The last time she had felt so scared was long back, a day she no longer cared to think about. Blood racing, heart pounding, and skin tingling, she tried to wrap her head around the varied thoughts in her head. Someone behind her shouted, urging her to go on. But how could she do it? How could she jump, when she knew that it may be the last thing she did?
She had met them during the first week of high school. She, the quiet, shy girl she was, tried her best to maintain her distance from them, and yet couldn’t seem to resist herself from being drawn to their aura. They were the popular kids, kids who hung out together, who passed tests but never touched books, the kids who got their own way.
That day in the library remained etched in her memory for days to come. How she had been sitting quietly when he came up. How she recognized him to be one of ‘them’. How he had asked her name and then sat down right beside her and started reading from her book. How by the time the library closed, they knew all about each other and yet, nothing about the book.
She started hanging out with them. Mostly to be in his presence, to be awarded that cocky smile of his whenever she said something witty. To feel his gaze on her when she played with the strand of her hair. To clutch his hand when they sat by each other. His friends treated her kind enough, but she was there for him.
Missing classes became more of a schedule than attending them had ever been. She started going places with all of them, driven by this unknown, raw side of hers, which was aching for their attention, the popularity, the importance. She started talking like them, behaving like them, and soon, in that wide crowd of lost souls, she lost herself too.
That evening they drove to the nearby cliff, for cliff-diving. Vary as she was, she played along with them, hoping to get it over with as fast as she could. The tide was high, but all of them hardly noticed it, drunk int their excitement and minds lost to the adrenaline. Her turn came quicker than she expected and there she was, standing on the cliff, peering down and hoping that she survived this. Someone touched her from behind, and in a moment of blankness, she suddenly plunged below. There. One moment she was over the cliff and the next, into the water. She came above the water just in time to see a wave crash against her. And then, black.
She woke up to the worried faces of her two childhood friends, each on either side of the bed, and each holding her hand. That was when she realized that it is not how many friends you have which matters, but what friends you have which does. The ones who stick to you are who matters. It’s not necessary to hang out in large groups, but it is beyond necessary to have someone who values you and is genuine to you. She took a shuddering breath and rose up to take both of her friends into her arms.