Broken Friendship

All photographs hold memories, but some are more painful than others.

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1. Story of My Life

The harsh ripping noise filled the silent room and I tore the photograph of two fake, smiling faces roughly in half. Crumpling both halves, I shoved them fiercely into the bin that sat next to my bed, trying, in vain, to discard those memories from my life forever. I would have never have guessed this morning that this would be the day that changed my life forever.

My notice board was devoid of photographs apart from one small image in the corner that I could not bring myself to throw away. Two ten year olds we standing on a beach, covered head to foot in sand in front of a badly made sand castle, laughing madly as they clutched plastic buckets and spades in their hands. I was a lot younger in that picture, but I could remember that day like it was yesterday.

"Come on Natalie!" I could see my best friend, Liz, far away down the beach, waving at me and calling at me to hurry up. I was never as fast as her. The sun had been beating down on us from above, providing a much appreciated warmth as we had played in the sand, and sometimes dared to go into the icy water, but never leaving the sight of our parents who were chatting nearby.

I caught up with her eventually, panting as I stood in front of her.

"Let's build a sand castle!" We both grabbed a bucket and spade each from our parents and begun to plan what was going to be the best sand castle that anyone had ever built. The end result was not quite perfect, several of the turrets and towers had collapsed in the process, but that did not really matter, and we were both laughing when my mum came over with a camera.

"Smile," she sang. We both grinned as the flash went off, preserving this moment forever.

"I wish we could spend every day was like this, Natalie," Liz said.

The whole care-free day was spent in blissful unawareness of what the future held for our friendship, and sometimes I wish that I had that kind of friendship again. But all good things had to come to an end, and now my floor was littered with scraps of photographs holding painful memories in their depths.

 

 Earlier that day

Adjusting the glassed that sat precariously on my face, I checked I had all the books that were required for the next long say at school. Once I was satisfied I was ready, I stepped out of the front door into the brisk morning air, shouting "goodbye" to my mum who was still eating breakfast.

I had not seen Liz for a week as we had been on holiday, and I was looking forward to spending time with my best friend again. I knocked on her red door a few minutes later, and it was immediately opened by a stressed, middle-aged, dark eyed woman - Liz's mum.

"Is Liz ready?" I asked her politely, and in reply she merely shook her head, which was odd because Liz was usually itching to get out of the door, ready long before I had arrived. When her mum walked away I could see Liz further down the hall, staring into a mirror, and dabbing stuff on her face. What was she doing?

"Hey," I called to her, but she barely took any notice of me, briefly glancing in my direction before applying yet another layer of lipstick. "Going somewhere nice?" I joked trying to lighten the tense mood that she had created, but she sent a death glare towards me and sighed before grabbing her notably light bag and stomping out of her house and slamming the door behind her.

The first few minutes of the short journey were spent in awkward silence as I was not sure what to say to her as she was in such a delicate mood, and she had made no attempt to communicate with me at all. As we walked I noticed what she was wearing; her skirt was unusually short, barely covering anything, and the top buttons on her shirt were unbuttoned - but I did not dare to mention it, the look on her face was stern and she was obviously not in the mood to be messed with.

"Is there something wrong, Liz?" I was starting to worry about her as we walked through the school gates, she did not usually act like this and I was wondering where my happy, bubbly best friend had gone.  She opened her mouth to speak, but she was stopped by another voice cutting through the school yard.

"Oi! Liz!" We turned to see a group of girls standing behind us, their skirts hitched up high, their faces plastered in make-up, which made me think of how Liz was wearing today. Was she trying to dress like them? "What are you doing with ugly?" She pointed at me. "You're not still hanging out with her are you?"

"Excuse me - " I began, I was going to explain to her that never in a million years would Liz chose to hang around with them, but she cut me off.

"My parents make me walk with her to school, I mean I wish I didn't have to, but she follows me around like some kind of stalker." I was stunned at what Liz had said, it felt like she had slapped me in the face, my mouth dropped open as I watched her walk over to the group of girls, laughing along with them as she turned her back on me.

I backed slowly into the school building and made my way blindly into the bathroom, locking the cubicle door behind me. When I was finally alone, I stopped trying to hold the tears in and instead I let the flood pour out of my eyes, crying like I had never done before. Bad things had happened before, but I always believed that, no matter what, I would have my best friend to help me through it.

Maybe I had misheard it? She might have been joking, just messing with me. There was no point lying to myself, she had moved on. Obviously over the holiday period, she had found her new 'best' friends.

When I finally managed to compose myself, I walked along the deserted corridors and to my maths lesson, which unfortunately contained Liz and her new heard of friends. Luckily, the teacher had not yet arrived as I walked into the classroom, I did not want a late mark on my record because of her. My seat was next to Liz, but just before I could sit down she put her feet on the chair.

"You can't sit here," she stated.

"But this is my seat."

"Not anymore, I don't want you anywhere near me, go sit somewhere else." She turned back to the other girls who sat behind her and left me standing there, tears threatening to fall at any second, but I managed to hold them back, not wanting to give her the satisfaction.

I made my way over to the corner of the room, and sat at the empty desk, watching her as they messed around on their phones, taking photos of themselves, just like we used to before.

Halfway through the lesson, I felt a something hit my head, and I picked up the scrunched piece of paper, unwrapping it carefully.

Quit staring four-eyes

I looked up to see Liz sneering from the other side of the room, but then quickly bowed my head not wanting to look into her eyes and tried to busy myself in the work we had been set.

Finally, I thought to myself as the bell signalling the end of the day finally rung. Grabbing my things, I hurried out of the room, desperate to get home and comfort myself by eating several tubs of ice cream and watching rubbish television for the rest of the day. However, Liz's clan seemed determined to not leave me in peace.

I felt someone pushing my into a classroom and heard the sound of the door locking. Looking up, I was surround by five girls, including Liz.

"Do it Liz, if you want to be with us, do it now." A blond girl called Stacey was hissing at Liz, who actually looked slightly worried. "Do it," she ordered again.

I saw the look of worry change into a cold, hard emotionless face as she took a few steps closer to me until we were almost nose to nose.

"You were never really my friend," she whispered, "I only hung around with you because I felt sorry for you." I let out an audible gasp and then she pushed me backwards into a wall and slapped me hard in the face. I slid down the wall in defeat, but to my dismay she just changed her weapon and began to kick me constantly all over.

By the time she eventually stopped, the tears were uncontrollably leaking down my face and I was curled into a ball. I heard the shuffle of feet and opened my eyes as there was a bright flash, and I saw Stacey standing in front of me taking pictures. I shut my eyes and turned away from them, waiting a long time after they had left to uncurl myself and make my way home.

Dragging my feet the whole way home, I seemed like an age before I reached my front door, and as I pushed it open I saw two photographs lying on the floor. Snatching them up, I raced up the stairs and into my bedroom, slamming the door behind me. I looked at the first photo, it was of Liz and I last year when we had gone out to dinner for her birthday, and I knew it was the photo that used to reside in Liz's bedroom.

The other one was horrible. It must have been one of the photographs that Stacey had taken earlier. My face was bloated and red with tear stains and faint blue and black patches already springing to life all over my skin.

A sudden rage built up inside of me and I grabbed the picture and shredded it into a thousand small pieces, wanting to erase that image forever. Making my way over to notice board, I began the task of destroying every memory and story held in the images pinned up, wanting to believe that I could simply remove her from my life.

If only it was that easy.

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