by Seraphina Ler (P6 2021)
                “Hey, Nat! What did you get for this year’s exam?” My best friend, Jess, squealed excitedly as she waved her report card filled with AL1s and AL2s. Groaning, I hastily stuffed my report card filled with AL5s and AL6s into my bag just in the nick of time as Jess came scurrying towards me. Though my results were partly because of my dyslexia, which caused words to fly everywhere, and float here and there, I had felt disappointed with myself for failing so miserably. Flinging my school bag over my shoulders, I hurriedly left school, not wanting Jess to find out about my deplorable grades. Jess was our class prodigy who always aced every subject, topping the class in all tests and examinations.
                “Nat! Wait up! You have not even shown me your results. Come on, just show me, that is what best friends are for,” Jess jogged up to me, imploring me to show her the results I had gotten. However, I just ignored Jess. Just when I thought the worst was over, Jess took off back to the school compound, leaving behind a trail of dust. “Fine, Nat! Since you refuse to share your results, I shall ask…” Jess yelled as she dashed back to our class. Enraged, I darted back to my classroom, trailing hopelessly behind Jess.
                As soon as I headed back to my classroom, I was horrified at the sight before me. Jess had already started her “hunt” in trying to uncover my results:
                “Hey Liz, can I ask you a question? Do you know what Nat got for this year’s exam? No? Oh, okay thanks! Hey Sarah, do you know how much Nat got for her exam? No, oh, okay. Hi Zoe, do you know what Nat had, no? Oh, it is fine. Hey…”
                I was shell-shocked as Jess tried asking nearly half the class about my results. I stood there rooted to the ground as Jess made her way around the class, hoping to get wind of my results. My bag had slipped off my shoulder and onto the floor as I watched the scene unfold in front of me. Just then, Jess had walked up to the quietest person in the classroom, Ben, who sat next to me and had seen my results. “Hi Ben! Um… please do not tell Nat but if you know what she has gotten please tell me,” Jess begged Ben. However, perhaps I had Lady Luck on my side because Ben had shaken his head and walked past Jess, winking at me.
                Heaving a sigh of relief, I hurriedly grabbed my bag and crossed my arms outside my classroom, in a mix of anger and annoyance. Sighing, Jess kept her head low as she and I headed out of the classroom, to the main gate. Not long after a moment of awkward silence, Jess had begun rattling off about the luxurious rewards awaiting her. Annoyed at her relentless boasting of her post-examination activities, I kicked the gravel on the ground, turning a deaf ear to Jess.
                “So, my dad would most likely get me a monitor, but perhaps the latest PS5 would work as well. You know, come to think of it, my mom might also get me a 6-inch television to place in my room…” Rolling my eyes in irritation, I felt hurt that instead of giving me words of encouragement and advice, she was boasting about her rich life. Nodding my head as though I was listening, I seethed with fury as flashes of rage tore before my eyes. Deep down, I was livid as Jess continued her bragging. I was tempted to punch her in the face. However, my self-control got the better of me. I clenched my fists as anger filled me.
                Jess, oblivious to her surroundings, had begun insulting our classmates. “Nat, you know that girl, Liz? She is so stupid. Can you believe her in getting 20 ½ for the Mathematics test? Then, Tim only got 30 for Science! Our class is definitely filled with idiots! I could probably ask our form teachers to transfer us to the GEP class. At least you are not as dumb as the other people.”
                That was the last straw. My mind was seething with rage as I glared at Jess with bulging eyes. I could not believe that Jess was a two-faced person! Just 15 minutes ago, Jess was asking Liz for my grades in a friendly and cheerful voice, and now she was insulting not only Liz but also Tim! What was this?! Did she think that all our classmates were her soft toys and that she could just insult them as and when she wanted? I yanked Jess into a deserted alley before my unblinkable eyes flashed lividly. I was furious and my face turned red with rage as I barked at Jess with a voice that was cold and hard. I shook my fists as I bared my teeth in an ugly snarl. “Do you honestly think that you are that smart?! Well, let’s face it, you aren’t. Why? Because your parents indulge you with all sorts of tuition and supplementary classes! In fact, so what if Liz and Tim had only gotten such low scores for their Maths and Science exams?! They are actually way better than you in their languages! You are just an average girl. Want my results?! Here you go!” I thrashed my report card in front of her face as my temper was rising with every word I spoke. I was vexed. My self-control could only suppress so much anger and my lack of self-control had gotten the better of me.
                However, I was in for a surprise. Instead of retaliating, Jess was mortified by my admonishment. She averted my gaze and tugged at the hem of her blouse. She wrung her fingers as she stuttered, “I’m so…so…sorry. I… guess my pride… got the worst of me. I should… not have criticised Tim and Liz. It was foolish and idiotic of me… Sorry for also wanting to find out about your results… I know you did not do as well as you wanted… Sorry. Let’s bury the hatchet and move on.”
                She swallowed a hard lump that had risen in her throat as she was stupefied by my sudden outburst. Looking back, I was driven to the edge and could no longer hold my tongue for the words Jess uttered were just too unbearable to ignore. Jess was humbled by my outburst because she immediately fished out her phone and sent encouraging words to our classmates who did not do as well as her. She then apologised profusely to me for not thinking about how I felt should she get wind of my results. She had even suggested teaching me using all ways and means to make up for what she had done. Chuckling, I thanked her. Walking back home together, I knew that I had not only gained self-control but had also made a better friend.


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