The second part of Ditched. Click for Part One. Let me know what you think!
The sounds of bouncing basketballs and shoes squeaking on the court caused Crystal to lift her head. She stared dully at the players as they warmed up. She didn’t really have any interest in the game now, but she couldn’t help hoping that Valerie would come back to sit with her. She glanced around the bleachers and saw Valerie sitting a couple of rows down from her and two rows to the left. She was all by herself, but she had her headphones in and was absorbed with the movie on her phone. As the start of the game neared and the stands started to fill up, Crystal glanced more and more frequently at Valerie.
Everyone stood for the national anthem, and Crystal forced herself to stop looking at Valerie and to turn to the flag. Even so, she couldn’t help wondering if Valerie was looking at her.
More people filed in after the anthem. Crystal soon realized that Valerie probably wasn’t coming back. Many of Valerie’s other friends had found her, and they were chattering away. Crystal stared down at the basketball court, not seeing the game, just thinking.
“Is this seat taken?” a male voice asked from right next to her. She looked up at him vaguely and shook her head. She turned back to the court, still unseeing, although she felt him sit down in the seat that was formerly Valerie’s. She was unconscious of the boy sitting there, watching her as the people around them leapt to their feet, cheering wildly.
“You’re not really paying attention to the game, are you?” the boy asked, breaking into her thoughts. She looked away from the court, and, for the first time, noticed his red hair and sparkling green eyes.
“No,” she admitted, laughing a little nervously. “I guess not.”
He smiled gently. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
Crystal started her story hesitatingly, but she soon found herself pouring out the entire story. After she finished, she studied him. A look of compassion and indignation filled his eyes.
“That stinks,” he told her. “But it doesn’t sound like she was a very good friend. I mean, she didn’t listen to you, and she was pretty quick to ditch you.”
Crystal sighed, brushing her bangs out of her eyes. “Yeah, I know, but I don’t really have any friends. She was one of the few people who actually hung out with me,” she admitted.
“You deserve better,” the boy said, looking at her seriously.
Crystal gawked at him, lost for words. “Wh-what?” she finally stammered.
He gave her an awkward smile. “I don’t know you very well, but I still think you deserve better friends than Valerie. You’re God’s special child.”
She gave him an odd look. “You’re a Christian?”
He laughed. “Yes, I am. Don’t look at me like that.”
Crystal frowned. “You really believe all that Bible stuff?”
“Yes,” he told her seriously. “I believe every word of it.”
She looked at him curiously. “You’re really passionate about it, aren’t you?” she asked.
He nodded. “It’s my dream to become a youth pastor, if God wills.”
Crystal looked down at her hands shyly. “Do you think that you could tell me more about all this?”
The smile that nearly split his face made her heart leap. “Of course.”
“Thanks, uh,” Crystal hesitated.
“Zachary,” he finished, still smiling warmly at her. “You can call me Zach.”
Crystal smiled. “Nice to meet you, Zach.”
“You, too, Crystal.”
Weeks passed. Crystal hung out with Zach a lot, and even started going to his church with him, not just on Sundays, but on Wednesday nights, too. They didn’t go to the same school, but they often met up at games and hung out on the weekends. Crystal often saw Valerie in the halls at school, but her old friend completely ignored her.
Crystal slammed her locker shut at school one Wednesday and glanced over at Valerie’s locker. Zach had suggested that she invite Valerie to church with them that night, but she was nervous. She took a deep breath and headed over to her old friend’s locker.
Valerie was rummaging in her locker and didn’t see Crystal approach. Crystal waited awkwardly next to Valerie’s locker. Finally, she cleared her throat.
Valerie pulled her head out of her locker and looked at Crystal. When she saw who it was, she turned to go back to her task. Crystal grabbed her friend’s arm before she could start ignoring her again. “Please, Val,” she begged.
Valerie turned to her, her eyes flashing. “Forget it. We can’t be friends anymore.”
“Hear me out,” Crystal began, speaking fast so that Valerie would hear everything she had to say. “I want to say that I’m sorry. I should’ve listened to you. I hope you’ll forgive me.”
Valerie rolled her eyes. “Is that all?” she demanded, attempting to extract her arm from Crystal’s grip.
“No,” Crystal told her. She hesitated. “I was wondering if you want to come with me to church tonight.”
Valerie snorted. “No.”
“Why not?” Crystal asked.
“Why not?” Valerie repeated, sneering. “Because church is stupid, all that Jesus stuff is stupid, and you’re stupid.” She yanked her arm out of Crystal’s grasp and stomped away.
Crystal choked back tears as she turned back to her locker and gathered her books in her arms. As she went to class, she silently prayed, asking God to change Valerie’s heart. And she made a decision. She wouldn’t stop asking.