Full time medical student at Louisiana State University Health Science Center in Shreveport.
"One Loyal Friend is Worth More than a Thousand Fake Ones." - Unknown
As the incessant dripping of the faucet echoed throughout the small restroom, I forced myself to inhale deeply and exhale slowly. Yet, my little exercise failed to slow down my pounding heart rate. Gazing into the cracked mirror above the sink, with the words, “Don’t judge!” written across the surface in red lipstick, I noticed how my flushed cheeks refused to lighten up. Having woken up late this morning, my auburn hair was pulled up into a messy bun with strands falling down from the coil. However, while my makeup was nonexistent today, I did manage to pull on some formal clothes, which consisted of a plaid skirt and a wrinkled, navy blue blouse with black flats.
Sighing at my messy appearance, I straightened my attire, and attempted to redo my bun. Just as I was finishing fixing my hair, the bathroom door slowly creaked open, and a girl poked her head inside. Upon seeing me, her smile brightened and she stepped fully into the small lavatory. I had to slide over a little in order to provide her some more room; after all, a large sheepdog followed her into the bathroom.
“Isabelle!” my friend exclaimed, her blond curls bouncing as she jumped with joy and her gray eyes sparkled mischievously. With shorts and a pink sweatshirt, she was dressed for anything except a court case. Despite my current haphazard state, I found that my mouth was curling into a smile.
“Hey, Jessie. What are you doing here? I thought you had a lesson with your art mentor, Kallie. And, how did you get him in here?”
Laughing lightly, she waved away my stupefied expression. “Oh, relax! You act like my grandpa, Arnold, who’s a stick in the mud about everything. But don’t worry, I already told the official-looking people that he was here strictly for a court case. And I canceled my lesson, since I had to be present here for my best friend!”
I rolled my eyes at her childlike attitude. While she meant well, Jessie tended to be slightly eccentric. After all, she has always been different than other people. Giving her a quizzical stare, I replied, “You and I both know that Freedom is not evidence for any case here”.
Now it was her turn to look at me as though I had an understanding disability. “I never said that,” she retorted, before grabbing my hand. “I said he was here with me for your court case to see you rock that witness stand. Now let’s go before we miss the whole show!”
"...her blond curls bouncing as she jumped with joy and her gray eyes sparkled mischievously."
With that declaration, she darted out of the restroom, dragging me along with her. Freedom happily bounded after his master, unaffected by her hyper behavior. If I hadn’t been huffing and puffing to keep up with my energetic friend, I would have sighed. Being nineteen years old, you would have assumed that her mentality would have evolved over the years, allowing her to blossom into a mature adult. Yet, she still remained that young, fun child at heart, even as her body changed. While she would always be my best friend, I couldn’t avoid the feeling of shame and embarrassment whenever a peer gives me that look. The look that titles me as strange for associating with a woman who was notorious for still wearing bows and bright colors, and carrying a stuffed dog everywhere she traveled. As though I was a ‘weirdo’ as well for even being near her. However, I always force myself to push these ugly feelings away, since the opinions of other people didn’t matter. With that, I tightened my grip on her hand, and quickened my pace.
Bursting through the doors of the courtroom, Jessie skidded to a halt and, raising her fist into the air, proclaimed, “We made it!” My face, which had returned to its original creamy color, instantly flared red with embarrassment. Quickly, I grabbed Jessie’s hand and pulled her to the nearest available seats. The judge, who was frowning at our little escapade, gave us a hard stare before resuming the case. Jessie sent me an apologetic grin and turned to watch while I covered my red cheeks. Throughout my life, I have always been the shy and quiet one, while Jessie was my opposite, assertive and loud about everything she did. I suppose that was the reason we had instantly became friends in kindergarten.
“Look,” Jessie whispered to me, pointing toward the plaintiff. “His face looks like it’s about to explode!” she giggled. Her exaggerated description was somewhat accurate, since the man’s face was beet red, and the look he was sending toward the defendant, who was currently in the stand, was murderous.
Immediately, the woman in front of us, who appeared to be in her late fifties, whipped around and gave us a contemptuous glare, ordering, “Respect your elders, you vile children!” With that, she turned back around and resumed watching the case as though nothing has happened. Jessie and I glanced at each other, inarticulate on how to respond to that attack. Suppressing our grins, we focused on the drama unfolding before us.
At that moment, the plaintiff’s lawyer stood up, declaring, “The plaintiff would like to call Isabelle Williams to the stand.” I looked around the room, waiting for someone to come forward, before the entirety of the sentence hit me. With my heart in my throat, I stood, and slid off the bench. As I made my way toward the front of the courtroom, all I could hear was the pounding of my heart in my ears. Raising my right hand, I took my vow, mostly reciting by heart, and before I knew it I was seated in the stand. I gazed at the lawyer, whose name slipped my mind. In fact, almost everything I was supposed to say had vanished from my brain, leaving it barren. Through this haze of panic, I realized the lawyer had asked me a question.
Flabbergasted, the lawyer repeated in a condescending tone, “Where were you the night of September eighth between nine o’ clock and eleven o’ clock p.m.?”
I knew the answer, yet it seemed to escape my grasp as I stared blankly at the lawyer like a deer in headlights. I couldn’t think, or speak for that matter. At the sight of all those faces staring at me, expecting me to say something, I felt a slight nausea and my heart pounded even louder. Suddenly, I caught sight of Jessie, who was waving to attain my attention. With that accomplished, she gave me a one hundred watt smile and two thumbs up. Next to her, lying in the middle of the aisle, much to the disgust of a couple across from him, was Freedom, who looked content and happy. Then again, that’s always how he appeared. Nevertheless, my confidence increased from the support, and all my answers came flooding back. Gathering my fortitude, I turned my gaze back to the lawyer and answered, “That night, I was at the opening showing for that new movie, Dawn. After the movie, which was amazing, by the way, I was walking toward my car in the parking lot when I heard…”
"...she gave me a one hundred watt smile and two thumbs up."
Picking away at my sandwich, I gazed around the lunchroom at my fellow students as they socialized. Normally, I would be conversing with them, but I was not in the mood for gossip and idiotic drama. Turing my head back to my unappetizing lunch, I pushed it aside and focused on my iPod, turning on my music.
“Did you see this?” Jessie yelled, throwing a newspaper down on the table before me, startling me as well as quite a few other students. Vaguely listening to her rant about the unfairness of the world, I read the page she had chosen. Apparently, the defendant had received an acquittal from the judge, even though, according to Jessie, he was obviously guilty for stealing that man’s car.
Looking up, I noticed that some students were giving me and Jessie that look. Yet, instead of looking away shamefully and excusing myself, I boldly matched their look with one of my own. I gave them my stare, screaming without words, “What are you looking at? She may be different but she’s ten times the person you’ll ever be!” Soon, those people looked away, and I smiled triumphantly. I turned back to my best friend, knowing that we may not be perfect or normal, but, together, we could do anything.
"Many People Will Walk In and Out of Your Life, But Only True Friends Will Leave Footprints In Your Heart." -Eleanor Roosevelt
© 2021 Victoria Umling