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Memories of a Friend
The first memory floods in. It is when we were in first grade. Gabbe was the new girl in the class. Her little red plaid dress and the red bows on top of those two blonde pigtails hanging at her side. The fake rose she wore behind her ear that completed her outfit. Her blue eyes didn’t seem to fit her at the time, neither did her blonde hair, but they made her so perfect at the same time. Our teacher addressed the class,“Class, we have a new student today her name is Gabbe. Gabbe, why don’t you tell us something about yourself?” Gabbe stood there, her eyes were ice blue and seemed to be looking at something in the distance. Like she was in her own little world, not even knowing that she was supposed to say something. Then her eyes changed to an ocean blue. She told the class, “I like to draw.” “Well alright. Why don’t you sit next to Arriane? Now you all remember how scary your first days here were so I want all of you to be nice to Gabbe. Make her feel welcome.” She sat down next to me. “Hi, I’m Arriane.” I said, giving her my hand to shake. “I’m Gabbe,” she said, grabbing my hand.
We were now in third grade, the last day of school to be exact. I was looking at the clock. Two more minutes. “Hey,” Gabbe whispered to me. “Staring at it won’t make it tick faster.” “Says you.” The clock’s hand then moved another tick mark. “Told you.” “Just coincidence.” “Says you.” “You know that I don’t believe in superstitions.” “Oh, you mean like witches and spells and magical cures and dragons.” “Exactly.” Then a silence fell between us. I looked back at the clock. Thirty seconds. “I really wish you didn’t have to go down to Florida this summer Gabbe. I am really going to miss you.” “I’ll miss you too. And that’s why I got you this,” she said, pulling a box out of her backpack. The bell rang and everyone, including the two of us got out of our seats. “Gabbe. Hold onto that until we get outside.” We then rushed through the crowds to greet the breezy summer-spring air. When we got out, I took the box from Gabbe and opened it. Inside was a picture frame with a picture of the two of us. “Thank you.” I pulled Gabbe into a hug. “Don’t mention it Arriane.” Then Gabbe’s mom honked at us and Gabbe got into the car.
Sixth grade. We are much older and a bit more mature. I have already started my period, although I didn’t think I’d get it this soon. Gabbe is still, Gabbe. She still loves fun and cracks jokes. She has gotten better at drawing and I am always amazed by her art. Gabbe got me to try painting, and I have to say that it is kind of fun. I am definitely not the best, but I am going to try doing it.
Seventh grade. We are now interested in guys, or at least I am. There are always these cute guys that walk in the hallway. We see them staring at us and then we giggle at them we then pretend to look away. For me, I don’t mind the attention and Gabbe seems to like it too.
We have made some more guy friends, none of which are interested in us, at least I think. Anyway, but we have fun together.
While Gabbe is perfecting her artwork, I am getting into gymnastics. It’s so fun, I wonder why I didn’t do it before. I wished that Gabbe would join me, but she just does her artwork. I suppose that it is her way of expressing herself. Just like gymnastics is my way.
Flash. Flash. Flash. The memories are coming more rapidly now.
Ninth grade. I am joining the cheerleading team. Gabbe is in an art class. I feel like the class is too basic for her, but she seems to be enjoying it. She has told me that there is this really nice guy in her class. At least it isn’t all a waste.
We are almost a third of the way through the school year. Gabbe already started dating the guy in her art class. Aaron is his name. He seems like a good guy, but every once in awhile I make sure he knows who he’s dealing with. If he ever hurt my girl Gabbe, I would break him.
The school year is almost done, but it seems like the school year flew by. I came home one day worried. Gabbe hadn’t been in school today. I know her and she is never sick. Never. Not in all the time I knew her. Just a few allergies if anything.
I went to her home to see her. I knocked on her front door before using the key she hid in her flower pot. She told me where her spare key was when I wanted to giver her a special birthday gift. I went up to her room and heard her crying. I made sure I told her I was coming in before I walked in on her tears. I sat down on her bed next to her. She cried “I have cancer Arriane!”
I told her to tell Aaron, but she refused. Why tell him when he was moving away after the school year was over?
It’s the day that Aaron is moving away. He says he doesn’t want to go. Gabbe and I both believe him. I think that he somehow knows that she is sick and really doesn’t want to leave, but I know Gabbe didn’t tell him. His family drives away in the car after getting a goodbye hug and kiss from Gabbe. I just stand there, hugging Gabbe and crying with Gabbe. She lost more than a boyfriend that day.
Tenth grade has started. No one besides Gabbe and me knows about her cancer. I have quit the cheerleading team. The girls hate me for it, but I can’t tell them why. I need to support Gabbe through this. Sacrificing that little part doesn’t matter right now. I can always just do it as a hobby.
Halfway through the year and she is making great progress. There aren’t any signs and the doctor said Gabbe is on track to become cancer-free in a month. The doctor was right. We jumped for joy when we heard the news.
It’s now the summer between tenth and eleventh grade. We were hanging out in the park when a man started walking toward us. I couldn’t see his face, but Gabbe immediately jumped off the bench we were sitting on. I slowly got off and watched her. The man scooped her up and twirled her around in the air. I saw them kiss as I started walking closer to her. “Hey Aaron.” I said when I got to the couple. Apparently Aaron was able to move back here as long as he lived with his Aunt Silvia. I was so happy that everything in Gabbe’s life was going so great.
Eleventh grade has started. Everything is more or less back to normal. Gabbe is back to dating Aaron and her artwork has become phenomenal. I don’t think I’ll go out for cheerleading. Last year they were pissed at me, so I don’t think I’d get a warm welcome. Instead, I joined the theater group. Our teacher says that she plans to have us put on two plays this year. We’ll be using art from the art class and we’ll need to work hard to do everything. I hope that Gabbe might be able to put some of her art in one of our plays.
Right after the first play. I went to the after party for our play. I ended up being the leading lady in the play, but the star of the show was my boyfriend Tyler. We had to act like forbidden lovers, but it wasn’t that hard to pretend like we longed to be with each other. Our chemistry and eye candy just enhanced the performance. Our teacher and the rest of the cast applauded our performance. I tried to say it was nothing, but Tyler had me bask in the glory. It felt kind of good.
I made sure to sneak in Gabbe and Aaron into the after party. I didn’t want to party without them, even if I did have Tyler. Once in, the four of us partied for what felt like forever. Tyler drove me home and Aaron drove Gabbe. It was a great night overall.
At the end of the year, we had already put on our second performance and we were at another after party. This time, I wasn’t the leading lady, more like the leading lady’s right hand girl. It was fine with me, but Tyler thought that I should have gotten the leading role again.
This time, I didn’t really feel like partying, so I decided to go home. Gabbe joined me in getting out of there. She had been in stage crew designing different aspects of the play. I think she should have been given more credit for what she did, but she seemed preoccupied.
Gabbe got into her car and I got into the passenger’s seat. She sat in the driver’s seat for a couple minutes, not saying anything or starting the car. I asked her what was wrong. She told me that she had a relapse. I just sat in the car, crying with her.
Over the summer, Aaron, Tyler, and I tried to support her and keep her life as normal as possible. She was getting chemotherapy to try and help. Her blonde hair had fallen and she wore hats and bandanas everyday. Gabbe kept a strong front, but the rest of us weren’t that good. I could sometimes catch Aaron just sitting there crying. I would catch myself doing it and sometimes Tyler was there to help me. Other times I just sat there alone crying for Gabbe.
Halfway through the school year and Gabbe wasn’t getting any better. She was getting worse. Eventually, she couldn’t get out of bed. She said she was in too much pain to do much. I would visit her in the hospital everyday. Sometimes I brought her tulips, other times I brought some drawings materials for her. She always tried to stay positive and look on the bright side. Her art kept her spirit up through all of it.
May came and the doctors said she had maybe a month left, tops. Gabbe already knew, but she didn’t cry too much. She just said, “I hope I can turn eighteen before I die.” Aaron probably took the news hardest. He didn’t come visit her for a week. I think because he couldn’t bear the thought his girlfriend was going to die so soon.
May 18 showed it’s head and Aaron, Tyler and I visited Gabbe. Aaron brought the bear, Tyler the balloons, and me the cake. We played hooky from school to spend time with Gabbe on her birthday. She wore a smile throughout the celebration and even drew some quick little pictures for each of us. I made sure to get a picture of the four of us together before we left.
I held that picture in my hand now. It was the last picture that she was in. She had died the day after her birthday. It was now May 25. I held the picture close to my heart. Tyler came up behind me on my right side and kissed me softly on the neck. I leaned onto his head, wanting any comfort. “You ready Arriane?” he spoke softly, like a single word might shatter me. “I’ll never be ready to say goodbye, Tyler, but I should at least try. It would be what Gabbe would want.” I turned around to see if Aaron was ready. He gave me a thumbs up and I could see the tears on his cheeks. Tears streaming down my face, I closed my eyes and took a deep breathe. I lit the paper lantern and then released it into the air. People behind me did the same things. A hundred paper lanterns flying up towards Gabbe. I hoped that in heaven, Gabbe would receive my paper lantern. She could have a piece of me. “Goodbye Gabbe,” I breathed before turning around. I met up with Aaron. “I miss her too you know.” “Yeah, but I knew her longer. The memories are just going to be playing over and over.” “So will mine, although I won’t have as many.” “Yeah, but you’ll still have good memories. Just remember the good part of Gabbe.” A final memory of the two of us playing together rolled into my mind. She was laughing and being carefree. I would miss her terribly, but I still had the memories of my friend.
Arlington Heights, Illinois
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