I slapped the phone shut and threw myself into the driver’s seat. The green numbers on the clock read a blurry 3 am. I knew where she was. Parking the car, I kicked my way to the door through the lawn of beer bottles and wax cups. She had a dazed look on her face and her eyes were vacant. I walked in, grabbed her by the arm, and lifted her limp body onto my shoulder. Helping her into the back seat, I laid my coat on top of her. I zoomed along the vacant roads back to her house. Hidden in the blackness of the night, I thought to myself, “Where was her mother? Her sister? Where were they when she needed them?” I turned to wake her up and noticed the bright glow of the streetlamp reflecting off her face and for a second she looked like she was a kid again; like we were 11, still climbing trees and walking to the corner store at her lake house. We were muddy and wet when we walked through the door, a half eaten bag of skittles clenched in her fist. As soon as we took our shoes off Cassi’s dad stormed into the room and slapped her across the face. I backed up against the wall fearing that he might turn and take his rage out on me next. She finally fell to the floor crying and holding her ears. He glared at me as he stormed out. As soon as I heard the Jeep rumble over the gravel driveway, I ran to her. I was afraid to touch her shaking body. Her beautiful face was now mangled with tears, blood, and that golden hair. She looked up at me with embarrassed terror sitting in the corners of her eyes. I soaked up the blood in a cotton ball of peroxide, and after putting a Band-Aid on her ear we went to bed. At one point in the night the obscenely loud crickets woke me up. I leaned my head over the side of the bunk to see if she was there still and pulled a pint of cookie-dough ice cream out from under my pillow. I jumped down on the bed next to her and held her nose until she woke up. We laughed as we gorged ourselves in sweet delight. We were kids again.
I don’t know if I’ve ever recovered from the fear that pounded in every vein of my body the day I had to watch my strong, beautiful best friend fall into her own tears. She walked through life with the words of hate from her father burned in to her mind and I was always the one who came to the rescue. In life we realize that we need another. We need someone to drag us out of parties we don’t remember, someone to fight for us when we can’t, someone to eat mushy ice cream with us when we feel the stinging blow of reality on our faces. I believe in hope through friendship, and I believe in truth.
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