“I pictured the shattered glass and the flopping whale and Ella, clutching her leg.”
Chapter 1: The Trip
Ella and I were good friends. Very good friends. It all started when we went to the aquarium in Maryland on vacation.
“C’mon Ella! I can’t wait to see the whales!” I said, as I ran to the bus. I was very excited. Whales were only my favorite animal in the world. I looked back at the door to our tiny cabin, and I saw Ella dragging her bag to the bus. I grabbed her arm and pulled her on. We found a good seat in front and sat down.
“So, Ella, aren’t you excited? Whales are so cool!” I said. Ella rolled her eyes towards me and sighed. I got the point that she didn’t feel like talking to me right now. So we were silent the rest of the trip.
When we arrived at the huge doors guarding the aquarium, the bus came to a stop.
“We’re here! Let’s go!” I grabbed Ella’s long blond hair in my rush to get off. She screeched so loud, I’m sure China could hear her. I ignored her and pulled her elbow instead. She followed me and we went through the big archway. I immediately galloped to the whale section. I saw the big, majestic body of the orca whale and the bristly teeth of the humpback. Watching those whales swim and glide through the water amazed me. They were so graceful and they moved through the water like they were dancing.
We watched them for a few more minutes then I remembered I had brought my camera. I positioned it just right to get every whale in the photo. I pressed the button, but at that moment, everything changed. I saw the flash of my camera, then I heard glass shattering and I saw, out of the corner of my eye, Ella, laying on the ground, holding her leg. I heard people screaming, and then, I saw the whale. That big, majestic orca whale, out of its cage, and flopping around on the tiled floor. I panicked. My only instinct was to run. I grasped Ella and ran like I’d never run before. We got to the bus and I flew on. I gently touched Ella’s leg. It was clearly broken. I felt so bad. I pictured the shattered glass and the flopping whale and Ella, clutching her leg. I can’t believe I forgot to turn off the flash. I knew she would never forgive me.
“No,” I thought. We’ve been friends for so long, surely she’ll understand it wasn’t my fault. But she never did.
That was three years ago.
Chapter 2: McKenna
It was the first day at my new school. I had to move schools, away from Ella, because my dad found a new job and I was excited to meet some new friends, because I had a rough summer.
I can describe my summer in two words: No fun. Whales are no longer my favorite animal, I no longer like aquariums, and I never talk to Ella. All of this is because I broke her leg and made her wear a brace for the rest of her life. But now, I’m hoping she can forgive me, after all these years, because today I was going to her house this afternoon to check on her leg. Yesterday, I thought about how bad she must be feeling right now, because it’s her first day back from school after three years and so I thought it would be nice to pay her a visit, but it’s just to check on her. I’m hoping it will have a happy ending.
“Charlotte! Come, it’s time for school.” I heard my mom say from the kitchen.
“Coming, mom!” I grabbed my new bag and swung it over my shoulder. I hopped into my blue Ford, and we were off.
When we arrived at the front doors to my school, I stepped out of my car and climbed up the stairs to my new classroom. I walked into my room and everyone stared at me. I wanted to become a turtle and hide in my shell and never come out. I felt so bad.
“Hey. Charlotte, right? I’m McKenna,” a voice said from behind me. I turned around and saw a tall girl with big, brown eyes and long, blond, wavy hair.
“Oh, hi… McKenna. How do you know me?” I asked her, aware that people were still staring at me.
“Well, actually, I think our parents know each other,” McKenna said in a kind voice.
“Oh, that’s great,” I said, unenthusiastically. I don’t know why my mom didn’t tell me she had a relationship with someone’s parents who just so happens to be going to my new school. I’m going to have a serious talk with her when I get home.
“C’mon Charlotte, I want to show you my new bag.” McKenna grabbed my arm and dragged me to her desk.
Everyone finally stopped staring at me when I got to McKenna’s desk. When I sat down, McKenna started asking me tons of questions.
“So, Charlotte, what’s your favorite color? What’s your favorite animal? Where do you live? Who’s your best friend?”
“STOP!” I yelled. I didn’t mean to upset her, I just didn’t want to be harassed by a stranger.
“Oh, I’m sorry Charlotte. I’ll tell you things about me. So-” But McKenna didn’t get to finish, because my strict new teacher walked through the door.
Chapter 3: Detention
It was the first day of school, and I was excited to meet this girl named Charlotte. Our parents are really good friends, so I want to get to know her.
“McKenna! Let’s go, time for school!” I heard my mom shout.
“Coming!” I yelled back. My school is within walking distance, so my mom lets me walk to school alone. It’s a big responsibility.
I grabbed my bag and ran to the door.
“Goodbye McKenna. Have a good first day of school and remember, be nice to Charlotte. Ask her questions, talk to her…”
I cut my mom off. “I know Mom,” I said, annoyed. Before my mom could ask me any more questions, I zoomed out the door.
My walk was silent, like it always was. I thought about what could go wrong with Charlotte. What if she doesn’t like me? What if I embarrass her in front of the whole class? What if we have nothing in common so she doesn’t want to be my friend?
When I finally arrived at the big doors guarding the school, I was still thinking about what could go wrong. I hiked up the steep stairs to my classroom. When I walked in, I recognized the girl my mom described to me as Charlotte. She had bright red hair and dull, hazel eyes.
“Hey. Charlotte, right? I’m McKenna.” I walked up to her from behind. She turned around and looked straight down at the ground as she spoke.
“Oh hi… McKenna. How do you know me?”
“Well, actually, I think our parents know each other,” I responded, trying to sound casual.
“Oh, that’s great,” Charlotte said. I remembered what my mom said about being nice, so I brought her to my desk to show her my new bag that was covered with flowers. Then, I decided to ask her some questions about herself.
“So, Charlotte, what’s your favorite color? What’s your favorite animal? Where do you live? Who’s your best friend?” I asked her. I didn’t realize it would be too many questions though.
“STOP!” she shouted at me.
“Oh, I’m sorry Charlotte. I’ll tell you things about me,” I said. I felt so bad and I wanted to make it up to her. “So-” But I didn’t get to finish, because suddenly, my strict teacher stormed in the door.
“Everyone,” my teacher boomed. “Please get to your seats.”
I rushed to sit down in my seat. I could see the desks quivering as he spoke, and everyone around me was shaking. But not me. I was used to having mean teachers; I’ve been at this school for five years.
I looked over at Charlotte’s desk. She was shivering with fear. I wrote a note to her. It said:
Don’t be scared. He’s just mean.
I passed this note to her, trying to be secretive, but our teacher saw me. He walked over to me, nice and slow. I could hear the tapping of his boots against the tile floor. When he got to my desk, he glared at me so hard, I thought he was reading my mind.
“McKenna,” he said in a slow, deep voice. “Detention. I will not allow note passing in my class.” He took the note I wrote to Charlotte and he read it. I could tell by the look in his eye that he was mad. After that, he sent me to detention for a month. Charlotte mouthed the words “Good luck” to me.
“Thanks,” I mouthed back to her. I was going to need it.
Chapter 4: The Reunion
I would finally get to go back to school after three years. The doctor said my leg healed enough. I haven’t been able to do half the things I wanted to do since my leg broke. I am a gymnast, so when that whale fell on top of me, and my leg shattered into a million pieces, I knew I could never do gymnastics again. I went straight to the doctor and he said I would have to wear a brace for the rest of my life. So here I am, three years later, and I finally get to go to school. I had to move schools, away from Charlotte, because my mom got a new job.
My mom asked my teacher if I could come in late, because I had a doctor’s appointment. He said that would be fine. I thought he sounded nice.
After my doctor’s appointment, I was ready to go to school. I leapt in the car, and my mom and I drove to school.
When we got there, I climbed the steps very slowly. As I climbed up the last step, I could hear a deep man-voice yelling at someone named McKenna. I waited until the yelling stopped, and then I tip-toed into the classroom. The whole room went silent.
“Hi,” I whispered. Then, suddenly, someone ran up to me and grabbed me in a tight hug. It took me a minute for me to realize who it was, but when I did, I was ecstatic.
“Charlotte?” I asked the girl.
“It’s me, Ella!” She let go of me. I felt my eyes water.
“I didn’t know you would be here,” Charlotte told me.
“I didn’t either,” I replied. Charlotte looked at my face, then to my leg.
“How’s your leg?” she asked me.
“It’s fine. I haven’t been able to go to school for three years, but it’s been alright,” Charlotte laughed. That’s the first time I’ve ever been able to get her to laugh. Just then, a tall girl with blond, wavy hair came over to us.
“Hi, I’m McKenna,” the girl said to me. “What happened to your leg?”
“Oh, it’s a long story,” I answered her. I glanced at Charlotte. She smiled. I knew right there that me and Charlotte had made up. I forgave her for breaking my leg, and I knew she forgave me for being mad at her. We were best friends again, and I was happy. I vowed that I would never get mad at Charlotte like I had all those years ago. It wasn’t even her fault my leg broke. It was just an accident. These three years have been an accident.
I walked to my desk with my arm around Charlotte, because she and I are good friends, very good friends.