Susie and Roberta became friends in 1970 when they both started 2nd grade. Susie’s family had moved from New Britain, CT where the population was about 83,441. They noticed a significant difference upon arriving in Brookline MA where the population was only 58,886. They left a considerable amount friends and family behind. but Susie’s dad had received a job offer he just couldn’t refuse. Roberta didn’t care she was happy knowing she would no longer be lonely. Now she had someone to share her love of music with. Together Susie and Roberta decided their favorite artist was Carole King because all of her songs were relatable to their lives at the time. They decided that “You’ve got a friend” was officially their song. At least twice a week you could find them in either of their rooms holding hair brushes to their mouths singing each word of the song with a strong emphasis on the word “friend”.
Susie and Roberta spent every available moment together. You could definitely tell the difference in both their moods as well as their behaviors when they weren’t together. There were years of sleepover parties, secret boyfriends, parties their parents didn’t and wouldn’t ever know about. They were definitely the masters of keeping secrets. Don’t get me wrong they were both decent and respectful young women, any parent would be proud to have them. They were just slightly mischievous like every other girl their age. There wasn’t anything they couldn’t tell you about the other. They had every possible class together and were academically at the same level in school which is how they were able to keep up on all their work and their conversations were endless. Susie and Roberta never tired of one another.
To keep things exciting once the girls hit eighth grade, they decided to take ice skating lessons together. Twice a week they took classes at the local skating rink. They had both gotten rather good. One Saturday afternoon there was a skating event at the rink. There were too wild boys that were continuously racing around the rink. Despite the many amounts of warning that they would be kicked off the floor, the boys continued with the same behavior. One of the boys was going so fast that when he went to pass Susie he knocked her down so fast. His friend was right behind him. There was no time for Susie to get up and before anyone could do anything about it, the young boys ice skate had run over Susie’s neck. Everyone started screaming. The boy ran off the ice skating rink vomiting and crying. Roberta had fainted, it took three or four smelling salts before she came to. Once awake Roberta was hysterical. The ambulance attendants could barely keep her away from Susie as they worked hard to try to save her. Susie didn’t make it off the ice alive. Even though Roberta wasn’t the one who lay dying, her life with Susie continued to flash before her eyes. Susie had been taken away and her parents followed blindly. Night fell and Roberta’s parents were still trying to get her to come home. Finally a female police officer was about to coax Roberta into her parent’s car. Roberta’s parents were grateful that she would have February vacation to try to pull herself together as much as she would be able to.
Before returning to school after vacation, Susie was buried. Roberta barely spoke to anyone for the rest of the school year outside of what had to be said regarding her school work. Many tried to befriend her, she would just blurt out “No one will ever replace Susie”. But the next year was the first year of high school and it was going to be a new world for Roberta. While at the freshman assembly she was sitting next to a girl named Anita. All the boys were making fun of her calling her names because she had marks and scars on her face. Roberta wasn’t having it. She yelled at the boys saying “don’t talk to my friend like that, or you will be sorry.” The boys knew Roberta and they knew she meant what she said and immediately backed off and didn’t bother her again. Anita and Roberta went on to be best friends. Roberta never felt comfortable enough to talk to anyone else about her friend Susie, but Anita became the first person to be lucky enough to hear the story of their friendship. Anita has continued to be thankful and grateful for her relationship with Roberta. They remain friends still to this day although they are at opposite ends of the world now and only communicate via the internet. Roberta doesn’t let a day go by that she’s not remembering her friend Susie.
While She Lay Dying©
By Felina Silver Robinson