Aleena was sitting on her wooden twin sized bed, staring intensely at the circular bowl of colorful beads in front of her.
She was about to make the most important decision of her whole life.
“Can you hurry up already?!” Her bratty little sister, Bratt, said. (I wonder how she got her name…)
“Be quiet!” Aleena replied sternly. “This is a really important decision. This invention could be a burden to us, we need to be wise.”
Bratt rolled her hazel eyes. “Whatever. Just hurry up so I can take the pink one.”
Aleena sighed, then swiftly grabbed the emerald green bead. Perhaps it would give her the ability to turn seeds to crops. Boring, but at that moment it was better to play safe.
“Really?” Bratt raised an eyebrow. “Do you even know what that does?”
“Of course not. Don’t give me that look, it’s not like you know either.”
Aleena was about to get up to leave when her little sister spoke again. “Actually, I do.”
Aleena turned back around to face her, curious.
“What, but how do you know?”
“I heard the town council talking about it. I only heard some colors though. I’m pretty sure the emerald green one allows you to grow plants faster.” She scratched her head. “Or was that the mint one?”
Aleena shrugged. “At least I didn’t get a bad one. I’m going down for breakfast.”
Aleena popped her air pods back on and shut the door behind her.
“WAIT!” Bratt forgot to tell her one little detail. “THE GREEN ONE ACTUALLY-
But Aleena had already left.
Bratt sighed. Just great.
“Hey Mom.” Aleena said, holding up the emerald bead. “I chose the emerald one. Bratt said it makes plants grow faster, but what does she know?”
Aleena’s mom was shaking the salt on the eggs then turned the oven off.
“Be careful today, okay?” Mrs. Thompson warned. “When I was your age, I chose a random one and got stuck with seeing people lie. It made me get trust issues and lose friends.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Aleena said, staring at the bead. “Well, at least your children can’t lie to you now.”
Mrs. Thompson chuckled. “Well, that’s definitely a bonus. Have a great day at school.” She turned the oven back on.
Aleena was about to leave when Bratt ran like a cheetah all the way downstairs, out of breath. “DO-NOT-LEAVE.”
“Huh?” Aleena said, turning back around confused. “What do you want?”
“What’s going on honey?” Mrs. Thompson asked.
“Aleena.” Bratt turned to her. “Your emerald bead. When you turn a certain age, you’ll forget the one you love most.”
“Hey, are you okay?” Vivian asked, and plopped down right next to Aleena in art class.
Aleena slumped down on her blue beanbag. “Yeah. I’m fine. Just feeling a little drowsy today.”
Vivian nodded. “I get that. Did you pick a bead yet?”
Aleena took out the green bead from her pocket and held it up.
Vivian squinted her eyes at the bead. “You picked emerald?”
“Yep. I’m pretty sure that was the worst choice ever.”
“Why do you think that?”
Just then the bell rang, and Aleena winced from the noise. “Dunno. My sister told me a few things.”
Aleena got up from her beanbag and tucked her sketches of famous artists in her backpack.
Vivian raised an eyebrow. “And you seriously believe her? Wasn’t she the one that copied your project for the middle school science fair? C’mon Lena, it’s high school.”
“Maybe you’re right.” Aleena sighed. “Anyway, I gotta go. See you at lunch.”
Aleena grabbed her art supplies and walked out the door, heading to her favorite place in the world, the gymnasium.
“Hey guys!” She called to her teammates once she entered.
Aleena was on the school cheer team and they had a big game coming up. Cheer was Aleena’s biggest priority. Practice was the highlight of her day.
As soon as Victoria saw Aleena, she squealed and came running towards her, smacking her gum.
“How’s my favorite BFF doing today?” Victoria said, a hot pink bead bracelet on her wrist. “OMG, you got the emerald green bead? *smack* I wanted that one, but looks like you took it.” She winked.
Aleena sighed for about the tenth time that day. “I wish I could give it to you, but I’m not sure you want it anyway. It’s practically a burden.”
Victoria was her 7th best friend but then something happened between them that broke them apart. Victoria’s been acting like Aleena’s BFF since ninth grade which was very odd. Aleena didn’t say anything about it though, she didn’t want to be rude.
Then Elina came over to them, shaking her pom poms. “Ooooh you got the green one? That’s literally the best one. Good pick girl!”
Aleena was confused. How could her bead be the best one? It would make her lose the one she loved most. How’s that awesome?
“What?” Aleena said. “How?”
“Don’t you know?” Elina winked and giggled at Victoria. “It gives you magical powers. When you turn an age, you’ll have any power you want.”
That was NOT what her sister had told her. Actually, it was the complete opposite. Elina made it sound like a dream, but then why had Bratt told her she would forget the one she loved most?
On the bus ride back home, Aleena sat by Coral, her actual BFF.
“I’m just so confused.” She said, “I don’t know if my sister’s telling the truth, or Victoria.”
Coral stared at her. “Uhm, helloooo! Are we talking about the same Victoria? The one who publicly dumped you? How could you believe her over your sister?”
“I know, I know.” Aleena said. “I just don’t know why Victoria would lie. She’s been acting like my soulmate BFF since 2 years ago. Why would she ruin my life now?”
“I’m not sure about that.” Coral said. “But I do know your sister. She may be much, but I know she would never lie like that to you. After all, you have the same bloodline.”
Aleena stuck her hand out the bus window. “I guess. I do care about her, but I still don’t know who to believe.”
Coral nodded and began rummaging through her backpack.
“What are you looking for?” Aleena asked, curious.
Coral took out a huge rectangular box with a pink bow. “It’s your birthday tomorrow! This is your present since I won’t be able to come.”
Aleena’s mouth dropped open. “WHAT! You’re not coming to my birthday? Why?”
Coral’s eyes began to water. “I-I’m sorry. It’s just that…” She gulped down her water. “It’s my gram’s funeral tomorrow, and I have to go.”
Aleena softened. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t know. That must be painful.”
“Yes, it very much is.” Coral looked towards Aleena. “Can I tell you something?”
“Please make the right choice. It’s very difficult losing a loved one. I would know.”
“Hey mom! Do you have the birthday cake?” Aleena asked her mom on the day of her eighteenth birthday party.
“Of course, dear.” Mrs. Thompson placed the perfectly iced vanilla cake on their old wooden table. They’d used the table for years, it’d been passed on for generations.
Then the doorbell rang.
Aleena ran toward their front door and swung open the door. “Hey Vivi- oh, Victoria!”
Victoria flashed a smile. “Hey bestie! Am I first?”
“Actually, you are.” Aleena said, confused. “You’re really early. Like, 2 hours early. I thought you were Vivi, we were supposed to get ice cream before my party.”
“Well,” Victoria walked right into the house like she owned it and placed down the humongous present in the present corner. “Looks like I’ll be joining you two! Wouldn’t that be so fun?” She clapped her hands in delight.
“Uhm, well- yeah I suppose so.”
“C’mon! Let’s go to your room!” Victoria took her by the arm and dragged her upstairs and gasped.
“O.M.G!” Victoria squealed. “Your room had the biggest glow up ever! I LOVE the loft bed so much!”
Victoria started touching everything she saw interesting in her bedroom and when she was done with her little mini tour, she plopped down on Aleena’s bed and sighed.
Victoria must’ve felt Aleena’s awkwardness because she gestured her to sit down.
“So,” Victoria breathed in. “Why are you so tense around me?”
“Oh- I’m sorry. I just- I don’t know.” Aleena mumbled.
Victoria smirked. “See, that’s exactly what I mean.” Her smile faded. “But seriously, what’s going on?”
Aleena took a big breath. “I guess it was just so unexpected. We had a huge fight and then at the beginning of high school you started acting like my BFF. It was all so awkward and weird I guess it just shocked me. I’m sorry.”
Victoria fiddled with her bead. “I’m sorry if that’s what you felt. Actually, I didn’t know that even happened.”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
Then Victoria started explaining.
“In middle school, after our ‘fight’ that was actually when I could choose my bead. I was kind of stupid back then so I grabbed a random one.” She looked up at the ceiling. “It was the worst mistake of my life. That’s why making the right decision is so important. Because I- I lost all my memories. But that made me realize, I needed that. I needed a fresh start and I didn’t know we even had a fight. I’m so sorry.”
Then Victoria burst into tears.
Just then Aleena realized how important her choice of the bead was. She felt so stupid, how could she choose emerald? Now she was going to lose her loved one. She even knew who she was going to lose.
Aleena wrapped Victoria in a hug and Victoria hugged her back.
“Let’s go get some ice cream.”
“Happy birthday dear Aleena, happy birthday to you!”
Aleena closed her eyes and was about to make a wish when she saw her sister in a polka dotted dress looking at her, a sad expression on her face.
Aleena didn’t know why but she felt sad at that moment, as if her mind knew something she didn’t.
Aleena closed her eyes again and made a wish. A very important wish.
Then she blew out the candles. All 18 of them.
Everyone clapped and cheered and applauded. Aleena felt happy, but there was a sad part of her inside.
Then she saw a girl.
A girl she didn’t think she invited. A girl with a polka dotted dress on, that was staring at her, a hopeful expression on her face.
But Aleena didn’t know her.
“Who are you?”