Creative Nonfiction Friendship Coming of Age

"It will be a blast! You'll just love this college!"

If I knew then what I know now, I would have slammed the door in her face and never looked back.

Martha was my summer friend, my buddy. I was a kid that loved to swim and dream and talk about the future. I liked to listen to Martha talk about school in Massachusetts. I thought she was cool. The thing is, Martha had an overblown opinion of herself. There was no room for disagreement but try telling this to my fourteen-year-old self. There was no way I would think poorly of Martha. She was so confident and cool. She would never blow me off.

So I thought.

"I am having a blast at school. I love my new friends." Martha always used the word, "blast", for fun. She even told me to go to Lexington College and that I would have a "blast" there. She used the word so many times, who wouldn't believe her?

Well, fool that I was, me.

This remark sprang from Martha's lips every time she talked about Lexington College. She was staying at her uncles house just up the hill from my cottage on Mousam Lake in Shapleigh, Maine. Mousam Lake is seven miles long with coves and a few beaches but mostly a lot of pine trees surrounding the lake. The water is deep and cold most of the time but I love it. Martha and I spent most of the day swimming. We even tried to swim across the lake, but it's too far, so we nixed that idea fast.

Martha had a big crush on my brother and she would iron his shirts and just gush over him every time he came into the room. I doubt he even noticed her because she was just a kid but she sure liked him a lot. She would even volunteer to clean his room, but my Mom saw through all that and just shook her head.

Around late afternoon, Martha's uncle would drive us to church and we would giggle through the Mass even though we aren't supposed to. I don't know why but you always seem to have to suppress a giggle when you have to be quiet.

When we returned from church, he would grill steaks on a small hibachi on his patio by the lake. We would also have salad, corn-on-the-cob and strawberry shortcake for dessert.

Martha was constantly talking about herself. She went on about how she could breeze through a sewing pattern and make her own clothes in a day. She told me she was going to either be a clothing designer or a dietician. Her transistor radio was always playing Chicago songs. When I think of Martha, I can hear those songs still. She had a way about her, and she made friends easily, laughed easily and was fun to be around. In the back of my mind, I still wonder if she only wanted to hang around me was because she had a crush on my brother. I didn't really care, there were not too many kids my age around and I was grateful for just having fun instead of being bored.

Martha was a cool friend to have because she lived in Massachusetts and she would write to me throughout the year. I tried to emulate her. She was a year older than me, so when I was a freshman, she was a sophomore. She joined FHA (Future Homemakers of America) and she raved about it so much and how many new friends she made, that I joined the FHA at my high school but my experience wasn't so friendly. It seemed I kept trying so hard to be as popular as Martha but I wasn't having any luck.

After Martha graduated from high school, she didn't come to Mousam Lake to visit her uncle anymore, but she did tell me she was going to Lexington College and I just had to go there too. So I applied to Lexington College because I thought I would be with my friend Martha. She said the kids there were very friendly and she was having a blast! I got into Lexington but I didn't have a major. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I looked forward to seeing Martha and having the "blast" that she had described in her letters. Martha would describe Lexington College as the ideal school and it seemed to me to be the most wonderful place on Earth. My Mom used to say she is probably exaggerating and she would kind of laugh to herself. I wish I had listened to my Mom then but I was too wrapped up in the idea of having fun and out of the rules of my parents house. What I didn't know is that there are rules everywhere.

Lexington or Lex, as Martha referred to it, did not turn out to be the "Shangri La" that she described in her letters. It was a small, private Catholic college, full of girls that already knew one another. Some were okay but not what I was used to. I tried not to worry about that because in my mind, Martha would stick up for me and let them know I am worth knowing as well. That was my naive wish. I sure was naive. It's embarrassing to say.

What happened next is really strange. I told Martha I got accepted at Lexington College but she did not reply to my letters. It was like radio silence.

When I arrived, she was in another dorm and I looked her up. I knocked on her door and I could hear laughter. She answered the door and I said, "Hi Martha! So glad to finally be here. " Her reaction was lukewarm at best. Her friends asked, "Who is this girl?" Martha replied, "Oh some girl I used to hang around with from Maine. Excuse me a minute girls, I have to talk to her."

She went into the hall and seemed annoyed at me. Martha closed the door behind her and looked left, then right to make sure no one was around. She looked at me intensely and whispered, "Please, Kathy, I will say this once and only once. You are embarrassing me! I do not want you to visit me or even say you know me. I don't know why you came to Lex, but don't count on me to hold your hand. I have new friends now and I don't have any time for you."

I looked at her for the first and last time. "You are the one who raved about this school and kept telling me you were having a blast, Martha! You are a phony. I won't bother you again. You are not worth my time. Enjoy your friends. I can't believe you blew me off like this. What did I ever do to you? You are an arrogant snob, that's what you are!"

I stormed out of her dorm and didn't look back, Martha was dumbfounded. I think she expected me to beg her to show me around and be her friend.

I had a lesson in friendship but with friends like Martha, who needs enemies.

"Thank you God. Thanks an awful lot!"

February 09, 2022 23:40

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Brynnah Glas
20:12 Feb 17, 2022

I love your characterization, particularly with Kathy. You did a lot of your characterization through her friendship with Martha, which I thought was very clever. I think the pacing on your story is a bit fast - maybe all of the short sentences and description? - but I loved it nonetheless.


23:56 Feb 17, 2022

Thank you for your review! I am glad you like my story. I will try to slow down my pacing in my next story. I appreciate your advice! Martha really did have a crush on my older brother and he was really annoyed by her. LOL


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14:31 Feb 15, 2022

Kathryn, somehow you managed to surprise me with the ending, so good job! I think this story is very relatable. I would bet most people in their lives had a friend who turned out to be a friend of convenience. What I love is that Kathy wasn't truly phased. She immediately realized what Martha was, and moved on. She didn't cry about it, she just walked away. And sometimes walking away is the hardest thing to do. Great job!


15:18 Feb 15, 2022

Thank you so much for reading my story! Yes, you understand! Martha was a friend of convenience and she actually did write to me and went on and on about herself and the college. I actually graduated from that college. I did move on and made some great friends of my very own. Have a great day!


15:55 Feb 15, 2022

Look at you knowing your worth and moving on! You go, girl!


16:18 Feb 15, 2022

I forgot to tell you that Martha left a month later! LOL . I changed the name of my college in the story. I didn't want to get in trouble.


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