Once upon a time, two little girls were born, on the very same day. From the moment they met, they were inseparable. Wherever Edie went, Selene followed.
Birds of a feather, always together.
When the girls were old enough to play outside on their own, they spent hours in the backyard, climbing rough-barked trees, daring each other to take a bite of a puckery-sour crabapple, and watching ants carry cracker crumbs back to their hill.
At night, they’d drag a blanket under the stars, tracing the outlines of the constellations with their finger, spinning elaborate tales of the lady on the moon and the star bears.
They were the best of friends, and they always would be.
In middle school, Edie began to notice that Selene was a little bit slow. She wasn’t always the first to jump into a game of tag and she’d get all nervous and weird when it was time for class book reports.
And one day, as they were walking home from school and Selene had another of what Edie’d started calling her “little freak outs,” Edie snapped.
“Selene, what’s your problem?! I try to make new friends for us, and you get all weird and awkward. And our science project? You totally freaked out in front of the whole class! I thought you were going to break your stupid teeth, they were chattering so loud!”
Selene felt awful. She knew she got all weird at times, but it was only because she was nervous.
She felt like things were changing so fast, with school, with friends, with everything.
Why couldn’t she just be normal, like Edie? She vowed to try harder.
By junior high, Edie found herself talking to Selene less and less. Sure, Selene was always there, eagerly wanting to hang out, but they could spend hours together with Edie barely acknowledging her presence.
Maybe if I stop talking to her, she’ll get the hint and go away…
Edie had noticed that Selene would have one of her little freak outs, but times ten whenever Eric was around, and it made Edie nervous just looking at her! She was such a mess!
Edie couldn’t understand why Selene seemed so intent on messing things up for herself all the time. She was always too clumsy, or sweaty, or just plain weird.
Edie started to avoid Selene. She left early for school, cutting through the alley so they wouldn’t have to walk together. When Selene tried to pass her notes in class, Edie let them fall to the floor unread.
But Selene still didn’t get it. Sure, she was quieter now–a lot quieter–but she was always there. Always waiting and hoping that Edie would talk to her. It was pretty pathetic, really.
And then Edie was leaving for college. The big day had finally arrived. And, as life would have it, she and Selene were going to the same school, although it’d been years since they’d spoken.
Edie and Selene shared a dorm, so Edie would see her often in the halls and in the bathroom.
And still they never spoke. At least, Edie never did.
Selene kept trying. She was always there, with this stupid smile on her face, like today was finally going to be the day that Edie would suddenly realize they were best friends.
Wasn’t she embarrassed by herself?
When Edie would stay out late, partying with her new friends, Selene would be there, too. Edie could tell she hated drinking, because she’d make that dumb face every time she took a sip, but she’d do it anyways, just to be like Edie.
But one day, something changed.
Edie noticed that Selene wasn’t smiling as much. And she just seemed…off. Not like her usual self, awkward and annoying as that may have been.
No, she looked tired–really tired–and more than a little sad.
Edie figured it was college life taking its toll. I mean, it was a lot: the classes, the parties, friends, Evan.
It seemed like there was never enough time to just sit and be. There was always something to do, somewhere to be.
And if Edie was being totally honest, she wasn’t exactly taking the best care of herself. Maybe Selene, as her ever-present copy cat, was doing the same.
And then, it happened. Selene was taken to the hospital. The doctors said it was exhaustion–probably a combination of too much stress, poor sleep, bad food, drinking, and god knows what else.
That night, Edie dreamt of the star bears, of the lady on the moon, and she felt Selene’s giggles reverberating in her body as the two of them buried their laughter in their hands, trying to be quiet so mom and dad wouldn’t tell them to come inside.
The next day, Edie went to visit Selene.
Oh, how small and scared she looked. How empty. Edie barely recognized her old friend.
Selene tried to smile, but she was just so very tired.
“Oh, you know, Edie. Just trying to do too much stuff, I guess. I just need to rest for awhile.”
Edie bit her lip.
“I could come and visit you. Maybe bring your homework if you want?”
“That would be nice, Edie.” And she smiled this time, almost looking like her old self.
Every day that week, Edie came to visit. They made fun of the awful hospital food, and Edie ate the neon-green Jell-O that Selene said was just too gross to be edible.
And they started to talk about old times. About backyards and star bears, slumber parties and friendship. And Edie couldn’t take it anymore; she had to know.
“Selene, why did you always stick around? I mean…I was so mean to you,” she whispered.
When she had the courage to look up, she saw that Selene was smiling at her. Like always.
“Edie, you are my heart friend. I love you. Why would I ever leave?”
Edie began to cry. “But I was so awful to you. Why didn’t you just go and find someone else to hang out with, someone better?”
Selene looked at her like Edie’d just cracked the funniest joke.
“Who could possibly be better than you?”
And then Edie saw.
For the first time in years, she saw.
Edie and Selene. Selene and Edie.
Always together, birds of a feather.
Selene just wanted Edie to be happy. She was always there for her, through thick and thin.
Even when Edie made fun of her, when she told Selene she was clumsy, awkward and ugly, Selene would just try harder to be what Edie wanted.
And always with a smile.
Selene just wanted to be around her. That’s all she ever wanted.
And finally Edie could see. That her body, that Selene, was her friend.
Her friend who was always there for her. Who, for as long as she lived, would always be there for her.
Her friend who loved her so much. No matter what.
And that day, Edie loved her back. Edie loved her body like she had from the moment they were born, together.
In a way she had simply forgotten how to do.
She loved her with kind words. With healthy foods. With plenty of sleep.
They went to yoga together, they went camping together, and they gazed at the star bears together.
You and your body, your body and you.
Always together, birds of a feather.