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Me and Mel
Emma, Age 13, Toronto, ON

Being little is fun. Whenever someone asks you who your best friend is, the answer is always definite. My answer was always “Melanie!”, from grade one up until grade 6. But, when the grade 6ers moved from Vine Street School to Rainfield School, my world was turned upside down.

Melanie and I were complete opposites. She was the pretty, blue-eyed blonde, while I was the bookish, green-eyed redhead. But, as they say, opposites attract. We were like North and South magnets; we did everything together. From playing Barbie’s while we were little, to talking about boys. It was always me and Mel.

Like I said, 7th grade changed my life.

I was so excited the first day of school. My mom had let me go to the mall by myself to buy all my supplies and new clothes, and, I had to say, the outfit looked amazing!

“Ally!” she called from downstairs, and I threw off my covers faster than you can say ‘toast!’. That morning was a blur; shower, breakfast, making my lunch, getting dressed… it seems so far away.

But, the bus ride to school, I remember. I walked to the bus stop, seeing as it was sunny, and I waited for Melanie like always. She didn’t come until the last minute; just when the bus pulled up, so I didn’t notice anything yet. I hurriedly found our seat (The one with the red seats, not gray, like the rest), but Melanie, she walked right past.

Too confused to call out to her; I just watched her walk to the back of the bus, where the ‘popular’ kids sat. The popular kids. Otherwise known as the only people in school who dated, laughed at dirty jokes, and just got through school. How did people find that cool? I had never understood.

For the whole ride, I just sat like that, staring back at Mel, with pleading eyes. Why? Why didn’t she sit with me? And if not me, why them?

All through school, it seemed to happen over and over again. Mel didn’t look at me, never mind speak to me. Every recess, she blew me off for them.

I ran home from school, not bothering to talk to anyone. When I got home, I just went to my room and slammed the door, to be alone with my thoughts. Why? Why them? Was she turning into one, too?  I shook my head, attempting to rid my mind of those terrible thoughts.

But it was true.

Every day it was the same, Mel hung out with those girls. She dated the popular boys. She failed tests. She stopped being my friend.

Every bus ride was lonely, every recess was heart breaking.

My friend didn’t want me anymore. I had no one to turn to.

My life and heart were in millions of little, glass pieces.

Was it possible to fix?

To hide my pain, I started immersing myself in my school work, my grades rising. The harder I worked, the higher they got. And yet, it seemed I still wasn’t happy. None of this was worth anything. Not without a friend to share it with.

Then, I realized something.

I needed to put myself out there; make a new friend. Someone I had more in common with. Someone who cared about what I cared about.

That’s how I met Abby.

She was on the honor roll, I was on the honor roll. That’s how we met; at the honor roll lunch.

It was pizza, cheese pizza.

Turns out I’m not the only one who’s lactose intolerant.

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