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“I’m going out with the girls tonight. They’re going to the movies, and I haven’t seen them in awhile.”
“Ok whatever, do whatever you want I don’t care anymore. Do you even care that we had plans tonight to hang out Whitney?” Jake shouted flinging his hands in the brisk October air. Then crossing his arms he shouted.
“I mean seriously, I give up hanging out with my friends for a night because you have nothing to do and you need someone to chill with, and now you think you can just whine and tell me you have other plans. What kind of world do you live in?”
“Ok,” my chest felt heavier with every breath. Small puddles were forming in the corners of my eyes, my nose was burning while my throat began to tighten, and I clenched my fists to make the feeling go away.
“I’ll cancel on them, it’s not a big deal, we can still hang out.”
But it was a big deal. Didn’t Jake realize that I needed girl friends too? There were things I couldn’t talk to him about, and besides that I had been friends with these girls forever, I had only been dating Jake for two years. Every time that he was bored I was expected to drop everything and hang out with him. But when he had something to do I was expected to leave him alone. He needed “guy bonding” time.
The leaves were beginning to turn colors which meant, it was two weeks before homecoming… crunch time. Posters caught your eye everywhere you turned. Bright orange, green and pink signs that read, “Get your date now, plan your before and after before it’s too late.” Hmm, I wondered what our plans were. It was kind of weird I hadn’t heard anything yet; maybe they were still trying to figure things out. It was always rough to plan a homecoming for a group of forty, but somehow we managed every year. This year all of that would change.
“Hey girl,” Alyson shouted, waving me over to the table.
Shuffling over to the table, I wondered what the lunch conversation would be, boys were always the most popular subject. When I got to the table everyone was talking about Saturday night and Charlie’s party. Water filled my eyes, I sunk my teeth into my lower lip to try and stop the flow of tears. This had been happening more since Jake and I had been together. I didn’t even know that Charlie had a party until I got to school this morning.
“Wow how much fun was Charlie’s on Saturday?” Alyson giggled as she ran her fingers through her hair.
“So much fun, the girls night after was so sweet, stuffing our faces with junk food and gossiping all night, ah this was one of the best weekends we’ve had in awhile,” Carly could hardly contain her excitement.
Needless to say I was left out of this lunch conversation.
“Well I hung out with Jake all weekend,” I whispered to myself.
They wouldn’t care anyway. My heart sank, I sat there as thought I was a fly on the wall just listening to all of the fun my so-called friends had without me,
“The DJ was amazing,” and “Did you see Katie’s hair it was disgusting,” or “I heard Charlie got caught by his parents for throwing the party and now he’s grounded.”
They didn’t even call me to see if I wanted to go. Before I knew what I was doing I picked up my lunch tray, hands in my pockets and shuffled away, invisible.
The rest of the day flew by, tests, labs, and homework kept my mind busy, and off the topic of friends. On my way home I felt my body begin to pulsate, I knew without looking that my face was turning shades of red as I continued on my drive home. I had to open my window, why wouldn’t they have just called me, I thought to myself. Maybe they thought I would have other plans. I knew I was furious when my eyes began to well up; this always happened to me, first my face would turn shades of red, then I would scrunch my nose to stop the burning, bite my bottom lip, and no matter how hard I’d try to control it… the tears would come, flowing with a greater speed than the time before, how embarrassing. It wasn’t my fault I had a boyfriend. They didn’t know what it was like to have someone who is always there for you no matter what. They didn’t have to leave me out of everything.
“Hi mom, goodnight mom,” I stumbled right through the kitchen, staring down at my feet and straight into my bedroom.
“Is everything okay honey? It’s only five o’clock. Why don’t you come out here and have some dinner and we can chat,” she was talking to me like I was a five year old. I could handle my own problems.
“No mom, I’m tired, it was a long day, I’m fine and I just want to go to bed,” It sounded convincing to me. “All right then, goodnight,” I heard her footsteps as she walked back into the kitchen. I fell asleep, wondering why my friends didn’t seem to care anymore.
Less than twenty-four hours later, I was hesitant about going to lunch. Maybe it was a fluke that they forgot to invite me to that party, and today they would realize it and everything would be back to normal. Carly was the first person I saw. She was sitting at the end of the table with Alyson they were writing and talking intensely to each other. Party bus, dinner, pictures, finally they’re planning this. When Alyson caught a glimpse of me I noticed that she nudged Carly and they quickly put away the list. I didn’t think twice about it. Later that day after school had finished, one of my friends Kelsey walked quickly over to my locker, the expression on her face was like that of a police officer as he tells a family that their son or daughter was just involved in an accident.
“Hey Whitney,” she stammered twirling her hair around her finger. “I just thought um that I should let you know um that you and Jake aren’t one of the couples included in the party bus,” I felt the earth shake, I couldn’t move. Did she really just say that? “There wasn’t a lot of room, and nobody really knows Jake, so um well we didn’t have enough room for you guys,” She stood there, silent, not even blinking.
“Oh, ok,” was about all I could get out. My throat began to tighten up; I bit my lip tapping my foot on the floor, spinning the ring on my finger.
I wasn’t going to let anybody see me cry. It wasn’t worth it. I began to sweat, the anger was pouring out of me, why me, why now, why didn’t one of my good friends have the decency to tell me to my face, why was I left out in the first place? The questions raced through my mind like a shutter on a photo lens. Should I confront Alyson? After all she had been my best friend since the age of eight. I always knew Carly was evil, but Alyson? My heart was racing, this wasn’t really happening.
The next day at school I avoided all the girls. I sat with other people at lunch and I took different routes to class. I was done with feeling invisible. If they couldn’t accept the fact that I had a boyfriend, well then I didn’t need them. I would go to homecoming with another group. It would be different, but it didn’t matter. I would make it fun.
The next two weeks flew by.
“Hey how are you,” and “What’s up,” were about all I could say to any of my girl friends. They invited me to pictures before so I decided to be the bigger person and go. Jake wouldn’t go with me; he was way too cool to go to two sets of pictures. So I went alone. Bad idea. Slowly I walked around the house. Two girls posing here, another couple posing there. “Excuse me could you scoot over,” one mother asked. “All of the people who are riding on the party bus come over here,” Shouted another.
Then it happened again, I felt my throat tightening, my eyes began to well up, and before I made it out of the house a teardrop fell and made a noise louder than an atomic bomb. I quickly left the house and made it to the car where I broke down. Any makeup that was on my face was now gone. I’m done, I don’t care anymore. If they don’t care why should I? I quickly made the decision that I would forget about what had happened and try to enjoy the night. A few dances later the night was over, and I was headed home, but the thoughts of what Monday might bring were haunting me. I knew I had to confront Alyson, Carly was a lost cause, but I didn’t care. The only thing I wanted to know was how Alyson could possibly treat me the way she did.
I picked up my phone and dialed Alyson’s number. One ring, two rings, maybe she won’t answer. She probably doesn’t want to talk to me. Three rings, four rings.
“Hi, I mean hey, um Hello,” she was stuttering.
“Hi,” I muttered and then before she could say anything else the time bomb in me exploded.
“How could you leave me out? We have been best friends for years, and you’re wiling to throw it all away just because Carly thinks she runs the world and can peer pressure you into things,” Oh no it was happening again.
“What have I ever done to you that would make you do something so hurtful to me?” I was trying my hardest not to but before I knew it tears were flowing like the Mississippi.
“Why do I feel like you don’t like me because of Jake, what did he ever do to you?” The phone was silent for what seemed like an eternity. Then in a faint almost whisper,
“I’m sorry,” she breathed into the phone.
“You’re so right; I did let Carly talk me into it. I don’t know why I can’t stand up for myself and my friends. I’m sorry I hurt you, I didn’t think about how I was making you feel. You are my best friend and I’m sorry,” then without warning her tone changed. Alyson was angry.
“But I’m not sorry about Jake. I don’t like him and that is sometimes why you don’t get invited places. Nobody likes Jake!”
“What did Jake ever do to make you not like him,” I was shaking now.
There was no reason for her not to like Jake.
“It’s not what he did to me,” she was breathing heavy.
“It’s how he treats you. He’s a jerk and nobody wants a jerk around. He’s not nice to you and he pushes you around. You aren’t allowed to go anywhere because he wants to hang out so why should we try to include you, we know you won’t be able to come,” by that time we were both crying.
I knew from that moment that our friendship would be stronger than ever. She really was there for me, even though sometimes she had a weird way of showing it, she really did care. My head was cleared of all the thoughts about friends, life was good again. The only problem was Jake. Everything Alyson mentioned gave me goose bumps, she was right. I would think about it later, for now I had my friends back and that’s all that mattered.