and get this—Robby!”
“Really? You go girl. How long have you liked him?”
“Like forever. Thanks for the invite though. I’ll see you on Monday and tell you any juicy details.”
She heard the news on Sunday morning. A car accident. Like in those Driver’s Ed movies, Gabby wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. She was thrown out the back windshield—a week before her sweet sixteen party.
Jenna pounded her pillow and sobbed.
She couldn’t get Lisa’s words out either:
“Flabby Gabby thinks she’s hot stuff . . . my best friend . . .”
Jenna cried out to God, “I asked her to come with me . . . why?”
The next day, school became a second funeral. The principal announced a minute of silence.
Seated in front of Jenna next to the vacant seat where Gabby sat, Lisa whimpered like a sick puppy. Jenna watched Ms. Kelly, the French teacher, hug Lisa and give her a hall pass to leave class. Jenny’s stomach twisted. That’s when she wrote the note.
She wrote in permanent black ink . . .
Why are you acting like Gabby was your best friend? I know the truth, and so do you. You teased her behind her back. You were NOT a friend to her AT ALL! Stop the goody-two-shoes act.
The note would stab Lisa in the heart—just what Jenna wanted. She folded the note into a square and taped it to Lisa’s locker.
By sixth period, the whole school received a text from Lisa. It read:
Jenna Ryan is a cruel b---! Don’t talk to her. Let her hang with the nerds. No, they’re 2 good for her.
Last period, Jenna found the same note taped on her own locker with a large X across her words, and new words underneath: “U R a dirtbag!”
Even Emily sided with Lisa. The next day, she and Lisa cornered Jenna in the locker room. “Here’s what I think of your note,” Lisa said as she punched her in the face. Jenna wore a black eye for a week.
Jenna hid in the musty library during lunch and endured stares, snickers, and cold shoulders for the next year. With her pen she had killed another friendship. She was alone. Regret wouldn’t erase the note. Nothing could.
As the year dragged on, Jenna’s thoughts became morbid.
Nothing could be worse than my life right now. Why wasn’t I in that car instead of Gabby. Maybe I should write another note, a goodbye note.
One day, as a cool sea breeze whistled through the library windows, and sliced across Jenna’s bare neck, she wrote a list of ways she’d like to die.
If only I could be carried away by that wind, and disappear forever.
She picked up her pen to write a goodbye letter, but the words wouldn’t come. Instead she imagined Jesus writing in the sand and wrote a note in permanent black ink . . .
I’m sorry. Please forgive me.
She folded the note into a square and taped it to Lisa’s locker.
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