Lunchtime

Alice walked quickly across the school courtyard and sat down at the same table where she had lunched for nearly four years.  It was a beautiful day in the first week of June.  Trees were blossoming and it felt good to be done with her last set of finals.  She looked across the courtyard for her friends, Nancy and Patty.  Where are they, she wondered.  Usually she was the last to arrive.

After a few minutes she saw the two blond-haired girls approaching and Nancy was carrying a brightly wrapped package.  As they reached the table, Nancy handed Alice the package and said, “We just wanted to thank you for all your help in our math and science classes.  If you hadn’t tutored us through the lunch hour for the past four years, we never would have passed any of them.  Thank you so much.”

Patty nodded and said, “Yes, thank you.  You saved our grade points!”

Alice looked at the package in her hands and frowned in puzzlement.  “But we are friends.  I was only doing what any friend would do.  You didn’t have to get me anything.  I was happy I could help. I know you would have done the same for me.”

Nancy looked at Patty and then shuffled her feet, turning a bit red.  Both girls looked at the ground and then Nancy said, “Well, we wanted to get you something.  Thanks so much and good luck in college.”

Then Nancy and Patty quickly turned and walked away.  When they reached the middle of the courtyard Alice could hear Patty say, “Friends?  Did she really think we were friends?” and both girls started to laugh.  Then Nancy said, “No, she really couldn’t be that clueless,” and they went to sit at another table filled with seniors.

Alice quickly stuffed the package into her school bag and then bent her head to look at her lunch, pretending she was eating, as her tears fell onto her sandwich.

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