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Best Friends
Samantha, Age 12, Vancouver, BC

Green. Yellow. Purple. The lights played across the dark, mysterious space that was the dance floor, illuminating for an instant at a time the edge of a dress, a flash of hair, someone’s hands in the air. The music was blaring so loudly that every sound seemed fuzzy after it. Sitting securely on one of Richmond Country Club’s dinner chairs, I wiped my clammy palms on my tight fitting blue dress and watched the people dancing with a mixture of longing, regret, and refusal. This alien world was as unreachable to me as another planet. It may have looked fun, but there was NO WAY I was going up there to dance. It was better not to try than to completely humiliate myself. Right?

“Come on, you guys gotta dance!” exclaimed Nicole, one of my friends. Round faced and brown haired, she was bursting with energy to dance.

“It’ll be fun,” Raheesa added. She was the shortest of us, with thick black hair pulled into a ponytail.

“I think we should,” said Erin, blue-eyed and in a tailored LBD, slowly adding, “I know we said we wouldn’t, but...everyone’s dancing.”

She was referring to the promise we’d made to each other that we wouldn’t dance. Period.

Her changing sides had swayed the invisible scales, the impalpable field of balance that decided what we would do. Three against one. Not fair, I thought sourly.

“What are you going to do all evening, anyway, if you don’t dance?” asked Nicole. It was a rhetorical question.

“Eat,” I suggested, pointing out the small bag of pink M n’ Ms in front of every place setting.

I received three disgusted looks in return. “Okay, okay, not eat,” I backtracked, putting my hands up in surrender. “But I really, really, really don’t want to embarrass myself.”

“You won’t!” they all assured me. At the exact same time.

“Wanna bet?” Part of me knew I was being unfair, but I felt myself losing ground already--slipping off the scale.

Rolling her eyes, Erin grabbed my arm and began to pull me to the dance floor. Add the combined strength of Raheesa and Nicole, and I literally could not resist.

I opened my mouth to protest, but closed it again, because I’d realized something: these might just be the best friends I’d ever know.

Even though I wouldn’t even admit to myself that I wanted to dance, they knew what my heart wanted even when my brain didn’t. Somehow I knew that they would have waited for me much longer to come, just so we could dance together. Even if I didn’t dance, I was certain that at least one of them would’ve stayed with me. Leaving me was not an option. They would dance in the corner with me so I wouldn’t feel self-conscious. They would stop when I wanted to stop. Just as I would do for them. Because that’s what friends are for, really: to give us the courage to take the risks to do the things we truly want to, and to support all the way through so we never give up.

Letting the strength of my best friends pull my hands and the strength of our friendship pull my heart, I stepped out and let the music take over.

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