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Fiction Friendship High School

The two of us stare vacantly at the word “CEMETERY” hanging above us.

“This is the dumbest thing ever,” Lena follows her statement with a string of curse words I didn’t even know existed.

She’s right. Having an entire class of supposedly mature seniors challenge each other to determine the first quitter of the Halloween Haunted House recently built in town? Yeah, checks out.

Even dumber was the penalty: an entire night in the cemetery.

Even dumber? Lena here skipped out altogether, so with the decision that it was unfair for everyone, they forced Lena the Killjoy Runaway and Alyx the Easily Frightened into this together.

“I shirked because I was afraid, and now an entire night in this stupid place?”

I head inside. “Run away, and it’ll come back a bigger problem.”

Lena’s right, but no way in hell am I going to agree.  

“Yeah, no, I’m escap–“

“Toby, Clark, and Maria are outside keeping an eye on us.”

“What’s the worst that could happen?” She asks herself, but I take the glory in answering.

“Oh, I don’t know, be labeled as a buzzkill by the entire student population? Your precious rep, all down the drain.”

“Shut up, Alyx.”

Rows of gravestones – old and new – survey me ghostly, and I mentally shudder. About 30 feet ahead, slightly to the right, a large tree claimed its territory with roots too powerful for the soil to keep in check. Deciding that to be the safest spot, I hurry over, taking care to notice that each cracked twig and crunched leaf were a result of my footing and not some unseen paranormal being.

I jump when the sounds don’t tally, and I’m reminded of Lena’s presence behind me. I still can’t decide whether I prefer her company to that of a ghost. I settle myself several feet under a branch. I avoid examining the clearly-ancient tree trunk for the fear that I might find unnecessary marks, such as claws or writing, and lean against a relatively smooth region.

“Really? You’re gonna sit there?” Lena judges.

“If you hate it so much, go sit at a gravestone.”  

Despite the eye roll, she takes a seat on the opposite side.

My phone vibrates in my pocket. I intentionally switched to vibration mode in case the ringtone freaks me out. Yes, I’m easily spooked, but I’m determined not to make a fool of myself in front of this clown.

Eesh, clowns. Why would you think of that right now?

“Leroy,” I answer.  

He asks if I’d like him to talk the rest of the class into letting us free, but I’d like to keep my face. Then, he double-checks the snacks and canned drinks in my backpack before hanging up. The sound of my Velcro strap is followed by Lena’s snort.  

I forgot… She has feelings for my best friend.

“Wanna tissue to blow your snotty nose?” My sarcasm is rich.

“Flirt,” she coughs out.  

I grind my front teeth and inspect the area. Just gravestones, nature, and possibly a few ghosts. No one’ll know if I murder her.

I get to my feet and cross over to face her. “Get up, I wanna punch you.”

Her brows raise challengingly, but I can see the slight discomfort in her fists.

“Yeah, I thought so.” I head back to my self-proclaimed seat.

“What’s your problem anyway? What the hell have I done to you?”

“What’s your problem? You literally go around flirting with every. Single. Guy.”

It’s an accusation I’ve heard before, so it doesn’t faze me.

“It’s not my fault the only thing you see in a guy are what’s in his pants. Unlike you, I can actually be friends with them.”

“Yeah, right.”

I crack the bones in my neck, reminding myself to keep my cool. I still have at least 10 hours left with this abomination.

We transition into silence, and I begin to think bliss has greeted me. But, she starts again.

“Well, clearly, Leroy’s the fool here.”

I blink a few times in disbelief. “What?”

“I mean, you and me. What’s the obvious pick?”

I don’t reply, because I want to give her a second chance to live. Good thing I can't see her face or I would've already plucked out her teeth.

“Dumbass. Leroy’s just a dumb-”

Before she reaches the end of that sentence, I spin around, pull her up by the collar of her designer tee, and punch her. She falls sideways, bewildered and hurt.

“All these years, you’ve played things your way: rumors, social media slandering, instigation, lies.” I open my arms. “Now, let’s play this my way.”

I gesture for her to get up, but she remains down, tears blurring her iris.

“Sick coward. Before choosing enemies, reevaluate your strengths.”

I’m about to leave for a stroll around the graveyard (anything’s better than with this bug), but she stands up and goes for a slap. Needless to say, this is a daily occurrence, so it’s nothing new. I block it and shove her back. Violently.

“You get so angry when someone hurts you, Lena, so why do you go around hurting others?”

A tear rolls down the left side of her face. Then, the right. “What about you? Why do you always feel the need to prove yourself to be better than me!”

I squint. “Wha-hat? When have I ever?”

“Ever since you joined in middle school. Marcus! When I fell in love with him, you flirted with him and took him away.”

I attempt to hold in my laugh.

“Sweetheart, Marc’s heart belonged to Clarissa, and it still does! You, or me for that matter, never stood a chance. And he hung around me because his relationship with her was bloody toxic, and I was helping him realize.”

“Jake! Jake, when he joined, you –“

“Jake and I previously schooled together when he was a big jerk. He bullied me, made the boys bleed, and – the point is that he was turning over a new leaf and wanted me to accept him. As a freaking friend.”

“Leroy –“

“Leroy’s gay, Lena.”

She blinks, and I curse. Then, I step closer menacingly, all the while internally beating myself up.

“A single word, and I mean a single word about this conversation gets out, and, Lena, I swear on my life, you won’t have any bones left in your vertebrae for you to function.”

“Relax, goodness, I have enough sense to keep it a secret.”

“Also, they were my friends before they became your crushes. It was me before you, so shouldn’t I be the one to feel wronged here?”

She attempted to retaliate, but I continued.

“You discriminate me when I try to join your clique, and then when I go find people that actually accept me, that pisses you off?”

“I never –“

“Designer bags, make-up, boyfriends. You and your friends were all so crazy about these things in seventh grade, but all I wanted to do was play basketball and study. Our interests were different, so you chose to outcast me.

“Marc and Jake wouldn’t study even at gunpoint, but they didn’t make me feel ashamed about it. And Leroy? He was willing to hide himself because he wanted me to feel relaxed. They’re not my friends because they’re men; they’re my friends because they let me in.”

She’s dumbstruck, but I could go on for hours.

Instead, I scoff. “Shame. We could’ve been really good friends if you weren't so quick to judge me.”

I’m about to leave, but I want to put in one final word.

“I’m not interested in romance, but I’m not bashing you for your interest. I like to think you would’ve had a chance with Jake, but it was too late for you. Seeing how you treated me so irrationally and impulsively told them, if not all the boys, what you were really like.”

I take an hour’s worth of break at the other end of the graveyard, and it was the most frightening thing I’d ever done. The occasional crow’s caw would send my heart into overdrive, and I was convinced I’d pass out before sunrise.

But… I saw her crying into her knees, and couldn’t head back even if I wanted to. At around 2 a.m., my stomach rumbled, and I decided food was important than her privacy. Halfway through my cassava chips, I hear a similar package being opened on the other side.

“Are you asexual, Alyx?” She asks softly.

“I wish.”

“Bi? Gay –“

“Don’t make assumptions about me just because I’m hella tomboyish.”

“Do you really not like make-up though? Do you go to a salon?”

“No.”

“Self-love?”

“Is that why you do it?”

“My life doesn’t completely revolve around boys, you know.”

A vague memory greets me, that of a rumor passed around in the chess clubroom: Lena was being abused at home. And from what I observed, her friends weren’t exactly non-toxic. Was the make-up a means of loving herself? Perhaps her desire to be cherished was expressed in the form of a need for romance?

“Mistake acknowledge and repented,” I admit.  

“Okay, but you really don’t –“

“Are you judging again?”

She crawls around to look at me, and her face is genuinely curious. “There’s no way you’re not doing your brows.”

“I’m not, these are natural.” 

She looks at me suspiciously but takes it when I continue stuffing myself. She disappears behind the trunk again, and it’s a few minutes before I hear from her.

“I could teach you a bit about make-up if –“

“I don’t like makeup, for hell’s sake, Lena.”

“For… fun…”

A minute past, I feel the guilt coming in.

“For fun,” I finally say. “I think I’d like that… And maybe I can teach you how to play ball.”

“That might be fun.”

“Yeah…”

“Yeah.” 

A/N: Gentle reminder that everyone has their own story. Let's spread love, not hate.

October 30, 2020 15:40

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11 comments

Gip Roberts
22:06 Nov 06, 2020

You did your own thing with this prompt and I liked it. The initial descriptions of Alyx's deep fears when they first enter the graveyard were funny and brilliant. Then the story turned out to be all about two friends struggling with their differences. After blood and gore and ghosts in stories these past couple weeks, it was refreshing to read one like this.

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Em P.W.
17:22 Nov 08, 2020

Yes, that's why I wrote a light-hearted story! XD I love dark stuff, but I needed a little break haha. I'm really glad you thought some parts were funny. I suck at comedy, so I killed a few brain cells trying to write this. 🤣🤣

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Ian Mac Vicar
13:10 Nov 05, 2020

Nicely done with a good build up to the satisfying conclusion. The only suggestion I would offer is to amend the word "seniors" in the third paragraph to "senior students." I initially assumed that you meant people over age 65 till about a third of the way through the story, and I thought, "This makes no sense." I went back to the start and reread it, saw the meaning as high school seniors, and then it all fell into place. Overall - well done. Thanks for posting.

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Em P.W.
19:53 Nov 05, 2020

Oh my gosh, thank you so much for pointing that out. :'( And sorry for the confusion, but hey, you learn along the way. And thanks for giving it a read! :D

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Ian Mac Vicar
01:08 Nov 07, 2020

You're welcome, I will watch for your work in the future.

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Em P.W.
17:20 Nov 08, 2020

😅😅😅

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15:42 Oct 30, 2020

Nice job, Em!

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Em P.W.
15:44 Oct 30, 2020

Wow, I literally posted this just a while ago! XD Thank you so much for reading!

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15:50 Oct 30, 2020

Haha, no problem! I love your stories! And your profile pic. ;)

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Em P.W.
04:26 Nov 01, 2020

Awesh that's so sweet of you thank you so much :3

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20:06 Nov 01, 2020

No problem!! :)

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