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When I was in the 9th grade, I was doomed to walk to and from school (about a mile or so one way) every day. Every once in a great while, my mother would come and pick me up, if my younger sisters had some gymnastics thing going on or what have you. One of those days, after I had been acquainted with Lee, I was starting to leave school when my mother showed up unexpectedly. Lee was walking nearby, and I had just said "goodbye" to her. My mother asked me, "Jennifer, do you know her? Is she your friend?" I told my mother that she was - no sense in explaining the truth to her:

Yeah Mom, I know who she is, but look at her, she totally doesn't care who I am, and though she might be nice to me in public, she's one of those girls who are so pretty and winning that she would make me look like dogshit no matter what I did, and so no, really she's not my friend, she's just this girl, okay?

So my mother yells out the car window to this impeccable blonde girl, "Do you need a ride home?" I shrink inside my skin. Lee walks toward the car. My sisters are bored behind the dirty windows of the brown station wagon.
"No, really, that's alright."
"Oh, come on, how far do you live?"
"Well, if it's not too much trouble..."

She gets into our car, which smells like dogs, cigarette smoke and old coffee. I sit on the hump in the backseat uncomfortably while we take Lee home. The car is silent except for Lee's directions to my mother. She exits the car.

"Wow, Jennifer. She's really pretty."

I know.
My high school relationship with Lee was a terribly tight knit. I spent many nights at her house, the two of us wearing her most suggestive nighties. We would peel back the layers of ourselves and then each would “learn” the other so we could represent each other to the world. If we made up who we were together we could more easily remember what we had made up. We could swear anything was true because we had a witness, a back-up singer, a hot little partner in crime.

Soon I could no longer tell where “Old Sarah” ended and “New Sarah” began. It was probably the same for Lee, this gradual shift. We were good friends for about a year and a half. We smoked the same cigarettes, walked all over Dearborn before she got a car at sixteen. We experienced sex with different guys and discussed it at length, painting our nails by the light of her Giorgio candle. She showed me the proper sucking pressure one would employ for a good blowjob. I remember the strange tingle I felt all over my body, which then became a concentrated beam straight to my groin.

She was beautiful and funny and she knew my secrets. She observed my boundaries. She fiercely defended my character.

Her family was financially well off. I wore her clothes. Her parents had a liquor cabinet. Her stepbrother had a friend whose only virtue was that he looked thirty-five in high school and could buy beer at this one party store. We played endless games of rummy and Uno, freaked ourselves out with the Ouija board. We had water balloon fights in bikinis her front yard. We ran to the store in skintight unitards to buy smokes. We took suggestive pictures of each other for our boyfriends.

Somehow, because Lee was attractive and well dressed, she slipped through my mother’s bad influence radar.

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