I’d seen her around but never thought to say anything. Maybe it was a trip to the bathroom where we’d acknowledge each other with a slight nod. Or we’d end up sitting next to each other but find our conversations limited to what we were doing in class that particular day. But something about her threw me off. Maybe it was her positivity about each and every bad situation. And to be honest, I looked up to her. Admired her. God, Eden is one of the top cheerleaders in the squad. And really? She was beautiful, with her stunning green eyes and blond locks. Yet somehow, being the most popular girl in my grade, I couldn't bring myself to befriend her. The always alone- hated for no reason- kind of girl. So what? Does popularity mean power? I suck in a sharp breath and throw my bag over my shoulder, and stride into class.
“Hey!” I greet her, sliding into the seat next to Eden which obviously takes her by surprise because she blinks in confusion before letting a sweet smile take over her face.
“Hi, Bella,” She says, then pauses and asks, “Where’s Stephanie and Rhyme?”
“Just...thought I’d sit here today!” But seeing Eden’s smile dropped a little I quickly add, “Is that okay?”
“More than okay.” She exclaims willing the smile to return. “Sooo, how have you been?” Eden asks.
“Pretty good, I guess. Steph and Ry have been pretty jerky lately so…” I pause and tilt my head, smiling. “I was hoping I could hang out with you!” She gasps and sucks in every millimeter of air in the room. I can read her mind: Me? Of all the girls in this grade, me?
“I’d love that. I’d really love that.” Eden whispers, closing her eyes. Her huge, genuine smile returns. Eden’s glasses perfectly frame her face, giving her this sexy librarian kind-of-look. She has those eyes that could make guys melt to fudge and work like slaves under her name.
“We could, ya know, go shopping after school, meet up with some guys, go to the movies?” I suggest waving my hands in the air.
“Sure, sounds fun!” She says, turning in response to having sensed someone behind her. Steph and Ry.
“NO, NO, and NO! Don’t you dare even try to accept her invitation out of pity for your sad, friendless life! And if you think you can get away with stealing OUR friend, you are underestimating the power beneath this hand!” Yells Stephanie, motioning to her fist.
“C’mon Steph. Ry. Tone it down a little. And don’t talk to her that way!” I immediately say, coming to her defense. Eden slaps her hand on the table, standing up and literally explodes. She is screaming so loud, the whole class freezes and stares. Even Steph and Ry don’t move for a minute. Mr. Tygan rushes over there, eyes wide, and attempts to calm the situation. All three of them are escorted to the office as soon as Mr. Tgyan gets an apology out of them for having an “obnoxious outburst” in class. The entire class sits there, frozen for a second but then as if on cue, they begin to chat wildly. I cross the room and plop next to Elias.
“It’s been a while. Can’t believe you stood up to Stephanie and Rhyme like that.” The corner of his mouth lifts and hints at a smile. We begin to laugh so hard until everyone is staring intensely in our direction.
“Yea I know!” I can’t stop smiling.“Hey, you should come to the mall after school with us.”
“Who’s us? Steph and Ry?” He teases.
“God, no. Me and Eden. Bring the others.”
“Eden? I’ll be there.” He says so confidently that it makes me burst in fits of laughter once more.
“God, Elias. You're such a slut.” I say through convulsions that have sent me into hysterics. And then because I can’t resist, I add, “I knew it all along. See you there.” I exit class but hear the barely audible, “You knew WHAT?” I smile, not turning back once. As soon as I enter the office, I see Eden who is frantically waving me over.
“Thank GOD you came. My Dad has to pick me up.” She says with a tired look. “But he will drop me off at the mall.”
“Okay well, I’m gonna head. See you there!” I bend down giving her a quick hug and fling my hair over my shoulder, exiting the school. I approach my car but can’t help feeling that I’ve done something right. As I drive, A thousand thoughts flood my mind, Eden? What was I doing? What do Steph and Ry think of me now? Why do I have to be so incredibly stupid? My thoughts are interrupted as I pull up to the mall. I debate turning around. No, no this is what you wanted, remember? Closing my eyes, I suck in a deep breath. I force myself inside to the bench we had agreed on meeting at. When she doesn’t come and I see Elias instead I can’t decide whether I’m happy.
“Aww, what’s wrong? Didn’t show up?” I Smile, turn, and there she is. Walking towards me, wearing her winning smile, carrying a bag. My head is spinning with relief so great, I can’t stop myself from running and launching myself into her arms.
“Whoa!” She says tumbling backward before hugging me back with the same amount of delight. “Who’d you bring with you?” She says, motioning towards Elias and his crew.
“Eden, this is my good childhood friend, Elias. These are his friends!” I announce. We walk to one of the mall's restaurants. I’m not quite sure what to say at first but I end up telling her all about Stephanie and Rhyme. My friends, family, life, everything. From my favorite color to toilet paper. The guys have been gone for a while now, and we have been sitting in the restaurant for six hours. We have been chatting like we’ve known each other for our whole lives. I have found my place! I have stumbled upon an abrupt realization that this is what true friendship is all about.