Strength of character can only be measured
When difficult situations are faced
What just happened?
I sat at the breakfast bar staring blankly into space, my hands resting in my lap, paralyzed. Everything around me stood still.
A Mannheim Steamroller Christmas album played softly in the background. I’d put the music on an hour earlier thinking it would create a nice atmosphere to talk. Now it lulled me, a distant hum. It was as if a comet had just struck the earth, washing a tidal wave over everything in existence—including my mind.
All along, Maya lied to me. All along.
Memories of the past year began to churn. As did my stomach.
‘Hey, Megan, I can’t go along to the baseball game today. It turns out I have to work late.’
“Okay, we’ll just have to catch another game.”
All those times she said she couldn’t go… they were all lies.
‘I’m so sorry to cancel again. I’m just not feeling well.’
“Oh, I’m sorry. I hope you feel better.”
I believed her.
‘Hey, Megan, I got asked to work again. I’m not going to be able to make it.’
I never even questioned it. Even when Mom did.
‘Megan, do you think she’s avoiding you?’
“No, Mom, Maya wouldn’t do that!”
I still believed in her. I believed we were friends. I believed she wouldn’t do that to a friend. But she would.
Or I just wasn’t a friend.
I rested my head in my hands, feeling the moisture from my eyes. Almost instantaneously, I jolted back up and wiped them. Now wasn’t the time to cry. I had to get a handle on this.
“I was hoping we could talk about the letter. If we’re not going to be able to make it to a game, do you think we could talk about it soon?”
‘Oh, you know what, Megan, I haven’t read it yet. I’ve just been so busy—’
A flashbulb suddenly went off in my mind. Tonight wasn’t even the first time she’d lied to me.
“Maya, please, I just wanted to talk real quick about the letter. Have you read it yet?”
‘Yeah, I actually read it a couple months ago, right after you gave it to me.’
There it was. She’d said it, straight as an arrow. She’d told me she lied to me, but I’d ignored it. All that time, she was just trying to make it go away.
“Was there something bad in the letter?”
‘Well, I just don’t get what you meant. The whole grades thing.’
“The grades thing?”
‘I’m doing well now. I get good grades. I got all A’s last semester.’
She didn’t get it. I didn’t care about her grades—that was the whole point of the story. She taught me not to care about grades. But she just didn’t see that. She didn’t understand the purpose of the letter.
“Would it help if I finished it?”
‘Yeah, I think that would help a lot, Megan. Why don’t we just do that?’
I shuddered in disgust. The second half hadn’t stood a chance. Had she even read it? All those hours I spent writing and trying to make things better….
I stopped for a minute and honed in on the music—The Holly and the Ivy, one of my favorite tracks. I’d opened my performance at the governor’s mansion with the tune.
The memory sent more tears flooding to my eyes, and got me thinking about other instances the past year.
‘She looks unhappy.’
“Yeah, I’m not sure what’s going on.”
‘Well, see that girl over there? She and Neil used to date. I bet that’s why she’s unhappy.’
I let out a sarcastic chuckle. Wrong. You were wrong, Natalie. I was the one who made her unhappy that day at the farm. She didn’t want to see me. She didn’t want to talk to me. She only came over and talked to us because she didn’t know anyone else there.
I pictured the night at the mall a couple weeks ago, when she was so friendly.
“Hey, can we get together to talk about the letter one day soon?”
‘Yes, absolutely, just say when.’
I knew she was acting fake. Was she acting fake at other times? Was any of her niceness the past year sincere?
“Hey, Connor’s baseball season starts in two weeks. Do you still want to try to make a game together?”
The events of the past hour crushed me, a giant weight pinning me down.
‘I mean, it’s not like I would’ve done this type of thing to Paige or Chloe.’
Paige or Chloe—her real friends. It wasn’t okay to do that to them, but it was okay to do it to me. It was okay to lie to me. All those months, all those bike rides to her work, all those times I listened to her….
‘Thanks for stopping by, Megan.’
She came out of it all thinking that whatever she did to me, it was okay.
‘Thanks for stopping over to talk, Megan.’
Hurting my feelings didn’t matter. Lying to me didn’t matter.
I didn’t matter.