Our friendship was just beginning the month you died. We enacted the juvenile plays of high schoolers trying to impress each other. Staying after school in a time before cell phones, we waited on the wide concrete steps until our parents or older siblings came to pick us up.
You found a smashed hamburger on the sidewalk, and kicked at with your bright yellow sneakers.
“Dare you to eat it,” you said, looking up at me with piercing blue eyes set against flaming orange hair.
“Eww! No,” I cried in overstated disgust, shifting my book bag to the other shoulder. “I wouldn’t eat it even if it were fresh. Cafeteria food is toxic.”
A few weeks later your senior boyfriend wrapped his car around a telephone pole and went into a coma. You came and found me in the lunchroom with a card to sign for him.
You sat down at my table and we chatted amid the babble of the cafeteria. You talked about joining the track team – the spring season was just beginning – and how you’d go to the hospital after school.
The next morning on the way to school I saw your picture on the front page of the local paper. I stared at it, not comprehending.
Katie, they spelled your name wrong.
It happened at track practice. You collapsed, but were dead by the time you reached the hospital.
At the funeral the priest said you were in a better place now, but I didn’t believe him. You looked pretty, but fragile as you lay in your casket. And when we closed the lid, we wrote on the smooth wood with sharpies and magic markers like an eternal yearbook: BFF, don’t ever change, I’ll miss you.
Ellie Smith is a graduate student at Carlow University’s MFA in Creative Writing program. Her focus is on creative nonfiction, and she recently completed a memoir chronicling her experiences working as a barista at Starbucks. She currently works as a substitute teacher and writing coach. Ellie lives in York, Pennsylvania with her husband of six years and their two dogs.