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African American Coming of Age Friendship

I remember other things about that year too. That was the year I stopped getting an allowance. The year I turned ten and my mother signed me up for Girl Scouts to teach me a lesson. It was the year I had my first kiss. But that's never what people want to talk about. Whenever one of us mentions that year, 1990, twenty-five years ago, we're really talking about Freddie.


***


Kayla's tenth birthday party came during the middle of May, a day so hot you could taste the promise of the upcoming summer vacation. The Louisiana air was heavy with the kind of humidity that made seagulls lazy. The A/C in my mother's station wagon was broken, so we drove to Kayla's house with the windows down. My mother had spent forty-five minutes flat ironing my curly hair that morning, and I watched in the rearview mirror as the wind undid her hard work. During the drive I occupied my time imagining the party. I had a good idea of what to expect.


The Monday before, over lunch, Kayla explained how her mother implored her to invite everyone from our class. "I ain't inviting any of the white kids," she said with a mouth half-full of PB&J. She took a swig of chocolate milk and added, "And no boys either."


I didn't tell her that there were only three white kids to choose from, all of whom were boys. Instead I bit into my apple and nodded my approval as usual.


She surveyed the cafeteria until her eyes stopped a few tables away. When I followed her gaze, I saw Freddie Harris laughing at something someone said. His smile was missing a tooth, but it made him look as tough as Mike Tyson. He just kept laughing and shaking his head, his dreadlocks swinging like little metronomes. Kayla's eyes crinkled. She had a hint of a smile when she said, "I might invite Freddie though."


It didn't shock me. Once, during the middle of library reading time, Kayla crept up behind Freddie, armed with a pair of scissors. He was turning a page in his Hardy Boys book when she yanked one of his dreads and snipped it off in one swift motion. I have to give him credit, though: He flinched and patted the spot where his dreadlock had been seconds before, but he didn't snitch on her, didn't say a word.


We pulled into Kayla's neighborhood around noon. "Make sure you grab her present," my mother said, as though Kayla's gift hadn't been sitting beside me in the backseat the whole ride. As though I hadn't been envisioning the face she'd make when ripping through the wrapping paper. I grabbed the present and my mother grabbed my hand and we went.


She rang the doorbell and we heard a voice waft through the open window: "I'll get it!" Moments later Kayla herself answered the door, dressed in a black tutu and a plain T-shirt with a glittery number 10. The tiara on her head sparkled with rhinestones. She looked only slightly disappointed to see that it was me standing on the other side. But then she grinned and said, "Well, get in here, Cece!" and we joined the other girls in the living room while my mother joined the cluster of ladies and mixed drinks in the kitchen. 


The living room looked the same as always: family portraits on the mantelpiece, African rugs checkering the floor, bulky box fan jammed in the window. As far as I could tell, the only difference was the group of girls lolling by the fan's breeze, our classmates. An oasis of cornrows and beaded braids, hair frizzed from the humidity.


No dreadlocks.


Left to our own devices, Kayla grabbed a broom from the laundry room and instructed Amina and Adina, the twins with matching cornrows, to hold it steady. We took turns playing limbo, seeing how far down we could go before things got dangerous. I got eliminated during the second round, but Kayla advanced to the finals. She was crouching down low as the coffee table, wobbling forward, when the doorbell chimed.


"I'll get it!" she hollered, bounding to her feet and knocking the broom out of the twins' hands. Over the whine of the fan we heard her squeal, a noise like a tea kettle whistling. Her words came piecemeal, energetic peaks and dips muted by the wall. Minutes later she re-emerged, Freddie in tow. The other girls smiled and chanted, "Hi, Freddie!"


I didn't feel so strongly about him. Our speaking terms began and ended on the first day of fourth grade, during one-on-one icebreakers, when he asked me to tell him something interesting about myself. "I have a dog and three goldfish," I said, and he responded with "I don't know how to swim," and believing I had to match his level of confidentiality, believing these secrets would remain between the two of us, I confessed "I still wet the bed sometimes." He thought that was the funniest thing he'd ever heard and sprang out of his seat to tell his friends. I sighed and traipsed over to Kayla and before I could sit, she asked if Freddie had mentioned her. "No, but did you know he can't swim?" Even combined our laughter wasn't as loud as Freddie's was across the room.


Since then I'd refused to talk to him, even after I caught him staring at me on more than one occasion, during class, lunch, recess.


Now he scanned the ocean of girls as if somewhere another boy was buoyed. His lips twitched when our eyes met. He looked away before I could see which way his mouth turned.


As it turned out, Freddie wasn't much better than me at limbo. The twins returned the broom to its original height but he couldn't even get past that. He crouched down, his face contorting, and the moment he stepped forward, he flopped to the ground. Some of us giggled—I know I did.


He glowered. "This game is stupid."


Kayla said, slowly, "Yeah, it is." Then she snatched the broom and replaced it with the dirty laundry.


***


An hour into the party, Kayla wanted to open her presents, so we all gathered in a semi-circle around her. I stood beside my mother as we sang Happy Birthday, smelling her sweet-and-sour cocktail breath.


When Kayla opened our gifts, she wasn't delicate. She grabbed and yanked, eager to see how well we knew her. She smiled when she unwrapped the twins' Boyz II Men CD. She exclaimed "Yes!" after discovering a giant box overflowing with name-brand candy. She unctuously thanked Freddie for his dollar store birthday card and half empty bottle of perfume, even after he walked away.


Then she got to the last gift: mine.


She clawed at the packaging, ripped it with abandon until, at last, we all stared at the big, bright box advertising the Malibu Barbie Dream House that I'd bought with my mom fifty-fifty, spending all my stockpiled allowance money. The room was quiet save for the whir of the fan.


Her mother piped up. "Well, Kayla? What do you say?"


"Cece," Kayla said, turning to me, her face inscrutable. She spoke deliberately. "This ain't something ten-year-old girls play with." I blinked in confusion, so she added, "This is for nine-year-olds, for babies. You know that, right?"


At the time, I blamed the fire in my cheeks on the day, the sun, the humidity. The box fan wasn't enough to cool me. My mother tightened her grip on my shoulder.


I excused myself to the bathroom. No one had anything to say to that, so I went. Snippets of conversation trailed me, Kayla's mother's reproachful voice: "Is that what you say to someone who bought you a gift, missy?" Then plaintively, to my mother: "I'm so sorry, Betty."


The bathroom was locked. I tapped my foot, rapped on the door, listened to the sound of pee striking the water. The toilet flushed and the faucet burbled and the soap dispenser wheezed. Seconds later the door opened and Freddie appeared, inches from my face. We both recoiled.


Then he crossed his arms, slouched against the doorframe, and smirked. "You finally learn how to use the bathroom, Cece?"


I rolled my eyes and tried to squeeze past him, but he intercepted me. His smirk was gone. "Hey, I'm only kidding," he said.


"Well, it ain't very funny." I felt my mouth curving around the word "ain't," borrowed from Kayla's lexicon. It had a nice taste to it, flat vowels and jagged consonants.


Freddie tilted his head. His tongue fidgeted with the gap left by his fallen baby tooth. "Maybe you're right," he whispered.


I tried to think of what Kayla might say. "You gonna move or what? I have to use the bathroom and I don't got all day." I chided myself for not substituting "don't" with "ain't."


"You sound like Kayla when you talk like that." He didn't say it like a compliment.


"How would you know? You don't speak to me." I tried again to slip through the opening between the doorframe and his body.


Freddie stayed put. He hadn't taken his eyes off me. "That was pretty lame what she did, wasn't it? Calling you out like that."


"No, it wasn't," I replied, because what else are you supposed to say when you're ten and your best friend is being defamed? "She's right, we're too old for that kind of junk. We ain't babies."


"Then you're cool with what she did?" he asked. "You would've done the same thing in her shoes?"


I opened my mouth, and shut it just as quickly. I recognized the statement as a trap, a trick question, but I didn't know how to answer it. Or, maybe, I didn't want to answer it truthfully, didn't want to admit to myself the unbridgeable gap between me and Kayla.


I was still thinking of a retort when Freddie stepped forward and put his lips on mine.


They were chapped and it felt a bit like kissing sandpaper. His eyes were closed and I thought maybe I was missing something, so I closed mine too but didn't feel any different. I stepped back and he stood there, lips puckered like a fish. Again my words failed me.


It didn't matter. Without another word, Freddie finally stepped out of the way and straggled back to the living room.


My heart thumped as I entered the bathroom. My lips were still tingling when the water scalded my hands.


By the time I returned, the adults had retreated to the kitchen. Glasses clinked and laughter soared. But in the living room we were quiet, adrift in a sea of wrapping paper. A few girls gave me sympathetic glances, but I just shrugged. The Malibu Barbie Dream House, I noticed, was relegated to a corner of the living room, away from the other presents.


A few minutes later, after a lukewarm attempt at getting us to play pin the tail on the donkey, Kayla announced a change of plans.


She paraded us through the house, past our tipsy parents, until we came to the sun-stained backyard. The house had an in-ground swimming pool, her family's one concession to the upper class lifestyle. The shallow end came with a set of steps that led to the shimmering blue water. The deep end, eight feet to the bottom, had a diving board with enough bounce to put trampolines out of business.


When we were all outside and Freddie slid shut the glass door, Kayla clapped twice and said, "Let's play The Little Mermaid."


She'd informed us beforehand of the possibility of playing in the pool, so we feverishly doffed our sweaty shirts and skirts, revealing two-piece swimsuits in a rainbow of color. Whatever momentum Kayla had lost when she criticized my gift, she now regained.


You have to understand: the movie wasn't even half a year old and we'd all seen it in the theaters over fifty times collectively. Our parents, desperate not to sit through the film again, even tempted us with R-Rated alternatives like Pretty Woman, but we refused. We wanted nothing more than to live vicariously through Ariel, to find princes and happy endings of our own.


We settled into the water, felt its coolness nip at our skin. We looked like we could've been posing for a magazine cover, or part of an elite all-girl swim team. The only outliers were Freddie, who watched us from the edge of the pool with his hands buried in his pockets, and Kayla herself, who entered still wearing her tutu.


Within a minute she assigned our roles. Tanisha, blessed with a faint Creole lilt from her parents, was chosen to be Sebastian the crab. Unsurprisingly, Amina and Adina got Flotsam and Jetsam. Kayla gave me the part of Princess Ariel not because of my singing voice, which sounded like a cat sticking its paw in a paper shredder, but because out of everyone in the group, my skin was the lightest. "And I get to be Ursula," she proclaimed at the end.


We splashed through the water, grateful for the cold. We recited the lines we knew by heart. At a few points, Freddie even finished the prince's dialogue for Amina, whom Kayla had double cast. He'd seen the movie too, a victim of his little sister's Disney infatuation.


It was after the belting of "Poor Unfortunate Souls," after the part in the movie where Ariel trades her voice to become human, as Oleta Watley was doing her best sea king impersonation, that Kayla turned to me and said, "I saw you two kissing."


We looked at Freddie, who observed us all with feigned disinterest. I wanted to duck my head under the water and never come up.


"What?" One word but my voice still shook.


"My mom sent me to apologize. I saw you two."


I said nothing.


Without warning, Kayla fast-forwarded to the part in the movie where Prince Eric and Ariel go into the sea to fight Ursula. She wielded her tiara like a weapon, pointed it straight at Freddie. "Come over here and save Ariel," she demanded with an edge to her voice. "It's a kiss scene. We need a boy."


Freddie stared at us girls like we weren't just of another sex but another species. Tentatively, he walked to the middle of the pool. He dipped half his big toe into the shimmering water before Kayla stopped him. "You're gonna rescue her from the middle of the ocean? That ain't how it went in the movie. What kind of prince are you?" She pointed to the other side.


Glancing over his shoulder at the deep end, Freddie looked more like Flounder than Prince Eric. He cupped his palm over his eyes, blinked.


I looked at him and shook my head. "You don't have to if—"


"You ain't supposed to talk, Ariel," Kayla interrupted, voice as cold as the pool water. "You ain't got a voice, remember?"


I thought I might say nothing, let Kayla have her way as usual. The words left my mouth before I thought them through: "Shut up and don't tell me what to do."


Kayla squinted like she didn't know who I was, like she was just seeing me for the first time. Or maybe it was just the sun in her eyes.


"Don't do it," I said to Freddie, steeling my voice.


"Cece," Kayla warned. Floating there like that, with her black tutu billowing out around her, she really did resemble Ursula.


Freddie rocked back and forth. Half a minute passed before he pivoted and trudged to the deep end. With his chest puffed out, he strode to the end of the diving board, the point just above the eight-foot marker. Standing there on the edge of the board, he leaned down as if assessing how deep the pool really was, how far it went.


It looked like he was still contemplating this when his body pitched forward, and Kayla and I learned at once that he had been telling the truth all those months ago.


Freddie hit the water like rain in a bucket. He popped up seconds later, gasping and flailing his arms and spraying chlorine in every direction. His dreadlocks glistened and his eyes were alive with panic. He opened his mouth, to speak maybe, to scream, but the pool water filled his mouth and drowned his voice, and just like the day Kayla cut off a piece of his hair, he didn't say a word.


Neither did we.


We watched, paralyzed, as Freddie struggled against the weight of his body. I wanted to do something, say something, yell for help, but I didn't. I was ten years old. I was like Ariel, voiceless after a bad run-in with a sea witch. And I knew, right then, the ugly truth about happy endings.


The splashing became less manic as Freddie tuckered himself out. He gave up spitting out pool water. Then he just gave up altogether. His dreadlocks moved like octopus tentacles as he limboed to the bottom of the pool. One of the twins started to sob.


Ripples from the deep end pushed against the water like waves. Then the pool fell still, kept in place by our collective effort at holding our breath. The sun glinted off the water, off our bathing suits and our faces and Kayla's tiara, burning with the impending promise of summer and freedom. It felt hotter than it had ever been.


The sliding glass door squeaked open. Bursts of laughter drifted from the house. Flip-flops smacked against the ground, one pair followed by many, but we didn't look to see who it was. We didn't move at all. We stared straight ahead at the blue water where Freddie Harris had been seconds before and waited for the truth to come to the surface.

April 07, 2022 20:25

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36 comments

Riel Rosehill
21:50 Apr 07, 2022

Oh my god... As soon as you wrote they went to the pool, I audibly gasped as I remembered he couldn't swim. I was literally holding my breath and gripping my phone as I read from then on, really, REALLY hoping that Freddie would survive this story..! (RIP, lad) And you've ended it at the perfect point in time - before the parents knew. Before the consequences, all up in the air looming over the girls.. As you see I had to jump straight into sharing my thoughts & feelings was a very intense story! I'll slow down now. Hi. So happy to read an...

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Zack Powell
23:15 Apr 07, 2022

LOL, your comment is literally me every time I go to review one of your stories. Just so many thoughts at once that I gotta write em all down before I lose them. Shoutout to you for remembering Freddie's swimming comment and seeing where we were headed. Good readers are the ones who can pick up on those things. And thank you for the comment about the ending. (I never know if people are gonna riot when the ending is this ambiguous.) LOL, the Barbie dolls is me but replace that with Pokemon. (Jokes on everyone else, Pokemon Go brought the co...

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Riel Rosehill
05:14 Apr 08, 2022

What, I thought pokemon just stayed cool! Please never get better at not writing so much ❤️

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Riel Rosehill
05:36 Apr 12, 2022

Oh, this story is on the recommended list! (You must have a spot reserved for you there by now!) Good luck in the contest!🤞

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J.C. Lovero
01:41 Apr 08, 2022

Hi Reedsy penpal. It's been so long, so I just HAD to stop by for a visit. First, you should know that my favorite Disney movie is The Little Mermaid. I vividly remember the first time I watched it and it hooked me as a young child, watching it repeatedly back when VHS was the thing. So, imagine my excitement when I read the title, and then how that first paragraph sent a chill down my spine... You really captured the angst of young infatuation here. The uncertainty of Cece, the wall that Freddie erected around him after rejection, and the...

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Zack Powell
02:23 Apr 08, 2022

Welcome, welcome. Tea and cookies are to the left, RuPaul reruns are to the right. Enjoy your stay. Fun fact: I watched The Little Mermaid last Sunday for inspiration writing this, and I cried as usual. So well-written, it's unreal. ('Tis also my favorite Disney movie. The music, the casting, the plot. Gag.) You got it exactly right. Everyone was guilty (some perhaps more than others) at the end of the day. Sometimes that's just how it is. Though I can't take credit for it being under 3,000 words. This is exactly 3,000 (which I know becaus...

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Lavonne H.
21:17 Apr 07, 2022

Oh, Zack. Wow. Best ending ever..."waited for the truth to come to the surface." I feel sorry for everyone, anger at Kayla and Cece, frustrated with the power of a clique and righteously judgmental with the mothers. Your story has the power of imagery, emotions and truth to the characters you developed. As a reader, I truly appreciate your story. As a (neophyte) writer, I truly appreciate your craft. Absolutely in awe. Yours in writing, Lavonne

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Zack Powell
22:57 Apr 07, 2022

Thank you, Lavonne! This is actually my favorite ending sentence I've ever written, so I'm ecstatic to hear that. And I'm glad this story stirred up some emotions - that's the biggest compliment a writer can get (even negative emotions, I'll take it). I definitely don't see you as a neophyte. I respect your writing a lot, and I wish I wrote the you do when I was getting my feet wet. You've got a lot of talent and I'm glad you share it with us here. P.S. Did you ever find a story for this week's contest? There's still some time.

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Lavonne H.
23:23 Apr 07, 2022

Lol re story for this week. I actually had seven ideas/stories started and not one of them wanted to leap into Word's documents for me. I realize, now, that I was reacting subconsciously to the title of this week's prompts: Down Memory Lane. A LOT of Alzheimer's and dementia units are named "Memory Lane" here in Alberta. I hate the euphemism for memory loss, dying and death. Ok, TMI ;) Yours in writing, Lavonne PS. You are such a kind person! And thanks, again, for all the encouragement.

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Patrick Samuel
14:33 Jun 22, 2022

Zack, you are quickly becoming one of my favorite writers in and out of reedsy. You know how to grab a reader from the opening sentence. "I remember other things about that year too." Enter the scene as late as possible, many writing teachers will say but you know how to make it alive and make us feel involved even before we know what it's about. Once again I am amazed at your capacity for putting yourself (and us) into someone else's skin and getting to their humanity with such authenticity. It shows a great sense of observation and the si...

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Zack Powell
01:01 Jun 23, 2022

Thanks again, Patrick! I'm fortunate to have had great writing teachers who espoused that same philosophy of starting close to the end (and strong opening sentences), so it's nice to know that I picked up some good techniques from them. This is probably my favorite of all my stories, so hearing that this came across as "complex" is incredibly reassuring. Love that phrase "a cruel shortcut from childhood to adulthood." That's a great one-sentence synopsis of this piece. (Bonus points for the Andersen mention - I own a copy of his fairy tales...

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Patrick Samuel
20:27 Jun 23, 2022

As a child, the first "serious" leather-bound, picture-less book I had was my own father's copy of Andersen's tales. Disney had yet to put its hands on it, so they were my introduction to the cruelty of life, from "The Little Match Girl" to the original "Ice Queen" (Disney's inspiration for Frozen, which I understand skipped the part where the handsome priest gets his brain exploded by bandits) and of course "The Little Mermaid" which was an exercise in terror and sadism. Years later I briefly toyed with the idea of turning that one into an ...

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Bradon L
22:19 Apr 16, 2022

I didn’t expect this to be dark but it was. The darkness snuck up on me, softly patted me on the shoulder, and whispered sweet nothings in my ear. But it wasn’t super dark. The vibe kind of reminded of To Kill a Mockingbird. Very well done! As per usual, your ending was on point as well! You develop stories and characters really well. Like really well! I find that hard to do but you seem to have that mastered.

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Dragos Marcean
06:29 Apr 14, 2022

A pretty interesting story. I liked the pace of it and how the dialogue flows natural. I feel that the protagonist and Eddie are older than they really are. In some places they make adult-level (or at least teenager-level) assessments. (especially when his hair got cut, a 10 year old would lose their mind). The confrontation between the protagonist and Kayla when the latter saw them kissing was really mature (too mature). From my experience with a 11 year old niece, when Kayla would have seen the two kissing, she would have bursted into t...

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Zack Powell
20:57 Apr 14, 2022

Thank you, Dragos, both for reading and giving me your honest thoughts! I totally agree with your feedback too, and I don't think it was too harsh (all my nieces/nephews/cousins are grown now, so it's nice to hear from someone's opinions who has family in that age group). Definitely gives me more ideas for the second draft of this one. Thanks again! I appreciate it.

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Zelda C. Thorne
17:36 Apr 13, 2022

Hello there, Zack, Wow. So well written, you captured the awkward, angsty drama of that age perfectly. I cringed when the gift was rejected and when Kayla said she saw them kissing etc. So many little details that made this work. When they went to the pool, I tensed thinking oh no no no, but thought surely he'll be rescued or turn out to have had secret swimming lessons?? Alas, no. Great story.

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Zack Powell
20:08 Apr 13, 2022

Thanks, Rachel! Glad the whole gamut of angst and cringe came through here; they're staples of childhood after all, right? Thank you for reading this!

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Zelda C. Thorne
20:13 Apr 13, 2022

Absolutely! This brought long-dormant cringe worthy memories fizzing to the surface.

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13:00 Apr 13, 2022

I’ve read this twice now, and I just love it. Even though I grew up in a place far away from Louisiana, the summer descriptions transported me back in time. My favorite is the climax, so eerily chilling the way you tell it, and the dreadlocks like octopus tentacles. Just stellar storytelling!

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Zack Powell
18:04 Apr 13, 2022

Thanks! Coming from you, that's a huge compliment. Best of luck in the contest this week.

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22:46 Apr 11, 2022

Wow. I had a feeling... I love when writers go the dark route to the end. :) Well done!

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Zack Powell
02:24 Apr 12, 2022

I love it too - kudos to your story's ending this week. Thank you, thank you for reading this, too!

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Sharon Hancock
01:46 Apr 11, 2022

OMG Freddie! 😫 That’s my favorite Disney song to sing, btw. And Freddie definitely earned the title of poor unfortunate soul. You know I absolutely love endings like this and you wrote this so well. - “Whenever one of us mentions that year, 1990, twenty-five years ago, we're really talking about Freddie.” This first paragraph is brilliant and this sentence is a major hook. You had my full attention with that. I also love the Barbie dream house gift scene, which made me greatly dislike Kayla. You’re never too old for a Barbie Malibu dream ho...

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Zack Powell
02:36 Apr 11, 2022

It's SUCH a good one to sing, isn't it? I've been obsessed with it all week. By the way, I thought of you while writing the final few paragraphs because of how your horror stories usually end. 😂 You definitely gave me some inspiration. Friendships fade, Barbie dream houses are eternal. You heard it here first. Thanks as always for reading, Sharon. You boost my ego so much. 🤣

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Kelsey H
08:10 Apr 10, 2022

You are amazing at creating believable characters and then getting right inside their heads. I loved Cece's pov and all the worries of a 10 year old girl she has, right at that stage where you are not a small child but not a teenager. The moment when she tells Freddie about how she wets the bed and then he runs off to tell everyone - that was just perfect. You know now the next time she will be more guarded, it's one of those little pains which all add up to growing up. The way you built up the layers toward the ending is so good, when re...

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Zack Powell
16:07 Apr 10, 2022

I hope you know how much I appreciate your comments, Kelsey. You really put a lot of thought and care into crafting them, and I want to thank you for that. I'm thrilled to know that the layers and details all came together in the end. I wrote the ending first and had to work my way backwards from there, so that's relieving to hear. Friendship dynamics to me are what I imagine siblings dynamics are to you: endlessly fascinating and complex. They can change so rapidly, for better or worse. Thanks for giving the first paragraph a second glanc...

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Shea West
23:01 Apr 09, 2022

It continues to blow my mind how some children (especially at such a young age) can be so intensely cruel and calculated. This story encapsulated so many nuances of childhood that many of us can dredge up our own memories on: *A birthday party, and buying a gift for that friend in hopes they'll love it! *The cliques *The daring people to do things at the expense of their safety *Someone being your friend, but not really being your friend *The obsession most kids have with The Little Mermaid You brought a spotlight into some cultural aspect...

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Zack Powell
03:47 Apr 10, 2022

Shea, thank you for your thoughtful comments! You hit the nail on the head with the nuances, so it makes me happy you were picked up on all of them (and more!). 100% agree with you about diversity, and I'll throw that compliment back at you, especially after your story from last week. Keep fighting the good fight, friend.

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Michał Przywara
17:58 Apr 09, 2022

Holy crap! Great story. You had so much going on at the party, a well defined cast, a visible setting, that I completely missed what you were setting up until I hit "Come over here and save Ariel." Then it clicked. The petty genius of Kayla, the 4th grade icebreaker -- which of course seemed like it was about bed wetting, but there was so much more to it -- and the tragic undercurrent that none of this might have happened if Cece hadn't confided in her friend. Powerful, heartwrenching ending. Thanks for sharing!

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Zack Powell
22:44 Apr 09, 2022

Thank you, Michał! That's a huge compliment, considering I thought I was being too obvious with the ending's foreshadowing. Glad to see the icebreaker misdirection put in some work.

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Wafflez Wasfound
14:11 Apr 08, 2022

I love it. Heartbreaking, but amazing.

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Zack Powell
15:43 Apr 08, 2022

Thank you, Awexis, as always!

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Suma Jayachandar
04:35 Apr 08, 2022

OMG, I'm flailing my arms helplessly at the deep end of my emotions. What an immersive story, Zack! It's pitch-perfect showcasing that awkward yet beautiful time of a child at the threshold of adolescence. There are many great lines, but what made me chuckle were, 'Now he scanned the ocean of girls as if somewhere another boy was buoyed.' 'Our parents, desperate not to sit through the film...' And the ending...definitely didn't see it coming, tied up with a knockout line(or the one before that about happy endings). Thanks for sharing this.

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Zack Powell
05:05 Apr 08, 2022

Suma, thank you, thank you for your kindness! I tried to add as many snippets of humor as I could for a story with this kind of ending, so I'm happy to know you chuckled. Thanks for reading this.

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Kai Corvus
21:09 Apr 07, 2022

Wow, Zach- another truly moving story, although this one in a different way. I was completely caught off-guard by the ending. It definitely leaves you with something to contemplate, just like the last story. What happens to Kayla and the main character's relationship? How will the parents react? Your voice in this story was really great, and you captured all of the thoughts and emotions of a young ten-year-old (I think- I'll admit, I am not ten haha). Overall, this was another amazing delivery! Thank you for sharing your skill with the R...

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Zack Powell
22:58 Apr 07, 2022

Thank you, Kai! You got what I was going for with the ambiguous ending. Lot of stuff for the reader to fill in with their own imaginations. It's been a LONG time since I've been ten, so thank you for complimenting the voice, and thank you for reading this (it was a looong one)!

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