Act of Friendship

by Amabelle Oliver Reformina

Preface

Change is inevitable. Never expect someone to stay the same.


             Some relationships are worth fighting for. Some relationships are worth saving. Some relationships are worth everything. They are hard to build but easy to destroy. You lie once and it won't be the same anymore. It is easy to forgive and let go of the pain but what matters most is the trust and belief to one another.

           It has been three years since I last saw her, my childhood friend. Her name is Nathalie. During our elementary years we used to go to school together, eat lunch together and play together. We do everything together. She was more like a sister to me. I was so used to having her around that I had a hard time adjusting to my new life, life after graduation. After graduating in Elementary, we had our separate lives and I never saw her again. I thought we could still continue doing the things that we used to do together and that we could do more things together, but I was wrong. Now, I'm in high school.

            I am Bella. Right now, I'm sitting in one of the cubicles in the comfort room in our school. Why? I'm hiding. Hiding from the high school dept. queens who never get tired following me around. Sometimes I wonder if they really like me that much or they are just too bored to look for another victim. I'm being bullied. I'm in high school where I'm supposed to enjoy my teenage life but instead I'm hiding in the CR having my lunch in this filthy place just so I can eat peacefully. I used to believe that I won't be happy without Nathalie and that I won't be able to survive without her, turns out, I really can't.

             Being bullied is already a sign of my bad luck but do you want to know how far that bad luck goes? Those bullies aren't just always around to catch me but they are also my classmates. Bad luck huh! They throw papers at me while in class and sometimes they tie my bag on my chair. You might think that it's a mild childishness but that only works if both sides are having fun but I'm not having fun. The worst thing that ever happened to me was when they took all my money and I have nothing left for fare.

             This hellish treatment began a week after class started; it was during my first year in this private school. Our teacher in English, Ms. Bernadette gave us an exam just to test our prior knowledge of the subject. After checking the test, the teacher asked the student who got the highest score to stay in the room together with the student who got the lowest score. She then commended the student with highest score and complimented her while the other student was asked to remain in school after class. Too bad for me, I got the highest score and the beauty of the class got the lowest score. When I got out of the school, they were already there waiting. She was there, waiting. She is Sophia, the most stylish and gorgeous girl in our class. I actually thought she was pretty during the first day of class but being pretty is not enough if you don't have brains.

             "So what if you have the brains?" she said, it's as if she was able to read my mind. "You think you are better than me? You think because your score was a little bit better than mine, you can look down on me?" she added. "I didn't do that. Wait, why are you mad? Did I do something wrong?" I asked. I was really taken aback by their sudden mugging. I didn't remember doing something that might make her angry. "You will never be able to enjoy you years here. I will make sure that you will end up leaving" that's what she said and then they left. Since that day, she never failed to make sure that I'm suffering and she always see to it that I won't have fun and enjoy my stay in that school.

            It was during my third year in high school when I realized that everything was too much for me. I can no longer put up with the situation. I asked myself, why should I stay in a school where nobody wants me? Whenever I attempt to have a friend, they always step back when they hear about me and Sophia. They are afraid of her. During those years, I look back and I wish I could go back to being an elementary. What's the use of growing when I can't even enjoy it? When everyone around me is fake and can't even stand for themselves. So I decided to transfer. They won. I got tired of being the center of their fun. I got tired of crying and hurting.

            My parents are very supportive. They knew I was having a hard time so they did not ask me why I suddenly want to transfer.

             "I met Nathalie's' mom weeks ago. You know we lost contact with their family because their business did not go well and they have to move." Mom said. "Really, was Nathy with her? How is she? Did she ask about me?" I asked. "I heard news of Nathalie being famous in their school...Do you want to transfer there?" My mother seemed to want me to attend the same school as Nathy. My entire face lit up as I heard her decide as to which school I would transfer.

           Monday morning, it is my first day in my new school. New faces, new environment and hopefully new friends too. As I entered the classroom, everyone was smiling and they welcomed me. I guess people in the city and the people here are very much different. I said to myself "it's not bad, it's going to be okay".

           It has been a week since I started attending in SA Academy but still I haven't seen Nathy. I was sure she is in the same school because that's what her mother told my mom. I wanted to ask around but I was shy. I had no friends yet but it seemed like everyone knew her so I got worried. What if she doesn't remember me? What if she doesn't want to be friends with me anymore?

           I was sitting on one of the chairs in front of the classroom when three of my classmates approached me. I thought they would ask me many things about myself, but no, they just asked me if I want to be their friend. Their words made my day. I was so happy and excited that I shouted yes and the whole class laughed at me. It's embarrassing but I'm happy.

            I was at the canteen with my friends Cindy, Louren and Bj, we were having a conversation about campus personality so I decide to ask them about Nathalie.

Me: Guys, do you know a girl named Nathalie?

Bj: You mean Nathalie? Nathalie?

Louren: The famous Nathalie De Castro?

Me: so you've heard of her?

Cindy: Of course, we know her. She is someone you can't expect to be your friend if you are a nobody...

Bj: Cin, stop it.

Cindy: Why? I was just telling her....... A joke! Haha! Why'd you ask anyway?

Me: Nothing. Just curious.

            I smiled and told them I was just asking about Nathalie because she was famous. I don't know why Cindy said that but Nathalie is not like that. She was not like that.

           Third week in school, it was in the middle of third grading period when I transferred. Everyone was busy making projects and preparing for exams. As I was on my way to the Principals office to give my records from my previous school, I saw Nathalie. I thought I was mistaken but it was her. She was standing outside the faculty room. I almost couldn't recognize her. She looked so different from the simple girl that I know but her look now perfectly suits her.

            I called out her name and to my surprise she hugged me right away. I was almost crying as I talked to her and asked her how she has been. I told her that I almost thought that she was hiding from me. She just hugged me. I didn't talk much anymore and just hugged her. I missed her a lot. We only stayed together for a while. She asked me to wait for her at the gate after class and then she left. I guess she was in a hurry but finally I saw her again.

            I was waiting for Nathalie at the gate when Bj saw me. He asked me who I was waiting for and I told him I was waiting for my father. I don't want to lie to him but I felt that he won't like it if I tell him that I'm waiting for Nathalie so I thought it was for the better. He went on his way as I told him I can wait alone. After a few minutes, Nathalie arrived at the gate.

          We went to my house and talked about many things, things that happened to her the past three years and things that happened to me. Nothing much has changed about her except her appearance and so I thought.

          I spent the next days in school with Nathalie. We ate lunch together and went home together. It was nice. It was almost like we were back on our Elementary years. Everything was great except my friends are avoiding me. Every time they see me with Nathalie they avoid me. It would have been great if they could be friends with her too. I just couldn't understand why they don't like her. Just because Nathalie was famous doesn't mean she is like all the other famous girls who play with people and choose who can be their friends. They are the first good friends I ever had in high school so I couldn't just let us grow apart. I don't want to lose anyone.

           I went and talked to them. I told them that they just need to get to know Nathalie. I asked them to give her a chance but instead of sorting things out, it got bigger. I thought they were just jealous about me having more time with her than with them but I was wrong. They told me that Nathalie told them that I didn't want to be friends with them, that I only accepted their friendship because I was lonely. I didn't believe them. I couldn't. Why should I? But why wouldn't I? They are my friends but because of my anger I told them that I don't trust them as much as I trust Nathy.

             Since that day, I have been alone, again. My friends are mad at me and I don't want to talk to them. I haven't seen Nathalie around either. It was like during my first days in this school. She wasn't around and I couldn't find her.

             Sa Academy gave me the same feels as my previous school. It was even worst. I felt eyes stabbing me and people whispering and gossiping about me. I became the talk of the school. A rumor has been spreading that I transferred schools because I got caught stealing the wallet of my classmate. It was not true. That was never the reason why I transferred to begin with but nobody knows that. I can never steal anything but people from the school judge me without even asking me if it was true or not. They looked at me like I was a convicted criminal. I wanted to defend myself but I knew it was useless. No one will back me up or even believe me because in the first place, I am an outsider.

           I was back to hiding again. It was all I could do. I was eating my lunch at one of the empty rooms in the school when someone came in. It was Cindy, Louren and Bj. My tears burst out the moment I saw them. I couldn't hold it any longer. I was so down and they hugged me and told me that they didn't believe a word of the rumor. They said they trust me and that they would believe me whatever I say. I felt guilty for what I have said to them. Despite being mean to them they were still there for me.

              "Nathalie spread the rumor about you. I thought she was your friend?" Cindy told me that my childhood friend was the one who made all those lies about me. I couldn't understand why, or what have I ever done to make her do something so horrible to me. I couldn't help but question if they were telling the truth. I froze that moment. I don't know whether I'd believe them or not but they were there for me, comforting me and believing in me and Nathalie wasn't.

            I waited patiently for the rumor to die and as days passed, it did. I didn't care about what other people would say anymore as long as the people that matters, my friends, believed in me and trusted me. I wanted to talk to Nathalie but I couldn't catch her in school so I decided to go to their house and talk to her.

             It was six o' clock in the afternoon. I was on my way to Nathalie's house when I saw her mother, Aunt Lila on their neighbor's house. Aunt Lila is a very loving mother and Nathalie is very lucky to have her. She takes laundry services and cleans the rest house near them occasionally for additional income. Ever since their business failed, Aunt Lila had been helping uncle Tomas in supporting their family.

              I asked Aunt Lila where Nathalie was and she told me that she is at her classmate's house. She said they will be making a group project so I told her I will just wait for Nathalie in their house. Aunt Lila kept talking to me about how hard she had worked so that she could give Nathy the money she needed for their group project because Uncle Tomas wasn't able to make enough money. I felt sad for their family specially Aunt Lila. We kept talking until it was already late and Nathalie wasn't still home. Aunt Lila was starting to worry so I volunteered to go to the house of Nathalie's classmate. I asked Bj to come with me and there we saw Nathalie. They were not making a project as what she gave her mother as an excuse, they were partying and drinking.

            I slapped her in the face. It flashed into my mind that moment I saw Aunt Lila washing and cleaning. She had changed a lot. Aunt Lila deserves better than that. She was a mother anyone should be proud of and she deserves a child who wouldn't lie to her and waste the money she worked hard to earn. I didn't come there to hurt her. I came to talk about the lies that she had spread about me but she deserved to be slapped. I left right after I took her home. I didn't say a word to her mother nor her father. The issue between us is so small compared to the sin she had committed towards her mother and so I decided to forget about it.

              Nathalie left school. I just heard from my classmates that she is going to transfer. After talking to the Principal, Nathalie left a letter for me which she gave to Cindy. In her letter she said, "I wanted to ruin you before you could ruin me. People in this school didn't know that I'm not rich anymore. I became famous not just because I was pretty. It was also because they thought I was rich. My friends and the people who adore me wouldn't have accepted me if I didn't lie. You weren't supposed to go to the same school which I go to. You were fine at your University. Why'd you have come here? I was scared that people would find out about my status now that you are here. You are the only one who knew about it. I tried to make you return to your old school that's why I spread that rumor. I can't face you anymore. I just can't. Goodbye". Crying, I stood up and run out of the school to see if I could catch up with Nathalie.

             She was just a few meters away from the gate. I wanted to go near her but the gate was closed since it's still class hours. "Nathy, don't hurt people who accept you for what you are and who you are. Maybe you are happy now but someday you will realize that the happiness you felt is just as fake as your identity". I told her what I wanted to say. I turned around and didn't look back.

              We were close friends. She was my best friend. I thought I knew her but I guess people change and they tend to forget who they really are.

            Some relationships are worth saving, some people are worth forgiving but if the pain is too much, sometimes letting go and walking away is the only way to save what's left of that person.

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