Let me know what you think. Feel free to be brutally honest.
(If you didn't read the first story, "Asmodeus," you will find it here)
Eyes Sewn Shut
All she had wanted since first grade was a best friend. Each girl in Middlebrook Elementary School seemed to have one. She’d see them in the lunchroom, heads together, giggling over their lunches as they shared whatever desserts had been packed that day. She’d watch them on the playground, swinging side by side and talking in their own secret languages. She listened as they planned sleepovers and trips to the movies, as they coordinated their matching outfits, right down to their impeccably white Keds.
|Painting by Sascalia|
It’s not that she was terribly unpopular. Whenever the class split into teams for kickball, she was never chosen last. She was invited to birthday parties at least once a month. On Valentines Day, when the students in class would exchange little cards, Lora would always receive a dozen or more.
But Lora Barton was never satisfied with being noticed or chosen or remembered. She didn't just want friends. Lora wanted a best friend.
As Lora grew older, things didn’t change much. She was asked to dances, invited to study groups. She was even on the homecoming court one year. But Lora still didn’t have what she desired. Girls were generally nice to her and she occasionally attended their parties and sleepovers, but there wasn’t a girl that she could call her best friend.
Each day in Algebra, Lora would watch the girl beside her doodle on the back of a notebook. She’d write her name, her boyfriend’s name, her name with her boyfriend’s last name. Lora found it all quite silly. She burned inside, though, when she saw the girl doodle those big blocky letters:
COURTNEY + HEATHER = BFF
Lora stiffened as those last three letters appeared on the notebook, a bitter reminder in purple glitter. She had never written those letters herself, had never called anyone her “BFF.” She’d certainly not had a friend she wished to keep forever! Courtney glanced up and noticed Lora staring. She shuffled her notebook under a folder and pretended to listen to the lesson. Lora turned red and for a moment fantasized about snatching the notebook away and ripping it to shreds, as if tearing those names would break some magical bond that she herself so intensely desired.
As Lora walked home that afternoon, she wondered if she’d ever attain the elusive best friend she’d so wanted since childhood.
Three blocks from her house, she heard someone scream. Turning around, Lora saw a small puppy running down the street. Chasing the dog was a girl about Lora’s age, red-faced and screaming.
“RUDY! RUDY STOP!”
Noticing Lora, the girl yelled, “Grab him! Please grab him!”
The little mutt was about four driveways from Lora. Across the street, Mr. Wilkinson was backing onto the street in his light blue Honda. Lora knew she had to act fast. She ran toward the car, waving her arms above her head.
“Mr. Wilkinson! Stop! STOP!”
About the time his brake lights turned red, Lora caught sight of the puppy out of the corner of her eye. She turned around and scooped him up in her arms.
The dog's owner jogged up to Lora, speaking in bursts between short, labored breaths.
“Oh my God... thank you so much. I...I thought he was in his crate, so I left the front door open while I unloaded the car.”
The little puppy squirmed as Lora handed him over to his owner.
“Um, no problem,” Lora answered.
“No, really, you don’t understand. I couldn’t bear to lose Rudy. He was my sixteenth birthday present and I sleep with him every night. He’s my best friend.”
“Well, not really, but sometimes I feel like he's the only one who gets me.” The girl smiled at Lora, her entire face lighting up. Lora couldn't think of a response and replied with only a nervous laugh.
“Look, why don’t you come by my house. It’s a mess ‘cause we just moved in, but my mom just went and bought pizza.”
”That’s okay, I really…”
“C’mon, you have to let me repay you somehow. You’re my hero!” She hugged the puppy to her chest. “Our hero. Isn't that right, Rudy?"
The girl smiled at Lora and said, "What a way to meet my first friend here."
End of Part One