In The Name Of Friendship

            Sarin Hawk eased herself into her chair. Class was about to start, and she dreaded the pure boredom ahead. Sarin found herself lost in her thoughts. Actually, I think I'm more worried about seeing Jaylee.

            Jaylee Matthews and Sarin had been best friends, until recently. Barely a week ago had Jaylee broken up with her boyfriend. Understandably, Jaylee was cranky and was always spoiling for a fight. Sarin had been her guardian angel since then, defusing arguments that would have turned into all-out fights due to Jaylee's unusually-fiery temper.

            After averting a potential disaster with the school bully, Jaylee had finally snapped like a string held truant, slowly being pulled and pulled until it inevitably broke. Jaylee had yelled at Sarin, something Jaylee didn't usually do.

            "Why do you keep interfering? I can take care of myself!" Jaylee had shouted, angry tears threatening to spill from furious green eyes. "All you do is get in my way! That's all you've ever done! Quit being so damn meddlesome, Sarin, so I can get on with my life!"

            Sarin had been shocked, hurt and angry at her friend's outburst. She had gaped, open-mouthed, as Jaylee pivoted on her heel and stomped off. It wasn't like Jaylee to explode. So maybe she can be a bit vocal at times, but not that vocal.   

            Three days had passed.

            Every day Sarin saw her friend in class, to be met with an icy glare. She had decided to let Jaylee cool down a bit, then approach her. Unfortunately, Jaylee was not showing any signs of cooling down. In fact, she seemed to be getting more livid by the hour, if not the minute.

            So, as the wizened math teacher entered the class, Sarin threw a glance at Jaylee, who sat at the back of the class by the window. Jaylee pretended not to notice, and instead continued doodling on her legal pad.    

            A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.

            How I wish that were true.

            Sarin drew a silent sigh and focused on the class. The teacher had set his things down on the table, took out the chalk, and started reviewing the lessons of the day before.

            This is going to be a long day, Sarin thought.  

            And a long day it was. Although the math lesson was only a hour long, it seemed like forever as the teacher droned on and on, with the more laid-back students passing notes and made mean jokes, while the more studious ones struggling to decipher the horrible handwriting.

            "And so, class," he said, turning from the board to face the students, "for homework today" — there was a collective groan — "you will all have to do page hundred and thirty's sums. To be handed up by tomorrow."

            There was the sound of the rustling of pages as the whole class flipped to the said page. Sarin's dark eyes widened. He has got to be joking.

             The whole page was jam-packed with sums. Another collective groan and a few cries of despair as the rest of the students saw the number of sums on the page. Sarin counted thirty-six, all complex and requiring more than a little brainwork.  

            Sarin happened to glance in Jaylee's direction. The redhead had a scowl as dark as midnight on her face, the brow furrowed and swear words almost coming out of her mouth.

            Inwardly, Sarin smiled. That was the Jaylee she knew; never listening in class, always hating homework and struggling to pass. Sarin was, in part, Jaylee's tutor in all subjects.

            The teacher sat down just as the brunette turned back. Arranging his things and shuffling through his papers, he tried to get up. He couldn't. He braced himself against the bottom of his seat with his hands, he pulled his upper body up. There was a loud ripping sound as he came free.

            The class roared with laughter. His pants torn, the teacher flushed scarlet and ordered one of his favorites to get the principal before he, chair and all, left the class.

            "So." The stern, bespectacled principal looked at the students of Pendle's math class like a lion watching its prey before it goes in for the kill. Breaths were held, and pulses were faster than normal. "One or more of you put glue on Mr. Pendle's chair. When he got up, his pants tore."

            There were a few chuckles, but those were quietly silenced by the withering glares given by both principal and students. The whole class looked uneasy.

            "I intend to find out who did it," the principal said. "And I have evidence to nab our culprit."

            A hand was put up from one of the front rows. "If I may ask, ma'am, who is it?"

            A pause from the principal. Most expected Jaylee's name to be called, and many a glance was thrown. Jaylee purposely kept her game face on.

            "Sarin Hawk."

            The name uttered by the principal sent a gasp through the students present. Surprised and "I-knew-it" looks were immediately presented before Sarin from her fellows mates and popular people respectively.

            Me? Sarin thought. I didn't do it!

            "But, ma'am," Sarin started, "It wasn't me — "

            "Oh?" the principal regarded her coldly. "Then, shall we ask the class who did it, then?" She addressed the class. "Well then, class, who did it? Who will admit to doing such a foul act?"

            Sarin couldn't bare to look. She knew no one, much less the perpetrator, would own up. She stared straight ahead, at the notice board. The smiling face of a poster's money (that promoted happiness) seemed to mock her.

            Silence. Then, there were even louder gasps.

            "I did it."

            Sarin spun around in her chair. There, in the sunlight, stood Jaylee. "It was me, ma'am. I put the glue there."

            "And why?" In the eyes of the principal fury blazed.

            Jaylee shrugged. "I didn't like him."

            The principal narrowed her eyes while Sarin glanced from her to Jaylee. This can't be happening. Jaylee is a prankster, but this is too much. Even for her.

            "Detention for three weeks, Miss Matthews. Three hours a day." The principal had finally announced her sentence; once, harsh as it was, was considered lenient, considering all the pranks that Jaylee had pulled off.

            Sarin waited outside the classroom after the last period that day. Jaylee and her took all the same classes, and it wasn't hard to spot Jaylee.

            "Jay," Sarin called as she made her way through the crowd of students eager to get out of school. Jaylee was walking to her locker. "Wait."

            Jaylee stopped walking and turned around with a sigh. "What do you want?  To say you didn't do it? Well, then, I believe you. End of story."

            "I didn't do it." Sarin was not angry at her friend, though. In fact, she felt very thankful. "Why did you take the blame?"

            Jaylee shrugged again and turned to walk away, saying, "I did it."

            "No." Sarin's simple statement made Jaylee stop in her tracks in the already-emptied hallway. "No. I don't believe that. You are too good to be caught, and we both know that. It wasn't you."

            With another sigh, Jaylee turned slowly. "You caught me. Yeah, I didn't do it. So?"

            "Why?"

            Jaylee hung her head. "Because I didn't want to see you get into trouble. I know your record; it's as shiny as after my mother cleans the floor. You can literally see your reflection in it."

            "Look here, Sarin," Jaylee continued, pointing at her friend. "I may have yelled at you that day, but that doesn't mean I don't care. Just give me some time. I need to get over Nick. Then I can be your friend again. That is, if you want me to."

            Sarin grinned. "Of course I want you to. What's life without Jay Matthews?"

            Jaylee grinned back. "Boring, quiet and way too dull?"

            Both of them laughed. After they finished, Jaylee grinned. "Give me time, Sarin. I'll be back. Soon. As the old Jay Matthews. Just give me some time."

           "Why don't we spend that time together? They always say that heartbreak is more easily conquered with a friend. Or, at least, in the name of friendship."

            Jaylee snorted with mirth. "Okay. Whatever. Meet you later? At the pizza place? I have a detention I need to get over with."

            "Right. See you there." With that, Jaylee hurried off to her locker and to get to the detention classroom.

            Sarin returned home that day with a smile on her face, her spirits soaring high.

            A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.

            Whoever said that couldn't have been more right.