Just weeks after we hosted a joint birthday party together, we weren’t speaking. And I still don’t really know why.
Alice and I were inseparable for six years.
Our teenage friendship blossomed over a fit of giggles at a school assembly and we never looked back.
We hung out all day, spoke on the phone all night and spent the weekends at each other’s houses.
We were more than BFFs; we loved each other like sisters.
We pashed boys for the first time at the same party, ensuring no woman was left behind. We ventured into a foreign tattoo shop and got the piercings our parents had forbidden together, buoying one another’s bravery (and stupidity) with the comforting knowledge we were in it together. We smoked cigarettes in the out-of-bounds areas at school. She put me to bed and cleaned up my vomit when binge-drinking got the better of me. I covered her lies to her parents, earning a reputation as a fence-sitter by avoiding giving any proper answers to their questions lest I get her into trouble.
And trouble had a way of finding her and, by association, me. Not that I was blame-free – it certainly didn’t take much to lead me astray. But she seemed to march blindly into mischief, unable to resist the magnetic attraction of the short-term thrill.
Perhaps it was this trait that ultimately led to the demise of our intense friendship. As she went further and further off the rails during our final year of school, I was desperately trying to stay on them. And our trains drifted into completely different universes.
Looking back, there were plenty of signs we were doomed. There was her suicide attempt, which I learnt about after I discovered the note addressed to me in her room and then blithely passed it off as a juvenile cry for help that was being dealt with by her parents and professionals. There were teachers questioning me about whether I knew about the frauds and schemes she cooked up at school. I didn’t. There was the massive web of lies that I believed I was immune to until I discovered I was also ensnared by it.