Writer’s Festival Experience: Paula Mclain

By Ivy Wang

In the writer’s festival, I was in Flash Fiction with Paula McLain. In our section we read a story about the list of men a woman had in her life so one of our prompts was to write about a list of things such as friends we had, pets we had, places we’ve been, etc. I decided to write about a girl and the significant friendships she had lost.

When you lose friends, it can feel like your guts are being ripped out or that you’ve been saved from drowning. Losing contact with people is one thing,losing your best friend is another. The person your life revolved around suddenly or slowly disappears.

The first one was Georgia. She had curly blonde hair, a contagious laugh, and an authentic British accent. We were in the same class and and our birthdays were only a day apart. It was like it was meant to be; I spent a good portion of my 1st grade school year vying to be her best friend. When we finally became friends, we did everything together. We had sleepovers, went to parks, and anything else our parents would let us do together.

But when the school year ended I went to Europe and when 2nd grade came around, I was still gone. When I got back, I was teeming with excitement at the fact that I was in the same class as my bestest friend Georgia. In January, halfway through the school year, I showed up in Mrs. Lewis’ 2nd grade classes. When I walked into the room I immediately realized one thing. My so-called best friend had found a new best friend while I was off on the other side of the world.

I was devastated and angry. I ranted about my dilemma to anyone who would listen. My old friends, my new friends, anyone who would listen to a 7 year year old with relationship problems. Eventually, I understood. It was a 1st grade friendship and I was gone for so long, it made sense that Georgia had moved on.

The next one was Samantha. She had thick brown hair, was a whole head taller than me and even though she was the older one, I felt like the more mature one. Samantha and I played games, wrote stories together, and had a secret language. Being friends with Samantha was light and bright. We were best friends for years. When 5th grade came along, Samantha joined choir and I didn’t. It was the one thing that we didn’t do together. On the days that she had lunch rehearsal for choir, I spent time with my other friends.

Then one day Samantha told me that I couldn’t hang out with my other friends anymore. If I spent so much time with them how was I still her best friend? I ended up spending more and more time with other people and less and less time with her. I felt like I was growing up and apart from her. The games we played seemed more and more stupid, the secret language we had more and more childish. After the school year ended, I didn’t contact her. The following school year, we were no longer friends.

I didn’t mourn the loss of my friendship with Samantha like I did my friendship with Georgia. I was the one who pulled away.  

Then there was Katrine. Katrine was never my best friend. I was friends with her for a long long time. Through both Georgia and Samantha she remained my friend. Although we were friends, we weren’t extremely close until middle school. Katrine and I were not your typical set of friends. We liked to compete with each other and mess with each other once in awhile. But all the competition and the possibly degrading comments didn’t matter because outside of school, we were going through the same thing, and that made us sisters at heart.

It helped that I never had classes with Katrine. Once we started having classes together and started spending more time together, it went downhill. There were more snarky comments and more competitions. Once in gym class, Katrine said to me, “Rose, I love that we have a toxic relationship.” This made a lot of warning signs go off. But this was Katrine and we were friends for so long so I didn’t do anything. After I talked with my other friends, I decided things needed to change. So slowly I pulled away from Katrine. Eventually, she had left my lunch table and we rarely talked.