Sample Stories from Pinches of Salt, Prisms of Light
ďIn prosperity, our friends know us; in adversity, we know our friends.Ē ó
John Churton Collins
An Unexpected Reaction
I hated my parent's divorce. This was just one more reason why. My mom
could no longer afford Catholic school, and now everything was ruined.
Instead of graduating from eighth grade with the friends I'd had since I
was six, this year I had to go public school with strangers. It wasnít
fair, and I was determined to hate the new school and everybody there.
My vow of loneliness dissolved when, on the first day, I met Eileen*.
She was pretty and dressed with the understated confidence of someone
accustomed to having money. I, on the other hand, made do with much
less, and besides, we'd all worn uniforms at my other school. But the
disparity in our backgrounds never made a difference. Eileen and I had
many common interests; we even sang in the school choir together. We
giggled and talked together in such a way that it was like I'd known her
even longer than my old friends. Eileen's popularity helped open doors
that might have remained firmly shut to me in the adolescent world of
cliques. Before I had time to think about it, I felt as if I'd always
attended this junior high.
One day, Eileen announced she was having a slumber birthday party.
Being invited to this party, given by such a popular girl, was exciting
and signaled acceptance. Besides the snacks, I needed a sleeping bag, a
pillow and a multitude of other teenage "musts," including make up. I
can still see the pristine white cotton lace ruffle around the neck of
the most beautiful pajamas ever; brand new, petal pink baby dolls.
Finally, the momentous Friday evening arrived. I chattered nonstop as
we drove the few blocks to her house. I bounced out of the old car and
scrambled up the long walkway to ring the bell, then waited impatiently,
clutching my worn, shiny blue sleeping bag to my chest, for what I was
sure was going to be a great party.
When Eileen's mom opened the door, she radiated perfection. The pleats
in her dress were flawless, and every hair was in place. But the smile
on her lips did not quite reach her eyes. I was surprised by her lack
of warmth, because at our school concert she had smiled and even
commented on my lovely voice. Tonight however, something was different.
With a quizzical coolness, she glanced at my bright, shining face.
"Eileen canít come out this evening. She and her friends are having a
"I know about the party," I interrupted. "Eileen invited me." I held
out the wrapped present as evidence, an admission ticket of sorts.
A sickening silence descended as the pinched smile faded from her
lips. In its place was a cold, questioning look. She insisted I could
come tomorrow, but not tonight. Had I imagined the friendship and the
invitation? A queasy stomach followed my unstoppable tears.
"Mom, hurry up," Eileen impatiently called as her mother delayed.
Before her mother answered, Eileen rounded the corner, and stood in the
doorway. She had only to look at my tearful expression to see there was
"Mom, whatís wrong?" she questioned. Her exasperated sigh and the
gripping of her fists told me this was not the first time there had been
a run-in between mother and daughter. My defeated posture and downcast
expression made her mother's answer redundant.
"Carmen is here to visit," she explained. "I told her to come back
tomorrow because you're having a party."
An embarrassed crimson flooded Eileen's face as she nervously glanced
at me. "I invited Carmen to my party, Mom. She's my friend, and I want
her here." I stood mortified as the discussion continued.
"This is a sleepover," replied her mother in hushed tones. "I canít
have a colored girl sleep in our home." I could not believe what I was
hearing. A colored girl!
Why did the color of my skin matter? I had excellent manners, I wasn't
going to do anything wrong and besides, Eileen was my best friend.
In an act of ultimate defiance and unparalleled friendship, Eileen
firmly stood her ground. "Carmen is my friend. If she can't stay, no
one stays. I wonít have my party without her."
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. She was willing to cancel her
birthday party on my behalf! A look of consternation passed over her
motherís face and I saw it harden into a set mask. "All right. If
that's want you want, go tell the girls."
There are times when words are pointless. I choked with gratitude at
this display of friendship. One by one, the girls quietly assembled
under the cold, moonless sky to await their parents. I was suddenly
nervous that the blame for the catastrophic end to the planned
festivities would fall on my fragile shoulders. As Eileen and her
mother argued inside the upper middle class home, I sat alone, while the
other girls spoke in whispers, glancing my way from time to time. One by
one we left the wide porch, burdened with our thoughts as well as our
gear, and slipped quietly into the waiting cars.
By Monday, the aborted birthday party, and the reason for its
occurrence, were the main topics of conversation. Most of my so-called
friends looked through me and acted as though I didn't exist.
The intense hurt took a long time to heal. Whenever I saw Eileen's
mother, a mix of emotions stirred confusion within. As junior high ended
and we continued our educational journey, Eileen and I remained close;
despite, or perhaps because of, her mother. Eileen's behavior exhibited
a maturity far beyond her age. And her living example of true friendship
taught me as probably nothing else could, the value of "a friend." I
hope I learned my lesson well, that I have returned her friendship in
kind, and that I have been a friend of such quality to others. After
all, wasn't it Emerson that said, "The only way to have a friend is to
Eva Marie's Sample Story