It all started back in elementary school. Fourth grade, to be exact. I had just turned nine. My ballerina birthday party had been the talk of the town. Or at least, the fourth grade girls. My best friend Melinda Little had gotten me an easy-bake oven, and a friendship bracelet, along with a note that promisedthat we'd be, "best freinds forever". I didn't care that she had misspelled it. I just wanted a friend. All my life, I'd been a loner. The girl who sat alone at recess, reading a book under the slide. I never got invited to birthday parties, and people only came to mine because my mother loved to throw outrageous "shindigs", as she called them. Melinda moved to Brommlesburg in third grade, and she was my first real friend. All the girls in our class envied her curly red hair- which was always secured tightly in braids- her sparkly green eyes that gleamed with mischief, and the delicate sprinkling of freckles across her small, pug nose. Like an elf, or a fairy, Melinda flitted around the school-yard, flirting with boys, hanging upside down on the monkey bars, and singing songs from groups we'd never heard of, like The Who, The Cars, Janis Joplin. Melinda's older sister Tammy was a "hippie". She wore long, swishy dresses and had funny round glasses. Her boyfriend, who called himself Meadow when his name was really Robert, brought her records and books, and Melinda always stole them for us to look at and listen to. But at the end of April, when school was about to end, Dorothy Peters came to town. Dorothy Peters was from New York. Dorothy Peters' father drove a Mercedes. Dorothy Peters was an only child. Dorothy Peters had everything. Or so it seemed. The first day Dorothy came to school was rainy. I'll always remember that. Melinda and I were talking about how she caught Tammy and Meadow-Robert kissing outside her front door.
"Class, we have a new student with us today!" our teacher, Ms. Salmirnir, announced brightly. "Her name is Dorothy Peters and she just moved here from New York City! How exciting! Say hello to Dorothy, everyone,"
"Hello," we all said, mesmerized by this new, sophisticated student. Her thick, black hair was cropped into a stylish bob, her blue eyes glowed with a mixture of smugness and disdain, and she wore a pale pink dress that made her tan skin seem to sparkle. Almost at once, I felt insecure. Dorothy Irene Peters, to put it simply, was perfect. Her eyes swept the room, surveying each one of us. After a second or two, she settled her gaze on Melinda. "Mrs. Salmirnir? May I please sit there? By the girl with the red hair?" Dorothy pointed demurely to my seat. Melinda bounced up and down with excitement and pleaded with me to give up my seat. What else could I do? I gathered my books and marched to the back of the classroom. I started to cry as I watched Dorothy hand Melinda a pencil, a fancy pink one, and Melinda's pigtails swayed back and forth as she agreed with something Dorothy said. That's when it all started. The endless cycle of broken friendships. And Dorothy, somehow, was always the root of the problem.
It went that way for years. And Dorothy's standards of torture continued to increase. In elementary school, it was best friends and pencils. In middle school, it was clothes and makeup, and in high school, well, high school was not the best experience of my life.
It was 1974, and we were all 17. Dorothy was just as beautiful and exotic as she was that day in fourth grade, Melinda was still bright and energetic, and I was still shy, quiet, and left behind. Dorothy had turned completely mod, grown out her thick, straight, ebony hair and insisted on wearing micro mini skirts and shiny vinyl tops, Melinda had started tearing her shirts, cropped her hair and put purple streaks in it, rushed out and bought a Mo-dettes album, stopped eating meat, and talked incessantly about how 'the system' was a drag and how David Bowie was an alien sent from another planet to enlighten us. I, on the other hand, had turned "rasta". I dreaded my hair, and listened to Bob Marley, letting his talk of little birds and how everything was going to be alright become a mantra for my life.
One day, a few weeks before graduation, we were all hanging out at Dorothy's house. Dorothy was blabbering about how she got accepted to Harvard, Melinda was rolling her eyes and saying how much better Berkley was, and, as usual, I was sitting in the background, watching them.
"I'm going to Sarah Lawrence." I tried to add. No one noticed.
"I'm an alien from another planet. David Bowie is my father." I rolled my eyes as they continued to debate, not even noticing me.
"Fine. Ignore me." I said, raising my voice slightly. They didn't even blink.
"I'm tired of this! I'm done! Melinda, you were my friend! But you left me!! You abandoned me! I hate you! And Dorothy, you're the reason for it all. Why? Why did you have to take my only friend?! Why?" I screamed. Melinda's eyes grew wide and Dorothy blinked, her mouth twirling into a shiny, candy-coated smirk.
"It's not my fault. You could have found new friends. We didn't keep you from anything." She said cooly, turning around and filing her nails. Melinda followed her lead.
"Yeah, Ava, it's not our fault. You should have found new friends." she laughed.
"Oh my gosh, Melinda Little! I can't believe you! You pride yourself on being so 'non-conformist', yet all you do is follow Dorothy! Oh yeah, how 'punk'. She stole you! And yeah, maybe I should have found new friends, but maybe you guys should have payed some attention to me! I did everything for you, but you never did anything for me! Dorothy, who came and got you when your car broke down at that party and the cops came? Melinda, who bailed you out of jail with her COLLEGE money when you got arrested for stealing those records? ME. And whatdid you ever do for me? What about the night my dad got in the car accident and almost died? Who was with me in the hospital waiting room? No one. Who talked to me when I was depressed? No one. You never notice anything! And I'm tired of it! I can't do it anymore, I just.. can't." I sobbed. Dorothy and Melinda looked at each other, shocked expressions playing on their faces. But I didn't care. Finally, after all those years, I had enough. I was done with being walked over. I was done with being left out.
Causes Katie Leigh Supports
To Write Love On Her Arms, Invisible Children, Abort 73