The hit song “A Change” by the popular Korean boyband, BTS, played in the background while Bella and her best friend, Hanna were together in Bella’s room. On the last day of every school week, Hanna would come over to her best friend’s house to complete their homework together. That day was no different. The two girls bopped their heads to their favourite song while they did their work. In the middle of their study session, Hanna accidentally spilled the cup of water that she had brought into the room. Both girls gasped in response before Bella dashed out and grabbed a towel to clean the spillage.
“Thank you for not getting mad. I was afraid you were going to shout at me for making a mess.” Hanna spoke sheepishly, rubbing the back of her neck. Bella let out a soft chuckle before stepping closer to Hanna. “I could never shout at you. We’re best friends forever.” Bella reached her arm out to her best friend as they entwined their little fingers together, to signify their promise that they would always be each other’s friend.
“Are you serious about going on that diet?” Hanna asked, changing the topic. Bella nodded her head eagerly as her eyes sparkled with determination. Her thought went back to her encounter with Aly the day before as a frown found its way on her chubby face.
Aly was the most popular girl in school and everyone wanted to join her group. With huge chocolatey eyes, skin as soft as a baby’s butt and a supermodel-like body, it comes as no surprise that a beautiful girl like her would be popular. On the other hand, Bella was a cute and chubby girl, whose main enjoyment in life was to eat delicious food with her best friend. Bella’s button nose often made her thick black glasses slip down, sometimes giving her the look of an elderly lady.
Even though Hanna loved the way her best friend looked, Aly did not. She embarrassed Bella about her weight in front of all her classmates. Aly’s words stung as pain swelled up in Bella’s heart, causing the plump girl to make the crucial decision to lose weight.
“I want to change and be as thin and pretty as Aly. Then, we can both join her group!” Bella bared her teeth with her lips curved upwards, earning a laugh from Hanna. Hanna shook her head slowly before placing her hand on her best friend’s shoulder. “As long as you do not change to be mean like Aly, I will always support you.
”The two best friends grinned at one another, genuinely appreciating their presence in each other’s lives.
Days turned to months as Bella spared no effort to lose weight. Her focus on losing weight had resulted in having lesser time to hang out with Hanna. Bella would decline Hanna’s offer to have a meal at their favourite food court together in order to not overeat. Hanna’s attempt to spend time with her best friend would always go down the drain as Bella would be too busy running laps at the stadium. Their lack of time together had caused a rift in their friendship, much to Bella’s oblivion.
Fortunately, after a whole lot of persuasion, Hanna finally managed to convince Bella to skip her exercise regime that one Friday in order to spend time together at Bella’s house.
Bella stepped on the electronic weighing scale in the kitchen, feeling as if her heart was about to drop out of her chest. She muttered a silent prayer with her eyes closed before glancing down. Her shoulders stooped when she glimpsed at the numbers shown on the scale. “Almost there.” Bella murmured loud enough for Hanna to catch. With a big bowl of spaghetti in her hands, Hanna ambled towards Bella. “Who cares how much you weigh, Bella. Here, eat this! It is your favourite food,” Hanna spoke gleefully as she brought the bowl up to Bella’s face and even volunteered to feed her best friend.
Unfortunately, Bella did not share the same emotion as she shoved Hanna away, with a scowl on her face. Bella’s actions caused Hanna to stumble backwards, dropping her bowl of spaghetti in the process. Hanna stared at her best friend in utter surprise. She desperately hoped that the next few words that were going to come out of Bella’s mouth were along the lines of “I’m sorry.” Instead, Bella grumbled, rolling her eyes. “I told you I am on a diet. Stop forcing me to eat! Now look at what happened! You better clean it up!” Bella exploded before stomping into her room and slamming the door shut.
The loud slam caused Hanna to shudder the same way she would when she heard the loud rumble of thunder. Hanna was rendered speechless by her best friend’s actions. Never in a million years would she have thought that her best friend was going to change and treat her the way she did. Her heart hurt. No, it was not the kind of hurt that you feel when you fall off a swing. Nor was it the kind of hurt that you feel when your mother scolds you for doing badly on a paper. It was the kind of hurt that was so specific that it deserved a whole new word on its own. One that meant that friendships could cause heartbreaks too. Devastated, Hanna stood up and quietly left Bella’s house after clearing up the mess on the floor.
Over that weekend, Bella intensified her workouts and only ate one meal a day. By the time she did her weigh-in on the night before the start of a new school week, she had finally reaped what she sowed. Bella was on cloud nine when the numbers on the weighing scale told her that she had achieved her dream weight.
Bella was as fresh as a daisy the next morning as she skipped happily to school. She was brimming with excitement just at the mere thought of meeting Aly. Her eyes scanned the school hall the moment she stepped in it zeroing on Aly and her minions in the corner. Skipping happily to them, Bella chirped, “Hi Aly! I am as thin as you now!” Aly gazed at Bella from head to toe, with Bella suddenly feeling self-conscious at the amount of attention that was on her. Much to her surprise, Aly sniggered sourly. Her face screamed unimpressed as she let out a humourless chuckle. “You are still a loser. Now go away.”
A faint tremor of sorrow was visible on Bella’s lip while she stared hard at the floor. The sound of Aly laughing sadistically wrapped her in a blanket of embarrassment. Not long, a few tears came to soften her seared vision. Bella felt her legs weaken as she grasped onto the hem of her shirt in an attempt to steel herself. The more she wanted to run away, the harder it was. It felt as if the cuff that was strapping her to the ground was becoming tighter with every growing second. It was only after Aly nudged her shoulder did Bella manage to find the courage to flee.
Bella immediately bolted to where Hanna was, hoping to receive the comfort of her only friend. To her dismay, Hanna glared at her, telling her that she got what she deserved. “I do not want to be your friend anymore. You are not the same Bella that I befriended. I do not know this Bella and I have no plans on being friends with her,” Hannah spoke, engulfed in resentment.
A river of shame swept through Bella. She did not realise that her desire to change who she was on the outside cost her to lose not only her best friend, but before who she was on the inside. This incident had taught Bella the bitter, often buried truth, that not all change is positive.
Note: This abridged conclusion may align better with the PSLE topic "A Change For The Better" and what appears to be 'better' on the surface may have other negative ramifications.
A river of shame swept through Bella. The loss of her best friend was a painful reminder. She had been so engrossed in positively transforming her exterior that she failed to see the erosion of her true self within. This incident had taught Bella the bitter, often buried truth – while change can be a path to betterment, it is important to discern between changes that uplift the soul and those that diminish one's essence.