‘Have you got the blanket Josie?’
‘Dur what do you think this is wrapped around my body!’
‘Well……I thought it was your usual weirdo dress sense!’
‘My hands are full but I can still get a kick to your shins you know!’
The girls giggled.
They had this way with them. They could whine and moan at each other and pull each others legs like nothing else but it was always done with love, they didn’t care if no one else realised this – they knew and that was all that mattered.
It was all that had mattered until Jason had come along. Penny had become smitten. She wouldn’t even dare talk to him – boys were still sort of stinky but Penny would swoon and find any excuse to talk about him but would not admit to liking him and frankly Josie had, had enough. Boys smelt funny and played stupid games, Josie thought they just got in the way and liked the life she had, there was no room for anyone else in her and Penny time.
The girls had been friends since Kindergarten and were now 11 years old. They had racked up 8 years of friendship, by each others side as often as possible. Josie had been there for Penny when her Dad had left home when she was 6 and Penny had been there for Josie when Frodo, her pet rabbit, and other best friend had died 3 years ago.
It was now a glorious Spring day. The grass was dry and was slightly warm to the touch, the clouds were about but not so much that the sun wasn’t out most of the time. They’d made a big jug of pink lemonade and had spread out some old blankets on the ground. In their little pear tree they hung the sheet that Josie unravelled from her body around a tree and used old clothes pegs to secure it in place. Penny fanned out the sheet to give them not just shelter from the sun but so they could shut out as much of the world as possible. They had books to read and things to gossip about. There was no time for interruption.
Penny laid down a little lantern, although it was far from dark she felt comfort from the warm candle glow. She lit it carefully and moved it out of the way of Josie’s swinging feet. They favoured lying on their stomachs and reading looking down but Josie always swung her feet about and had twice recently brought the whole canopy crashing down on their heads. Penny nudged her friend to be careful and gave her best Miss Trunchbull look.
They giggled and gossiped the day away, pausing to watch some birds play – they went indoors only for sandwiches and toilet breaks. Penny’s Mom left them to it – she almost felt envious of what they had – she would love to spend the day hiding in her little blanket fort with her best friend. She sighed, smiled and carried on doing the drying up.
Harry, the next door neighbour peeped over the garden fence. He watched with caution. He was in love with Josie. She didn’t even know he existed. Other than to call him a little rat. You will learn why.
As the afternoon wore on and the girls got engrossed in telling each other stories, Harry tiptoed through his house and out through the side gate. He padded barefoot across the tiny bit of gravel that took him round to Penny’s driveway. He crept along the side of the house and waited. Seeing the girls deep in conversation he quickly made his move.
Josie was the first to scream and jump to her feet, dripping wet. Harry had filled his Mother’s washing up bowl with cold water and thrown it over the girls.
‘You dirty little rat, just you wait until I catch up…….’ And she tore off round the garden chasing Harry calling him every name under the sun.
Penny sat still, looking at her arms that were soaking wet, she watched them go from red to white and then little goosebumps appeared.
She then froze. Jason was stood at the end of the driveway, staring at the scene in front of him.
There was Harry and Josie running around the garden screaming like little children, covered in water.
And there was Penny sat there also covered in water, half drowned by Harry, she knew it had hit her hair making it hang limp and greasy around her head. She quickly jumped up and grabbed her sun hat, threw it on her head and in her desperation to get away from what she now considered a childish scene she headed straight over towards Jason before her nerves could get the better of her.
‘Hi’ she said breathing hard.
‘Hey’ Jason nodded back at her. Penny blushed even harder than she already was thinking to herself that he was just so grown up and cool.
She saw Jason flick a look over to Harry and Josie and frown.
‘Oh haha um they aren’t with me, um, I’m…..they’re not my friends I, um……I’ve come over to see um yeah…….’
She felt hands push in her back…hard!
‘Not my friend?’ she could hear Josie’s voice – her voice reedy thin from being said through gritted teeth.
Penny turned, her eyes half shut in fear.
‘NOT YOUR FRIEND?’ Josie’s voice was getting dangerously high and verrrrry loud.
‘I um…..I….’ Penny stuttered in panic, her eyes darting from Josie to Jason and back again. She gulped. There was no denying it – everyone had heard – she had denied knowledge of her closest friend because she was embarrassed by her. The thought made Penny sick. It so wasn’t true – she was just wanting Jason to think that she was grown up and not immature. Penny struggled to think of something to say.
Josie filled the silence. Her look to Penny spoke a thousand words, words full of hurt, out of her mouth came ‘I’m going. You, Penny, well you can just go to hell…..do not call me later, and as for walking to school together tomorrow, go make friends with your shadow!’
She gave one last withering look at Penny and walked away. Penny’s heart sank. She looked up to speak to Jason and saw him looking at her coldly, he turned his head to watch the retreating figure of Josie go down the driveway.
‘Hey Josie…..wait up….’
And with those 4 words the rest of Penny’s world came crashing down around her. Josie was gone, Jason was gone……….but not only that…..they were gone……together.
Penny’s mom was stood on the doorstep.
‘Go in…………in fact………go to your room….take a look at all the picture in there of you and Josie………..take a look at all the things she has given you……….and you have a good long think about what you have just done……….then I suggest you go to bed and pray that tomorrow you haven’t just let a man…hmmm….BOY….. come between you and your best friend………….did you learn nothing from my life!’
The morals are clear to see.
Never undervalue a friendship.