Helga Pataki was curled up on her bed, glaring at a photograph while the radio blared, when someone pounded on the door.
"What!" She yelled, annoyed by the interruption of her daily festering session.
"Hey hun, you got a letter in the mail today." Her mom said through the wood. She pushed it under the door, making Helga look down at it with half interest. "And don't forget your class tonight. You've got to kee-"
"God mom I know!" Helga fumed, "I know my own class schedule, and I know I need to get killer grades and actually pass the classes. You don't have to remind me every friggin' day! Now will you just leave me alone!"
There was silence on
the other side for a moment, followed by soft footsteps walking away.
Helga sighed and rolled off her bed. Walking over to the pink
envelope she skillfully picked it up between her toes then flopped
back down on her bed. The envelope had no name or return address, and
the handwriting wasn't recognizable. Helga held it up to her nose
to sniff. The perfume lacing the paper was a dead give away to its
sender, Helga had known it all too well.
It was from her old friend Phoebe.
She didn't need telepathy to know what the letter consisted of. Ripping it open, glitter fell out along with a necklace. "Shit" she stated through bared teeth, brushing the annoying sparkles off her legs and comforter. Rolling her eyes, she opened the piece of paper up and scanned its contents. As predicted it was the same intro of "I know we're not as close as we used to be" followed by what Helga assumed to be Phoebes lame excuses behind why she was being such a bitch to her, ending with a declaration of missing her and still wanting to hang out. The only thing that made this letter different was the P.S. at the end which said, "You left your half of our 'best friends' necklaces at my house last time you stopped by. I was hoping you still wanted it."
"Leaving it there wasn't a mistake" Helga said aloud. She snatched up the necklace with the half heart charm with 'friends' etched in it, and tossed it in her desk drawer along with the letter and all of the other letters Phoebe had been sending her periodically. Helga never responded to even one of them over the series of months that had gone by, but apparently Phoebe didn't quite get the message.
As she hopped in the shower to get ready for her evening class, her weary mind recalled how they had found themselves in this situation. How one person can ruin every thing.
It was the year before
they would all be starting high school. Christmas break had just
ended and all her fellow eighth graders were busy comparing their
ventures over the holidays before first period began. Phoebe came in
a bit later than usual, so Helga barely had time to describe her
whole vacation before the teacher strolled in and demanded the class
silent. She slipped Phoebe a piece of paper asking about her time
off, it had been the first year they had not spent it together so she
was curious what preoccupied the girl so much as to not call her the
Phoebe gave her a strange look before scribbling something down and sliding the note back. It said "not a lot. Hung out with Mike mostly. Promise you won't be mad at me if I tell you something?"
Helga's heart skipped a beat at the words before scratching out "what?", though she had a good idea. She tossed it back to Phoebe, who took a deep breath and wrote down something quickly. As Helga received the note again, she unfolded it slowly. "I lost it this past Friday." Was all it said.
Helga crumpled the note up in her hand, and did not look at Phoebe for the remainder of the class. As soon as the bell rang she stormed out, Phoebe close behind her.
"What happened to you two not being that serious?" Helga mumbled finally, staring straight ahead as they speed walked down the hallway.
"Well" Phoebe started, "I guess I'm in love with him Helga. And I just wanted to grow up a bit. You can't tell me if Arnold was still here you wouldn't have gone through with it."
Helga spun to face her, "Okay first of all, you have no concept of love; you've only known him for a few months. You're not even old enough to even drive, why are you rushing to grow up? And don't you ever compare Arnold with Michael in any way. Arnold isn't a complete asshole like him."
Phoebe meekly defended, "We all have to grow up sometime. And Mike has really changed; you really should try to be friends."
"Anyone who puts bruises on my best friends arm is no friend of mine." Helga snapped.
Phoebe tugged down her
sleeve, "I told you we were just playing around."
Helga rolled her eyes and shook her head, not having the stomach to look the girl in the face at the time.
"Please don't be angry." Phoebe pleaded.
Helga looked into her watery dark eyes and melted inside. Just then a boy came bounding up behind Phoebe and wrapped an arm around her small frame. She giggled and slightly elbowed Michel, before turning back to Helga with worried eyes. On the outside Helga put on indifference and shrugged. "Whatever…look, uh, I got to go, I'll catch ya later." With that she hurried down the hallway, shedding a tear for the past.
After that day, as much as the two friends tried to keep things the same, the world was shifting violently. Phoebe's beau gradually kept demanding more of her time, and Helga found her self hanging around the house waiting for a phone call that failed to come more and more often. Within a couple months Helga was shocked if she heard from her best friend at least once in the week. Had it not been for school, they may have lost communication all together.
Finally, their relationship was reduced to boyfriend before best friend. When Phoebe and Michael had a fight, then Helga found herself as suddenly the main attraction to the girl. Like the old days they'd hit their favorite shops, laughing together in their little bubble of denial, until Phoebe's damn cell phone would ring.
"Don't answer it" Helga always warned. Phoebe would, and it would be Mike, either spilling out meaningless apologies or shouting words that reduced her to tears. Either way, the call was the queue for the end of their time together, because either she had to go see him, or she was so depressed she just wanted to go home.
For as many times as Helga heard Phoebe exclaim how much he had changed, she saw no difference in Mike and figured she never would.
When you start treating
a friend like a consolation prize when something better to you isn't
available, if they have any self respect at all, they won't put up
with it for long. So after putting up with the sting of neglect for
some time, Helga decided be the first to go instead of watching the
relationship painfully keep fading. It was two weeks before school
let out for the summer, but Helga had somewhere she needed to go and
she couldn't wait another minute.
She had to go to Arizona, she had to go see him.