Taking her books form her locker, Janice walked down the, now empty, hallway of Township High School. She had deliberately dawdled after her last class, not wanting to meet anyone in the crowded hall. She was too ashamed. The incident in the bathroom earlier had shocked her, and she wanted to be alone, away from the faces that might recognize her as the "snitch".
She hadn't snitched, but they all thought she had, and that was just as bad. When she walked into the girls' room earlier today, she could tell by the smell and the reactions on the other girls' faces that they had been smoking pot. She had turned immediately and ran out, scared of exactly what, she didn't know. Just scared.
Soon after, when a teacher found them there, they assumed that Janice had run to tell. They all ignored her the rest of the day. It would be a long time, maybe never, before they spoke to her again. "God help me!" she cried as she left the building, feeling very lonely.
Janice walked slowly, and took the long way home. She needed to collect herself before she faced her mother. Mother always knew when something was wrong. She always insisted on answers. Janice didn't have any answers.
As she neared her home, there sat Marie on the steps, waiting for her. She swallowed hard and put on her best face. "Hi!"
"Hi, yourself." Then, "We need to talk."
Janice began to pray silently. She didn't want her best friend mad at her. 'Jesus, help me.' She sat on the steps next to Marie and waited for the entourage of words she expected to hear.
To her surprise, they never came. Instead she watched as Marie began to shed tears. "I'mumso glad you told on those girls today." Marie hesitated, wiped her hand over her face, then the words began to tumble out. "I was in one of the stalls when you came into that restroom today. The other girls were trying to get me to smoke with them. I may have done it if the teacher hadn't stopped it all."
Marie was out of breath and sobbing like a baby. Janice was shocked. The hand of God had saved her best friend, a good Christian girl, and everyone thought she was responsible. 'Thank you, God.' Then aloud, "Marie, I didn't tell, but everyone thinks I did. Still, if it saved you from becoming involved, I'll gladly take the blame. The crowd wrongly accused Jesus and hung him on a cross, all because he was trying to save them. I guess I can take the little jibes, the cold shoulders and the knowing stares of my accusers with joy if it all comes to your salvation in the end."
"I'll proudly walk beside you," said a smiling Marie. "And I'll proudly walk with Jesus Christ, too."
Jacquelyn Horne is a former newspaper reporter who has won various awards including two Delaware School Bell awards. She has poems and articles published in magazines and Christian publications. She moved from Delaware to central Georgia 13 years ago.