Sto­ry­time: Un­in­vited

“I’m go­ing to wear the new blue dress my mom got me! Liv, do you have some­thing picked out for Quinn’s party yet?” Olivia heard her class­mate ask.

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“Um no,” Olivia awk­wardly mum­bled as she looked down at the in­vites her fourth grade class­mates were hold­ing. “I, um, guess I wasn’t in­vited this year.”

Olivia watched as all three girls she’d been chat­ting with turned to look at her with shocked faces.

Is­abelle and Addy im­me­di­ately put away their in­vi­ta­tions. “It prob­a­bly won’t even be that fun any­way,” Addy claimed.

“Yeah, I’m sure you have some­thing bet­ter planned,” Is­abella gave an awk­ward smile. But Olivia knew that wasn’t how they re­ally felt. They were just try­ing to be nice.

Their other friend, Han­nah, didn’t sug­ar­coat any­thing when she spoke up. “How are you not in­vited? I thought you and Quinn were best friends.” Olivia gulped, not know­ing what to say. “Are you go­ing to say some­thing to her?” Han­nah seemed cu­ri­ous. “This is all so dra­matic!”

Olivia didn’t know Han­nah that well so she didn’t want to talk to her about this. She put on a brave face, shrugged and said: “No, it’s not that big of a deal.” Then, she made a quick exit.

But as Olivia walked down the hall to the bath­room, tears started stream­ing down her face. When she got there, she locked her­self in a stall and put her head in her hands.

Han­nah was right. Olivia and Quinn had been best friends since for­ever. They lived just two blocks away from each other, so

their moms had been bring­ing them to each other’s houses for play­dates since they were toddlers. But re­cently, that had all changed.

Quinn didn’t seem in­ter­ested in any of the things they used to do to­gether — watch­ing Harry Pot­ter movies, jump­ing on Olivia’s tram­po­line, do­ing ev­ery ex­tra credit as­sign­ment just for fun or go­ing on scav­enger hunts. Last time they’d hung out, Quinn had asked Olivia to get a mani-pedi. It was pretty cool, but Olivia had never had one be­fore so she was a lit­tle ner­vous and spent a lot of time bab­bling to the lady who painted her nails. She sensed Quinn wasn’t too happy about that since she’d had an at­ti­tude after­ward and the nail ap­point­ment was the last time they’d re­ally hung out one-on-one.

And now Olivia wasn’t in­vited to Quinn’s epic New Year’s party. She’d been in­vited ev­ery year since Quinn started hav­ing them in the first grade. In fact, she usu­ally helped plan the big bash. Not this year, Olivia thought bit­terly. I guess I’ve been un­in­vited.

Olivia moped in the bath­room stall for a lit­tle while longer be­fore head­ing to the cafe­te­ria to eat her lunch.

Ugh, I don’t think I can sit at my usual ta­ble to­day, Olivia pan­icked as she walked into the lunch room. Even though she and Quinn hadn’t been as close lately, they’d still been sit­ting at the same ta­ble. There was a big group so it wasn’t nor­mally that awk­ward,

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to make you up­set,” Ste­vie smiled re­as­sur­ingly. “You can tell me about it if you want, though.”

but after the in­vite diss, Olivia knew things would be dif­fer­ent.

She stood frozen, star­ing at all the ta­bles when she spot­ted Ste­vie sit­ting by her­self. Ste­vie’s fam­ily just moved to the area at the be­gin­ning of the school year. They sat next to each other in art class, and Olivia thought Ste­vie was so funny.

She made her way over to Ste­vie’s ta­ble with a big smile, mo­men­tar­ily for­get­ting about the party drama.

“Hey! Is that a Won­der Woman shirt?” she

asked as she put down her lunch box and sat down. “Sure is!” Ste­vie smiled back. “I just watched that movie last week­end with my brother,” Olivia cried ex­cit­edly. “I wasn’t sure I’d like su­per­hero stuff, but it was soooo good.”

Ste­vie spent the next 10 min­utes pas­sion­ately ex­plain­ing why su­per­hero movies are the best. Olivia thought it was a riot. But soon, Ste­vie had a con­fused look on her face. “How come the girl from that ta­ble over there keep star­ing over at us?” she asked.

Olivia’s heart sank. She turned to con­firm it was Han­nah, and she was sit­ting at Olivia’s old lunch ta­ble.

“It’s a long story.” Olivia felt her­self start­ing to get sad again.

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to make you up­set,” Ste­vie smiled re­as­sur­ingly. “You can tell me about it if you want, though.”

Soon, the whole story came out. Olivia told Ste­vie ev­ery­thing that’d hap­pened be­tween her and Quinn and how she felt like the out­cast.

“Wow, I’m so sorry,” Ste­vie replied. “She doesn’t sound very nice.”

Olivia felt like she had to defend her old BFF. “She re­ally isn’t that bad.”

“If you say so,” Ste­vie said, but her tone

made it clear she didn’t agree.

“Hey, so I have an idea,” Ste­vie changed the sub­ject. “Maybe we could hang out on New Year’s Eve.”

Now, why didn’t I think of that? Olivia asked her­self.

While Olivia was hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with her­self, Ste­vie kept talk­ing. “... it’s to­tally fine if you al­ready have other plans. It was, uh, just an idea.” Ste­vie seemed ner­vous.

“No other plans,” Olivia smiled as she re­al­ized Ste­vie was a bab­bler, just like her. “Want to come over to my house for a sleep­over? I’m sure my mom will say yes.” “Yes, def­i­nitely!” Ste­vie agreed. The girls spent the rest of the lunch pe­riod plan­ning their hang­out. They were go­ing to make pop­corn balls, be­cause Ste­vie loves them, and watch Harry Pot­ter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, be­cause it’s Olivia’s fa­vorite and Ste­vie had never seen it. They’d count down to mid­night with fancy grown-up glasses filled with milk and choco­late chip cook­ies in hand. It was go­ing to be epic!

Once Olivia told her mom the plan, she agreed to host the sleep­over and even buy some dec­o­ra­tions.

Days later, it was the big night. Olivia and Ste­vie were sit­ting on her couch with their goofy 2020 glasses and tons of snacks. The cred­its for the Harry Pot­ter movie were rolling and Olivia glanced at Ste­vie ner­vously, wait­ing for her re­ac­tion.

“Whoa, that movie was ... awesome!” Ste­vie jumped up and down in her seat. “I’m hav­ing the best time.”

“Whoa, that movie was ... awesome!” Ste­vie jumped up and down in her seat. “I’m hav­ing the best time.”

“Yes! I’m so glad you liked it,” Olivia breathed a sigh of re­lief as her mind went to her bro­ken friend­ship with Quinn. “It’s nice to have some­thing in com­mon, you know?”

“Yeah,” Ste­vie agreed and she seemed to know what was on Olivia’s mind. “I think some­times it’s hard with friends. Peo­ple grow apart when their in­ter­ests change some­times.”

“But why?” Olivia couldn’t help but ask.

“With Quinn, I didn’t re­ally care when she started to like other things. I was happy to spend hours at the mall with her as long as we could also do things I like. She didn’t have to drop me like that.”

“Yeah, that re­ally stinks,” Ste­vie agreed. “That’s not how friends are sup­posed to act.”

Olivia knew she was bring­ing the mood down and after she thought about it for a minute, she re­al­ized she didn’t want to.

“That’s enough about Quinn,” Olivia said. “I feel like I’ve talked about her for years. Let’s do some­thing fun.”

Ste­vie rubbed her hands to­gether. “Well, I brought a few board games in my overnight bag. Want to play one?”

“I’m ter­ri­ble at board games,” Olivia laughed. “But as long as you show me what to do, I’m down!”

The next morn­ing Olivia woke up feel­ing ex­cited about her new friend­ship. She was bummed when Ste­vie’s mom showed up to bring her home, but couldn’t wait to hang out again.

“Next time you come over, I’m go­ing to own you at Sorry,” she promised as she hugged Ste­vie good­bye. “Next time, huh?” Ste­vie asked. “Yeah,” Olivia smiled. “Any­time. You’ve got an open in­vi­ta­tion.”

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