Best Friends

Best Friends

From Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul

Best Friends

We’re swallowed up only when we’re willing for it to happen.

Nathalie Sarraute

“Please stay,” I begged.

Ann was my best friend, the only other girl in the neighborhood, and I didn’t want her to go.

She sat on my bed, her blue eyes blank.

“I’m bored,” she said, slowly twirling her thick red pigtail around her finger. She had come to play a half hour ago.

“Please don’t go,” I pleaded. “Your mother said you could stay an hour.”

Ann started to get up, then spotted a pair of miniature Indian moccasins on my bedside table. With their bright-colored beads on buttery leather, the moccasins were my most cherished possession.

“I’ll stay if you’ll give me those,” Ann said.

I frowned. I couldn’t imagine parting with the moccasins. “But Aunt Reba gave them to me,” I protested.

My aunt had been a beautiful, kind woman. I had really adored her. She was never too busy to spend time with me. We made up silly stories and laughed and laughed. The day she died, I cried under a blanket for hours, unable to believe that I would never see her again. Now, as I cuddled the soft moccasins in my hands, I was filled with fond memories of Aunt Reba.

“Come on,” prodded Ann. “I’m your best friend.” As if she needed to remind me!

I don’t know what came over me, but more than anything, I wanted someone to play with me. I wanted someone to play with so much that I handed Ann the moccasins!

After she stuffed them in her pocket, we rode our bikes up and down the alley a few times. Soon it was time for her to go. Upset at what I had done, I didn’t feel like playing anyway.

I pleaded “not hungry” that evening and dragged off to bed without dinner. Once up in my room, I began to really miss those moccasins!

When my mom had tucked me in and turned out the light, she asked me what was wrong. Through my tears, I told her how I had betrayed Aunt Reba’s memory and how ashamed I felt.

Mom hugged me warmly, but all she could say was, “Well, I guess you’ll have to decide what to do.”

Her words didn’t seem to help. Alone in the dark, I began to think more clearly. Kids’ code says you don’t give, then take back. But was it a fair trade? Why did I let Ann toy with my feelings? But most of all, is Ann really my best friend?

I decided what I would do. I tossed and turned all night, dreading daylight.

At school the next day, I cornered Ann. I took a deep breath and asked for the moccasins. Her eyes narrowed, and she stared at me for a long time.

Please, I was thinking. Please.

“Okay,” she said finally, producing the moccasins from her pocket. “I didn’t like them anyway.” Relief washed over me like a wave.

After a while, Ann and I stopped playing together. I discovered the neighborhood boys weren’t half bad, especially when they asked me to play softball. I even made girlfriends in other neighborhoods.

Through the years, I have had other best friends. But I have never again begged for their company. I have come to understand that best friends are people who want to spend time with you, and they ask nothing in return.

Mary Beth Olson

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