Chapter no 37

If He Had Been with Me

Normally our group haphazardly trades Christmas presents the last week of school, but Angie convinced us to do something special this year. On the last day of the semester, we exchange gifts at our favorite restaurant.

Each of my friends gives me a tiara. They planned it out together and assigned colors. Two weeks before, my very first tiara slipped off my head as I ran across the school parking lot, and it was run over before I could grab it. Led by Jamie, my friends found my distress amusing, and now led by him, they each try to replace the lost favorite. Jamie gives me a shoe rack he has converted into a “tiara stand,” a cool rock that he found, and a burned CD of songs that have meaning to us.

My friends follow my suggestion to each wear the tiara they gave me so that I can better judge which is my new favorite. The waiters think we are celebrating a birthday.

I needed this; for the past few weeks, I’ve had this melancholy following me around. I’m happy today, and I think that maybe things will be better now.

I bought Alex a remote control car that does flips, Angie two vintage paperback romance novels, Noah a set of walkie-talkies, and Brooke a yellow silk scarf with brown flowers.

For Jamie, I found a Polaroid camera at a garage sale. He says he will use it to provide proof to win arguments and record important moments in his life, such as beating Noah at chess or stealing traffic cones.

I bought Sasha a rose bush, because she told me she always wanted one when she was a little girl. It’s sitting in a black plastic bucket and looks

nearly dead this close to true winter. The boys laugh, but Sasha names it Judith and asks the waiter to bring another chair for it to sit in.

Sasha and Alex are real friends now, not just pretending to make things less awkward for us. Alex gives her plastic fruit, and they both laugh and will not tell us what the joke is about. Jamie vows to get it out of him later, and then to tell me.

Angie is still with Preppy Dave, and we all still like him. He’s meeting us at the movies after dinner. They are happy. They look and act so different yet something about them tells everyone they’re a couple, even if they’re just standing next to each other.

On our last double date with Noah and Brooke, we girls decided to have a double wedding. We draw sketches of our dresses on napkins and annoy the boys by making decisions every time we are together. Tonight we have agreed to have at least five swans wandering around the ceremony site, which will hopefully be in an abandoned church at midnight.

We are laughing, and I look around and I cannot believe that only a few years ago, I did not know a single one of them.

“I propose a toast,” Jamie says.

“You should stand on your chair,” Noah says.

“I think that would be the last straw for the staff,” Brooke says. “Speech! Speech!” Alex says. Jamie raises his glass.

“To us,” he says. And we drink to that.

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