I often think back to my high school years, and especially the conflict between Michelle and the girl we all called pickles. I remember the day that Michelle ran up the steps, rushed into the classroom and slank into her chair. She was hoping Mrs. Johnson wouldn't notice that she was late again.

Spent too much time with Applejack, didn't you"? Her best friend Pickles giggled.

"You know I have to feed my horse before I leave," Michelle said. "I can see why they gave you the nickname pickles when we were in the first grade."

Michelle placed her books quietly on her desk trying not to interrupt the class when she noticed a new girl sitting at the desk next to her. Amelia's chestnut brown eyes sparkled, her long black hair pulled back neatly in a ponytail had a shine that  would make any girl envious. Her face glowed with a radiant innocent beauty.

"Hi, my names Amelia," she said. "You can call me Amy if you want to."

"Hi, Amy," Michelle said. "It's nice to meet you."

"It's good to meet you too," Amelia mumbled. "So far, You're the only person who's spoke to me."

"Why"?" Michelle asked, staring around the room. "I can't believe they all ignored you. I've known most of them since kindergarten."

"In case you haven't noticed, I'm not wearing brand name clothes," Amelia answered. "My parents can't afford to buy clothes like all these kids are wearing."

"I don't know what to say," Michelle said. "I really can't believe any of them care."

"Better stop talking," Pickles snapped, glaring at Michelle. "Mrs. Johnson adds extra homework for talking in her class."

"Why are you acting so nasty, Pickles?" Michelle asked. "Don't tell me you're jealous, because I talked to Amy."

"I'm not jealous," Pickles sneered. "I just don't intend to associate with her, that's all."

"I can't believe what I just heard you say," Michelle screeched. "What's wrong with talking to Amy?"

"Girls," Mrs. Johnson said, staring straight at Pickles and Michelle. "This is a classroom, not a boxing arena."

"Look at that awful yucky blue green sweater she's wearing," Pickles whispered. "I bet it's a reject from the odd lots store."

"How would you know?" Michelle stammered. "You've never been in an odd lots store in your life."

"Michelle, you and Mary Beth can stay after school this evening," Mrs. Johnson said, peering over her glasses, her lips pressed tightly together.

"See what you did," Pickles whispered, "Mom's going to ground me for a month for having to stay after school."

"Good," Michelle mumbled. "Be quite, before she makes us stay after school all week. I need to practice all I can. I want to win a blue ribbon with Applejack, you know."

Pickles slumped down in her chair, shuffling her feet back and forth on the floor. She gave Michelle nasty stares every time Mrs. Johnson wasn't looking her way.

"Do you want to come over sometime and see my horse?" Michelle asked Amelia when the bell rang. "I'd ask you to come today, but as you already know, I have to stay after school."

"Thanks," Amelia said. "I'd love to come. I'll ask Mom and Dad and let you know."

"You'll be sorry, Michelle," Pickles said, when Mrs. Johnson finally dismissed them.

"Oh, Yeah," Michelle stood straight with her hands on her sides. "What are you going to do, Pickles?"

"I'm not going to be your friend anymore, that's what," Pickles yelled, grabbing her books, darting out the door and letting it slam in Michelle's face.

"Why is Pickles acting so peculiar?" Michelle muttered to herself. "I've never seen her be so rude."

"Hi, Pickles," Michelle said the next morning, trying to pretend nothing had happened. "You look real nice in that sweater. You always did look good in pink."

" I see you managed to get away from that flea bitten bag of bones this morning," Pickles said, stalking off, leaving Michelle standing staring with her mouth wide open.

"Mom and Dad said I could come to see your horse this weekend," Amelia said, coming up behind Michelle.

"That's nice," Michelle mumbled, still feeling bad about Pickle's actions. "I'm glad you can come."

Michelle introduced Amelia to all the kids, they were talking, laughing, having a great time in a few minutes. No one cared what kind of clothes she was wearing. Michelle would  never have believed it would made a difference to Pickles before.

"He's a great horse," Amelia said Saturday morning, watching Michelle brush Applejack and standing at a distance. "He wont bite will he?"

"No, he doesn't bite" Michelle laughed. "I'm entering him in a horse show today. "

"That's great," Amelia said excited, moving just a tiny bit closer. "Can I watch?"

"Sure," Michelle answered, briskly brushing Applejack's tail, removing the tangles. She wished Pickles would come, she had always been there to root for her, but she was sure Pickles wouldn't come. Pickles always gave a boost to Michelle's confidence, and Michelle wanted so much to win the barrel racing event.

Michelle looked at the crowd in the stadium while she tightened the cinch, hoping she would see Pickles, but it was so crowded she wasn't sure who was there.

"Number twenty eight," the announcer called. Michelle mounted Applejack to enter the ring.

"Go out there and win, Michelle," Pickles shouted from somewhere in the crowd. "You can do it, you can win."

Applejack ran every barrel without touching one or knocking any down, but Michelle was five one hundredths of a second short of winning.

"Don't feel bad, Michelle," Pickles rushed over to console her. "I know how much you wanted to win, but you'll make it the next time."

"Sorry, you lost," Amelia said, standing back at least six feet, as if she was afraid Pickles would attack her or something.

"Amelia, I'm sorry," Pickles grinned sheepishly. "Forgive me, I shouldn't have treated you that way at school. I was afraid of losing Michelle as a friend. Guess that's some friend huh? Not trusting Michelle to stay my friend too. I'm really ashamed I acted the way I did."

"That's all right," Amelia said, hugging Pickles. "You didn't lose a friend, you just gained one."

Today, Michelle, Pickles, and Amelia are best friends. It's always good to see friends work out their problems, and remain friends on into their adult years as these girls did.

Copyright © 2001  Jo Ann Lovelace. All Rights Reserved.