I had always lived on the floor above my best friend. I lived on the 29th floor of our building, and she lived on the 28th. All I had to do was ride the elevator down one floor. But now it’s different. Now I have to cross an ocean to see my best friend.
Abigail and I had been friends for as long as either of us could remember. You would never see me without her, or her without me. We would stick together, as if glue kept us that way. We were inseparable. We were sisters. We were best friends.
It all started on a crisp spring afternoon. The leaves were green; the flowers were blooming; and the sky was blue. I could feel myself smiling as I skipped to the swing set in the yard of my building. I knew that Abigail would be waiting for me there, like she always would back then, three years ago, when we were eight and in the second grade. I started to sprint over, imagining the fun we would have in my mind.
Suddenly, I stopped in my tracks. My stomach twisted into a knot. I saw Abigail’s tear-streaked face, and I ran towards her. I ran as fast as my legs would carry me. That moment I knew, just like you know that it’s going to snow long before the first snowflake lands on your nose, that everything was about to change. I gazed up at the leafy trees and the ice blue sky. It was as if the sky didn’t care that everything was changing.
Slowly, I walked over to Abigail. I crouched down next to her, careful not to step on her trembling hands. “What’s wrong?” I asked, rubbing her back, which was heaving from her sobs. I looked into her large, brown, almond-shaped eyes.
“Please don't be mad,” she pleaded.
“Why would I be?”
“Because,” she started to sob, “this is going to change everything.”
“Wha—,” I started, suddenly concerned.
“I'm moving,” she blurted out, hiding her face in her jet black hair. “To Korea.”
At that moment, I felt like crying. My head started to pound, and a faint dizziness came over me. I buried my face into my hands, vigorously shaking my head. No, this can't be happening, I thought. I couldn't move. I couldn't breathe. I just sat there, frozen in place. I blinked rapidly to stop the warm tears from escaping my eyelids. Moving? To Korea? I asked myself over and over again.
“You can't move! No, please don't leave,” I pleaded between heavy sobs.
“I need to go. My dad got a new job. Everything's all planned out. I don't have a say in this. And, uh, we’re leaving in two days!” She explained, with a hopeless look in her eyes, while she pulled her shiny hair into a ponytail.
“Two days?You can't just leave me! It's not fair! Wait a second, why didn't you tell me?!” I could feel my face growing hot and red.
“I tried to! You've got to understand! Please understand. I don't have any control over this!” she said, her voice breaking.
“Well, I don't understand,” I told her, my voice growing louder by the second, “Friends don't leave each other.”
“Sometimes they have to. Sometimes things need to change,” she spoke, placing her hand on my shoulder. I pushed it off and turned away, my face flushed with anger.
“No, they don't need to change,” I argued. Things are fine as they are. Why do we need to change it? How could she do this to me? Friends don't abandon each other, I thought.
“Why can't you be happy for me?” she asked, standing up and crossing her arms over her chest.
“Why should I be happy for you?” I snapped back. “How could I be happy for you when you've betrayed me like this? You're abandoning me.”
“Betrayed you? You've got to be kidding!” she shot back. But I didn't hear her. I was too busy storming away from her.
I hate her. I'm going to hate her forever. How does she think I feel? I thought.
That evening passed in a blur. I don't remember anything from that night. Just being too angry and shaken to speak, eat, or sleep. Thoughts swam around in my brain as I laid under my covers. How does she think I feel? I asked myself again.
All of a sudden, I could hear someone creeping into the room. I buried myself underneath my blankets and laid still, as if I were asleep.
“I know you're awake,” I heard a voice whisper next to my bed. “There's no use faking it.” I knew that it was my mother. I could recognize her gentle footsteps, sneaking closer. “Abigail's mom told me about their move,” she spoke, frowning sadly, “You're going to miss her so much! But change happens.”
“Why does everyone keep saying that?” I burst out.
“Because it's true, Evelyn. I know how hard this is, and it's only going to get harder. Whether you like it or not, things change. People change.”
I groaned, and rolled my eyes, “It's all her fault. She ruined a perfectly good friendship.”
“What happened?” My mom asked, slowly.
“None of your business,” I replied, yawning.
“Listen, sweetie,” my mother said, attempting to give me a kiss, “you need to go to sleep. But tomorrow, you are telling me all about what happened between you and Abigail.”
“No, I'm not,” I argued.
“Just come to me if you need me,” she told me sweetly, blowing me a kiss. “I love you.”
“Love you too,” I muttered, half asleep.
The next morning, I stared at my shoes as I walked to school. When I arrived at the classroom, I greeted my teacher, Myra, with a plastic smile and clenched teeth. Usually I would be genuinely happy to see her, but I was still upset from the previous day’s events. I glanced around at the colorful posters that plastered the walls and sighed.
I sat down at my table seat, dreading the six hours and twenty minutes ahead. I took a bright yellow pencil from the table caddy and placed my head on my desk, closing my eyes. I hadn't slept at all. It's going to be a long day, I thought.
One by one, my classmates piled into the room. They chattered excitedly, with broad smiles on their faces.
“Hey, Evelyn! How are you? Is everything okay?” my friend Maddy asked.
“I'm fine,” I mumbled, staring at the floor. Then I felt something brush against my hip. It was Abigail. I gazed in her direction, but I avoided any eye contact. I could see that her face was the same shade of red as the eraser on the end of my pencil. She carefully opened her backpack, which was identical to mine. We had begged our mothers into buying matching school supplies, and we were ecstatic when we both arrived at school with the same bags, pencil cases, and pens. I couldn't imagine why I would ever want to have the same things as her. This isn't how friends are supposed to act with each other, I thought angrily.
Once every student had arrived and we were all seated at the rug, class began. I sat directly behind Abigail, and while sitting there, I surprised myself by needing to fight the urge to whisper a joke in her ear. Do I miss Abigail? I asked myself. Suddenly, I realized that I had made a mistake. A terrible, terrible mistake.
I couldn’t rid the thought from my head. How does Abigail feel? I wondered anxiously.
I knew that she was probably feeling scared to be moving to a new country where she knew absolutely no one. She was probably sad to be leaving the only place she had ever known. Oh, no. I thought. What have I done? But most importantly, Abigail was definitely mad at me for abandoning her in the time she needed me the most. I don't blame her, I thought. How am I going to fix this?
After several minutes of thinking, I had decided to simply talk to her. This is going to work. I just know it, I thought, preparing for what I was going to say.
Finally, it was time for recess. A stampede of hyper children pushed and shoved to enter the yard. Screams of laughter and cheers filled the air, as we all ran into the schoolyard. My ears were ringing from all the noise, so I sat down on the bench. This particular bench was one of my favorite places, partly because it was where Abigail and I met, and because it sat right under a beautiful tree. The tree was a weeping willow, and its branches reached out, as if calling me closer. I loved that tree. My mind wandered back to reality.
I sat, hugging my knees and rocking back and forth, hopeless. All of a sudden, I realized that someone had sat down next to me. It was Abigail. I smiled to myself and lifted my head to face her. Our eyes locked, and right then I knew that we would be okay.
The next thing I knew, we were hugging. “Abigail, I'm so sorry. I was a jerk.”
She smiled and responded, “Yeah, you were. But I forgive you.”
“I'm going to miss you,” I whispered into her ear.
It was right then when I knew that we would stay friends no matter what. Nothing could ever keep us apart, not even the fact that Abigail was moving. She would only be an ocean away.
“I'm going to miss you more,” she whispered back, a huge smile spreading across her face.