Wonder 32

Charlie

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When I met Miranda at the Blue Velvet, she seemed distant. Wistful.

We’d decided to ditch class after algebra. It was our next-to-last day of school. I finally ran out of sick days, vacation days, and excuse days, so I went to class. I was enjoying the morning lectures. Then after algebra, Miranda stopped me in the hall.

“Let’s take off,” she said.

“I’m all out of excuses!” I replied.

“Does it matter?” she asked. We talked it over. My grades were cinched–A’s in every class. Miranda was pulling A’s, too.

“Besides,” she continued, “you aren’t coming to school tomorrow, are you?”

I wasn’t. It was my birthday and my day of graduating from the program. I was planning to stay home, finish up a few projects, help out around the house, and get ready for the party. Miranda was invited.

“It’s our last chance to ditch,” she pleaded.”Let’s do it!”

So we did. I was glad. But when I saw how thoughtful and sad she looked, I started to think maybe she was having second thoughts.

“Glad we came?” I asked her. “It beats The Vast and Endless Tiresome History of Policies and Politicians, doesn’t it?”

She giggled. We had crazy names for all our classes, but our name for world history was the best.

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“Remember when we first met?” I asked her.

“I do,” she said. Was she blushing?

“That was so fun!” I said. “Me and Jake the Gardener were playing chess and you came right up and pointed out that it was mate in five.”

“I didn’t want you to fall into the trap,” she said.

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“I knew then you’d be one of my best friends for life!” I said. I thought it would make her happy to hear that. I mean, here we are, getting ready to graduate, and I wanted her to know that our friendship would outlast that. It started before we were in school, and it would continue after.

But when she heard me say that, her smile froze, and she took a few steps back, stretching the distance between us.

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I thought we had a great time. We never made it into the Blue Velvet. We stood out front and talked all afternoon.

While I was painting that evening, I contemplated friendship. My friends are diverse: Jake the Gardener, Hugo Villareal, Yuki, Max V. Next to my family, Miranda’s probably my best friend. She has a lot of qualities that I like–she loves sports, she’s cheerful. I can talk to her about all my ideas, and she really listens. She never talks about herself much, but I guess some people are like that.

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I’ve always enjoyed having friends, but at the same time, I don’t really feel like I need them. If I need to talk to somebody, I’ll talk to somebody, and it doesn’t matter to me so much if it’s the barista at the neighborhood espresso house or if it’s Max or my tia. Everybody is interesting. Everybody is fun to talk to.

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My whole life, I’ve been encouraged to be friendly with everybody and depend on nobody–except myself.

That’s the example that Tia Berry and Mãe set. They depend on each other, sure, but it’s almost like they’re two halves of one person–a sister team. I always felt it was the two sisters and me. They gave me so much independence growing up that now that I’m at a place where I can take care of myself, I feel that I’m a unit of one, complete and whole in me.

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Tomorrow, I’ll grow up for good. I’ll graduate from school, I’ll finish the program, I’ll take this independence out into the world and see what I can do with it. I wonder who I’ll take with me.

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