The only place where I felt truly safe was at the beach. If it was raining, it didn’t matter. There’s a blizzard, you say? Then we would still go to the beach. I know it’s odd, but my grandma and I, ever since I was a child, had always gone there when we needed to talk, I mean really talk. But today was different, I knew that after I told Grandma what I had done, she wouldn’t love me the same.
“Grandma, can I ask you something?” I asked, trembling.
She looked worried, as she should have been. “A-anything, Jessica. What’s the matter?”
“Well, there isn’t any easy way to say this, but I might have done something to betray Sam’s trust.”
Samantha was my best friend, we’d known each other since nursery school and we had never gotten in a fight, ever. After my parents got divorced, I started spending a lot of my time with my grandma. She really understood me, in a way that no one else did.
She really had to think about this. “Samantha, your friend from nursery school?”
“Yes, she asked me to keep a secret and I told the teacher. She doesn’t know, though.”
“What — what was the… nevermind. Well, you have to tell her at some point. If you tell her what you did, at least she will know. If you don’t tell her and she finds out one way or another, it won’t go down well, trust me.”
She was suspicious, I understood why, but I wasn’t going to tell her the secret, it wasn’t any of her business.
“But I’ve known her all my life,” I said, sighing. I knew she was right, but I still didn’t want to face the truth. I held on to my hat, the wind was aggressive this afternoon. It was as if the wind were trying to tell me something. Sam was my best friend. If she found out that I had lied to her, I might not have a best friend anymore.
“It’ll be ok, I promise. If you ever want to talk about anything, I’m here, sweetheart.”
That night, I couldn’t sleep, although my eyes were heavy and I was all snug in my bed. What if Sam hates me, what if she never wants to talk to me again? No. I have to tell her, just like Grandma said, she will find out one way or another. All the secret was was that she had copied off someone’s paper during our geometry quiz. That’s no big deal… right? My mind was racing, I couldn’t stop shaking. I heard my heart beating, I thought there was a chance that it would jump out of my chest. The palms of my hands were sweating, I tried to wipe the sweat off on my pants but the sweat somehow just kept crawling back to my fingertips.
Maybe about one hour later, I somehow drifted off to sleep.
Buzz, buzz. My alarm went off. Ugh, time for school. My eighth grade teacher, Ms. Summer, was so sweet and cared for everyone and I say this truthfully, the only reason I told Ms. Summer Sam’s secret was because I knew Sam was beyond capable of doing the test all by herself. Without cheating.
Mom dropped me off at school that morning and when I arrived, I saw her. She was looking so happy, which only made me feel worse. How could I tell her what I’ve done. It will ruin her day.
“Heeeey, Sam,” I said awkwardly, as if I had never talked to her before in my life.
“Hi! What’s up, you seem a bit… tense.”
“Hehe, do I?” What was that, Jessica, “Do I?” Ugh.
She looked confused. “Um, yeah, you do. I know you pretty darn well, what’s up?”
“The sky?” Jessica, are you serious right now? Just come clean, you’ll feel better.
“Fine then, don’t tell me.” She huffed off in a hurry.
Well, I might have just missed my only chance to tell her what happened, no big deal… no big deal.
We got to our first period class, and of course, our assigned seats were right next to each other, great, just what I needed.
“Good morning, class!” Ms. Summer said, almost singing the words.
“Good morning, Ms. Summer,” the class chanted back to her.
I nudged Sam. “Can we talk after class?”
She didn’t answer. Her eyes didn’t even move off of the chalkboard.
“Sam?” Ms. Summer asked as she came closer to our table. “Can I see you for a minute? Privately,” she said, looking directly at me, almost through me.
My heartbeat quickened instantaneously, I started to pant. I couldn’t see clearly, my head was pounding. What was she telling Sam? Was she going to tell her what I had done? Was she going to hate me?
Only a couple of seconds later, the door opened, and I was suddenly very confused. Sam was smiling like she had just won the lottery. What had Ms. Summer said? I wanted to ask her but that would be impolite. I looked over at Ms. Summer, and she smiled and gave me a wink. I was almost frustrated now, I didn’t know what had happened in the hallway, I probably still had to tell Sam that I told her secret. This was a complete disaster.
After school ended, I walked over to my best friend and I gave her a look saying, “We need to talk.” She nodded her head silently, and we sat down at a bench near the school’s entrance.
“I need to tell you something and I don’t want you to get mad, can you promise me?” I pleaded.
She giggled. “Well, when you put it that way, I can’t promise anything!”
I sighed. “Fine. I-I-I don’t like what you’re wearing today.”
You could imagine what happened next, she was confused, I was confused, and then we both went home wondering what had just happened!
When I got home, I plopped myself on the couch, propped my elbows on the edge of my legs, and my hands covered my face. The tears burned my eyes, I couldn’t tell if it was sad or angry tears. Maybe it was a bit of both.
I was currently living with my mom in this small apartment in Ohio, so there wasn’t really any way I could hide from her.
“Honey, what’s wrong? I know a sad face when I see one.” She looked at me and gave me a sad smile.
I wiped my tears off my face with the back of my sleeve. “It’s a long story.”
“Well it’s only 4:00. I’ve got time.”
“I want to talk to Grandma.”
She looked disappointed. “Oh, ok, I can drive you to the beach if you want.”
I texted Grandma, and I’m not kidding, within 15 seconds, she responded! I met her at the beach, it was windy again but I didn’t mind.
“Hey, sweetheart. What’s bugging you?” She gave me an empathetic smile.
I stared blankly at the ocean, the waves crashing against the golden sand.
I told her how Ms. Summer took Sam out into the hallway and she came back to the classroom smiling. And I told her that I hadn’t told Sam yet. And that I didn’t know why I had so much trouble telling her.
She looked disappointed, but not at me, at what I had done. “Maybe if you tell me what the secret was, I can understand the situation better.”
I knew I was going to have to tell her at some point, I just didn’t want to. I thought that was a perfectly good reason not to tell her, I just didn’t want to. But I knew that wasn’t really an option so I took a deep breath, “She cheated during a geometry quiz. I told the teacher because I knew she was very capable of doing the test without looking at someone’s paper.” In my head, it just sounded like a jumble of words, but I could tell that Grandma understood. The truth was I actually felt a lot better saying it out loud. Maybe it wasn’t too late to tell Sam what had really happened.
“Oh.” She looked like she had been expecting something worse. “That isn’t so bad, is it?”
“No, but if I tell her the truth, I’m afraid she isn’t going to want to be my friend anymore.” I blinked at least a dozen times in a row to stop the tears from escaping.
She looked perplexed. “Are you sure this is about being afraid of not having a friend? I think that maybe you’re afraid that you’re not going to have as tight a bond as you have had your entire life.”
Those were true words of wisdom that I had never actually thought about before until now. Maybe she was right. Maybe we would still be friends, but would it be the same?
“I don’t know.”
“And you have the right not to know. But we will figure it out, Jess. I know we will. Your mom said that she’ll be here in a bit. Do you want me to stay here with you until she gets here?”
“No, it’s ok. You can go. I’ll see you later.”
“Ok, good luck.” She walked towards the parking lot near the beach and she was soon out of sight.
I gave a shy smile to myself. I have a secret. Sam copied off my geometry quiz. I could have stopped her, but I didn’t. I’m the one to blame. I told the teacher because I wanted to get back at her. I wanted to get back at her because she had been avoiding me for the longest time. I know I should have talked to her but our relationship doesn’t really work like that. I wanted to tell her the whole story but she would have wanted to hurt me. I mean if I was her and she had done that to me and then she told me everything she had done all at once, I wouldn’t know what to say. Or feel. I was also worried about how Ms. Summer had taken Sam out into the hallway, I didn’t know what she was saying. I thought she was revealing my secret. I shouldn’t have told her. I shouldn’t have told anyone. I was angry and I wanted revenge. I didn’t think about what I was doing until after I did it. I am going to tell Sam about this.
That night, I tried extra hard to let my mind relax. For the longest time, I’d had trouble falling asleep. It isn’t the slightest bit fun because being tired and not being able to sleep are one of the most frustrating things ever.
When I woke up the next morning, I realized that Grandma was the only person I actually trusted. It was quite a sad thought so I didn’t spend much time thinking about it or else I would have started bawling. I ate my breakfast cereal so slowly it became soggy and mushy, disgusting! My mom drove me to school as always because her job was never in the morning as an interior designer.
“Have a great day, sweetie!” She blew me an air kiss from the car window and I, unenthusiastically, pretended to catch it.
I felt like a nobody, knowing that the only person I had to talk to was my grandma. That’s pretty pathetic, if you ask me! I had a huge unsolved problem, no friends except for Sam. The only problem with being friends with her at the moment was that we were on no speaking terms. I wouldn’t exactly call that a friend…
When it was math class, I decided I needed to have a talk with Ms. Summer, I mean, she was a big factor in my anxiety right now.
I sat down next to Sam and I gave her the biggest smile I could possibly give without looking like I was up to something.
“Good morning, class,” Ms. Summer said, partially sitting on her desk.
This time, I didn’t say good morning back, because it wasn’t a good morning at all.
Ms. Summer, quiet as a mouse, crept up to our table, again! Are you kidding me, this seriously can’t be happening.
My head perked up, she had never said my last name before.
“Yes, Ms. Summer.”
“Can I see you in the hallway please?” She didn’t look mad, she just didn’t look like her usual bright and cheerful self.
“What is up with you, Jessica? You’ve been acting very strange lately. First, you tell me that Sam cheated and then you don’t say good morning. I don’t want to even start to talk about the grades you’ve been receiving from my class. Could you explain to me why all of this happened, just out of nowhere?”
“Um, sure. You know, Sam and I have been friends forever and lately she’s been avoiding me so I wanted to get back at her, she cheated on my test.” I sighed, I couldn’t take it back now, “I could have told her not to but I didn’t. I told you because I wanted to get her in trouble. I know it seems really bad but I had good intentions.”
She covered her mouth with her hand. “Those don’t seem like good intentions, Jessica.”
“I know. I knew she could do the test without cheating so I told on her.”
“Then which one is it? You let her cheat on purpose or you told me because you knew she could do the test without cheating?”
“Take a guess.”
She looked really disappointed in me. I’ve never seen a teacher look this way before.
“Let’s go back into the classroom, shall we?”
“One more thing, Ms. Summer.” She turned around intrigued by my words, “I know it’s none of my business but what exactly did you tell Sam yesterday that made her so happy?”
She giggled. “You’re right, it isn’t any of your business at all. But I will tell you that I won’t tell your little secret, you have something special, kiddo. Don’t let this one time get the best of you. Everyone has a downfall at some point, you’re lucky that you have a friend as good as Sam.”
“But then why does she keep ignoring me?”
She looked like she knew something that I didn’t. “Try talking to her again, see what happens. If it doesn’t go as planned, I’m here. Okay?”
I looked down at my feet. “Okay. I’m sorry for everything.”
She didn’t say anything after that, I was kind of hoping that she would have told me what had happened in the hallway, but I still had hope that Sam and I would continue our friendship.
That afternoon, while I was working on my math homework, a lightbulb went off in my mind. I suddenly had a brilliant thought and I didn’t know why I had never thought about it before. It was so simple, yet it made so much sense. I could still be friends with Sam, but friends drift apart and then new people come into our lives. Maybe someone new would come into my life. I’m not saying I wanted to get rid of Sam, I’m just saying, maybe I could make some new friends. I felt so smart, but not because I was doing math homework, because I was actually making sense to myself.
“Hi, Sam, I know we haven’t been speaking much but — no, that doesn’t sound right.” I kept trying to write my little “I’m sorry” speech, but I couldn’t get it to sound right.
“Hi, Sam, I have something big to tell you. No, that’s a little obvious.” I sighed, I’m never going to be able to do this. But I have to. Just stick to the plan and you’ll be fine.
When I got to school, I was confident, but when I saw Sam, my confidence level went down a few notches. You’ve got this, you can do it.
“Hi, Sam, can we please talk?”
I took that as a yes. “First of all I want to say I’m sorry. I’ve been a really bad friend lately and I need to tell you the whole story. This time you can get mad, you probably will get mad. I completely understand if you do.” Get to the point, Jessica. “First of all, when you copied off my math test, I didn’t tell you not to and I told Ms. Summer about it. I did it without thinking, I wanted to get you in trouble. Only because you had been avoiding me and I was mad at you.”
And then I told her about how I was so nervous when Ms. Summer took her out into the hallway. After I finished speaking, she looked shocked.
She gulped. “Why didn’t you tell me any of this sooner? I would have explained myself.”
“Well, I hope it’s not too late. Can you explain yourself now?”
“First of all, there was a flood in my house and we had to move out this week, of course, all of our stuff was damaged so we didn’t really have anything to move in with. That is what Ms. Summer was talking to me about, she was offering my family some new clothes and bed sheets and stuff like that.”
How had I not known about this? “I’m so, so sorry. I had no idea. I would have done the same, I still can.”
“My parents said I shouldn’t tell any of my friends about it because they didn’t want you to be worried. I think you’re worried now, so I think that was a good call. I’ve been avoiding you because I wanted to tell you about it so badly but I couldn’t. I’m sorry.”
“You shouldn’t be the one apologizing. You actually had a good reason for doing what you did. I didn’t. I want to still be friends with you of course but… maybe we could take a break from each other for a little while?”
“That sounds good.”
“And one last thing, we need to promise each other that if we make new friends, we won’t be too jealous,” I said even though I didn’t think I would be making new friends very soon. But it was nice to know that Sam was there if I needed someone. I didn’t only have Grandma now, I had Samantha as well.
I wanted to go to the beach one last time this week, but I couldn’t go by myself.
“Grandma, can I ask you something?” I asked, grinning.
She smiled. “Anything, Jessica. What’s the matter?”
Here I was, sitting calmly on the warm sand next to my favorite person in the entire world, at the only place where I felt truly safe. I was having one of many heart-to-hearts with my grandma, she really understood me, in a way that no one else did. My rosey cheeks were warm to the touch and my eyes were a hazel brown with a hint of blue from the waves that I was watching in the distance. I have known Samantha since nursery school, I thought quietly to myself, but that won’t stop me from making new friends. I stared into my grandma’s beautiful eyes, wanting every single inch of me to be exactly like her when I grew up.