Christine invited her friends over some days after Christmas. She was a sixteen years old girl with brown skin and long black frizzy hair. She wanted to spend those last days of the year with the girls she had so much fun at school. They were five girls, but not all of them were in her class.
Mari was her classmate since middle school, but they only started talking after high school. She was a shy Asian girl with long and shiny black hair. She was almost always wearing glasses. At that moment, she had a book in front of her while sitting in the corner of the room. But her eyes were mostly looking at her friends instead of reading.
“For Christmas, daddy baked a new cake. Someday I’ll bring a piece so you can taste it,” a blonde girl said to another girl with short hair sitting beside her on the couch.
The blond girl’s name was Lillian. She was the daughter of a baker. Probably because of that, she was a little overweight when compared to her friends. She didn’t mind, saying that she was still desired and that’s what mattered. She had rosy skin and long wavy blonde hair. She always had a smile on her face. Since Christine and she were neighbor, they were also childhood friends.
The girl she was talking to, who was giving Lillian a gentle and silent smile, was Teresa. Tall, slim, short black hair and olive skin. One day she had approached Christine and Lillian suddenly and asked to become their friends. Christine didn’t know much about her besides the fact that she was kind and always trying to help.
Sitting beside Christine was a girl playing with her black and lustrous hair. Her name was Harriet. The first time Christine saw her, she was marveled. Harriet had light brown skin and green eyes. Together with her alluring body, her exotic appearance caught everyone’s attention. Her friends wondered if she hated the attention, giving her always unfriendly behavior. Even if she accepted Christine’s invitation, she rarely interacted with the other girls. In Christine’s opinions, she was a girl hard to read, but sometimes there seemed to have something lonely about her.
The last girl, lying on the bed behind Christine, was a redheaded girl who was playing with her smartphone. Her name was Meg. She was tall and her long hair was beautiful by how much it shined in the light. She had light white skin. Christine still didn’t know why Meg approached them. Her personality was completely different and she was in another class, together with Mari, even though the two of them didn’t talk much with each other. Still, Christine thought she was a fun girl when she wasn’t surrounded by boys.
While painting her nails, with her legs crossed on the bed, Christine took a look at the curious group she formed in her bedroom. They were all different and against all odds, they all became her friends. She was the center of everything, but they all get along well. Even if some of them were a little unsociable.
She felt blessed by it. Having five friends she knew she could count on wasn’t easy.
“Did you call us so you could paint your nails?” Meg asked, keeping her phone aside and leaning her voluptuous body against Christine.
“Sorry, sorry. I’m almost done,” Christine said, applying the last layer of red nail polish. She was proud of her long nails and treating them was always relaxing.
“New year is almost here,” Teresa said since Lillian had stopped talking to look at Christine. “Soon we’ll have to go back to school.”
“Yeah, it would be nice doing something together before that,” Lillian said. She smiled at Mari who had her eyes on her friends now, although the book was opened in front of her. “Right?”
“R-Right,” she stammered and lowered her eyes. “A-actually, my parents won’t be home for New Year…”
“They’ll leave you alone?” Teresa asked.
“T-They think Christmas is a time to spend with family. But for New Year they’re planning a trip. I didn’t want to go with them…”
Mari lowered her eyes.
“You can spend it here with us,” Christine said with a smile. “Mom said you were a sweet girl, so I’m sure she would be happy with it.”
“I,” Mari raised her eyes but seemed hesitant. “I don’t want to intrude…”
“You won’t, you won’t. We never do anything special. You’ll come too, right, Lillian?”
“Sorry,” Lillian said, clapping her hands and giving Christine a smile. “I have other plans this year.”
“You traitor,” Christine said and turned the girl who was still hugging her. “What about you, Meg?”
“Sorry, love. I have a date.”
“Of course you do,” she turned to Teresa. “And you?”
“Can’t come,” she said it with a smile. “I’ll send you a message, though.”
Last, Christine turned to Harriet, but before she could open her mouth, the other girl let out a dry “No”. Christine sighed.
“As you can see, Mari, you’re my only hope. No one else cares if I spend the end of the year by my miserable self. You’ll come, right?”
“M-Maybe,” Mari said, turning her eyes to the side.
“Please come, ok?” Christine said with a smile. Then she clapped her hands. “I have an idea. How about we tell our New Year’s resolutions? You all have one, of course. Right?”
“Eh? No way,” Meg said with a laugh.
“Yeah, I don’t feel like telling everyone something like that either,” Lilian agreed.
“Come one, we’re with friends here. Wait, I have an idea,” Christine took her notebook and ripped a page out of it. “How about each one of us writes it in a piece of paper. We’ll mix them all and read them aloud. No one will know who wrote which.”
“Won’t we know by the calligraphy?” Teresa asked.
“Make it different somehow? I’ll be the only one reading it, so there’s no problem.”
“Yeah, I believe you’re not smart enough to find us out like that,” Meg said, making Christine pout. “But sure, I’m okay with it. That looks fun.”
“Fine by me, too,” Teresa said.
“Well, if it’s Christine reading it, I can trust it,” Lilian said.
“You mean you don’t trust us?” Meg provoked Lilian, but before the girl could answer, Harriet interrupted them.
“Won’t you know who is who by elimination? Like, since we know each other for some time, we know things each one want.”
“Maybe for some wish, but that’ll only happen if we try to guess who wrote it,” Christine said and raised her hand. “So we’re forbidden from doing it. We can’t probe each other about what we wished. I’ll just read it and we let it go.”
Everyone nodded and Harriet just let out an “ok, then”.
“You okay with that?” Christine asked Mari, who just nodded.
So Christine cut the page in six parts of equal size. She took six pens from a pot on her nightstand and gave a pen and a paper to each friend, leaving one for herself. She looked at Meg still above her shoulder.
“You get out. No peeking,” Christine said. Meg stuck out her tongue and sat on the opposite side of the bed.
Christine knew exactly what she would write, but everyone else took their time. Lillian had a weird smile on her face while writing it. Mari was taking some time thinking. Teresa seemed really worried about hiding her paper. Harriet was scratching something. Meg seemed like she was having problems with her pen, but when Christine asked if she wanted another, she just shrugged it off.
After two minutes, everyone had written it already and folded their piece of paper. Christine passed the now empty pot where the pens were to each of her friends. When all six pieces of paper were inside, Christine covered its top with her hand and shook it, mixing them.
“Ok, now is the time,” she said, making a mysterious smile and putting her hand inside the pot.
She examined each of her friend’s expressions while doing it. Lilian and Meg looked curious. Teresa and Harriet seemed like they were giving low importance to it, and Mari had her eyes glued on the book.
“So here is the first one,” she said, taking the paper and opening it. “It says, well, that’s boring. ‘I want to lose weight’”.
“That one is probably Lilian, right?” Meg said, throwing a smile at the blonde girl.
“Hey, that’s rude!” Lilian replied. “And I don’t…”
“Hey, hey, hey,” Christiane stopped them. “Not guessing, remember? That’s not fair.”
The two girls stopped talking and Christine drew another piece of paper.
“This one says, huh, ‘I wanna debut as a model’”
“Oh, this one is interesting,” Meg said, trying to look at the piece of paper, which Christine clenched in her hand.
“Stop that, Meg, seriously.”
“Hey, I can’t know who it is anyway. Unless you know.”
“Of course I don’t,” she started drawing another paper. “Besides, wanting to be a model isn’t that uncommon, right?”
“It is for this group,” Meg said.
“Unless it’s you,” Christine said with a smile and unfolded the next paper. “Let’s see. ‘I want to’,” she paused. “ok, is this a joke?”
“What is it?” Teresa asked and Mari raised her eyes. Harriet was looking with the side of her eyes, showing low interest.
“‘I want to marry my boyfriend’. No, really, one of us has a boyfriend?”
“Guess we’ll never know. We can’t probe,” Meg said, shrugging.
“And marrying? This year? We’re all teenagers here, please,” Lilian said.
“Maybe someone just wants to make everyone else jealous?” Harriet said. She had her chin on her hands.
“Ah, yeah. It doesn’t matter,” Christine said, putting the paper aside. “I said not guessing, so we’ll stop here. But I swear if I find an ‘I want a baby’ here, the game is over,” she put the hand inside, mixing the three last pieces of paper.
“Still, it’s easy to imagine the ones here most likely to have a boyfriend,” Teresa said with a smile and threw a look at Meg and Harriet’s way.
“No, seriously, Teresa, stop,” Christine said, taking another paper. When she opened it and read what was on it, she froze. “I-I’m not sure I should read this one.”
“No, you should,” Meg said. “It would be unfair with the ones you already read.”
“But this is too personal.”
“All the others also were!” Lilian said, standing up.
“Besides, we all agreed to share these, right?” Harriet said. “If we didn’t want anyone hearing it, we wouldn’t write it.”
“Right, right,” Christine looked at the paper again. “‘I want a girlfriend’.”
Everyone became silent. For a moment, everyone looked straight at Christine, as if afraid to turn their eyes at anyone else.
“What?” Meg was the first to ask.
“It’s what it says here,” Christine said, folding the paper. “I said it was personal.”
“Like, a girlfriend? As in a girlfriend?”
“Yes, Meg, a girlfriend.”
“Who is she?”
“No, seriously, I wanna know who wrote it.”
Christine gave Meg a serious and cold stare, making the girl calm down on the bed.
“N-No reason. Forget it.”
Letting out a sigh, Christine put the paper aside and her hand in the pot again. Her heart was beating fast with the surprise and she actually became afraid of those two last piece of paper. Or at least one of them. She hadn’t read her own paper yet.
She got the next paper, recognizing her own handwriting in it.
“‘I want to get a job’.”
“Well, that’s boring,” Meg said.
“Yes, right, the diet one was so exciting,” Christine answered, looking at the last piece of paper.
“Only one left,” Lilian said. “I wonder if this one is bombastic, too.”
“If it’s something like ‘I want a pet’, that’ll be too anti-climatic,” Teresa said.
Christine unfolded the paper and read it to herself. She folded it again and looked to the interior of the now empty pot. She wished she never had given that idea.
“Ok, how about we leave it be?”
“No, no, no,” Meg said, trying to get the paper from her friend’s hands. Christine moved her hand away. “You’ll read this one now. If you didn’t want it, you should’ve lied!”
“Sure, sure,” Christine pushed Meg away and unfolded the paper again. “It’s not even a surprise, though. More like a deja vu. It says ‘I want to confess to the girl I love’.”
Another silence. None of the girls looked at each other. Harriet was the first one to say something.
“Does it say specifically ‘girl’?”
“Yeah, it does. Guess whoever wrote it wanted to make this part clear.”
“Is that a joke?” Meg asked. “I mean, two of us have interest in girls? If you’re all lying, I won’t forgive you, you know! I was honest with mine!”
“We don’t know, Meg,” Christine said, putting all the pieces of paper back in the pot. “But we said we wouldn’t try to guess, right? Let it go.”
“No, that’s different. I didn’t expect something like this. I want to know.”
“Why are you so insistent about it?” Mari said with a clear voice. She rarely raised her voice, so everyone looked at her, surprised. “Did you write those and you’re trying to mask it now?”
“What? No, I didn’t!”
“So why are you having such a strong reaction?”
“Well, that’s natural, right? We just…”
“Meg!” Christine said, interrupting their discussion. “And Mari, too. Be careful and think a little about your words now. I don’t know if these two pieces of paper are true. There’s a high chance that at least one of them is. We have no reason to lie unless we’re trying to make a joke, and I know none of us is the type who would do something like that. So, for all we know, these are all true. Is that a problem?”
Christine crossed her eyes through the room. Mari was avoiding eye contact. Meg sat in silence in the bed. Harriet was trying to look away as if she had nothing to do with it. Lilian was looking at Christine with a faint smile and Teresa was just the same, unperturbed.
“If these are true,” Christine continued. “Maybe who wrote it wanted to see our reaction. So, what message you want to send them? If one of us really like other girls romantically or sexually, would you have a problem with it?”
“N-No,” Mari said with a low voice.
“You know I don’t,” Lilian said.
“I don’t care,” Harriet said.
“Not at all,” Teresa said.
“I don’t have any problem with them liking girls,” Meg said. “But I still wanted them to come out.”
“Why is that?” Christine asked.
“Because we’re all friends, right? I don’t like the idea of a friend not trusting me with something that important. And, you know,” she started playing with her fingers, looking shy, which she never did before. “I read somewhere that gay people can be lonely and, if my friend is having a problem, I don’t want them…”
Christine smiled and patted Meg’s head.
“Deep inside, you’re a good girl, Meg.”
“Stop that!” Meg said, slapping Christine’s hand away. “Ok, ok. I won’t touch the subject anymore. And whoever you two are, even if you’re me,” and she threw a look at Mari while saying that. “I just want you to know that I support you. Find a girlfriend. Be happy. That’s all.”
Christine mocked Meg by clapping her hands, which made Meg pushed her away.
“B-But you know,” Mari said, making everyone turn to her. “Just one last thing. That last paper said she was in love with another girl. Could it be one of us?”
Everyone stopped talking. Teresa was the one who broke the silence.
“Maybe she’s in love with the girl who wants a girlfriend?”
“Oh, that would be too perfect and romantic!” Lilian said.
But Christine didn’t pay attention as the conversation went on. Suddenly, something had clicked to her. She suddenly realized she knew who those two girls were.