Sometimes, in what seems like a sea of misfortune and misery, when fortune and happiness comes our way, we want to ignore it. Some see it as a taunting hand, one that they will reach for only to have it pulled away before you fall back into the abyss. Others might think of it as a tenuous line to hold on to, something which will keep you suspended out of the danger for a little while, but the more weight, the more faith you put on it, the more fragile it becomes, until finally, you're falling.
In the end, we're always falling.
For me, with my firm belief that God was constantly happy-slapping me with all the other deities up there, when I was presented with something that seemed good and wholesome, my first instinct was to lash out, or run away. I immediately believed that no matter how it looked, how much my senses told me that it was real, sooner or later it would be ripped away from me, leaving me in a lonelier, darker place than I'd ever been before.
Yet, the desperation within me told me that no matter what happened, I should try. Even if I fell, I might have some brief happiness. And if it did all turn out to be a trick, false hope or not, it was still hope. So I took a chance, and will be forever glad that I did.
Her name was Abbie, and she was to be my best friend.
It's difficult for me to remember how exactly it happened, how she came into my life. Maybe it's because I erased all of that from my mind, all I know is that in one memory, I was completely alone, and in the next, she was just there. I'd never spoken to her very much at all, our class was split into two, and though the teachers said that it was to make it easier to teach all of us, after a while we made the distinction between the "smart" half, and the "not-so smart" half. I never really cared that I was in the smart half, in fact I could have spent half my day staring out the window with my book pondering, why are they in the smart class? Arrogant, maybe, but I was used to people having things that I thought that they didn't deserve, and me with nothing, believing with all my soul that I couldn't be such a rotten child that my emptiness was just.
Though I never spoke with Abbie very much, she wasn't part of those who hated me. She never made it clear that she directly liked me either, but she was not part of the popular group, the girls clinging onto it-boy, the ones who began to speak in secret about which of the five boys in our class they would most like to marry. That never bothered me, I hated them all. Maybe I caught her notice by openly saying that I was an atheist, or maybe even it dawned on her that me being alone wasn't right - the latter one is what I hoped was the reason she befriended me, but however it happened, it didn't take long for me to trust her.
For a year, I knew there was a noticeable change in me, and I didn't need my family to tell me that either. Abbie was the best friend I'd ever had, she was kind, and I made her laugh. We laughed together for once, and she opted to sit next to me in our shared classes not because she wanted to copy my work. In a way, we were polar opposites in the way that nobody liked me, but everybody liked her. She wasn't popular, she didn't make a show of herself like the popular girls did, she was the quiet one who said everything a normal girl would, but with less ostentation and in a way that I admired, a way that, when I did it, I was branded a loser and un-girly.
I met her mutual friends, and slowly I think they began to like me through her. Perhaps she said nice things about me, or maybe they just thought I was a different person with her. I had somebody to sit with on weekly coach trips to the swimming pool, and though it weirds me out to think about it now, somebody to change with in the cubicles (for a ten year old discovering sexuality, it meant a lot.)
Those times were always happy with her, even though the attitudes of some towards me never changed, I felt more impregnable. If they were mean to me, I could tell Abbie, and it was no longer just one person sulking away, it was two people ignoring somebody, and that always caught notice. Hers was the first friend's house I ever visited, I slept over, I met her dog, we stayed up talking, we watched Mary-Kate and Ashley until midnight. Granted, I never liked them very much, but just staying up with her and remembering her comparing us with them, sisters, was all I wanted.
Summer came, we prepared to enter Year Six, and she slept over my house. It was the last time I saw her before it all changed. She complained of a headache, wanting to go home at one in the morning, and selfishly I convinced her to stay, one because it was impossible at that late hour, and two because I wanted her to stay so badly. I'd also invited Jasmine, an idea inspired by my dad who said that inviting round two people only counted as a sleepover. We got on, but every other friendship I might have had dimmed in comparison once I had her.
Remember when I said that God was happy-slapping me? For a little while, I thought His antics were just like the fad, He would lose his interest and everything would get better. But I'd been wrong, because once somebody's punched you in the gut, it won't be long until another follows. So what was his next punch?
Abbie got cancer.