The Gift of a Friend, Part 1 is the forty-seventh chapter of The Gift of a Best Friend. It was first published on June 27th, 2017.
Jasmine’s a cheerleader now.
I thought about telling her what Chelsea told me, but decided against it. If that really is the next level for her as a dancer, then I’ll let her do it. Though I don’t want her to do it. Not just because she’ll be with Chelsea and her sisters more, but also because she’ll be a cheerleader.
I’ve seen how mean and selfish they are, both in person and on TV, and I don’t want Jasmine to become like that. I don’t think she will be, but, as I’ve learned from Raylee, I have to consider that she might become like that. And I don’t like it.
But I won’t say anything to her. Yet.
Right now, as Jasmine was trying on her new uniform, I went to the arena to try and clear my head by practicing on dummies with my knife. Luke was there, as he always is most of the time, practicing with his sword right now, as Jasmine is trying on her new uniform, I went to the arena to try and clear my head by practicing on dummies with my knife.
Luke was there, as he always is most of the time, practicing with his sword.
Yeah, you probably know that I just lied there.
I didn’t go there to practice with my knife. I went there because I wanted to see Luke. He’s always been a distraction for me.
For the past year, I’ve started to have a crush on him, and it’s been getting a little harder to control, especially whenever I’m around him. The only ones that know that are Jasmine, of course, Mom, and Raylee.
I get so giddy on the inside whenever I see him, and giggle sometimes, which is not how I want to be that I always try to have Jasmine with me to “snap me out of it” and keep me calm and focused.
But I couldn’t have her with me now because she’s the main reason why I wanted to see him.
“Luke?” I called.
He stopped mid-swing from slicing a dummy’s head off and turned toward me.
When he looked at me, I had to do whatever I could not to blush, but I couldn’t stop my heart from beating so fast. He was just so cute, even with that scar on the side of his face.
“Hey, Annabeth,” Luke said. “What’s up?”
“I want to talk to you about Jasmine,” I replied, keeping my voice under control.
“Sure. What about her?”
“Well, you know she joined the cheerleading squad . . .”
“And you don’t like it.”
I stared at him, confused. “How did you know that?”
“Because I know you,” Luke replied. “And I saw how unhappy you looked at her tryout.”
I sighed. “I’m happy she got in . . .”
“But you’re not.”
I shook my head.
I told him what Chelsea told me the other day and my fear that Jasmine will change.
Luke sat down next to me, and for once, I didn’t blush or think of that. I just thought of him as my friend.
“That’s rough,” Luke said. “But you know how much Jasmine cares about you. I doubt that she’ll become like that and leave you behind.”
“I do, too,” I agreed. “But I’m not that sure.”
“Did you tell Jasmine how you feel?”
I shook my head. “No.”
“Maybe you should, ’cause she probably noticed how unhappy you looked too.”
“She did. But I didn’t tell her what Chelsea said. And I’m not going to.”
“Well, if that’s what you want to do. But I really don’t think you have to worry about Jasmine changing.”
“I hope so.”
It’s become weird now.
Every day, Jasmine talks with Chelsea and her sisters and sits with them at lunch. And she makes me sit with them.
At first, they just talked about cheerleading, but now it’s personal things, like they’re friends, and I don’t like it. Jasmine doesn’t even talk to me that much at lunch, but mostly to them. And when they’re practicing, they either go to their house to do so or to our house.
Jasmine does ask me if I want to join her, but I always say no, and she eventually stopped asking me because of that, which is something she’s never done before. And the worst part: Chelsea and her sisters pretend to be nice to me by getting me into their conversations, but when Jasmine’s back is to us, they sneer at me and cause me to trip onto the ground, sometimes even down the stairs. Jasmine doesn’t know that they did that to me, so she just assumes I’m being clumsy.
After the last time Chelsea and her sisters did that to me, faked caring, and helped me back on my feet, I yanked my arms from theirs and stomped away.
“Annabeth!” Jasmine called, but I didn’t stop.
I ran to the other side of the school where no one else could see me leaned back against the wall and crying.
I can’t believe this is happening to me. This is probably even worse than when I was with my dad, and that’s saying a lot.
I could hear someone coming toward me, and I assumed that it was Jasmine. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.
“Aww, poor Annie Bell,” Chelsea said sarcastically. “So you do care. Too late now.”
I wiped my tears away and glared at her. “Leave me alone, Chelsea. You got what you wanted.”
“I told you I would. But I’m actually surprised you stayed this long. Jasmine doesn’t deserve you as her friend and never did. Now I can make her the girl that she should be, and get you out of the way.”
“You don’t have to try to get rid of me anymore. I’m already gone.”
I started walking away from her, but I stopped when I heard my name called.
Jasmine came from around the corner.
“Are you ok?” she asked.
“I asked her that myself,” Chelsea said. “But she just said rude things to me, called me a bitch, and started walking away.”
Right after she said all that, I couldn’t stand it any longer.
I tackled her to the ground, got on top of her, and pressed my elbow against her neck to keep her from breathing.
I saw fear in her eyes and she was choking. I wasn’t going to lie, but I was really enjoying killing her. Until Jasmine stopped me. She grabbed me and pulled me off of Chelsea.
Her flower sisters had found us and helped Chelsea up off the ground while she was trying to get her breath back.
Jasmine put herself between us, and she didn’t look happy. “What the hell are you doing, Annabeth?”
“What am I doing?” I replied. “Jasmine, she’s lying to you. She always has been since you joined her cheerleading squad.”
“No, she hasn’t.”
“Yes, she has! Jasmine, she is trying to take you away from me because she thinks I’m holding you back from becoming a dancer.”
Jasmine considered that and looked at Chelsea. “Is that true?”
“Of course it’s not,” she replied, acting innocent. “I would never do such a thing. Especially not to her.”
I glared at her.
But Jasmine glared at me. “Annabeth, I know you hate her, but she’s trying to get along with you. You could at least try to get along with her yourself, too.”
I couldn’t believe this was happening. Chelsea has been out to get me since the moment we met. Now she’s got Jasmine against me, which is something I never thought she or anyone could do, and Jasmine’s so oblivious to it.
Then it hit me.
I’ve been thinking that it was Chelsea that’s causing this to happen between me and Jasmine. But now I realize it’s not her.
Yeah, she started it, but Jasmine continued it by listening to her lies about me, which she hated before whenever anyone attacked me.
But not anymore. She’s changed. She’s now one of them.
“Why are you doing this to me, Jasmine?” I asked.
She stared at me, confused. “Doing what?”
“You’re my best friend and my sister. You’ve never turned against me like this before.”
“I don’t want to do this to you, Annabeth. But you’re wrong.”
“No, I’m not. You are! You’re so oblivious to what she’s doing to me that you think it’s what I’m doing to her. And that’s not like you at all.”
“What are you talking about? I’m no different than I’ve always been.”
“Yes, you are. In fact, I don’t know you anymore.”
I turned around and ran.
I heard Jasmine call to me, but I didn’t stop. Not this time.
Not ever again.
I ran all the way home, kind of like that little piggy.
It was just about a mile away, and Jasmine didn’t follow me.
I went to our grandparent’s house, because that’s where everyone usually is during this time of day. The door was always unlocked, so I let myself in.
I didn’t see anybody from the door, and since this was a really big house, I wasn’t going to waste my time by searching every room. Luckily, Raylee put intercoms on the walls in every single room to make it easier to find someone. That is if they respond back.
I went over to the intercom on the wall and pressed the button.
“Is anybody here?” I called into the speaker, then let go of the button.
A few seconds later, Mom replied back to me. “Annabeth? You’re back early.”
“Yeah. Can you tell me where you guys are so that I can come tell you why I’m back early?”
“Of course. We’re in the basketball court.”
“Ok. I’ll be right down.”
I headed down the stairs and into the room.
Everybody was shooting hoops, even the animals, and chatting amongst themselves. As soon as they saw me, they stopped talking and let their balls bouncing be the only sound in the room for a momentverybody was shooting hoops, even the animals, and chatting amongst themselves.
As soon as they saw me, they stopped talking and let their balls bouncing be the only sound in the room for a moment.
“Where’s Jasmine?” Dad asked.
My expression hardened. “She’s probably still at school.”
“Why?” Mom asked.
I shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe because she wants to be. I really don’t care.”
Everyone noticed my mood, especially from that last thing I said.
“What happened?” Raylee asked.
I sighed. I walked over to a bench seat and sat down on it.
Everyone stood or sat around me as I told them what happened. When I was done, they all were shocked.
“Jasmine did that?” Emily asked.
“Wow,” Luke said. “I didn’t think you had to worry about her changing, but, apparently, I was wrong.”
“I was too,” I said. “I hate cheerleaders. They’re all mean.”
“I haven’t had any experience myself with them,” Emily said. “But after hearing that, I agree too.”
I noticed how Mom and Aunt Selena exchanged what seemed like guilty looks. Most of our family looked at them too.
“I wouldn’t say that all cheerleaders are mean,” Selena said.
“I would,” I said.
“Clearly,” Mom said.
“Why would you say different?” Emily asked.
“Well, let me say this to Annabeth. You say all cheerleaders are mean, right?”
I nodded. “Yes.”
“So does that mean that you think Selena and I are mean too?”
Luke, Emily, and I stared at her, confused. “What?”
“Sarah and I used to be cheerleaders,” Selena replied. “Along with our friends, Jessica and Demi.”
“You were?” Emily asked.
Mom nodded. “Yes. And I don’t think we were mean.”
“Why’d you stop cheering?” I asked.
“We stopped after we graduated high school. We had to stop one time for about half a year when I was pregnant with Jasmine and Selena was pregnant with Peter. It was when we started showing and could barely jump anymore without falling down. And we didn’t want to risk hurting them while they were still inside us.”
“Were any of the other girls on your squad mean to anybody?”
“Yeah. Wendy was a real bitch, even to me. I really hated her. And I was the head cheerleader.”
“Doesn’t the head cheerleader decide on who cheers and who doesn’t?” I asked.
“Yes,” Mom replied. “And I know what you’re saying, but Wendy was a good cheerleader, despite how much of a bitch she was.”
“And probably still is,” Selena said.
“Did she ever try to ruin your friendship?” I asked.
“No,” Mom replied. “She hated us all. But Chelsea sounds even worse than her.”
“I wonder if she’s her daughter,” Selena said.
“No, I don’t think she is. She would’ve had to been pregnant before I was with Jasmine and you with Peter, and we were teenagers, and we both know she wasn’t. Though I don’t doubt that she’s been in that position many times before that.”
“Ok,” Raylee said. “Anyway, back on the situation. Annabeth, why didn’t you tell Jasmine what Chelsea told you before the tryouts?”
“Jasmine was interested in cheering because it was like dancing,” I replied. “And you all know how much she likes to dance. When Chelsea told me that I was holding her back from it, I didn’t think it was true. But now I do, and I don’t want to do that.”
“You’re not holding her back,” Mom said.
“She’s right,” Luke agreed, sitting down next to me. “Jasmine dances all the time. How could you be holding her back?”
“I didn’t mean that,” I said. “I mean, making a name for herself out in the world.”
“She’s part of a family of celebrities,” Uncle Zack said. “Everyone’s known her name since she’s been born.”
“Yeah, but as a dancer? It’s really just because she’s the Protector of America’s granddaughter and Sarah’s daughter because she’s a famous singer. Nobody knows her name like she wants them to know her name. I want people to know me as the best architect there is someday, and not as being adopted into your family. Uh, no offense.”
“It’s all right,” Mom said. “I understand, though I don’t recall myself feeling like my mom is the reason I’m famous, but she kind of is since she did bring my producer to the talent show I won, which I’m very grateful for. And Zak helped me with my stage fright.”
“She’s right, Annabeth,” Dad agreed.
“Yeah,” Luke agreed too. “We get that, since Jasmine’s helping you with your architecture, you want to help her with her dancing by backing away. But I don’t think she wants you to do that. You’re her best friend, and whatever you feel, she feels. If you’re mad, she’s mad. If you’re happy, she’s happy.”
“Yeah, but it’s usually about the same thing,” I said. “It’s not this time. Jasmine changed.”
I guess names really do have power, because as soon as I said her name, she came into the room.
When I entered the basketball court, literally the last room in the house before I finally found everyone, they all looked at me, even Annabeth, and none of them looked happy to see me, not even Toothless.
Great. That’s never good.
“Hi, guys,” I greeted.
None of them said hi back.
Annabeth looked at Mom. “I’m going to go home.”
She nodded. “Ok. We’ll see you in a little while.”
Annabeth stood up from the bench, shouldered her backpack, and headed toward the only exit.
When she passed by me, I grabbed her arm, stopping her.
“What did you tell them?” I asked.
“The truth,” she replied.
“Oh, yeah? And what is that, exactly?”
“That Chelsea is out to get me, and that you don’t believe me.”
“That is not the truth.”
“So you believe me?”
“No. I meant that Chelsea isn’t out to get you, because she’s not.”
Annabeth yanked her arm out of my hand. “Yes, she is, Jasmine. And you’re too oblivious and so focused on your cheering to notice.”
“If she was doing that to you, Annabeth, I would’ve noticed it already.”
“Not if she was pretending every time you turned around, which she was.”
“Please. No one is that good to fool me.”
“I didn’t think so, either. But, apparently, she is. And you’re falling for it.”
“Which you told our family to make them on your side.”
“At least it’s the truth and not some lie Chelsea told me.”
“Oh, it’s a lie. But it’s one you made up yourself.”
“No, it’s not. It’s the truth, whether you like it or not.”
“You can probably already tell that I don’t like it because it’s a lie, but whatever, bitch.”
“Jasmine,” Mom and Dad scolded, though I don’t know why since I say that and a few other words all the time.
“It’s all right,” Annabeth said. “I’m not the only bitch here. But, Mom, I changed my mind. Can you send me to Camp Half-Blood instead?”
She nodded. “Sure. Do you want to get your knife first?”
Annabeth nodded. “Yes. I’ll go get it and a few other things and be right back.”
Annabeth turned toward the exit and left without even looking at me.
I looked at my family. “I’m guessing none of you want to hear my side of what happened.”
None of them replied, but their expressions were clear: No.
I turned around and stormed out of the basketball court.
I was really mad. Especially since everyone was turning against me.
I went to my house, kind of forgetting that Annabeth was there. I was heading to my bedroom, and she was coming from it. Neither of us said anything, but we did glare at each other.
When we passed by one another, we both bumped each other’s shoulders hard. Then I went to my room, she went to the front door, and we both slammed the doors as hard as we could, probably making our ears pop and the house shake.
It was quiet for a long time.
I went to the stereo system attached to the wall and scrolled through my playlist. I don’t really like any songs that were about being mad and crazy, but I really wish I did now.
I thought about playing one of Mom’s songs, then I remembered that she was on Annabeth’s side in this fight, so screw that.
I thought about playing a dancing song, but I am too mad to dance, and I hate listening to songs I dance to and not dance to them.
Eventually, I gave up looking for a song to play.
I closed the curtain between mine and Annabeth’s rooms, because I didn’t want to see it. You know, it’s times like this that you wish your rooms didn’t connect.
I grabbed a recent book that I’m currently reading from the library off my nightstand, laid down on my bed, and continued reading it.
Sometime later, I heard a scratch at my door.
Jasmine? It was Toothless.
I put my book down and opened the door. “What?”
Are you mad at me? he asked.
“That depends: whose side are you on?”
Uh, I don’t want to choose sides between you and Annabeth.
“Well, I guess that’s the smartest thing you can do.”
I left the door open and went back to my bed.
Toothless came in and rested his head on my lap. So what’s going to happen now?
“I don’t know,” I replied.
I was about to grab my book and continue reading when I noticed the picture on my nightstand. I picked it up.
It was of me and Annabeth during our fifth birthday party. We were wearing beautiful dresses with real tiaras on our heads and our arms wrapped around each other in a hug and smiling at the camera like it was the happiest day of our lives, which it probably was. It was the first and my favorite photo of the two of us together. We were so young and innocent then. But not so much anymore.
I sighed and put the picture back down on my nightstand.
Then there was a knock on my door. I turned my head toward it and saw Luke standing in the doorway.
“Hey,” he said. “Can I come in?”
“Uh, sure,” I replied.
For some reason, I was thinking about Annabeth’s crush on him and how much she blushed every time she saw him. Yeah, it was kind of funny, but totally not like her. But I guess that’s what becoming a teenager is all about, even though we have about two more years to go until we were officially teens.
Did I have a crush on him? Hell no.
I mean, yeah, from a girl’s perspective, he is quite attractive, even with that scar on the side of his face. But he’s too old for me and Annabeth, even though, yes, my grandparents are more than sixty years in age apart from each other.
Any chance that Annabeth has with him, she’d have to wait until she’s eighteen for it not to be illegal, though technically not right. But I hope that she won’t wait that long for him and have a different boyfriend and that Luke and Emily will be married and have at least a couple kids.
Yeah, I like to think big.
Luke entered my room and sat down next to me on my bed.
“You came to talk to me about what happened between me and Annabeth earlier, aren’t you?” I asked him.
“Yes,” he replied.
I sighed. “Do you believe her?”
“Yes, I do. Why don’t you?”
“Because I haven’t seen any proof that Chelsea is out to get her, Luke. Have you?”
“Then why do you believe her?”
“Jasmine, is Annabeth your best friend?”
“You’re changing the subject.”
“And you’re stalling,” Luke retorted. “Now, is Annabeth your best friend or not?”
I looked down at the bracelet on my wrist that Annabeth made me when we were five: You’re my best friend.
We may be in a fight right now, but even best friends fight.
“Yes,” I said.
“Ok,” Luke said. “And don’t best friends always believe each other?”
I hesitated. “Yes. But Annabeth has always hated Chelsea. And there’s this thing called pride, which is the fatal flaw of every child of Athena.”
“That may be true, but has Annabeth said or done anything bad against Chelsea before today?”
I thought about it, but I couldn’t really think of any other time.
“No,” I said.
“Then if Annabeth has always hated her, and didn’t want you to be friends with her, wouldn’t she have started to do something to her before today?” Luke asked. “Say, before you even tried out cheerleading?”
I hesitated. “Probably. But why is she doing this now?”
“Maybe because she didn’t want Chelsea to beat on her anymore.”
“What do you mean?”
“After Chelsea accepted you into her squad, Annabeth told me what she told her after she told you that cheerleading is like dancing when she and her sisters cornered her in the bathroom.”
He told me what Annabeth told him about that day, and I couldn’t believe it.
“I’m not being held back from my dancing,” I said. “And even if I was, it definitely wouldn’t be Annabeth’s fault.”
“So you believe her now?” Luke asked.
“I don’t know. I still didn’t see any proof of that happening. Did you whenever they came over to our house to practice?”
Luke shook his head. “No. I tried to, but they’re good at making sure that no one sees them do what they do to Annabeth. I only know what Annabeth tells me they do to her every day.”
“And you didn’t give them your wrath?”
Luke smiled. “Oh, I wanted to. But I knew that wouldn’t really help her if you didn’t believe her.”
I looked down at Toothless’s head on my lap.
“Did you see Chelsea and her sisters be mean to Annabeth?” I asked him.
He shook his head.
“Look, Jasmine,” Luke said. “I know that you want to believe that everybody on the planet is fair and nice, but you know that that is not true, and probably never, ever, will be. In fact, I doubt that even half of the world’s population is fair and nice.”
“I do, too,” I said.
“Ok. And you’re usually fair, especially to Annabeth. But you’ve kind of been neglecting her ever since you became a cheerleader. And is that what best friends do? Leave each other behind?”
I started crying. “No.”
“So . . .”
I sighed. “I want to believe you, Luke. And Annabeth. But I’m sure you’ve been told by Grandma, like I have, that we need to see absolute proof to find out what the real truth is and not base it on just what someone said, even if it’s someone very close to me. But how am I going to find out the real truth?”
“I don’t know.”
What can I do? What can I do? What. Can. I. Do?
I looked around my room to come up with some kind of idea. I didn’t see anything that could help until I saw something up in the back corner near the ceiling.
“Wait,” I said. “I know how I can find out the real truth.”
“How?” Luke asked.
Well, this is rough. What do you guys think Jasmine is going to do/use to find out the truth? I promise, it's going to be messy when she does.
Please review here.