Hehe. Another English paper. I had so much trouble cutting it down to 1.5 pages. Anyway, this assignment was to write about a time when you lost your innocence. I tried another style for this story. I'msorry for the shortness, but like I said, it had to be 1.5 pages maximum.

No More
By Nodjmet

I bound up to the usual group of friends gathered in Caro's living room. "When are we going?"

"Once Raven gets here," Juniper replies easily. We never call Juniper or Raven by their real names. After all, it's confusing talking to one of the Laurens when the other is in the room. We each have our own nicknames now.

Finally, Raven arrives and we cluster into Caro's minivan to get driven to the Burlington mall. It's our usual routine, wander around, visit Suncoast, pop into random shops, eat a little, go back to Suncoast, wander more, go back to Suncoast, meander to Waldenbooks, return to Suncoast where we all splurge, then wait outside to be picked up, only to find we were waiting at the wrong entrance.

Once gathered in the safety of Caro's room, her mother leaves to go shopping and Raven pulls out the camcorder she stored under Caro's bed before we had left. Laughing, we record silly reenactments of video games, the kind when one is pitted against an opponent. Marguerite and Juniper are the first up, standing in ridiculous poses and moving the way the characters do while Caro pretends to be the announcer.

Marguerite wins. The camcorder is handed over to Caro as Raven steps up. Marguerite wins again. Next, Raven rises up from her place at the foot of the bed, stage whispering, "Rising from the deeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!"

Juniper mimics her, "Rising from the dead as weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeell!"

It becomes an inside joke I know we'll remember for years to come. Marguerite cowers and defeats the both of them… again. "Now who will challenge me?" she smirks. "Lizzie!" She cries and attempts to drag me up from the bed. Caro and Celstia, the quietest one in the group with me, laugh at my predicament as I blush and refuse.

"Go on, Lizzie!" They both giggle. Nobody calls me by my nickname. Not the one I chose, but I don't mind.

Marguerite gives up and seats herself at the corner of the futon. Giggling mischievously, I shove her onto the floor a foot below. She drags me with her and we land in a heap, giggling like most girls do after a large dose of sugar.

The time passes quickly and soon only Raven, Caro, and I are remaining in the now quiet room. They glance at each other seriously, no shadow of the two hours of joy that have just passed. "Lizzie, do you know?" Raven asks me suddenly.

"Know what?" I am apprehensive, though I don't know it at the time.

They shake their heads sadly, as if already regretting telling me their secret. "Oh, Lizzie, Lizzie," Raven coos. This is a shock. Raven never coos. "Poor, innocent Lizzie."

"What?" She is right.

"I don't think I can stand Marguerite anymore," she announces. "She's really annoying me."

I remain silent. Never before have I witnessed a friend bad-talking another friend. I don't know how to respond. I listen as she pours out her feelings to me, Caro occasionally adding something, her anger, her annoyance, her jealousy. She gives me reasons too. They made sense at the time… maybe not now, but at that time, they mattered. They were enough to begin a chain reaction of crushing my almost perfect world. For the next six months, she tells me more. More that I care not to repeat here. Our group falls apart; we become vulnerable, tender, scared.

Everybody feels ripped away from each other, but at least there are a few threads still… except for Raven. She hacks away at those threads binding her to us and she floats away, alone in a vast ocean of cruelty and hate. We grasp at each other, but at the same time refuse to communicate. Caro inflicts pain upon herself. Juniper meets with someone eight years older than her. Marguerite wears a mask of happiness and tears herself up inside. Celstia retreats away, barely coming in contact with us. Me? I huddle in the corner, crowded by unfamiliar shadows disguised as my happy friends and watch helplessly as they destroy themselves. I'm destroying myself as well. I just don't know it yet. I'm also wearing a mask. I just can't feel it.

Slowly, but surely, we pull ourselves together. Another two even join us, attaching themselves to the frayed ropes Raven severed. It's almost the same… except for one major difference.

Marguerite is no longer Marguerite, nor is Juniper, Juniper. Celstia is cast away, as well as Caro. As for me, whom they never called the name I chose, I am no longer called Lizzie. It's too ignorant. Too innocent. Too childish.

Liz is older. Liz is experienced. Liz is more observant, serious, and cautious. Liz behaves the way Lizzie always feared. Liz has deep, but carefully hidden, scars that Lizzie would cower at.

Liz is stronger.