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Grade
8

As I picked up speed, I was running even faster through the woods and was spooked. Crunch. More leaves. Something let out a deep growl, and I was frightened. Why am I here? I shouldn’t have made that foolish bet, it’s not worth the twenty dollars. I feel like I have lost twenty years off my life, if I make it out of here. The dark, haunting atmosphere is going to give me nightmares, once again, if I make it out of here. It feels as if I have been moving for hours, and I still haven’t gotten her call. Why did Ari have me do this? She has remained my dearest friend since third grade, and now its high school. You know what. She can have the money. I am done with this and am calling her. Wait. Where is my phone? It is not in my pocket. It’s missing. I can’t find it. It’s gone. I am done for. There is no coming back from this. This really was a bet I wouldn’t forget.

My life was going great. I attend Melinval High, and nothing unpleasant has ever happened in this town. Of course, there were legends, but none that were true. The legends would scarcely say, I heard that if you sit on that uncomfortable chair, it turns your eyes purple. Some people actually believe that stuff. I don’t understand what is going on in their heads. My best friend, Ari, invented this secret hideout for us in the woods. We would go basically every day after school. We would talk about our lives, and things we would never tell anyone. Sometimes, we just made up crazy stories and pretended they actually happened to some people. We made up unusual things about people we didn’t like, people we did like, and people we didn’t even know. Obviously, we never revealed these things to anyone, because it could get really intense. I didn’t genuinely acquire any other friends to tell anyway. Currently, I walk along the halls of highschool, and we haven’t been to our hideout in a while. I’m a kind girl and so is Ari, but I don’t really connect with other people. We are just peculiar in our own way.

Ari was gorgeous, and it wasn’t even reasonable. She possessed thick blond hair, sharp, colorful, and long nails, yet, even though she has everything, she still attempted to complain. Ari is perfect, and she always looks perfect. While looking at my side, I am over here with my horrifying brown hair, chewed nails, and braces. We are total opposites, but we are always there for each other.

Anyway, I was on my way to class, and this kid named Alex ran up to me completely out of breath. His shirt was completely torn, and he was bleeding everywhere. He got right in my face to yell, “THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT,” and then he kept going. I found it kind of funny actually. Continuing his running, probably to the nurse, he left a trail of sticks as he ran. It was like he had just come out of the woods. Maybe he fell or something.

I skipped toward the girls restroom, because for now I was just standing awkwardly out in the hall, not attending class. I planted myself in a stall and thought about messaging Ari. It would be so thrilling if Ari and I went back to our hideout; it was like a mini cabin type of thing, but it would still be cool. Ah, the memories. I should message her. Why not? I am already late to science class, so I might as well skip. I will see if Ari wants to go, right now. Now, scrolling through the responses she just sent me, I am realizing how wrong I was. Oh gosh, she really doesn’t seem to want to go. I thought this would make her day, but apparently it would ruin it. Ari told me the rumours about that place which have formed over the years and didn’t want to risk it. Ari explained the main legend. Whenever you go near the hideout, something very unrealistically awful would happen to you. It’s just another one of those fake things I don’t believe in. As I stayed alone, in the women’s restroom, I struggled to put myself in Ari’s shoes. Is there another reason she wouldn’t want to go?

After giving up on trying to think like my best friend, I showed up to class and totally forgot I didn’t have an excuse for being late. The teacher was furious. Mr. Adams was raging with anger. I barely did anything wrong. He was probably just in a bad mood. I completely ignored him and went to sit down across from Ari. She was glaring at me like I had just killed someone. After that, she just looked shocked. I decided to pay attention to the teacher to figure out what was wrong.

Apparently, Ashley, a girl in our class, was just taking a walk to the store with Alex, and it didn’t end well. She stepped out onto the street, and got hit by a car. I never really liked Ashley, because she was more on the popular side. Ari always tried to tell me that she couldn’t be that horrible, but I never listened. On the other hand, Ashley didn’t deserve whatever happened to her. According to Mr. Adams, she had just helped Alex out of a hole in the woods, and wanted to buy him a candy bar, after driving him to school. In our hideout I made up a lot of things about Ashley. Honestly, I can’t even remember most of them. Except for this one.

As the teacher kept talking, I spaced out. I tried remembering the exact thing I thought up about Ashley, but I was a really distracted person. I couldn’t focus and decided I needed to get out of that building. It was so much to take in. I snatched a hall pass and ran. Why did I even grab the hall pass? I burst through the doors and kept going. I had no idea where I should dash to, and for that reason, I stopped to take a breather. I might as well try and convince Ari again, so I pulled out my phone to message her. I texted, “Headed to our hideout, MEET ME THERE,” and sat down to wait for her.

She was now frantically running around searching for me. When she finally settled down, she looked me in the eyes, and I noticed she really needed to tell me something.“You just treat me awful. Ever since third grade you have tortured me. You never care about anything, and no matter how much I got bullied, you never cared. People would bully me because of how ‘perfect’ I consistently had to be, and take my homework so they could cheat. It didn’t matter what I said to you, you just never thought it mattered. I suffer panic attacks all the time, but all you do is shrug it off and act like it never happens. Amanda, I understand you experience issues as well, but I have a place in this world also. If you can’t remain a part of that, then I can’t remain a part of this friendship.”

I, Ari’s best friend since elementary school, couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Ari had to invent a whole entire LIE to make me feel bad. It wasn’t going to work. I did the right thing. I flat out told her that I, her best friend, didn’t believe her. Ari rolled her eyes, and a side of her that I had never seen before came out to say, “Fine, let’s make a bet.” I was in shock. Ari hated any type of chance, yet, I was intrigued.

I replied with, “What kind of bet?”

“Go into the woods near our old hideout, and wait until ten o'clock, when I will call you.”

I didn’t know what to really think about that, but I was pretty upset, so I reluctantly accepted this overwhelming challenge. “What do I get out of it?”

Ari thought about it for a while, then suddenly beamed with an idea. “I will give you twenty dollars if you can go the whole time without looking at your phone. Only answer the phone if it is my special ring. Trust me, this is something you are not going to forget.”

What did I have to lose? I accepted the challenge, and flipped my hair, taking a stride toward the woods. I spun around for one last glance, and proudly began my quest for the hideout. Abruptly, walking through the woods, I realized this was a terrible idea. What if something bad happened to me? I couldn’t touch my phone. What would anyone even care if I was gone?

Nothing has happened yet, but I still don’t trust it around here. Momentarily, I am just walking in circles in the center of the path. I should certainly head toward the hideout shortly; I am just putting it off. I regret doing any of this, but I just have to win this bet. It is not even about the money anymore. I just want my friend back.

As I picked up speed, I was running even faster through the woods and was spooked. Crunch. More leaves. Something let out a deep growl, and I was frightened. Why am I here? I shouldn’t have made that foolish bet, it’s not worth the twenty dollars. I feel like I have lost twenty years off my life, if I make it out of here. The dark, haunting atmosphere is going to give me nightmares, once again, if I make it out of here. It feels as if I have been moving for hours, and I still haven’t gotten her call. Why did Ari have me do this? She has remained my dearest friend since third grade, and now its high school. You know what. She can have the money. I am done with this and am calling her. Wait. Where is my phone? It is not in my pocket. It’s missing. I can’t find it. It’s gone. I am done for. There is no coming back from this. This really was a bet I wouldn’t forget.

After arriving inside the hideout, I forced all open holes shut, so I would be locked in. There was really nothing I could do. Maybe I had been this horrendous toward Ari. What if all these years, I had been the bully? Not Ashley, or anyone that hangs out with her crew, but just plain old Amanda, Ari’s best friend, since third grade. Could I even call myself that?

While scrambling through the cobwebs, which, by the way, were everywhere, I pictured everything Ari and I had ever done together. We used to have Friday movie nights and watch the newest thriller. We used to go to an ice cream parlor, every single Monday, to brighten up the exhausting first day of the school week. Each Wednesday we went on bicycle rides, and during the weekend, we enjoyed sleepovers. I always thought it was the ideal friendship, so how could I have been so wrong?

A light bulb flickered in my head, and I suddenly remembered something that occured on one of our ice cream trips. Since we were in high school, a few of the other students worked there, and we recognized some of the employees. I lined up to order my triple fudge sundae, and Ari was going to order the same thing after me. When I began to order, I noticed that Angela, someone who was friends with Ashley, was working her shift. She interrupted my order and peaked her head around to say something to Ari. “Why are you here? It’s not like you are going to order anything since you need to be Miss Skinny Of America.”

Ari never ended up ordering anything, but she didn’t talk to me the whole way home, either. Things like that happened all the time. Movie nights, bike rides, and even on sleepovers she would get the same type of messages. At the ice cream parlor, I didn’t just stand there. I laughed. I thought it was funny. Angela and I were laughing at Ari. Oh my gosh. I AM the bully.

She is never going to call me. Ari is just going to leave me here in the woods. It doesn’t matter, and I still need to find my phone. I scouted through my new sweatshirt, and sure enough, my phone was in one of the many pockets. As I pulled it out, I realized I was right. I didn’t have a single missed call, a single message, or single anything else. My phone was empty. I tried to call Ari, but it went straight to voicemail. This is it. I deserved this.

 

State
MN
Zip Code
04363