For best friends, moral paths lead in opposite directions

I see my best friend, walking on the other side of the street. Maybe I shouldn’t call her “best friend” anymore; she is more like a stranger to me now — a completely new person.

She is someone I could never get close to now, not that I even want to.

She wasn’t as pretty as I remembered her. She looked like she had gained about 10 pounds. Her formerly light brown hair was darker, emphasizing the pallor of her face. Or maybe I had just pictured her in a better light before.

I hadn’t thought about her for a long time; seeing her on the street, I realized that I hadn’t spared her a thought in almost half a year. I was shocked by this sudden realization, though I wasn’t ashamed.

We had headed down different paths in life. We were close friends from the age of 6, but over the past year, we started drifting apart, and at one point, we just stopped caring.

“Look how many guys are writing to me,” she purred, laying across her purple sheets. It was nearly a year ago, when we were still friends. “Yesterday, this one texted me that I am the prettiest girl in the world. Maybe I will sneak out to his car after mom is asleep.” She answered another of the many messages that popped up on her screen.

I didn’t want to, but I looked at my phone anyway. No new messages. No one to tell me how beautiful I am, no one to tell me I am the prettiest girl in the world.

A big knot of jealousy throbbed in my stomach. But I smiled and started asking about the new guy who was texting her.

Even though I tried, I couldn’t recall any happy memories with her. I know there were some, but the hurt and shame blocked them out, like an eclipse.

Later, her fixation on one guy turned into many guys. She would sneak out with them and creep back into the house at 2 a.m.

“Wait, how many?” I couldn’t believe my ears. She was 17 for Christ’s sake!

“Nine, but you can’t tell anyone.” She was smirking, her eyes twinkling. I felt like throwing up.

I knew that her morals weren’t the highest — she wasn’t an icon of innocence, but her confession of the high number caught me by surprise. Also, her cheating on her boyfriend didn’t help.

Little seeds of doubt started to bloom in my stomach. Should I really be associating with someone like this?

“You know, we could take pictures of you. Some cool ones like in a bra, then the guys might want you, too.” She looked at me with a sparkle in her eye. I could see that she thought was she was really trying to help me. She truly believed that a life lived at the center of attention was the only life worth living.

I knew our friendship was a goner.

As I watched my former best friend walk past me alone, maybe going to meet up with some guy, adding another number to her roster.

But I wasn’t walking alone. I looked to my right at my boyfriend — who I didn’t meet by sending half-naked pictures or compromising my morals — and he squeezed my hand gently, smiling down at me.

I nodded slightly as she passed.

A few steps later, I looked back over my shoulder and caught her looking at me, too.

We turned back around and headed down our own paths.