It meant they were talking about one and only one thing possible.
“Grace?” Jeanie asked.
I turned back to face her and Molly. The two other girls that rode my bus. I was good friends with Jeanie, since first grade. And me and Molly had our moments where we were friends. Other times we couldn’t stand each other.
“Hmm?” I asked, turning to face her.
“Why are those three up there?” Jeanie asked, wondering the same as Molly.
“Yeah, Sting, Mae, and Jon?” Molly asked.
I turned to face the three conspirators again. “I don’t know…”
I knew what was going on. Mae and Sting had told me. It didn’t really surprise me about Sting. He was known for this shit. So was Jon. And ever since I moved back, Mae had started doing stuff I had never imagined my childhood best friend to do…
I stepped off onto the side walk. Everyone followed me off the bus. I turned to see if Mae was coming, walking inside with me and Jeanie like she did every morning.
I caught Sting’s eye as he walked down the side walk with Jon and Mae to the corner. Every morning I would watch Jon and Sting walk down that side walk. Going to take a hit to try and catch a minimum high from the hell their real lives really were.
I knew a lot about Sting. We had been good friends. We were really close. He had seen me cry at my lowest, and laugh at my highest. We talked to each other about everything. And I’ll admit, at the end there, I kind of liked him. It was something about his charm.
“Don’t get caught!” I yelled, joking but being serious.
So when he looked at me, he smiled and nodded towards the school. As if to tell me ‘Calm down and get to class.’ I just looked at him and nodded, as if to say ‘Don’t get caught…’
Sting had promised me before. “I won’t get caught. I promise”
I learned that promises from a stoner mean nothing if it means giving up their drugs to keep a friend…
I looked over at Mae, she didn’t see me, but I saw the fear in her eyes. I also saw the excitement that quickly swallowed the fear.
She turned her head, and I walked around the corner, making the three disappear. If I would have known that was the last time I saw that crooked smile, I would have hugged him. I would have told him good-bye. If I would have known that was the last time I saw my best friend Mae for a long, long time, I would have told her to stop, and come back.
But I didn’t. I watched Sting and Jon suck Mae up with them. Into the world of drugs…
I smiled and said, “Ha! No!”.
Jeanie laughed back. “What ever.”
We walked out of the front doors of the high school. Another day in the hell hole, another day of fun on the bus. Laughing and flirting and screaming and joking. My favorite part. Then I switch buses, and sit and talk to Sting or Mae quietly and seriously.
Even though none of us were the same age (Me, freshman, Mae, sophomore, Sting, junior) we got along just like we had known each other forever… Which we basically had.
I stood at the bus stop. Where were they…?
I looked down the street, right in front of the house where they got all of their stuff. The stuff that a week ago, Sting and Jon made a pipe out of a bottle and smoked right in front of me.
No one was there. I looked up to the part of the school where kids would wait for their parents and, I’ve never told anyone this, I saw Sting standing there.
It was a Friday, his Grandma would come and pick him up. So I didn’t question it. But there was a look in his eyes. A worried look.
We had gotten close enough in the past three months, that I knew when something was wrong. I saw in his eyes the worry as he talked on a phone. Who’s phone it was, I don’t know. He had his guitar slung over his shoulder.
I shook my head and looked away. I didn’t want him to see me worrying. Apparently I freaked out too much…
I looked around at the bus stop. I didn’t see Mae… Not even that snake Jon… I had a part of me that made my stomach twist. I knew something was wrong. And I didn’t know yet, but I was right…
_______________________2 WEEKS LATER_______________________
I sat on Holly’s bed, starring at my phone as it beeped. Damn thing was almost dead.
“Shit!”, I said, getting mad.
“What?”, Holly said, drying her hair, coming out from her bathroom.
“My phone. Its almost dead.” I threw it on her bed and went to sit on her floor again, going through some old papers she had wrote.
My mind had been racing lately. I hadn’t seen Mae or Sting in a long time.
According to Sting’s sister, they were expelled. They had got caught smoking. I was so scared. I cried. Two of my oldest, closest friends gone in half a heart beat. The day I found out, I floated through school, waiting for one of them to come down the hall. But it wouldn’t happen. I went home that night and cried.
Tears flooded down my face. No one knew that I spent that night crying myself to sleep.
I laughed and my phone made the sound it does when I get a text. I ignored it, still talking to Holly. Then it beeped again. I went to go shut it off; when I saw the text I had forgotten. It was from Mae.
Hey. I need to talk to you.
Mae?!?! What’s going on? Where have you and Sting been?
I’ve been sick. Don’t tell people I got expelled. It’s a rumor.
My phone died at that point. I wanted to cry. I knew Mae was lying. I knew what had happened. And I knew that Mae knew too. But neither of us admitted that we both knew.
Sophie, Stings sister, said that the court date was Wednesday. I told her to tell me what happened. She said it would be at the school.
That night, my phone started ringing.
“Jeanie?” I answered.
“Guess who I just saw while I was at the musical.”
My heart skipped a beat. Sting. People thought I was emotional through this whole thing because I liked him. Yeah, there was that. But he was so close to me. He was my big, protective brother. The one that flirted with me.
“What’s going on…?” I asked, breathlessly.
“Grace… He’s expelled…”
I don’t really remember the rest of the conversation. I wanted to hang up and cry. I wanted to curl up. I didn’t know if this meant Mae was gone too. Mae, my best friend, might be gone.
I never even got to say good-bye.
I dragged myself up. I didn’t want to go. I waited at the end of my drive way. Not texting like I usually did, even this early. I had started staying away from people. I was sick of letting my trust out, and having people steal it, with out ever bringing it back…
I got on the bus and smiled at the bus driver. I turned my head and saw Mae. She was smiling.
My mouth dropped and I screamed. “Maeee!!!!!!!!” I ran and hugged her. We hugged and I felt like crying. My best friend was back.
Jon came back, but Sting never did. There are a lot of things I never really got to say to him. And I regret that ever single day of my life.
Mae wrote her side. And I thought that you should know my side too. Not as one of the people who were caught, but the one that was affected from the outside…
As I laughed, I turned my head. I was wondering why Mae was up by Jon. Especially when we spent most of our time on this yellow tin box yelling at him to leave us alone. Sting had told me that he would keep Jon away from me, but it was hard when the past two mornings he would slither up to Jon and Mae and talk to them. Being strangely quiet. Not exaggerating things to make people notice his antics like he usually did.
written by Margaret Whitson, life-long friend, childhood neighbor.