“Pam, could you come over to my house?” I pleaded.
“Why?” the phone muffled back.
“Just come over! Your surprise is waiting; ask no more.” I responded.
“Okay, then.” Pamela hesitated, exactly as the doorbell rang.
Down the stairs, I went, and to the door, I ran. “Here too soon, Ash?” my friend grinned.
“What and how? Never mind! It’s freezing out there. Come in!” I panted.
“Look, Ashley. You’ve got to accept the fact that I’m -”
Finishing her sentence, I murmured, “More talented, more organized, more educated, and more trusted.” Pam raves about herself a lot, so I keep her in her place more often. “You’ve said that a million times already.”
“So, why am I here? Is this one of your other pranks for another immature play date? I haven’t recovered from that fall on those basketballs. I can use that time searching for colleges and programs instead.” she said, completely ignoring me.
“Check this out,” I pointed to the swivel chair near my computer desk. “A video competition for $1,000 as a prize! Ain’t that sweet? When we get our hands on that money, I am spending my portion at that newly-opened expensive shop; I can’t wait to see my upgraded closet!” I strutted.
Nonchalantly, Pam slurred, “That’s cool.”
“Cool? Just cool? What do you mean? It took me days to find the perfect competition, and you’re saying ‘cool’? Aren’t you enthusiastic?” I snapped. How many times have I endured Pam’s favorite kinds of competitions?
Pamela shrugged. “I have a new friend. She’s really smart, maybe she could help?”
Feeling rejected, I oozed, “Wait, we can’t enter as a group of three. It’s only a partner for each participant at maximum. We can be lone partners, my pal!”
“Sorry, I think I’ll join in with Fleur. She’s more alike. Plus, we are partners for the upcoming science fair.” she proposed.
“What?! I thought we decided we would do that Electrolyte Challenge together! I can’t believe you would do this to me especially since we were besties from birth!” I spat back. I was so furious with that girl, my hands turned into fists, and my face was a tomato.
Pamela exploded, “What’s wrong with having a new friend? I have a life too, you know. I am not just sitting here like your fairy godmother. It’s decided; I will enter the competition with Fleur, and that is final.” She stormed out of the room having thrown her final dart.
Excuse me. How did that happen? She just chose her ‘new friend’ over me… without even letting me know who she is! You’ll be very sorry, Pamela. You just wait!
After a little research and some online chatting, I found a new friend! She doesn’t rave about herself. At least not as much as Pamela. She’s blonde and very rich. With my parents' permission, I asked her to come over. She was pretty smart. She claims that she has won many competitions. Diving through the website, I showed her the video guidelines, not stating the prize. However, my mysterious twinkle flashed a clue.
Catching on, she quizzed, “Okay, what are we in for?”
“Uh, a thousand dollars each,” I broke down.
“I’ll give you an exception since you are my only friend.” I twitched at that word, but she continued, “Since I love participating, and I don’t want that prize. You can have my portion.” I wanted to thank her, but I gave her a thumbs up and a dorky smile.
“We can introduce ourselves. You go first.” I told her.
“I’m Tiffany, and my family is very rich. Hence, I’m rich too. I’m almost 14. I love art, and I’m a gymnast. I am extremely competitive. And that’s all I have to say. Your turn.” She returned my thumbs up. I think we are going to be great friends! Fare thee well, Pamela!
“I am Ashley, and I am 13 and a half years. I want to be a ballerina, or maybe a singer. However, I am embarrassed to sing in front of an audience. Sometimes, I like coding, and sometimes, I am interested in technology. My favorite subject is science.”
“When is the deadline and what is the prompt, Ashley?” I was glad she changed the subject.
“The deadline is on the 30th of December, and we are supposed to be making a video about how to stop pollution. ” I answered.
“Ashley, honey, dinner is being served,” mom called out.
“Want to stay for dinner, Tiffany?” I asked.
“I’d love to stay longer, but I need to go wash my hair and get my beauty sleep,” she replied.
“Okay then, good night!” I told her.
“Toodles, hon!” she elegantly waved her fingers. After peeking out of the window at Tiffany getting escorted to a limousine by her chauffeur, I had a gourmet Thanksgiving meal in the evening.
At the dinner table, mom cooed, “Don’t worry, dear. I am positive you’ll find better friends. Look at you! You are a person everyone should like!”
“Yeah, thanks for your support, mom,” I rolled my eyes. What I wanted to mumble was, “What’s the point?”, but I was not about to ruin the dinner table with “unnecessary” words. I bet you’re getting this wrong. I am not a savage person. I’m a normal girl with a normal life. Maybe a little bossy, but otherwise, fine. I wished I could stay up longer to make a new friendship bracelet, but tomorrow was a school day, so I decided to bring a few beads and two strings to make it on the school bus. I took a warm bath and slipped into my bed.
All hearts broken. Friendships destroyed. Loneliness spreads uncontrollably. In a world full of depression, and dust. A wave of sadness washed over me, thinking about the old times with Pamela. How we used to tease each other with ice-cream mustaches. How we used to play with blocks when we were in kindergarten. And I won’t forget when I laughed so hard at her imitations, milk drove through my nose. I had a last glimpse of Pamela when I noticed she stood on the edge of a tall cliff above me, tipping over the edges. “NO!!” I shouted, realizing it was just a nightmare. “Don’t even think about it, Ashley,” I mused, “You know you’re stronger than this.” I drank a glass of water and made sure I tucked myself into my bed correctly.
Once my eyes closed, my vision started to turn and swivel. Holding hands with Tiffany, we walked across the red carpet. I looked glamorous in a golden dress. We were on our way to a conference with my song director, when the press stepped into our way, asking questions like maniacs. On the other side stood squealing fans holding supporting signs and holding out papers and pens, some even wanted me to design a tattoo that had my name on it. I guess Pamela can’t stop me now. No one will stop her either. If anyone steps in her way, I’ll lunge and prevent them. I can’t wait to see how the future will end.
“Miss, in just a signature all of these people on the red carpet other than Mrs. Gleam and yourself, will be charged,” a security man disturbed my thoughts.
“No thank you, I have got a better way.” I sneered. “Whoever steps off my way gets a free backstage pass to my next official music video,” I shouted into my silver microphone. I almost got trampled by an angry mob heading back to where they came from. As I headed into a recording room, I heard someone calling my name.
“Ashley! Ashley! Ashley?” I opened my eyes, reaching my slippers, mom was by my side.“Well, don’t just sit there! You’re going to be late for school!” she scolded.
“Huh? Oh yeah, don’t worry.” I mumbled as if I was still in my dream.
Quickly slipping on to my new fluffy, rainbow shirt and black tights, I fixed myself a grilled cheese sandwich. Glancing at my watch, I heard the bus roar as it reached my house. Panicking, I grabbed all of my textbooks and homework sheets and sprinted to the shoe rack. I ran even faster back to my room to snatch some beads and two strings from my friendship kit.
I darted onto the bus. Looking on the aisle for a seat, my eyes caught Pamela and her friend holding an iPad. Their bodies were huddled, heads down, and their mouths were moving. “After controlling me for all these years, it’s only fair to know what they are doing.” my brain remarked. Obliviously, I slid into a seat right behind theirs. Pamela and her friend, I am assuming, muffled some information about how to get rid of pollution, and how to use the three Rs. I whipped my phone out of my bag and mute it. I held it up where I could actually “see” what they were doing, and took a couple of accurate pictures. When Pamela tucked the iPad back into her backpack, I started linking the string into the beads, spelling, ‘BFFs’. I drafted out an evil plan, one to take revenge on Pamela...something I would tell Tiffany later that day. The bus screeched to a stop as we reached the building.
It seemed like a big rush over there. My head went spinning as the classes went through. I started to get dizzy. I was told that I fell on the way to the cafeteria, and was found by Dr. Cooke, the school principal. Other than that, I couldn’t remember anything.
“Okay, Ashley. How many fingers am I holding?” Mrs. Cowell, the school nurse asked. “You’re holding 5,” I answered, feeling a bump on my head. “I’m calling your mom, she’ll come and pick you up,” she exclaimed.
“Oh dear, I was so worried about you! Mrs. Katherine called me and told me you were not in a very good condition. When we reach home, go get some sleep, honey.” Mom hugged me.
“Okay, mom,” I mumbled, trying to act like I was sleepy.
I didn’t say anything else on the car ride.
I was sent back there to rest, but rest and relaxation came last on my list. After fakely snoring, I jumped onto my chair and inaugurated my computer. I searched for my Hangouts chat with Tiffany and opened it. ‘Hi Tiffany, I have something to show you, and it’s urgent. Please come over.’ I typed and hit send. Suddenly, I remember that I was supposed to be in bed, and if Tiffany was here, mom would say that I was sick. I walked down the stairs and faced my mom. “Mom, I don’t feel sleepy one bit. Is it okay if I have some company with Tiffany?” I asked.
“Anything you want, Sweetheart.” was the reply that hit me with joy.
I wriggled upstairs and back to my computer. Just then, I heard a beep from the Hangouts site. I checked my chat, and Tiffany had replied, ‘Look under your window.’ I jerked my head, and there sat her shiny, sleek, limousine. She was waiting patiently facing the doorbell, holding a red-ribboned blue box. Hearing some muffled voices, I peeked from the top of the stairs. Mom welcomed Tiffany, “Upstairs, the third room to the left of the family portrait is Ashley’s room.” Anticipatingly, I rummaged through my friendship box, and right before Tiffany stepped into my room, I felt the wrapped gift of friendship bracelets I made earlier that day. I closed my friendship kit and gave Tiffany a big smile. “Hey, Tiff! How are you doing?” I said slyly.
“Hi, Ashley! Pretty good! What’s urgent?” she greeted.
I filled her in on all of the details of Pamela, and everything that happened in school, including the school bus.
“You poor thing.” she whimpered, “I can be your new bestie, and that’s what is better for you.”
“I have a gift for you.” we both said at the same time, “What a coincidence?!” “You go first!” we recited again, “ I give up!”
“Open it.” Tiffany smiled, passing me the box she was holding.
Ripping and flinging the blue wrapping paper right and left, I finally had a good look at what was inside. Opening the lid, stood a transforming robot! " Oh Tiffany, this is awesome! I’ve always wanted one of these! I can never in a million years afford this!” I could’ve puked confetti mixed with skittles and glitter! “Thank you so much!” I gave her a big hug.
Returning her kindness for her present, I handed her a red velvet, small box of friendship bracelets, tied with a light pink ribbon, her favorite color. She untied it. “These are friendship bracelets,” I exclaimed, “I designed and made them myself. Do you agree to wear it every day?”
“Oh gosh! They are so beautiful! Of course, I will! You should wear your bracelet every day too!” She jumped around in delight.
“Okay, back to business. Let’s take a look at the pictures you’ve taken.” Tiffany said seriously.
Handing her my phone, we reviewed the bus shots of Pam’s iPad. “You’re quite a photographer, Ash.”
“Thanks,” my cheeks reddened. It was the only vocation I was good at.
Returning the phone, she opened her cheetah-patterned purse and pulled out a pen and pad.
“Would you do me a favor, and tell me what they’ve written?” she asked.
She jotted notes of the information that amazed her. “Pollution is supposed to be disagreeable. Help the world become a better place!” I finally recited.
Glancing at her watch, she hurriedly stuttered, “I think that’s enough for today. Meet me at three pm tomorrow. Have a great day! ” Tiffany stood up to leave.
I followed her asking, “Where should I meet you?”
She took her pen and pad out again and scribbled an address. Tossing the paper to me, she shouted, “Don’t forget, three pm sharp! I have a spa appointment at five, so we will have to work fast. Let me know your ideas. I’ll have all materials and software updated. You don’t worry about a thing! Ciao!”
After making sure Tiffany had left the block, I came back in to find my mom talking on the phone.
“Alrighty, thank you, Mrs. Katherine. Have a lovely evening.” mom sighed into the phone. “The school nurse just called. You’re staying home tomorrow. Speaking of that, why don’t you go and get some good night’s sleep?” she smiled.
I filled the tub with steaming water and threw in some soapy suds. Splashing in, I took note that I had to mop the mess up after I bathed. All of my worries and thoughts faded, as I finally got some rest. Maybe I could do it more often. After wiping up some suds, I brushed my teeth and flossed very well. I also used the braces cleaner. Have I mentioned that I have braces?
I had nothing to dream of that night. That night was one like no other. My brain directed me to sleep until 1:00 pm, the next afternoon. “Well, that was refreshing!” I blurted to just myself. Mom was doing housework in the kitchen.
“Good afternoon, Dear. Looks like you had a great night. It’s 1:03. You must get some breakfast, or we could call it lunch.” she winked.
“Yum! Pancakes and blueberries for lunch!” my mouth watered.
Devouring every last bit of the heavenly smelling, taste bud-screaming, lunch, I took a short shower. “Mom!”I called out, “Which one looks better? This green dress, or this red sparkly one?”
“I think the red dress is the best. Plus, it matches your new red boots.” she chose.
I dressed and combed my hair. Just then, I heard the Hangouts beep coming from my computer. I released my comb on the table and signed in. The screen displayed, ' You have one new message from Tiffany Gleam. Tiffany Gleam says, “When do you want me to pick you up?”. I quickly typed, ‘Pick me up?’. ‘Yes, when?’ she responded. ‘I am ready now.’ I sent.
In barely 5 minutes, a chauffeur conducted me into the glossy limo. It was like the modern Cinderella going to the ball! “Hi, Tiffany! How are you?” I asked once I sat on a cushioned, felt couch.
“Luke, smoothie! Hey Ash, I’m great! You’ve brainstormed anything?”
A man in a black suit handed me a strawberry, banana smoothie. “Thanks. Yep! I’ve got them on a paper right here. I have some ideas for software.” I asserted.
Once we arrived, Tiffany started her computer. Oh, gosh, it looked like a TV! “These are the programs we’ll use. For any other software, please tell me right away,” she exclaimed.
We worked until 4:30 pm. After that, we previewed the video and checked if we met the guidelines. It was brilliant! I had a blast over there, it was fabulous. Time was running out, but we were done filming and animating. “I need to go to my spa appointment. Toodles!”
A month later, I received an email, saying that we were disqualified from the competition. I quickly called Tiffany and blurted out what the email stated. It was sent with an attachment of a video of me taking photos of an iPad. How they got it, I do not know.
“You’re the worst person I ever met!” screeched Tiffany. “How would you just take photos without checking if anybody was watching? I unfriend you!”
And that is how I learned to isolate myself from other people I don’t know very well. Who knows how people in the real world act like? It has been years since this happened. I have learned to choose better friends now. They’re average and dorky just like me. I will accept who I am, and never give in. You should too. May all broken hearts be sealed with new friendships.