“Hey, Ella,” Gaby smiled, expecting Ella to do the same. She noticed a few others from the popular group at school that she belonged to.
Instead, the group pointed and whispered. Confused, Gaby waved again. Then they giggled and pointed some more.
Gaby rolled her eyes at the little group on the lawn and scampered towards them.
When she approached them, they didn’t even budge. Gaby tried to start a conversation, but no one even tried to continue.
This is so weird! Gaby pondered. What’s up with them?
“Hey,” Gaby snapped. “What’s up with you all?”
“We don’t want to be with you,” Grant, a boy in the group, sneered. “Religious freak!”
Gaby felt Ella’s eyes on her. Ella was the only person other than her church friends that knew that she was Seventh Day Adventist. “That’s silly, and you know it!”
“Well,” Amarisia, another girl, added. “We heard you are in a cult!”
“Oh,” Gaby snapped at Amarisia. “What cult? I’m pretty sure you’re in one, talking to me like that!”
The moment the words slipped out, Gaby wanted to swallow them. That wasn’t true, and she knew it. Ashamed, she kept quiet.
Suddenly everyone’s eyes fell one her.
“You know,” Ella said. “I’ve only been friends with you this far because I could get something out of it, but since I can’t anymore, we’ve decided that you’re not one of us anymore.”
Gaby ripped out and ran into her home. It wasn’t fair! It wasn’t true!
She lunged herself into her bed. Suddenly, something hard hit her head. She groped around to see what it was. It was a little trinket she received when she was five. It was a pin-back button with Jesus and a bunch of little kids hugging him, and it said, “Jesus is my best friend!”
She remembered how she had worn it everywhere for a year, announcing, “Jesus is my best friend!” to everyone.
Gaby sobbed harder. It wasn’t true! If Jesus was her “best friend”, He wouldn’t have let those morons ditch her. But he did. And now everything was worse.
The door cracked open, and Mom came in.
“Gaby-bug, anything you want to talk about?” Mom wiped a soggy wisp off Gaby’s face.
“My friends, they ditched me,” Gaby sniffled. “They’ve been using me!”
“Something like that once happened to me. It was awful!”
“Well, When I was your age, I had a group of friends I thought they liked me. Well, I was always the smartest one in class, and I could solve the hardest math problems in a minute!
“So one day, a girl, her name was Amelia, well, she walked up to me and said, ‘So Carly, well, do you want to sit with me for lunch?’
“Who can refuse an invitation to the popular table? So I agreed, and after that, I regularly sat at their table.
“But another girl, Gracie Himes, told me, ‘Don’t fall for it, Carly! They’re using you!’
“But instead of listening, I just laughed at her. It wasn’t possible that they were faking a friendship!
“But one day, the final test was coming up, and Amelia and her buddies hadn’t studied. So Amelia asked me, ‘Say, Carly, can you give us the answers to the test? We kind of forgot to study.’
“I knew I shouldn’t take the offer, so I refused. Cheating was lying, and lying made me feel dirty.
“Amelia was hopping mad! She faced me and said, ‘Then we’re not your friends anymore. Scram!’
“Well something like that. After that, Gracie and I were best friends, and we still are. I should have listened to her in the first place.”
Gaby nodded, remembering what her church friends, no, Charlene, of all people, had told her. “They’re using you!” she had warned.
But it still didn’t help. Gaby was friendless. They had all been fakers. Frauds and fakers.