What a Horrible Friend!

I felt betrayed when Jennifer gave away my perfect gift.
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The bell rang loudly.

It was the sound I'd been waiting for all day—the bell that not only symbolized the end of the school day, but also the start of Christmas break.

I scooped up my books and bolted from class. With Christmas carols ringing in my ears and peppermint lingering on my lips from eating candy canes, I flew down the hallway, bursting with holiday cheer. Little did I know that my giant yuletide bubble was about to burst.

"Hey, Christy!" my friend Stephanie shouted from her locker. "Look what Jennifer gave me for Christmas!"

I ran over, eager to see what Stephanie was so excited about. But when she revealed the gift, my heart broke into a million pieces. There in her hand was a silver swan ring holder—the same ring holder I'd given Jennifer for her birthday. I was certain of it. There couldn't be another like it. I'd looked everywhere for this unique gift and finally found it in a city several miles from the town I lived in.

My cheeks burned hot with anger.

What a horrible friend! I thought. But I tried to keep my cool. I only said, "It's—it's beautiful."

"I know! Isn't Jennifer the best friend ever?" Stephanie said excitedly.

Jennifer sure is something, I thought as I grinded my teeth. But "best friend" is not what I think right now!

I came home and slammed the front door. I threw my book bag into the corner of the room, then collapsed onto the couch and started sobbing.

Mom heard my racket and came running.

"What in the world is wrong?" she asked.

I could barely speak.

"The ring holder," I whispered.

Mom looked confused.

I sat up, wiped my eyes, and took a deep breath.

"Remember that swan ring holder I gave Jennifer for her birthday?" I asked.  "Apparently she gave it to Stephanie for Christmas."

"What?" Mom asked. "Why would she do that?"

That's what I wanted to know. The whole way home from school I'd been trying to make sense of it all. Jennifer knew how hard I had worked to find just the right birthday gift for her. She owned dozens of rings and was always taking them off and losing them. So when I finally found that beautiful swan ring holder, I thought I'd discovered the perfect gift. When Jennifer opened the gift, she acted like she loved it, so I couldn't figure out why she would give it to someone else.

Just then the doorbell rang. My brother answered it. It was Jennifer.

Oh, great! I thought. She was the last person I wanted to see.

"Hey, Christy," Jennifer said as she stepped into the family room. "You left school before I had a chance to give you your Christmas present."

I tried to look down so she couldn't see that I'd been crying, but my puffy eyes and red streaky cheeks gave me away.

"Are you OK?" she asked.

"No, not really," I muttered. "I'm really hurt, actually—by something you did."

She sat down and I told her about how Stephanie had shown me the ring holder. I half-expected her to deny what she'd done—or claim that it was actually a different ring holder. But she didn't.

"Oh, Christy, I'm so sorry you had to find out this way," Jennifer said.

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