Mary and Amy sat on Mary’s bed, painting their toenails a vivid fluorescent orange and exchanging confidences. Giggling over fan magazines and sappy movies, and just hanging out made Mary realize just how long it had been since things were so simple, so carefree. It wasn’t long ago when the four friends were on equal footing; when Josh didn’t act like he should make all of the decisions, while everyone else went along with his edicts just to keep the peace.
She couldn’t pinpoint when or why it had all changed, or when the four of them had become so cold and cruel. It felt like they’d been under some kind of spell which had suddenly begun to lift. Shaking her head to clear it of such crazy thoughts, she focused on what Amy was saying.
“…so we’re driving back from his errand at the mine when he started getting all pissy because I had the nerve to question the way we’ve been treating Sasha. You’d have thought I was blaming all the nasty things we did to her on him. He was a grouch the entire way home, and practically threw me out of the car when we got to my house. He’s being so nasty I don’t even want to be around him anymore! I used to be so happy he chose me. Now I don’t even want to be me half the time.” Amy blinked, trying to clear the tears threatening to spill down her cheeks.
For a moment, Mary was struck speechless by Amy’s description of Josh’s behavior. It had to be bad if Amy wanted to distance herself from the boy she’d worshipped for years.
“That sure doesn’t sound like the Josh we grew up with. Why did you say you guys went out to the mine?”
“Josh was playing errand boy for Mr. Adams. I got the feeling he’s been doing it a lot and isn’t happy about it. What would make him do stuff for Adams if there was nothing in it for him?”
Debating over how much of what she and Paul had discovered should be shared with Amy, Mary opted for caution, saying instead,
“I don’t know. I think their families are close, though. Maybe his folks expect him to be respectful to their friends?”
Looking doubtful, Amy seemed to ponder Mary’s explanation.
“Maybe…but he really seemed to resent it. He seems to hate everything and everybody these days, so maybe you’re right.”
Testing the waters, Mary gave Amy the opportunity to share anything she might have learned from Josh.
“You know, Amy, it’s funny you started thinking about how weird it was we all seemed to gang up on Sash...