Peer Review by Ibex (United States)

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The River of Life

By: thelumosduck

My best friend was not nice.

You could say that she was hated by the general school population, teachers excluded. Unfortunately, the general population didn’t include me.

I didn’t know why I was drawn to her — me, with my shy, bookish ways, and her, with her loud, bubbly personality that deafened everyone within a hundred feet — but I was. We had both been labeled as “gifted” by our testers. We both had an intimate connection with the written word. Still, it was an unlikely friendship.

But unlikely friendships always have a way of working out.

I knew her like she was my sister. Her dislike of her middle name (Helen), her want for a puppy (a labradoodle, specifically), her petulant thoughts — all were familiar to me. Everything about her was familiar to me.

Until we were ten. 

Up to that point, I could call myself her best friend and wouldn’t doubt it for a second. Up to that point, you could ask me any question about her and I’d give you an answer. But everything changed over the summer, and when we came back to school, she was… different.

Outwardly, she was the same. Her braces remained, her straight, bleach-blonde hair came to her shoulders, and her blouses were stylish. So I didn’t expect her to walk up to me on the first day of fifth grade, dragging another girl along.

I’d never seen that girl before, but I’d go on to see her again — and again and again and again. Every recess, they’d steal the swings that my supposed best friend and I always took, while I’d stand on the edge, silently reconsidering all my life choices. And so it went for a year — my friend and I slowly drifting apart, with the new girl taking my place.

Not that the new girl wasn’t brilliant. She was funny and kind and quickly became my friend — but best friends weren’t things you could just leave behind. At least, I couldn’t. Throughout the summer, my best friend plagued my thoughts.

For sixth and most of seventh grade too, the monster known as jealousy battered my mind, extending its claws, screaming for reprieve. Throughout that time, I came to know the darkest side of myself. The part of me that all my pessimistic thoughts stemmed from. The part of me that hated my best friend. And the part of me that never failed to fill me with a sickening rage.

But the end of seventh grade brought relief as I mustered the courage to ask my best friend the question that I needed to know: “Do you like her more than me?” And her answering “yes” came without hesitation, and something that had been clinging on to me — one last desperate lifeline — finally let go.

I am a jealous, flawed being. We all are. We’re human. This human-ness allows us to hurt others, and to scar them. 

My ex-best friend taught me this; how to hurt. But she also taught me how to let go. How to tell myself that it doesn’t matter anymore. That I have others who care about me more. That I don’t need this sort of person in my life. And for this and everything else, I love her, even if forgiving will take more time.

If you stop and wait for others to join you in the river of life, you will always find yourself falling short when really it is their shortcomings that leave them behind. Stand tall. Forge ahead. You’ll find others that will love your more than your old friends ever did. You’ll find people that will love you for being you. It’s simple, really. All you have to do is let go.

Message to Readers

Greetings, fellow earthlings. Any feedback is appreciated!

Peer Review

I admire how easily you handle your experience in writing; there is no anger or sadness visible in the work, which helps you to deliver your message on learning to let go (it shows you truly have let go of this friend). You may still be harboring anger over this, but the reader would never know, based on how you wrote this work.

I also like your choice in subject matter. This is a very relatable subject; many of us have lost friends, and others have had their places taken by another person. Jealousy is a very real and understandable emotion, and it also makes sense to be compared to a monster

This is deeply true for me. I just lost my best friend, and I could say it all began when we invited a new friend into our group. This whole piece makes sense to me and evokes emotion.

I liked the focus on several scenes (specifically the first day of fifth grade and the swings), while still compressing a long story (several years in duration) into a very short work.

I think you were trying to say that sometimes our ties with one another break, but these experiences can ultimately teach us things we never would have learned on our own, and these broken connections allow us the opportunity to forge new ones.

Personally, though, I think you need a little more on the idea of connection; to me, it was not entirely clear that this was supposed to relate to the connections between humans. Although, the "we're all human" sentence does show that we're all similar, and therefore connected in one way or another.

Keep it up! This is a really good piece; anyone who has been in the same situation as you will think the same, as it is very relatable.

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