Monday, October 1, 2012

A Novel Idea

“Here’s a bone for you.”

I felt like I’d been slapped across the face. Surely, Kevin hadn’t meant to throw the stuffed dog’s bone on my desk, right? Right?? I looked up at him and saw a derisive grin spreading across his face as the other kids sitting around us in English class realized what he’d done.

I shouldn’t have really been surprised. So far, seventh grade had been horrible. It had started on the very first day. I’d been so excited to go to the Junior/Senior regional high school with the kids I’d grown up with since kindergarten. We’d finally meet the students from the other small town that would be transitioning over from their elementary school too. New faces, new friends…so exciting!

A few of us had gone to my best friend Tabitha’s house a week before school started for a sleepover. We’d spent the night dancing and singing and talking about all the fun we’d have in Junior High. Tabitha and I had made plans to save a seat for each other if we got to our classes first.

The first day of school dawned crisp and cool. I got dressed in my jeans and my sister’s hand-me-down sweater and walked down to the bus stop with her. She was in eleventh grade and had told me that things would be radically different from elementary school but I brushed off her warning and hopped on the bus.

There wasn’t any time to find Tabitha once we got to school. I had to find my locker, find my homeroom and get dismissed to my first class…English. Finally! We had compared our schedules at the sleepover and had been relieved to find that we were in a lot of the same classes. I rushed for the classroom and saw that she was there first. I walked over to the empty chair next to her and started to put my book down on the desk.

“That seat is taken.”

“Hahaha…good one T..”, I said.

“No, really. That seat is taken.”

I looked over at her but she wasn’t looking back. She was staring at the front of the room. It was in that moment…that horrible, gut wrenching moment, that I realized what was happening. I slowly grabbed my book and turned towards the back of the room, found an empty desk in the back row and sat down. My eyes welled up with tears as I watched another one of our friends, Sarah, greet Tabitha and sit down next to her in what should have been my seat.

I stared at Tabitha for a bit…wondering what exactly was going on with her.  We’d been friends for several years.  Her mother was our Girl Scout leader and I’d spent hours at her house, playing out in her backyard with her and her little sister.  We attended the same church and were in the same Sunday School class.  Just two and a half months ago we were passing notes back and forth in sixth grade, proclaiming our status as BFF-4-Eva.  Now, she was sitting next to Sarah, talking and laughing with Sarah, Bethany and Jessica.  What would I do now?

The rest of the day passed much the same.  There were more classes, more teachers who outlined the year ahead for us.  And then lunch.  I sat by myself, with a clear view of Tabitha and her table of giggling girls.  I spent that lunch writing a letter to Tabitha.  If I could just say the right thing, she’d HAVE to be my friend again.  Or so I thought anyway.

In retrospect, the letter I wrote was pathetic.  I was pretty much begging her to talk to be my friend.  Pleading with her to tell me what I’d done to make her turn her back on me.  I knew that we had Latin next period so I hurriedly finished the note, folded it carefully and left the cafeteria to find the classroom.

I stopped at my locker first to drop off some of the books I’d accumulated over the course of the morning and headed to class.  Tabitha was again sitting next to Sarah, whispering and laughing over something apparently hilarious.  I walked past her desk and dropped the note in front of her and headed to a desk in her row.  I watched her carefully as she unfolded the note.  She read it, handed it to Sarah who read it as well and gave it back with a snicker.  Tabitha stood up and with a flourish, dropped it in the trash at the front of the room.

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