Fourth Grade:

When I stepped onto the school bus that morning, I never thought I would get hurt. I figured it was the same as all other mornings. However, when I searched for her smiling face and familiar shape, usually sitting about four or five seats back from the door, I couldn’t see her. I stood on the tips of my toes and looked to the back of the bus, but I still couldn’t see her. Suddenly I noticed an empty seat amongst a generally over-crowded bus. Kids sat three, sometimes four, to a seat. Why would this one, single, lonely seat still be empty? Stepping forward, all was made clear in a brief moment. Two girls sat, hunched over with their heads between their knees, hiding… from me.

It was the new girl, Kandace, with my best friend, Leah.

I don’t remember everything that transpired between us. I remember asking, “What’s going on?” At one point, I believe they were laughing. But to this day, I can still see a faint touch of worry in Leah’s eyes as she looked at me, smiling, chuckling girlishly. She has always been that way. She never wants to hurt anyone, but if she thinks she might have, her remorse is clearly apparent on her face. As I stared at her that morning, my heart pleading for an explanation, I also felt as though I had done her wrong, despite how my own feelings were currently bruised. Trust me, her gaze can be that convicting.

Since that day, two incidents happened during my relationship with Leah. The first–Kandace moved away that same year she had come. The second–Niether Leah or I ever moved. So we’ve been best friends, kindred spirits, two of a kind, peas in a pod, and whatever else you might say to describe to friends who love each other. Of course, we’ve had our up times and our down times. There was a time when Leah was mislead by another to believe some untruths. She was told that I smelled and never showered. Who told will remain anonymous, and besides, it wasn’t true. However, it did cost our friendship several months with which we could have spent together, having fun, enjoying life, laughing, and smiling.

However, none of those “down times” are really worth mentioning, because obviously, they did not succeed in separating the two of us. I care more about what Leah thinks of me than any other of my friends. Upon reading this, I know that anyone will understand because they know it is true. With one downcasted eye, she can make me want to weep with shame. If she leaps upon seeing me come toward her front door, that simple action will have “made my day.”

Knowing her, she will probably read this and tell me later how sorry she still is for that whole incident. I actually enjoy that memory–I thank her for it. Nothing has changed and nothing ever will. I do send this warning, however: don’t sit next to her on the bus if you know I’ll be on it too. Otherwise, you’re just asking for a beat-down. And trust me, I can take you.

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