The Friend

Choosing friends over status is a choice

Lisa Andrews was the Girl Next Door.

She had classic, no-makeup beauty, always wore a pleasant smile, dressed confidently, and was just pleasant to be around. She wasn’t an honor student, but she didn’t fail anything either. Her parents weren’t rich so she didn’t wear the latest brand, but nothing she wore stood out as being nerdy or outdated. Lisa just loved life. She had just taken her SATs, and like her grades, she was middle-of-the-road average.

Lisa sat across from Davey playing checkers in the lunch room that doubled as a study hall. Davey had Downs Syndrome and was eagerly planning and plotting his next move, rubbing his hands together gleefully, when a gang of girls walked up to the lunch table.

Sara, Addie, Mindy, Tara, and Jess formed their own clique and were rarely open to others, that is, unless they met certain standards. They dressed in brand clothing only, came from wealthy homes, and had boys drooling over a chance to date them. Everything about them was manicured and meticulous: tight clothes, nails, hair, makeup, attitude. And they knew it. Intellectually, though, Lisa ran rings around them.

“Hey Lisa,” Addie said.

Lisa looked up from her game and propped her face back up with her fist. “Hey.” Lisa had seen this look, this attitude before. She started to tense up inside.

Before Addie could say anything else, Lisa said, “Your move, Davey.”

“I’m thinkin’. I’m thinkin’. All these bootiful girls just get me all flustered.”

“Mmm hmm. Know what you mean. Don’t try to get out of it, Buster. Your move.”

“All right, all right.” He looked out over his glasses.

“You asked for it, Lis.” With the glee of someone who had just pulled a fast one, Davey hopped over three of Lisa’s pieces, which cleared the board. “Checkmate,” he proclaimed.

“Close enough,” Lisa said as she rose and walked around to give him a hug. “I’ll be practicing up for the next two days, Davey, so you’d better be on your guard.”

“I’m the champion,” he said with his hands raised in the air.

“For now, Davey, for now. Rematch in two days, buddy.”

Davey grabbed his books and skipped out of the lunch room.

Lisa looked at each of the girls. She smiled. “Love that guy,” she said.

Mindy looked at her friends. “Lisa, we’ve been, like, well, wondering from a distance. I mean, like, you seem like a nice girl and all, but, but, why when you have the whole school to choose from, why do you choose someone like him as your friend?”

Lisa paused and smiled. “It’s quite simple, Mindy. Someone like him needs friends too, wouldn’t you say?”


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