Sarah blew at the eighteen candles placed on the heart-shaped fondant cake. Her pretty face was radiant with happiness. It was a double celebration that marked her passage into adulthood and her selection in the National figure skating team.
“Cut the cake, Sarah. We specially ordered it from your favourite patisserie,” urged Elaine, Sarah’s mother.
Sarah reluctantly cut the cake. Her eyes were searching for her best friend. “Mom, did you invite Diandra for the party?” Sarah asked, her voice tinged with disappointment.
“Well, I did leave a message on her voicemail inviting her to come. But she didn’t reply,” said Elaine, a bit indifferently. Lately, Elaine had been distrustful of Diandra’s behaviour toward Sarah and had insisted time and again that Sarah cut-off her friendship with her childhood bestie.
Suddenly, Sarah fell to the floor, clutching at her stomach tightly. A wretched, stabbing pain had gripped her. She bent over crying in agony and fell unconscious. Panic set in the room. Her father immediately called 911 and they all waited for the ambulance to arrive.
Sarah and Diandra had been best friends since elementary school. They swam, played soccer and ice-skated together. They even had crushes on the same cute guys. After school, they loved reading ghost stories with a torch under the blanket. During sleepovers, they also tinkered with the Ouija board even when expressly forbidden to do so by their parents. And all through their growing years they made black rag dolls named after frightening bullies and pesky teachers to get back at them.
Both girls grew up to be competitive figure skaters, equally graceful and nimble. They proudly represented their city in inter-city competitions. However, the past few months had brought some unexpected changes in their lives. Sarah had started training under the best skating coach in the country, Mr. Moskovic, a man known as ‘champion maker’ and who charged an exorbitant fee for his services. Sarah’s father, an affluent businessman, was insistent that Sarah train under him. He wished to see her compete in the Olympics someday.
Diandra, on the other hand, could not afford such extravagance, coming from a middle class family. And so she apathetically accepted to train under a local coach provided by the city.
Just a week before Sarah’s 18th birthday came the announcement that she had been selected to the National figure skating team. Sarah was ecstatic. Her dream was finally coming true.
Diandra’s cell phone beeped twice. She grabbed her phone to read the message she had been eagerly waiting to receive.
“Where are you? Sarah has been taken to the city hospital. It’s an emergency.”
The message was from Gili, a common friend.
Diandra raced up to her bedroom. She rummaged through the drawer where she kept her old clothes and fished out a small black doll hidden underneath a pile of old T-shirts. She looked at it and smiled wickedly. The doll’s stomach was pierced with a pin.
Writing order: Neil Churches (Aus), Donna McTavish (NZ), Sameer Nagarajan (India), Priya Rajvansh (India), Hemali Ajmera (India), Anna Zhigareva (Scotland), Suraya Dewing (NZ), Rosemary Walkelin (Aus), Cynthia Agunwa (Nigeria), Jasmine Groves (Aus)