It was a wet and dreary Saturday afternoon. Juliette had just gotten back from her morning ballet class, and we had nothing to do.
I should amend that statement. We had nothing FUN to do. Being enrolled in a boarding school means a pile of homework every weekend, and like every good student, Juliette and I are exceptional at procrastination. Which means that we'd put off lots of projects until the very last moment.
"Oggi non voglio fare i miei compiti," I sighed aloud, closing my Italian textbook, "I want to go outside, not be stuck in here doing homework. Why does it have to rain on Saturdays?"
"Aides-moi, Sophie. J'ai besoin de pratiquer l'anglais," Juliette looked up from her English homework, "Pourquoi est-ce que la grammaire de l'anglais est très difficile à comprendre?"
I stood up and walked over to my sister's side. Juliette was having difficulty understanding her English grammar homework. I could empathize with her, having been in her place several years ago. Of course, I'd had no one to help me, and I wasn't even great at French grammar. Science has always been my strongest subject, after all, not grammar.
"Du moins l'alphabet est le même! L'anglais est plus facile que le russe," I mused. I tried to make her feel better by reasoning out that English had the same alphabet as French and that it was easier than a language like Russian, if you took that into consideration.
"Je suppose..." Juliette nodded in agreement, before turning back to her English assignment.
"Il pleut comme vache qui pisse aujourd'hui!" someone exclaimed, making me jump. Looking up, I was just about to reprimand whomever had decided to barge in without knocking, when I let out a small gasp instead. The girl standing before me laughed. Whether it was at her own statement or the act of taking me by surprise, I wasn't sure. "Eh bien, je pense que tu pourrais prendre la peine de dire bonjour," the girl said, when I didn't say anything.
"Bien sûr! J'ai pensé que j'ai vu un fantôme..." I trailed off, feeling my face redden slightly.
"Un fantôme! Comme si je suis morte! J'ai dit que je serais revenue...et voilà!" The girl said, winking at me.
I couldn't avoid her. She was my best friend, for crying out loud! At least, she had been my best friend, and I knew we could easily pick up from where we'd left off in 2009, when I'd last seen her. I rushed over to her side and gave her a big hug, then switched to English, "Oh Nathalie, it is SO good to see you again! I just about DIED when I came back to Fair Hollow only to discover that you'd left without saying goodbye! I missed you SO much!"
Nathalie Caroline Thibodeau, my best friend, was from Montréal, Québec. We'd met in 2008 when we were both visiting Prince Edward Island. I'd convinced her to join me at Fair Hollow School for Girls, and the rest was history. We became inseparable very quickly. I was the Diana to her Anne, to use a metaphor from Anne of Green Gables, her favorite book. She taught me to ice skate, encouraged me to listen to Céline Dion's music, and was just there as a shoulder to cry on. She was pretty much devastated when I set out to travel the country in 2009, and according to Chiara (our mutual friend), she wasn't the same while I was gone. She'd packed up and left for home last summer without so much of a goodbye. Of course, I felt like I'd deserved that, not having been such a great friend myself. I figured she'd never want to see me again, which made me feel worse. But here she was!
She smiled apologetically, "Oh Sally (her pet name for me), I'm so sorry! It's just that I had NO idea when you'd be back, and I missed my family SO much! I'm sure you can relate to THAT," she said, glancing at Juliette, "I NEVER intended to be gone forever. In fact, I told Chiara to tell you I'd be back. I'm sorry if I upset you. I hope we can pick up where we left off and still be bosom friends. I need my Sally, my Diana ... my Sophie!"
"Jillybean (my pet name for her), how could you think that I could stay upset with you?! Of course we can pick up where we left off. I'm just glad you came back! I honestly think I deserved losing you for a few months. You had to do without me for two years. With the way I treated you, it would've served me right had you never come back," I said a little guiltily.
"But, now that you're here again, I'd like to introduce you to someone, " I said, gesturing to Juliette. Now, finally, the two most important people in my life (save my parents, of course) will get to meet. "Nathalie, je vais vous présenter ma soeur jumelle, Juliette. Et Juliette, voici ma meilleure amie, Nathalie."
Nathalie turned to Juliette, "Je suis enchantée de faire votre connaissance, Juliette. C'est bonne que tu es ici. Je suis sûre que nous serons les amies rapidement." Juliette nodded in affirmation, and I knew that the two of them would be friends in no time at all.
"Oh, I knew this would come up! THAT is a long story," Nathalie said, reddening slightly, "But I suppose I could retell it. It really is quite amusing, when you think about it. Shortly before I left Fair Hollow, I was suffering from low self esteem. I really didn't like how I looked. I wasn't even sure I wanted to be a redhead anymore. In fact, I wanted your dark hair! So, when I got back to Montréal, I bought some hair dye. Only I must've purchased the wrong color by mistake because my hair turned out GREEN!" At this point, Nathalie paused long enough to pull a photo out of her bag, proving the hair dye mistake. When she handed it to me, I stifled back laughter:
Nathalie shrugged, then continued on with her story, "It's alright, go ahead and laugh. Anne-Marie and Cécile, my sisters, wouldn't quit laughing for an entire week! Luckily, I'd done a horrid job trying to dye my hair, so most of it was salvageable. I could continue life as a redhead without walking around as a green-haired punk kid. Somehow I'd decided that life as a redhead was ten times better than life as a 'green-head,' and maybe that was because I watched Anne of Green Gables again, I don't know. Actually, I like my shorter hair. It is so much easier to take care of and suits my on-the-go lifestyle. I was really getting tired of that long, layered hair. And, maybe it's just me, but my shorter hair makes my eyes look greener, which I love."
It took me a few seconds to figure out what she was talking about, but then I remembered the orange streak. "Oh, that! It's not real. It's just an extension that I put in because, frankly, I was missing you so much - as if wearing an orange hair extension would make you come back. Silly, I know, but apparently it worked," I laughed.
Nathalie walked around behind me, fumbled a bit with my hair, removing the hair extension. "Sophie, trust me on this, okay? You do not look good with red, or orange, hair. You look no better than I did with green hair. Well, maybe a little better, but your hair is way too gorgeous as is to modify."
I paused for a moment, then turned around to face her, "Nathalie, I am SO glad you're back! Don't ever leave again, okay?
"Oh, Sophie, I won't. You have my word! Best friends forever?"
"Best friends forever," I said, really emphasizing the last word, "or, rather, bosom friends forever!" At that point, Juliette brought her camera over and took a photo of Nathalie and me together. If I'd have been in her place, I probably would've been jealous, but Juliette isn't exactly like me. She has her friends, I have mine, and sometimes we have mutual friends. I'm sure, as I said before, that Nathalie and Juliette will get along great in time.
(a very happy) Sophie
P.S. I'd like to give a huge THANK YOU to The Doll Wardrobe for purchasing Nathalie's airfare! As Nathalie said, it was inevitable that she would've come back to Fair Hollow, but the amazing person behind The Doll Wardrobe really made it possible to expedite her return. :D