Sunday, August 11, 2013

Friend trouble (or, Trust is everything)... by Riddhi

“A chook?” Nina asked, “That’s what you got for your birthday?”

“Yes!” replied Sam, not noticing the shock in Nina’s voice. “It’s a big, brown one and it never stays still. I love feeding it and taking care of it. Mum and Dad bought him from Mr Pinkerton, you know. Oh, of course you don’t know Mr Pinkerton. He’s one of our neighbours and when he heard that Mum and Dad were looking for a pet…..”

Nina’s best friend rattled on and on. Nina’s heart sank in dismay. Samantha had changed a lot. Just because her family moved from 5 metres across the street to 5 miles in the country, it didn’t mean Sam had to change. Nina’s mum had told her that Sam was ‘adapting to her environment’. Well, if changing from a girly-girl to a complete tomboy counted, then Sam was doing a pretty good job. Nina turned back to their conversation.

“By the way, you were supposed to come down to my house last week. Why didn’t you come?” Sam’s voice was loud and clear. ‘It was almost as if she were here’, thought Nina.

“Um, I had ballet” Nina improvised. Truth was, she didn’t have ballet. She was at the movies with her new best friend.

“Ballet!” scoffed Sam. “I can’t believe you still do it!”

“I like ballet!” Nina said. “And you used to like it too” she said under her breath.

But Sam wasn’t listening. “Hey, how about you come over at Tuesday? I’ll show you my new pet!”

“I can’t,” Nina lied. “Mum’s busy.”

“How about Wednesday then? Or even Thursday?”

“I’ve got stuff on”

“So Tuesday is the only day? We can’t pick you up, we sold the car. Hey I know, Mr Pinkerton can pick you up! I’ll ask my mum if it would be possible…”

“Um, I’ve got to go now” Nina said, checking her watch. She had perfect timing! As soon as she put the phone back, the doorbell rang. Her best-friend Shannon was standing there looking excited.

Nina didn’t really know Shannon before. She was Sam’s best friend then. Sure, they both were invited to Shannon’s 5th birthday party, but besides that- Shannon was a total stranger. About 6 months ago, when Nina and Shannon were paired up for an activity, Nina actually noticed Shannon. They were close friends after that. They did nearly everything together and told everything to each other. But Nina didn’t tell Shannon about Sam’s invitation to meet her chook. She knew what Shannon would think. The country was considered to be dirty, dirty, dirty. Everyone living in the town thought that. Soon Nina forgot all about Sam and her chook.

Nina had an unbelievingly relaxing day.  She went ice-skating with Shannon, did swimming, ate a delicious ice-cream and came home red in the face from laughing so hard at a joke.

While she was eating, a thought passed through her mind. “If it was a year ago, Sam would be here instead of Shannon….” The thought said.

It was just before they got home when Shannon asked her something. “Hey, some of my friends are coming for a sleepover on Tuesday. Do you want to come too?”

“Sure” said Nina, without thinking twice.
The days passed by. Things were normal until Monday night. It was dinner when Nina’s mum mentioned Tuesday’s plans.

“You do remember that you have to go to your friend’s house tomorrow?”

“Of course,” said Nina in a voice that said how-could-I-have-forgotten. “Shannon’s picking me up so no worries, mum”

“I was talking about Samantha” said her mum in a voice that said how-could-you-have-forgotten-about-your-best-friend. “I assumed that she told you that.”

“Yes mum. She did” said Nina in a quiet voice. She had suddenly become very interested in her food.

“Her lovely neighbour, Mr Pinkerton has agreed to pick you since he is in town.  But I’m free tomorrow. I can take you over” Mrs Desmond looked at her daughter. Her gaze held a question.

“Oh,” Nina gave a nervous laugh. “How funny! I always thought you were busy on Tuesdays”

“Well I’m not. And now because of your foolishness, you’re in a difficult situation. Either you have to apologise to Shannon and say you can’t come- which will make the poor girl disappointed or you can say no to Samantha- which will probably result as an end of your friendship. She obviously can’t visit you and if you can’t visit her either, both of you will forget each other in a matter of days” She paused. “Moreover you will have to apologise to Mr Pinkerton for wasting his time. Now it is up to you what you choose.”

Nina couldn’t sleep that night. She kept thinking about her mother’s words. She knew her mum was very dramatic. She could turn a simple problem into a life-or-death situation. Still Nina wondered. She wondered what she would tell Mr Pinkerton when he came to collect her. She wasn’t confused or anything. She knew what she wanted. She wanted to go to Shannon’s house.

Nina just realised something. She realised that she never had really been to Shannon’s house since she was five. But that was 7 years ago. Nina faintly remembered Shannon saying something about shifting. Maybe she was living in a flat now. Maybe……
Ring Ring. The sound of her phone ringing woke Nina up. She put it to her ear.

“Hello? Is it you, Nina? Oh I’m soo sorry I called you so early, but I had to tell you something. I’m so sorry but I can’t pick you up! You don’t mind coming over yourself, do you? You do know where I live, right?” Shannon’s voice was sharp and quick.

“Right” said Nina sleepily.
Nina blamed herself for everything. She blamed herself for not paying close attention to Shannon’s phone call. She blamed herself for not telling her mum about it. And she blamed herself for forgetting about Mr Pinkerton.

Her mother had left in a hurry. She said that there was a big sale at this shop and she had to go before the stock ran out. ‘Great’ thought Nina, ‘What do I do now?’ She tried calling Shannon, but failed.

Someone knocked at the door. Thinking it must be her mum, Nina rushed to open it. But it wasn’t her mum. There was a stranger there. A middle-aged man- quite large was standing there, with a huge smile on his face. Nina stared at him for a minute before realizing her rudeness.

“Hello, can I help you?” asked Nina.

“You must be Nina!” said the man, beaming. “I am- as you probably know, Mr Pinkerton. Your friend Sam, asked me to pick you up.”

“Oh...Um...Yes…..But you see, I’m not going to Sam’s house anymore. I’m going to my friend Shannon’s house. Only I don’t know where it is” She looked at him with a sheepish expression on her face.

“Shannon? Do you mean Shannon Wilson?”

“Oh, Yes. How do know her name?”

Mr Pinkerton seemed to be lost in his thoughts. When at last he spoke, he said “Yes, yes I do know her” Then noticing the phone in my hand, he said “Can you call your mother?”

Nina called Mrs Desmond and gave the phone to Mr Pinkerton. He talked to her for quite a while and then gave Nina back her phone.

“Your charming mother would like me to drop you off at Shannon’s house. Are you fine with that?” he drawled.

Nina suddenly became very elated. She was happy and chattering until she found out how long the trip was. Doubtful thoughts came across her mind. Maybe Mr Pinkerton was tricking her. He was a child-stealer disguised as local country person and he overheard Sam talking to Nina. Then he witnessed Sam’s and Mr Pinkerton’s meeting and found out her location. Then lying to Mrs Desmond, he tricked her into coming with him. Now he was probably going to smuggle her out of the country. And Nina could do nothing, ABSOULTELY NOTHING, to stop him.

So Nina waited. And finally when the car stopped, Nina was the first one to climb out. She thought she was in the country. Then, a few minutes later, she knew she was in the country. She saw a variation of Sam walking down the dusty road. Then looking-like-Sam greeted her kidnapper. Her best-friend’s duplicate became confused then addressed her. Nina felt too hazy to say anything. They escorted her to another house.

Then Shannon walked out. She looked exactly like a country girl. She was laughing and joking with some of her friends. Then it all enlightened. The man was really Mr Pinkerton. Sam’s duplicate was actually Sam. Shannon’s house was in the country. It was a miracle.

That day Nina learnt something- Trust is everything. She should have trusted Sam and told her everything.  She should have trusted her mum and Mr Pinkerton. And she definitely should have told her best friends the truth.

1 comment:

  1. Well done Riddhi, that story was very enjoyable!


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