"I can't believe high school starts next week!" I exclaimed over the phone.
"Oh, I know. I could barely stand that school for two years; I don't see how you could put up with nine! By the way, how did you?" Brenda asked me.
"I would be the last to know," was my reply.
Later, after we took the bus to the mall, Brenda and I were standing in line for Starbucks when I heard a familiar voice: "Sasha?" It caught me off guard because of the unknown southern drawl added to it. When I turned around, there stood my best friend Natalie. She looked different, of course I'd expected her to, but, then again, I hadn't expected to see her. She was supposed to be in Texas.
I noticed that her hair was shorter, a lot shorter; and very, very red. She wore a lot of makeup and her eyes were cloudy, squinted almost. "Oh-my-god!" I said before I gave her a good-to-see-you hug. Before I could say anything else, she started to introduce the group of strange, but very good looking guys surrounding her. They all had nicknames like "Snoop-Dawg" and "T-bone." Kind of suspicious, if you would have asked me then.
We got to talking and she explained that her mother had died of cancer just two months ago and her father had moved her back to California to be with all of her old friends. Apparently, I thought, you've made some new friends, too. She also mentioned that she would be attending Santana High School, coincidentally the very same school to which I would be attending in a week. "Well, I'll see you next week at school," I said as she and her groupies walked away.
The first day of my freshmen year was so nerve-wracking. Brenda was going to my rival school, West Hills (We had plenty nicknames to use instead of the aforementioned real name), so I couldn't very well hang out with her during lunch. So I decided to spend more time with Natalie.
After explaining how nervous I was feeling that day, I felt a lot better but not good enough. One of Natalie's friends had a solution: "Try this, it'll make you feel a lot better... huh, huh, huh." He handed me a joint.
"Uh, okay," I replied stupidly. I put it to my lips and was about to inhale when the first block bell rang.
"I should get to class," I said, "Don't wanna be tardy for English. I heard Mr. Johnson drops an effort grade each time."
As the weeks went by, and I made more friends, I realized what a mistake I had almost made. And even though I knew how Natalie and her friends were now, I still, stupidly, wanted to be her friend again.
By the time my sophomore year was over, I had tried cigarettes, alcohol and even marijuana. I knew it was wrong, but I became so consumed with the need to rekindle my friendship with Natalie that I didn't care what I had to prove to her to her friends to do it. But what I didn't know at the time was that my opinion was about to change...drastically.
My junior year was the year things turned around for me. It was my third year in the Drama Club, and I was an upperclassmen, which meant I was eligible for Film class, which was where I met Chris. I started seeing less of Natalie and more of him.
Chris was a senior, and I think the reason we clicked was because all of his friends drank and smoked pot, but he didn't believe in it, and they were cool about it; my same situation. Of course, he had tried it, like me, but neither of us liked the feeling of a severe hangover, or the munchies when the fridge was empty, or hacking up a lung after smoking a cigarette.
Meanwhile, Natalie got worse and worse...
One week before graduation, I found out that Natalie had dropped out of school. Chris took me to my senior prom; he was a freshmen at SDSU. The prom was magical, it was perfect and I felt like a princess. And I'm sorry that Natalie had to miss it.
Of all the time I'd spent at Santana, my most vivid memory, besides that of the prom, was when the Drama Club put on a production of "Freaky Friday." I played Annabel in the lead, and it was my best acting ever, or so my parents said. I remember seeing Natalie crying in the front row. After the show, when I asked her what was wrong, she started mumbling about it being her mother's fault for dying on her, and then she ran into the bathroom to vomit up what looked like everything she'd eaten in the past two weeks.
I'm a sophomore at SDSU now, sharing an apartment with Chris. He's going to marry me someday, I just know it.
I never hear from Natalie.