How not to make friends

I wanted to tell my son a story, even if he wasn’t being too encouraging.

“Will it be a short one?” he demanded.

“Back when I was in middle school, which is quite long ago, I’ll tell you that-”

“Of course, we know that.” I heard the smile in his voice.

“I knew a girl called Sunaina. She had six sisters, and they were all born in consecutive years, their birthdays within a month of each other.

“Really?”

“Yes, really. Now listen. Their names all started with Su, so we named them the SuSu Sisters, and we were very pleased because susu meant urine, at least colloquially.”

“I know what susu means!”

“Their uniforms were crumpled and the youngest one was never seen without snot on her face, they always looked like the school van had cut short their baths.

Once, during moral science class, when the teacher wrote on the board “Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” we couldn’t help ourselves. My badminton partner and best friend at the time-”

“Is this Divya Aunty?”

“No, no, Divya Aunty became my friend in high school. This is someone else, you haven’t met her. Can I continue?”

“She nudged me and we had one of those laughing fits that escaped from our mouths in short bursts. We drew a comic that had the teacher talking to Sunaina about cleanliness, and Sunaina replying, “Sorry, but it’s not on the menu.” We passed it around and enjoyed the popularity and the high-fives for a week.”

“Really ma? And you tell me not to be mean?”

“The sisters were often pulled up for not studying well enough, and they could be seen negotiating with the teachers.

Please ma’am, don’t make me get a signature. I’ll do well in the next test.

And we, with our ironed shirts and skirts with pleats and superior maths skills, we smirked at them in the corridors.

It was strange, but they were fast runners. Every year, when sports day came around, relay teams would try to get to them first.

Run with us, run with us. 

I can’t remember if they enjoyed the temporary attention, or if it made them wary.

One day, we were kicking around a deflated football during lunch break, a group of girls and boys whose noses were shiny from sweat. Sunaina was nearby, showing off with the ball, when she tripped and fell on me. I supported myself on my palm, and tried not to get too much gravel on myself. Later in class, I realized I couldn’t write, and every time I so much as moved my fingers, I felt shooting pains in my right wrist. The teacher sent me to the school nurse, who sent me home. I came back to school after two days, after I was used to moving about with my arm in a sling, and having a boulder of a cast hang from my neck.

Sunaina walked up to me and said, “I heard you had a fracture. I’m sorry.”

I wanted to say I was sorry too.”

“So? Did you?”

“Hmm. No.”


Prompt: Incorporate the Pleiades and the dialogue “Sorry, but it’s not on the menu.”

777 word limit

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8 thoughts on “How not to make friends

  1. I enjoyed this, particularly the way you incorporated the Pleiades. I had to think about that bit, you’d disguised it so cleverly. 😉 I found your reported speech within the main dialogue a little confusing – I lost track a couple of times.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I liked the back and forth of the conversation. I think there may have been a ” in the wrong place here and there, which could lead to the confusion, or maybe the spacing? But I thought the voices were well developed enough that it didn’t really bother me. Not filling in those gaps and just letting the conversation flow really worked for me.

    Liked by 1 person

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