• "Lucy! Come over!" I could hear my best friend Bea's voice over the phone.

    "Can't. Mom wants me to do chores all day, sorry," I said.

    She sighed. "Lu, summer is almost over. You can't spend it doing laundry."

    "I'll come over after I finish, okay?"

    "See you then."

    There was a click, and we hung up. I got to starting the laundry, but after my second load I got bored and decided to drive over to Bea's house.
    When I got there, Bea was on the front porch.

    "Bea!" I called.

    "Hey, Lu. How long ya here for?"

    "A few hours. I have to get back home before Mom comes back from work."

    She nodded. "Race you to the pasture?"

    A few days later, Bea called me again. "Lucy, I'm going to this horse race over the weeked. Wanna come see me?"

    "Mom?" I called. "Can I go with Bea to one of her horse races this weekend?"

    "Abslutely not, Lucy!" she yelled back.

    "I can't, sorry."

    "That's okay, see you at school on Monday. Ug, a new year of torture." I laughed as we hung up.

    I heard Bea did really well. She got second place, and was going to another horse race the next weekend.

    "I can't come, sorry!" I told her when she asked me to come. Mom really wanted me to (quote) 'dive into my studies' this year, so she was making me study endlessly and do all the extra credit my teachers offered.

    "That's okay," she said, but I could tell she felt rejected.
    "Look, it's not about you -"

    "I know, it's your mom, right?"


    "Can't you just beg her or something? This is the sixteenth time you've turned me down, Lu," she said.

    "No, she'll never let me go," I replied.

    "If you're not even going to try, no wonder you can't come!" she said, turning on her heel. I sighed. Bea could get really tempermental, but we'd make up later; we always did.

    The next Monday, Bea wan't at school. Neither was her younger brother, Oliver.

    "Mrs. Tanner? Do you know where Beatrice Avery is today?" I asked the school secretary.

    She just stared at me, looking all sad and knowing (I hate it when adults act like they're so superior!) and sent me out the door, not telling me anything. I figured she was sick and went back to my class.

    After a week of no-show, though, I was getting worried. After school, I drove my car over to Bea's house and knocked. Bea's mother answered the door. The house seemed empty and I couldn't hear Bea in the house.

    "Lucy, I'm sorry we haven't told you earlier, but Bea had an accident at her race," Mrs. Avery said. I stopped cold.


    "She's in a coma," Mrs. Avery said, her chin trembling and her eyes starting to tear up. "We don't know when she'll wake up."

    "What happened?" I asked flatly.

    Mrs. Avery burst into tears. Mr. Avery came from his spot on the couch and started to comfort her.

    "What happened?" I asked, louder.

    As if realizing for the first time I was there, Mr. Avery looked at me. His eyes looked empty. There was no hope in them.

    "Lucy fell in one of her horse races. She was in the lead. The second horse and racer couldn't stop in time, and she was trampled by the horse. She suffered a lot of trauma to the head." The words sounded memorized.

    I went home, leaving the parents alone. That weekend, I decided to visit Bea in the hospital. I went in, heading through the door the secretary had directed me to.

    There was Bea, in her riding clothes. Her head was covered in a clean bandage. A nurse bustled around. There was an IV hooked to Bea's wrist.

    "Bea?" I murmured. "It's me, Lucy." She didn't wake up. I felt my heart tear inside of me. My best friend, so lively and beautiful once, was now only a broken body. She wasn't dead - but she might as well have been. This wasn't living, what she was doing - this wasn't anything. Bea was between words, not quite alive, but not quite dead. I wondered what was going through her head, or if she could even think! I held her warm hand. She still had some indication of life in her.

    "What will happen if she wakes up?" I asked the nurse, choking up at the end.

    "She'll suffer severe brain damage," the nurse said. "But I wouldn't count on her waking up," she added, as if she didn't want me to get my hopes up.

    I realized I was crying. The nurse patted me on the back.

    "Now, why don't you go back home? Beatrice needs some sleep." I nodded silently, extracting my hand from Bea's and leaving Bea to suffer alone.

    I visited the hospital every day after that. Bea's condition didn't get better; if anything, the nurse said her health was deteriorating instead of strengthening. A few weeks later, I got a phone call.

    "Come quickly," Mr. Avery said. "Beatrice needs you."

    I jumped into my car and sped down to the hospital. When I got to the room, Bea was already surrounded by a group of family and friends. Bea was looking much, much worse. Her forehead was sweaty, and when I took her hand, it was clammy. Her bandage had a stain of blood on it, and she was breathing hard.

    I held her hand tightly. "I'm sorry," I whispered. "I'm sorry I was never there for you when you wanted me to. But I'm here now, Bea, I'm here now."
    I thought I saw Bea's eyes flicker open and look at me, but I could have imagined it. But I don't think I imagined Bea's head nod slightly before her breathing slowed, and slowed, and slowed...

    On October 19th, 1998, my best friend died. Her name was Beatrice Avery, and I'd known her since I was six. She died in the hospital, with her family and friends. Bea had a good life, but a short one. I will always remember her and honor her memory. She will never be forgotten.

    It's eleven year later now. I have a husband and a beautiful daughter named Beatrice. I've learned to move on, but not forget, the death of my friend. A few days ago, though, I visited the place of Bea's accident: the racing track. There were no traces that, eleven years ago, a girl had been fatally injured. Bea has taught me many things, and one of them is this: live in the moment. Forget about tomorrow, or the next, or the next. Live your life the way you want to, because we only have so much time to make a difference.

    This one's for you, Bea.