“My best friend is named Annie. I met her in kindergarten, and she’s the best friend I could ever have. She’s funny, generous, and determined. Now, we’re in third grade. I walk into my classroom and take a seat at my desk. My teacher assigns partners for an art assignment that we’re doing. I cross my fingers, hoping that I get partnered with Annie.”
I walk to my classroom slowly. I don’t mind being late because I almost always am. Let me tell you something about me. I am Emily Johnson. My best friend is named Annie. I met her in kindergarten, and she’s the best friend I could ever have. She’s funny, generous, and determined. Now, we’re in third grade. I walk into my classroom and take a seat at my desk. My teacher assigns partners for an art assignment that we’re doing. I cross my fingers, hoping that I get partnered with Annie.
“Emily Johnson! And Lydia Green!” calls the teacher.
Annie gets partnered with Lyla. Lyla and Lydia are best friends. Me and Lydia start working on the project. I hear giggling from Annie’s table.
“What’s going on?”
Annie says, “We were just talking about the playdate we had last night. We’re going to play together at recess.”
“What?” I say. “But you always play with me!”
“Sorry, I wanna play with Lyla!”
“Ugh,” I say.
And I finish the project with Lydia. After lunch, it is time for recess. I walk over to Annie. Annie senses what I’m going to say.
She says, “Sorry, I already asked Lyla if I could play fairies with her. Maybe next time?”
“Can I play too?” I say.
“Sorry, only two people can play!” Lyla says.
And then, she goes and asks Sarah and Amy to play fairies with them too! After school, I grab Annie by the arm.
“Come over to my house!”
“Sorry,” Annie says. “I’m going to Lyla’s house.”
And then, she asks Lyla, so I know that Lyla didn’t tell her before!
And then I yell, “Hey! At recess, you said that only two people could play! But then you asked Sarah and Amy to play too! And then, you said that you were going to Lyla’s house, but asked her after! What’s up with you?”
“Uh, sorry. I just wanted to play with Lyla.”
“Alright,” I say.
And then I go home.
My mom asks me, “Want to bake cookies?”
“No, thank you,” I say.
“Hey? What’s up?” She asks.
“Nothing,” I say.
“Well, then, look at your English homework. It’s preposterous! And I found it in the trash can!”
“Uh…” I say, and then run up to my room and close the door.
I feel my cheeks burn. I had thrown it in the trash can, because it was not good.
The next day, I’m by my neighbor Mrs. Shelton’s house. I see Annie and Lyla walking to school together. Me and Annie ALWAYS walk to school together.
I say, “Hey Annie! We always walk to school together! Why can’t you walk with me today!”
“Because…” Annie starts to say, but Lyla cuts her short.
“Annie’s always telling me about how clingy you are, Emily,” Lyla said, turning her gaze to Lydia. “And Lydia, you always wait for me to do this, me to do that, me to choose. Gimme a break.”
Then she and Annie walk off. Then we reach school. It was a terrible day. At lunch, Annie sat at Lyla’s table and didn’t even come near me. And whenever we had a free period, she would always play with Lyla. And then I look and see Lydia. She looks sad. Maybe it’s because Lyla is her best friend.
I go up to her, and I say, “Look at Annie and Lyla, it’s like THEY’RE best friends, not even looking at us!”
She nods her head. And then she says, “Why don’t we form a team? It’ll be like a friend-fight!”
“Too dramatic,” I say. “But alright.”
So, when school is over, Annie, of course, goes to Lyla’s house. I don’t object. Me and Lydia have a plan. They walk home, and we follow behind them.
Lyla’s mom sayd, “Before you can play with your friend, you have to tidy up the yard. It’s a disaster!”
“I’ll help too,” Annie says.
After they’re almost done, Annie goes to the bathroom. So Lyla follows her to show her the way. While they’re gone, I make the mess even untidier than before, then run back just in time.
When Annie and Lyla come back, they say, “What?! We almost finished it! It looks even worse than it was before!”
Balls were everywhere. A jump rope and bicycle were tied together and on the ground. Coats, and hats, and scarves, and bits of snow were scattered around. And then, the minute they turn back, Lydia makes snowballs and throws it at them. And then we leave, giggling happily.
The next day, at school, I tell Annie, “I have to talk to you in private.”
“Finally,” she says.
“What?” I say.
“Just come on.”
Then we go to the janitor’s closet.
I say, “Why are you doing this? Why do you always want to be with Lyla, and why doesn’t she want to be with Lydia?”
“Because you’re always so CLINGY and want to be with me all the time! It’s so annoying, and that’s what it looks like with Lyla on me!”
“I am NOT!” I say.
“Yes, you are!” She yells.
We don’t realize how loud we are. The art teacher comes and gets us in trouble. I glare at Annie and walk away.
The next day, Annie comes smiling. I take a seat.
And then yell, “Ouch!”
There is a needle that was sticking up on the chair. I look at Annie, and she is still smiling. I guessed it. She had put it there. She guessed that we had thrown the snow and messed up the yard. We lock eyes. She grins. I don’t.
When Lydia and I walk home from school, I say, “Okay, what’s plan B?”
“I dunno,” said Lydia. “Maybe we could… no, that won’t work.”
And then I say, “They’re going to Annie’s house.”
Both Lydia and I have been to Annie’s house. When Annie and Lyla get to Annie’s house, Lydia and I follow them in, through a back entrance. Annie’s mom is in the bathroom. They’re eating cookies. I sneak up the stairs and grab Annie’s diary. I run back down and sprint outside just before Annie’s mom gets out of the bathroom.
The next day is Saturday. I ask Mom, “Can we go to the mall? I have my tooth fairy money.”
And I get the exact same diary as Annie has. That way, I have the key. Just as soon as we get home, and I’m about to open the diary, I don’t. I realize I shouldn’t. But I was going to keep it. I grab it, and hide it deep, deep, deep in my closet. And then, I make pancakes.
The next day is Sunday. My dad is coming home from a business trip.
“Daddy, Daddy!” I say, as he opens the door.
“Hi!” He says. “I brought presents!”
“Yay!” I say.
“Oh, and I met Annie on the way here. She says that she wants you to come to her house.”
“Annie?” I ask.
“Yes, Annie. What about that? That’s not surprising, is it? She says to come now.”
So I run out the door.
Annie says, “Hey. Did you take my diary?”
“Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t.”
We both know that counts as a yes. She scowls and stalks off. I stare at her. That’s what she wanted? Well, I was not going to give it to her.
Everyday at school, we change jobs. Annie was the plant waterer.
Lydia says, “When she’s done filling the vase, I’m going to drain it out!”
And she does. When our teacher walks in, she says, glaring, “Annie! You’re the plant waterer, I don’t see a SINGLE drop of water in the vase. You always remember, what has gotten into you?”
Annie gives me a questioning look. I just smile. Lyla whispers something into Annie’s ear. Then they both giggle. My smile turns into a frown. And then, I focus on the work. But I think. Let me tell you something. Lyla is NOT nice. She doesn’t like anybody, or anything. So, I think basically she just wants to pick on me and Lydia. During break, Lydia and I sit down. It’s time for Plan C: Ignoring. We won’t listen to them. Anything they say, anything they do, we’ll pretend they’re not there.
Lydia says, “Sounds good.”
And then we play jump rope. When Annie purposefully says, “BYE, EMILY! I’M GOING TO LYLA’S HOUSE.”
I walk right past her, pretending she’s not there. Lydia does the same. Then we high five.
I say, “Let’s go to my house and bake sugar cookies.”
And the rest of the day was great. That night, I dreamt of Lyla and Annie. They were saying sorry. And Lydia, Lyla, Annie, and I became friends again. When I woke up, I realized, it was not the simple. But deep down, I knew it actually was. I know what I needed to do. I need to go to someone who understands. I need to go to Mom.
I tell Mom, “I need to tell you something.”
“What is it, sweetie,” she says.
“It’s Annie, Lyla, and Lydia. Well, Annie and Lyla stopped playing with me and Lydia. And they were playing mean tricks on us.”
“Who started playing tricks?” says mom.
“Us…” I say guiltily.
“And do you know why Annie was not playing with you?”
“Yes. She said that I was being too clingy. And I wasn’t! So we both got mad.”
“And so let me get this straight,” says Mom. “Annie was not hanging out with you or playing with you, because she thought you were being to clingy. And then you both got mad at each other. And then you started playing tricks on them?”
“Yes,” I say.
“Well, here’s what you’ve got to do: you’ve got to go up to Annie, and tell her it’s not nice what she’s doing and that you’re sorry that you were playing pranks, and that you were being a little clingy.”
“Can you come with me?” I ask her.
She says, “Alright.”
And that’s exactly what we do.
Annie says, “Well… um, I’m sorry too, that I was playing pranks, and um… not hanging out with you.”
“Friends?” I say.
“Friends.” She says.
Mom smiles, and then goes to work.
The next day at school, I go up to Lydia and say, “Here’s what you have to do.”
And then I pour out all the stuff that Mom said. She listens. And then does it.
Lyla just stares, as if saying, “what are you? An earthworm?”
Well, that might change their friendship, but that’s not gonna change Lyla. But anyway, that’s Lydia’s problem.
And then we all play together. Lyla and all.
The next day Annie walks over to me.
“Here,” she says. “I made this for you.”
She hands me a bracelet that says best friends forever. I see she made one for herself.
“Thanks” I say.
We both smile and walk to school together.