Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Bedtime Story (28/11/2018)

Sometimes, I am guilty of being a bit needy and perhaps trying too hard to show people what they mean to me.  I think it's almost certainly because of situations I've found myself in, over the years, where someone I've wrongly thought of as my "best friend" has turned out to be anything but.  This story is all about friendship, love and letting someone know you care.  

If you would prefer to listen to this story, it is also available as a podcast.

Melanie's 'Best Friend' Mission

All weekend, Melanie had been up in her room, working on a top secret project.  She hadn't gone to play at the park with her older brothers.  She hadn't watched any of her favourite TV shows.  She was only interested in finishing what she was working on. 

Finally, on Monday morning, as Mum was getting everyone ready for school, Melanie emerged with her project completed.  In her hands, she held a rather misshapen scarf.  

"Remember when Nan said she was going to teach me to knit?"  Melanie beamed, holding the scarf up for approval.  "Well, I practised and practised and I've made Willow a scarf.  She always gets cold, this time of year and I wanted her to have something to keep her warm, because she's my best friend."

Nobody mentioned the holes in the scarf.  Nobody mentioned that it was wider at one end, or slightly frayed at the edges.  Everyone told Melanie what a lovely thing she'd done.

At school, Willow grinned when she saw the scarf.  "I can't believe you made this all by yourself," she exclaimed, wrapping it carefully around her neck.  "Thank you!"  

Willow wore the scarf at play time.  She and Melanie played together just as they always did.  But, as they walked back to the classroom, after the bell rang, Willow noticed that one end of the scarf was stuck in the zip of her coat.  Even though she tried her hardest to get it out gently, before long, the scarf began to unravel.  All of Melanie's hard work was undone.

"I'm so sorry," Willow sighed. 

Melanie shook her head.  "No, I'm sorry," she insisted.  "I didn't make it strong enough.  It wasn't very good."  She stared at her feet.  "I just wanted you to have something nice to keep you warm.  I wanted to show you how much you mean to me, but I couldn't even knit a simple scarf..."

Willow opened her mouth to reply, but Melanie trudged away, taking her seat in the classroom without another word.

Their teacher handed out thread and some brightly coloured beads.  "We're going to practise threading and making patterns," she announced.  "You can make a necklace, a bracelet or anything you like, as long as you remember to stick to a pattern."

Melanie's eyes widened.  "I know how to make it up to you!"  She gasped, turning to Willow.  "I'll make you a necklace!  Then you'll know how special you are to me!" 

"You don't have to make it up to me," Willow insisted, but Melanie was already scooping up all the purple and green beads, because she knew those were Willow's favourite colours.  Willow smiled.  "Okay, well I'll make you a necklace and we can swap at the end."

For the rest of the lesson, the girls worked hard on their necklaces.  Just before lunchtime, their teacher told them it was time to finish up, so everyone began carefully tying knots in their thread.  Willow tied her thread and held up a pretty, pink and blue necklace.  "Here you are!"  She grinned.  

Melanie was struggling to tie her thread into a knot.  It kept slipping through her fingers, somehow.  The more she tried, the more flustered she became.  Before she knew what was happening, the thread slipped out of her grasp once more and the beads came sliding off, scattering all over the table.  "No!"  Melanie cried, clutching at the beads as they rolled away.  "I promised you a necklace," she whimpered, avoiding Willow's gaze.  

Willow held out the necklace she'd made.  "Do you want to wear the one I made you?"

"I don't deserve it," Melanie replied.  "I'm such a rubbish best friend.  All I wanted to do was show you how much you mean to me, but I can't, because I'm not good at anything."

"That's not true!"  Willow cried, but Melanie had already darted out of the classroom.

Willow finally caught up with Melanie in the hall, queuing up for lunch.  "Please don't be upset," she urged.  "You don't have to do anything special to prove that you're my friend."

"But you do so much for me," Melanie insisted.  "I just want to show you what it means to me."  She blinked suddenly, reading the dinner menu on the wall.  "I know!  They have strawberry mousse for pudding, today.  I can get one for you, it's your favourite!"

Willow frowned.  "But you don't like strawberry mousse," she reminded her.  "And I can just get my own.  You can get a pudding you do like!"

"But if I get a pudding I don't like and give it to you, you can have two!"  Melanie replied.  "And then you'll know that I really care about you and it'll make up for the scarf and the necklace."

Before Willow could stop her, Melanie had placed a strawberry mousse onto a tray and had handed over her dinner money.

"There!"  Melanie beamed.  "That's to show you that you're my best friend!"  She turned to carry her tray to a table, but didn't notice another child standing close by.  With a gasp, Melanie tripped, dropping her lunch tray onto the floor and sending its contents flying across the hall.

"Melanie!"  Willow shrieked.  "Are you alright?!"

Melanie's eyes streamed with tears.  "I just keep getting everything wrong!"  With a sob, she ran out of the hall.

It took Willow a while to find Melanie.  Eventually, she spotted her sitting, huddled beneath her coat, in the cloakroom outside their class.  "What are you doing here?"  She asked, sitting beside her.  "Come back and have some lunch.  You must be starving!"

"I dropped my lunch all over the floor, remember?"  Melanie sniffed.  

"You can share mine," Willow promised. 

Melanie shook her head.  "You're always doing nice things for me," she sighed.  "And I tried so hard to do something to show you how grateful I am and I just...  I make a mess, every time."

Willow smiled.  "I know you're grateful," she insisted.  "But I'm not your friend just so that you'll feel like you have to do nice things for me, you know.  I don't expect you to make presents for me, or go without pudding just so that I can have two!"

"But I just want you to know how much you mean to me," Melanie replied.  "I want you to know that you're my best friend."

Willow chuckled and placed an arm around Melanie's shoulders.  "I do know," she told her.  "And it's not because of anything you buy or make me.  I know I mean something to you because you make time for me.  You listen to me when I'm sad.  You help me whenever I need it.  You always think of me and you want to do nice things for me.  I know I'm your best friend, because you're mine.  That's much more important than any present or extra pudding could ever be!"

"Am I really?"  Melanie asked, managing a smile.  "Even though I'm clumsy and silly and I made a scene in the hall just now?!"

Willow grinned back at her.  "Always," she promised.  "Those things are just part of who you are and I love everything that makes you you."

Melanie flung her arms around Willow's neck.  "Are you sure you don't want me to buy you another strawberry mousse?!"

Willow laughed.  "I'm more than sure," she insisted.  "You know what I do want, though?"

Melanie shook her head.

"I want my best friend to come back and have lunch with me.  And I want her to promise that she won't ever think I need her to do anything to prove herself to me, again."

Melanie smiled.  "I think I can manage that."

And with that, two best friends walked back to the hall, to share a lunch together.


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