By April Alarcon
"You've just been coming off as ungrateful lately."
Laila let out a heavy sigh and rolled her eyes. She had heard this so many times. As Amber continued to point out everything Laila had done wrong Friday, Laila focused on the dark night sky and how deep it looked. The cars rushing past them made it easy to drown out Amber's criticisms as they walked along the park. Her thoughts weren't much of a reverie. She didn't need anyone else telling her what she was doing wrong.
"I wasn't being ungrateful,” Laila blurted. “I don't know why everyone freaked out about it."
"Everyone gave you a hard time about it because you always do that. You need everything to be your way."
"Honestly, I don't even care. It's not like we're all going to be best friends forever. Why should I worry about how they feel if in less than a year everyone's leaving?"
"Because you're our, so called, friend."
"Friends, huh?" Laila instantly wished she has not agreed to go on this walk. She knew they were all talking about her behind her back. She'd feel everyone get quiet whenever she entered the room.
"What's that mean?"
"Can I call them my friends— can I even call you my friend?"
Amber looked at her as if she hadn't done anything wrong. Was she playing innocent, thought Laila, or was she really, pathetically oblivious to how she had been acting? "Why should I make an effort with these people, if they won't do the same for me?” asked Laila, “Everyone's so rude and mean—” She bit her lip, “and so are you. You're always making me feel bad about myself."
"Are you kidding me?” snapped Amber. "Stop victimizing yourself. I have a crude sense of humor, you've known this and you never said anything about it. And what do you mean no one makes an effort— everyone would rant about how great you are, that is, until you started acting like this."
"Victimizing. That's rich." Was it so bad that all Laila wanted was a break from all this nagging. Just once couldn't anyone make an effort to maintain her friendship? All her relationships were the same thing. She was always expected to put the effort into nurturing a relationship— sisters, friends, dad, boys. She felt her facial muscles go limp.
"You are!” said Amber, “You're such a little princess. Get over yourself and try to think about the things you do for once!"
"You know what, maybe I was being inconsiderate. I wasn't trying to be inconsiderate,” she didn't know how to feel about the situation anymore, “but I'm not going to apologize to everyone, because it seems like you all expected me to be this way— you think I don't know what you think of me? Yeah I'd like someone to care about me, but no one ever even tried!"
"We were trying,” said Amber, “but everyone grew tired of your stubborn attitude. Kind of like you're being now."
What did Amber know? She didn't have a care in the world, always going on about how happy she always felt. Laila didn't know who to talk to anymore. It suddenly felt like everything was done… her attempts with friends, with family, with school.
She was in desperate need of an escape and it seemed like there was no alternative.
The previous rushing of the cars stopped and now they just looked like small blurs smudged along the street. She threw her head back and got lost in the deep sky of the velvet night.
Ever since her grandmother died, her family had become so distant and closed off from one another. She hated how it affected her relationships with people, but it also put her at ease to identify the root of the problem.
The blur of cars, like a river rushing dangerously beside her, suddenly became comforting in the cold night.
Laila felt warm inside.