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Drama Creative Nonfiction Kids

The minute the text appears, your skin heats like a bucket of hot water was dumped on it. 

"Just say it," a scolding voice echoes in your head. "This is your chance. Don't waste it." 

You stare at the text, blood rushing to your ears, hands shaking like a scarecrow's in a storm. How can you say it? Rachel doesn't take rejection well. She might just slit her wrists if you tell her the bitter truth. The last thing you want to be is responsible for a suicide.

"You're overthinking things." That voice in your head suddenly sprouts a face which floats in your head space. The face rolls coal black eyes looking ominously like yours. "Rachel's a big girl. She wouldn't ask if she didn't want to know."

Maybe you are overthinking. Surely, because Rachel balled her eyes out first trimester at the carnival when she thought Martha was laughing at her soup-stained dress, or because she burned with angry tears second trimester when you tactfully told her she was being too clingy with her first boyfriend, doesn't mean she'll kill herself if you tell her this. Even though, by the end of the carnival, Rachel concluded Martha hated her because she was sure Martha thought she couldn't eat properly, despite Martha explaining she only laughed at the juggler behind Rachel. Even though you and Rachel beefed for a month after you expressed your opinion that second trimester. Regardless, Rachel still reached out after Kurtis broke up with her and she realized she had no shoulder except yours to cry on. 

You glance at your phone again, her message lighting the screen. 

"You're my best friend, right, Tris?"

It's a direct question. You hate telling lies. 

"Hypocrite," the pallid face sneers, a perfect imitation of your equally pale face when you sneer, "you've been living a lie for four years." 

You sigh. How do you evade this? How did it come to this in the first place? You two were just having a good laugh, discussing life in seventh grade so far, when...

Ahh. You sigh again, facepalming yourself a little too hard. How dumb you were, not seeing the red flags. You should've backed out when Rachel started talking about how you no longer took the bus to school together, how you talked with Martha more the few times you three lunched together, how you ate with Martha and the rest of the press club the other times, how you never showed as much enthusiasm when she proclaimed you her bestie to the few people who talked to her. 

You couldn't take a rain check and go offline, knowing by morning, this train of discussion would be forgotten. Instead, you stayed and played the oblivious best friend, your heart thumping louder than usual with the excuses you weaved for not being with her every second of the day, with every consolation you sent when she started spamming you with crying emojis. You tried to be as sympathetic as possible, knowing the emojis truly reflected her state. But, no matter what you did, everything only seemed like a badly rehearsed play. You wanted out, but showbiz wouldn't allow. 

You didn't expect the message, though.

"What do I do?" You squeeze your phone. The voice is quick to respond. "You've already delayed answering. Rachel must have guessed it by now, so JUST give her closure and say it!"

"She doesn't know I've seen it," you say, wishing you hadn't glimpsed the notification area at the top of your screen. "I haven't opened the message."

A scoff. "You are so cute. Rachel's not stupid, Tris."

You're not deterred. "For all she knows, I went to pee."

A snort. "You were replying her messages within seconds before you left to pee. Nice try. Now tell the truth and set yourself free."

Your head meets your bed frame. The voice is right. Is it not what you've been trying to do since you and Rachel entered middle school? Set yourself free? You knew you couldn't keep tolerating a childhood friend who stuck to you like ticks on cow skin, who cried in outrage when you disagreed with her, who was so insecure, not looking at her while you talked meant she was ugly. Staying with Rachel sapped the little energy you managed to have for her. That's why you signed up for as many clubs as you could manage without telling her at first, so you'd be too occupied to meet her in the day. If she'd known of your plans for seventh grade, she would have cried a bloody river until, out of guilt, you decided not to join clubs. It was pointless persuading her to sign up as well. You didn't cherish the thought of her whining about how useless she'd be in groups. 

When you eventually told her about your first club activity, you two argued for another month before she gave in once again. She had no one to turn to when her father said "she was adding weight", smiling. Mr. Gale didn't know his daughter didn't want to be anything near chubby, talk more of fat. 

At night, you plunged into homework assignments, an excuse to keep your phone off. Too bad she caught you this time, one of the few nights you threw caution to the wind. 

And this becomes your reward. Should it be a relief? A punishment for play-acting since third grade?

"A relief, silly girl." The voice snarls. "It's long overdue."

Still, how do you tell a person you've known since the cradle "I'm tired of hanging out with you"? How do you say "I wish I were Kurtis because he had the balls to cut you off without feeling a shred of guilt"? How do you tell Rachel "Everytime we made up, I wished you'd continued beefing with me for the rest of your life"?

For the nth time this night, you sigh, then open the message. You type. Despite the cool breeze from the air conditioning system, you're boiling with a dreadful amount of adrenaline. 

"No, I'm not your best friend, Rach. In fact, we haven't been friends for a long time now."

And all hell breaks loose. 

June 26, 2020 14:40

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2 comments

Gip Roberts
20:15 Jul 17, 2020

This story describes toxic people very well. I'm glad Tris was finally able to tell Rachel how she really felt. She deserved better than to have to deal with that drama all the time.

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01:02 Jul 28, 2020

Exactly. Thanks for the feedback!

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