Amy, do u want 2 come over 2 my house this weekend? Maybe we can rent that new penguin movie we wanted 2 C. Write me back.
I folded the note carefully and slid it across my desk to Amy’s. Recently, Miss Jones had allowed us to rearrange our desks so that we four oldest girls Rachel, Rebekah, Amy, and I—were seated in a group together. Because we didn’t want to be separated, we were careful to always get our work done and avoid disrupting the class. If we had something to say to one another, we usually said it in a note.
Amy finished the math problem she was working on before reading my note, scribbling a quick answer, and sliding it back over.
Can’t this weekend. Rebekah’s coming over to ride horses. Maybe next week.
I frowned and slipped the note under my book. I tried to concentrate on my work. I studied the formula for finding the area of a triangle. Yet for some reason, what had made sense a minute ago looked like gibberish now. All I could think about was Rebekah over at Amy’s house, riding horses, talking, laughing, telling secrets….
You’re being ridiculous, I tried to tell myself. Amy can have more than one friend. She always has before, and so have you. Just because you’ve recently been telling her things you’ve never told anyone else doesn’t mean she suddenly “belongs” to you. And just because she hangs out with other people doesn’t mean she’s going to start blabbing all the secrets you told her about your dad’s alcoholism, or your parents’ fights, or anything else. Amy is still your friend.
I told myself all of this, but I didn’t really believe it. If I had believed it, maybe I wouldn’t have done what I did later that day. Maybe, when I saw the note lying on the floor of the school hallway—a note that clearly didn’t belong to me—maybe I would have just left it alone, and everything would have been okay.
But that’s not what happened.
I was headed to the restroom. The hallway was deserted, and the note was right there, dropped on the floor and kicked up against the wall. It was written on a sheet of notebook paper, folded several times into a small rectangle. On the front were scribbled the words: From Amy. I didn’t know who it was written for, but I had never seen the note before, so I knew it wasn’t for me.
I picked it up. Through the thin paper I could see that this note was long, clearly not one of the simple, everyday notes we wrote to each other just to say “Hi!” or “What did you bring for lunch today?” This was more like a letter than a note, and somehow I knew it contained something serious.
At that moment I had a choice. I could throw the note away without reading it. I could give it back to Amy without reading it.
Or I could, of course, read it.
I chose door number three.
I locked myself in the bathroom and hopped up onto the wide windowsill, which made a fairly comfortable seat. My hands trembled as I unfolded the paper. What would Amy have to say in a note this long? Was she calling someone else her best friend? Was she telling them secrets? Was she telling my secrets?
I thought those were the worst possible things the note could contain.
I was wrong.
What are we going to do about Chrissy? The note said in Amy’s familiar handwriting. She drives me so crazy sometimes. She’s suffocating me! Now she’s all mad at us ‘cause we were hanging out together at recess. She could’ve asked if she could play, too. Instead she just glares at us for the rest of the day, like we did something terrible by having fun. And the way she glares at Miss Jones sometimes, too…doesn’t she know how rude that is? And awkward for the rest of us. Honestly, sometimes I don’t even want to be her friend anymore.
My hands shook as I read the note once…twice…three times. I felt as if each sentence, each word, were cutting straight through my heart. My friend had written this. Amy—and possibly others, as well—were saying horrible things about me behind my back.
Tears splattered on the page before I even realized I was crying. I wished with all my heart that I had never picked up this note. But there was nothing I could do about it now. I had to face the fact that I did not have any real friends.
No, it was worse than that. I had no friends. My father barely spoke to me. Even my little brothers would rather hang out with my teacher than with me.
I was completely and totally alone.
I slumped down to the floor, pulled my knees up, and buried my head in my arms as the tears continued to flow. Why, God? I prayed silently. Why did this have to happen? I thought I had the greatest friends in the world. I thought they would always be here for me. I thought You would always be here for me. But You’re not here, are You? Why else would everything be going so rotten?
Of course, if God wasn’t here with me, then why was I talking to Him?
The truth was, even as I prayed those words I knew how wrong they were. In fact, just as I was accusing God of abandoning me, the lines of a scripture we had memorized in class several weeks ago came creeping back into my mind. I remembered it because it was the same verse I’d had trouble reading off the board, back when Miss Jones discovered I needed glasses.
It is the Lord who goes before you,” I murmured softly to myself. “He will be with you; He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand. I still felt terrible, but I realized I was once again facing a choice. I could completely end my friendship with Amy. I could pretend I had never seen this note and act like everything was okay even though it wasn’t.
Or I could talk with Amy and try to work things out.
The third option was definitely the most difficult, but with the Lord going before me, I decided to try.
I pulled myself up off the floor, tucked the note into my pocket, and headed back into the classroom. I must have been a mess. Amy, Rachel, and Rebekah all looked at me oddly, but I didn’t say a word. Instead, I tore off a scrap of notebook paper and scribbled one short note, which I slid across my desk.
Amy, it read. I think we need to talk.