• “Tag you're it!” Dani cried, tapping her friend on the shoulder. “Ice, I got you!”
    “Aw,” Alice laughed, and spun around, trying to tag her friend back. Alice ran and ran, but she just couldn't catch up.
    Nine years later, both girls age14, the same philosophy seemed to hold true. Alice still lagged behind, and it looked to her that she would never best her friend. But that was okay with her, because they were friends.
    But all that changed in 10th grade.

    Dani won't look at me, and when she does she sticks up her nose... Did I do something wrong? Alice pondered her friend's change from down to earth to preppy, popular prissy. Dani no longer called Alice, Ice, nor did she affectionately tackle her in a hug. Alice sat in the back seat of the bus, staring down at her notebook through her glasses. She wished that she could get contacts, much less hassle, but that would be too expensive. Alice sighed, mouthing a couple bad words to her homework before shoving it into her bag. She had a feeling that today wasn't going to be pleasant.
    Almost on cue, the bus stopped, and Dani and her posse came on, giggling like drugged hyenas. Maybe it was true- the drugged part, at least. A snide voice stopped laughing, instead talking, annoyingly high. The girl said, “Who's that girl?” She pointed to Alice, who then buried her face in her long brown hair. She heard Dani laugh, “That's Alice, she's nobody.”
    Pain, hot and blistering, stabbed and twisted inside Alice, as the words dug deeper. What ever happened to best friends for life? Silent tears streaked her face, but her hair masked her, and hide her shame.
    She was vaguely aware of the new whispering, until the snickers started again. Then silence. Alice was almost glad for the quiet, that way no one would bother her- except for a paper airplane, that had somehow landed on top of her head. Not too surprised, she sat up and looked at the craft. “ALICE” it screamed at her. Alice opened it, and with rising despair, she read each and every word.
    'Get your nose out of the book, loser. You're a waste of space. No one likes you, stupid! Just go die or something... Try a noose, some pills, a gun, knife, whatever you need. We'll be happy to supply it' Underneath there were signatures. She counted them. Once. Twice. There was no mistaking it.
    This airplane was a petition for her to commit suicide. More tears stung her eyes as the bus pulled into the school. She wanted to go home already.
    Alice slipped out during the mayhem of the bus in record time, and was almost across the parking lot when she noticed something. That Dani and her crew were blocking the doorway to the school. Alice hung her head and walked faster, hoping to squeeze through. But it didn't work, and the wall of girls barred her entry. She sighed, “Please?”
    “Not a chance, loser.” One of the girls piped up, Fauna, and grabbed Alice's arm. Jerking the sleeve upwards, the ugly red marks were exposed. Below the newer ones, there were paler lines; it was like a calender, the paler the scars, the older they were.
    “I didn't know you were emo,” Fauna laughed.
    Dani sneered, “So, loser, got tired of homework? Decided to rip into your arms?”
    Alice started to cry, “Dani, why-”
    “My name's not Dani. It's Danielle. Dani is a little girl's name. Danielle means God is my judge. You know who your judge is? Us. And we find you guilty of being a waste of space, a loser, and tons of other crap we'd rather not get into right now.”
    Alice, on the verge of tears, barreled her way through the girls, sending Dani- no, Danielle- flat on her bottom. In homeroom, Alice looked like a wreck. Her eyes were red and puffy, her nose was too, and tears threatened to spill over the brim of her glassy eyes.
    Alice, during pm homeroom, she asked her teacher if she could ask him something.
    “Of course!” Mr. Manterrey said, giving Alice his undivided attention.
    Alice gulped, and her words rushed into each other. “Mr. Manterrey, Danielle's picking on me, as well as a lot of her friends and I- I don't know what to do!”
    “Why not try and make friends with her? Try and find something that you all have in common.”
    That was all. The whole year's full of torture, just expected to be banished by a common interest? Alice closed her eyes. She really was alone.
    “Danielle!” Fauna grabbed Danielle from behind, shoving a piece of paper into her face. “Look!”
    Danielle held her head back, and tried to read the words that were two inches from her nose. 'Party at Jake's house! You're invited! Bring a friend!'
    “Guess who I'm taking?”
    “Gee, I don't know,” Danielle's voice was only slightly sarcastic.
    “You,” Fauna declared.
    Danielle laughed, “Like I didn't already know.”
    Alice stood in the doorway watching, invisible, but Fauna noticed her.
    “Best friend telepathic powers, right?” She squeezed Danielle's shoulders in a sideways hug.
    Alice walked away, looking just as shaken as a rat in a cardboard box. And just as small.
    So she waited to get on the bus. She waited to get in. And waited. And waited. Finally, she found a seat, having walked all the way to the back.
    “Mom?” Alice sat in the half empty seat, and move the bags so they kept people from seeing her. Or from her seeing them, if she was being brutally honest with herself.
    “Is something wrong?” Her mom's voice was so comforting.
    Yes. “No. I just wanted to call you to say I love you.”
    “I love you too, honey,” Alice's mother was about to hang up.
    Alice blurted out, “I really, really do, mom. I never meant it when I said I hated you.”
    “Now what is this about?”
    “Nothing. I just don't like feeling so guilty.”
    “Hon, that was a couple years ago.”
    “I know.”
    “Well,” there was a long pause on the other end. “I love you too. 'Bye.”
    Alice dialed again, this time to her father.
    “Dad, it's me, Alice.”
    “Hey, you're out of school for today?”
    “Yep,” Alice nodded, but she knew that her dad couldn't see.
    “I'd love to have you over again, I know it's hard with the divorce and all, but-”
    “Dad, I want you to know that I love you. No matter what,” the words fit perfectly into the conversation, but she meant something different.
    “I love you too, baby.” His voice was thick, he really missed her.
    “I- I'm sorry.”
    “No need to apologize.”
    Oh, there is, Dad. There most certainly is. “Right.”
    “'Bye.” She hung up. The tears flowed freely now. All of her tears she had held in during the long, long day came forth.
    Danielle and Fauna were at the party, Fauna smelling strongly of beer and smoke. It was enough to make anyone sick. Danielle didn't like it, but she hated not being popular more. So she dealt with it, and fought of the nausea. She lost the battle, and her tuna sub.
    Nobody was sober enough to care, and she found comfort in that.
    “Want one?” Fauna slurred, her head lolling.
    “No thanks.”
    “I said no.”
    “And I say drink it!”
    “It's my body!”
    “You're my best friend! We've got to get drunk together.”
    “You're so laaaaame.” Fauna stretched out lame, making Danielle's face pinch, then Danielle grabbed the can. She drank it, and another, and another, then she, too, was too drunk to care. She passed out on the couch.
    As Alice walked off the bus, she chanted to herself, “Dani, Dani, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? With cruel notes, evil stares, and pretty maidens all in a row. Dani, Dani, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? With a some rope, with some pills, a trigger, a cut. Anything you need, Dani. I'll do it, Dani. I'll do it, Danielle.”
    Alice walked up the driveway, mouthing the words, over and over, “I'll do it.”
    At the doorway.
    In the kitchen, “With a knife.”
    In the bathroom, “With some pills.”
    In her room, “With anything you need, Danielle.”
    Alice sat on her bed, with her killers. One by one, she popped in five Advil. Alice didn't know how many it took to die, but that was all there was in the house. With cool calculation, and subtle screams, Alice dragged the knife across her arm. “Cross the road, never walk down the line. 'Cuz if you do, you'll be dyin'” It was the normal routine, almost. She would say those words, then cut herself.
    But this time she let them bleed. It hurt. It hurt a lot, but she stayed still. If she died, she was going to die surrounded by smiling faces and the note.
    Hopefully the blood won't ruin it. It was almost funny how Alice could worry about something so stupid.
    Alice stopped worrying.
    Fauna roughly shook Danielle awake. “C'mon! Your phone's been ringing and it won't stop. Answer it!”
    Begrudgingly, Danielle answered her phone. “Hello?”
    “Dani?” It was Alice's mom.
    “Danielle,” Danielle corrected automatically.
    “Danielle,” Alice's mother was crying. “Danielle, Alice... Alice is dead.”
    Those three words threatened to tip her over. Something close to her heart was ripped out, leaving a gaping hole that weighed down on her lungs. “What?” She was breathe-less, her voice airy. She fell down onto the couch.
    “Alice committed suicide last night.”
    “Yes,” a small flicker of anger burned under the woman's words. “She took her life last night. Because apparently seventeen students wanted her dead. One of them being you.”
    “No.” Danielle could only deny it. “I didn't. No, this isn't right! Where is she?!”
    “Saint Beverly's Hospital.”
    Danielle dashed into her car, and still on the phone, worked around her hangover. “I want to see her again.” She hung up.
    “Alice.” Danielle's legs didn't want to support her anymore. She shuffled on her hands and knees to her best friend. “I'm so, so sorry. But I guess it's too late now, isn't it? I- I didn't mean it. I didn't mean it. I wanted to blow off steam and I couldn't be friends with you and I and I- Oh, God, Alice, I'm sorry!” Danielle's words were incoherent, but she kept talking, sharing all the words she wanted to with her dead friend. With a final, “I'm sorry” she was dragged away. Visiting hours were over. “Alice!” She shrieked, reaching for her friend's cold, dead hand.
    “I'm sorry!”
    A chasm of eyes stood before her, the first, she recognized, Alice's mom, “But you can't bring her back to life, can you?”
    The next, Alice's father, “You took my little girl away.”
    “You killed her. You killed her.” Thousands of accusatory fingers pointed to her. “Guilty! Guilty!”
    Danielle shrieked again, finally seeing the last pair of eyes. Red rimmed, glassy eyes that stared mockingly at her. “Dani, Dani, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? With cruel notes, evil stares, and pretty maidens all in a row. I killed myself, Dani. I killed myself and I'm happy about your pain.” Of course, Dani was just giving her guilty conscious a physical form in her mind. But she didn't care. She wanted Ice back.
    But she would never get her back. Ice had melted. Ice had cried herself to sleep more than once. Ice had slowly bled to death on her bed, cuts crying tears of blood while fat, salty tears rolled down her face; a note so bloody that it was unintelligible.
    But if anyone to read it, it would say, "Dear Mom and Dad, or whoever cares.
    I didn't know what to do, besides to resort to a razor. The blood seemed to take away from my worries, but the cuts didn't help. These lines on my arms represent every broken promise, broken heart, awkward silence, cruel glare, disturbing word and ice cold friendship.
    Danielle, I hope you can read this. I still consider you my friend. But you are a horrible person.
    From that girl in the back of the bus,
    From that girl with scars on her arms,
    From that girl who lay forgotten,
    From Alice Tanner."