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Chapter 3 - Best Friends Forever

 In Memory of Whitney Houston 1963 – 2012 


If you haven't read Chapter 2 yet, read that first

Chapter 3 – Best Friends Forever

Isabella stood in front of the bathroom mirror curling her gorgeous long brown hair with a big barrel curling iron.  Dressed in jeans and a white shirt with a red flower on it that bore one shoulder, she was ready to dance! 

“Where are you going?” her mom asked as she approached the bathroom. 

“Paige is taking me to the dance club for my birthday.” 

“Oh, that’s nice. I can’t believe you’re 17 already. That makes me feel old.” Isabella’s mom giggled.

“I know! Can you believe I will be graduating high school in a few months? Time flies!”  

“Yes it does,” her mom said shaking her head. “It seems like just yesterday you were a 7-year-old girl dancing around with Grandma Allen. 

Honk! Honk! 

“Oh, there’s Paige!” Isabella exclaimed. “I gotta go.” 

“Okay, you know the drill. Be home by 11 p.m.,” Mom said matter-of-factly. 

“Yes, Mom. I know. I will be.” 

She grabbed her makeup and her purse then flew out the front door, plopping herself down in Paige’s car. 

 “Hi!” Isabella shouted excitedly, closing the door to the car.

“Hi!” Paige answered back.

 “I hope we meet some cute guys tonight,” Isabella squealed, pulling down the visor to put on some lip gloss. 

“Me too!” Paige responded with delight. 

Rounding a corner of the neighborhood heading onto the main road, Paige turned up the tunes. 

“Yes! Michael Jackson!” Isabella shrieked, turning it up even louder.  

The two of them rode off into the sunset, dancing in their seats singing "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'."

I said you wanna be startin’ somethin’

You got to be startin’ somethin’ 

I said you wanna be startin’ somethin’

You got to be startin’ somethin’ 

It’s too high to get over

Too low to get under

You’re stuck in the middle

And the pain is thunder  

As they pulled into the dance club, they sat in the parking lot long enough to finishing singing “P.Y.T.”

I want to love you (P.Y.T.)

Pretty young thing

You need some loving (T.L.C.)

Tender lovin’ care

And I’ll take you there…

“Okay, let’s go in,” Paige said turning off the car. 

“Gotta love Michael Jackson!” Isabella said smiling.  

“Mmhmm!” Paige agreed. 

Opening the door to the dance club, Paige approached the booth to pay. While Isabella looked through a window in the door that separated the entrance from the club, her eyes immediately fixated upon a guy already dancing on the floor.  He was tall with dark brown hair. Jeans that fit snugly were covered slightly by a white button down shirt. 

“Wow, he’s cute!” Isabella exclaimed. “I’m going to meet him before the end of the night!”  She vowed. 

“Who?” Paige asked.

“I’ll show you when we get in there.” 

They paid their admission fee and entered the dance club. 

As they stood there drinking a soft drink, she saw him walking toward her. “That’s the guy I was talking about!” Isabella whispered excitedly. “Oh my gosh, he’s coming over here!”

With a deep voice he looked at Isabella and said, “Hi.”  

“Hi,” they both responded in unison. 

“What’s your name?” he asked Isabella.

“Isabella. What’s yours?” 

“Tyler.”

“Hi, Tyler. This is my friend Paige.”

“Hi,” he said, nodding his head.

“Oooh!” Isabella screamed as “Thriller” started to play. “I gotta go dance!” she said excitedly, putting her drink down on the table. 

“Let’s go!” Tyler said, reaching his hand out for hers. 

“He doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into, huh, Paige?” Isabella said, looking at her with a smile. 

“She knows every word, every note and every special effect in Michael Jackson’s songs.  Beware! His music brings her to life!” Paige said, taunting Tyler.

Isabella smiled to herself remembering that this is the song she used to dance to with Grandma Allen all the time. She had immersed herself into Michael Jackson’s music ever since Grandma passed away. Listening to it makes her feel her grandma is near. 

It’s close to midnight, and something evil’s lurking in the dark,” Isabella sang, dancing her way on to the floor. 

Flirting with Tyler, she pretended to slam the door in his face as the song continued. You hear the door slam.” Bam!   

Tyler smiled back at her with a look that said I’m intrigued by you

“…And though you fight to stay alive, your body starts to shiver.” Isabella voiced while folding her arms, pretending that she really was shivering. “For no mere mortal can resist, the evil of…The Thriller! Ha ha ha ha.” Isabella laughed, her eyes wide open, pretending to claw his face while reciting those words.

“Wow, she wasn’t kidding was she?” Tyler said to Isabella. “Michael Jackson’s music really does make you come alive.” 

“Yes, indeed.” 

“I like you,” he said, smiling. 

“I like you too.” Isabella smiled back as they walked off the dance floor. 

"That was a blast!” Isabella said to Paige as they were leaving the dance club. 

Tyler was in the parking lot, just about to climb into the back seat of the car with his friends, when he spotted Isabella. 

“Hold up,” he told his friends. 

“So, how about giving me your phone number?” he asked coyly, approaching Isabella.

“Hmm. I hardly even know you,” she smiled. 

“Yeah. That’s why I want your number, to get to know you,” he flirted back. 

“Should I?” she asked, looking over at Paige. 

"Don’t ask me!” Paige answered emphatically, raising her hands. 

After a few moments of teasing, she agreed and they exchanged numbers. 

“I’ll call ya,” Tyler shouted as he ran off to the car where his friends were waiting.

They pulled into Isabella’s driveway at 11 p.m. on the dot. She started to open the door when Paige grabbed her arm. “Wait. I have a little gift for you.”  

"You didn’t have to do that,” Isabella said gleefully. 

“It’s not much,” Paige replied. 

Isabella opened the small gift wrapped in pastel paper and found a small plaque with the words Best Friends Forever inscribed on it.

“Awww, thank you,” Isabella beamed, giving her a hug. 

“I hope we stay friends forever,” Paige said, hugging her back. 

“Of course we will. Okay, gotta run before I get in trouble. Bye!” Isabella shouted, closing the car door. 

“See ya!” Paige shouted back.

Three days later, Tyler called.

In the weeks that followed, Isabella and Tyler became very close, spending most of their free time together. Now they went to the dance club as a couple, but Paige usually came with them. Initially, the three of them were like the Three Musketeers, often hanging out together having a great time, but then things started to change. 

Tyler became very possessive of Isabella. He would dictate what she could and couldn’t wear, often telling her to change into something less attractive because he didn’t want other guys looking at her.  He also started to become bothered by the friends she was hanging around with, particularly Paige, and he didn’t want her going to the dance club without him now.  He wanted her to stay home when she wasn’t with him.

Uneasy with his controlling ways, Isabella justified it by telling herself that if he didn’t love her he wouldn’t care what she wears. It wouldn’t matter to him whom she hangs around with, and he wouldn’t care if other guys looked at her. 

As she sat on her bed deep in thought about it, Michael’s Magic Box began to shimmer. She stood up, grabbed it and sat back down on the bed to listen. 

 

So I've learned that loves' not possession

Reflecting on Michael’s message, she knew he was trying to tell her that Tyler isn’t the one for her. But I love him. Closing the box, she set it back down on her dresser and picked up her ringing cell phone. It was Paige. 

“Let’s go to the dance club tonight,” she said. 

"Okay, sounds fun. Let me call Tyler and see if he wants to go,” Isabella replied. 

"Can’t we just go by ourselves this time? You’re always with him, Isabella. We never get any time to ourselves now.”

"No. He doesn’t want me to go there without him.”

"Well, I don’t want to go there with him,” Paige countered. “It’s like he thinks he owns you.”

When Isabella didn’t respond, she said, “Never mind, I’ll go by myself!” abruptly hanging up on Isabella. 

Isabella really wanted to go, so she called Tyler. “Hi. Do you want to go to the dance club tonight?”   

“I can’t. I have to go somewhere with my dad. Another night?” 

“Well, Paige really wants me to go with her,” Isabella pleaded. 

“No, Isabella. You know how I feel about that,” Tyler said insecurely. 

With a big sigh, she agreed. “Okay…I won’t go.”

Later that evening, Isabella received a text from an anonymous person. She didn’t recognize the phone number but the message read, “Get down to the dance club now!” 

“What?” she questioned aloud to herself, holding the phone out, looking puzzled. She shrugged it off for the moment, trying to put it out of her mind, but she couldn’t stop thinking about it. She tried to call Paige to see if she knew what was going on, but there was no answer. Finally, she couldn’t stand it any longer. Curiosity got the best of her.

“Mom, I’m going out for a while,” she yelled, making sure her mom heard her. 

“Where are you going, honey?”

“I’m going to go meet Paige at the dance club. I won’t be long.” 

“Okay. Be careful,” her mom advised.

Upon her arrival at the dance club, Isabella walked into the entrance, her stomach filled with butterflies. She had no idea if the text she received was real or if someone was just playing a joke on her, but she had to find out. There was a line of people waiting to get into the club, so she looked through the window of the door as she always did while she waited to pay.

That’s when her world fell apart. Standing right in the middle of the floor were Tyler and Paige dancing. With each other. To a slow song. Kissing.

Isabella doubled over as if someone had just punched her in the gut. “Oh, my God!” she cried as she ran out of the building. Tears streamed down her face as she got into her car. Not wanting to go home yet, she drove around aimlessly, sobbing because of how hurt she felt.

“How could they do this to me?” she cried out loud.  Tears blurred her vision so badly that she could hardly see. Wiping them away, she screamed loudly… 

Crash!

Isabella awoke to find herself in the hospital with her parents and her sister standing over her, looking very distraught.  

“What happened?” Isabella asked, trying to bring their faces into focus. 

“You hit a tree!” her father exclaimed. “Do you remember anything? How did this happen?”  

“Ummm…” It took Isabella a few minutes to understand where she was and what had happened. She slowly looked around the room, letting it all sink in, not answering her dad’s question. 

Understanding her daughter’s look of concern, Isabella’s mother said, “The doctor said you’re going to be okay. You weren’t seriously hurt, thank the lord. Just some broken bones and bruises. What happened?”

Isabella began to cry as it all started coming back to her. She told them about the text she had received, where she went and what she saw.  

“I was crying so hard, and I just needed some time to myself so I drove around. Next thing I know, I’m in the hospital with you all looking down at me,” Isabella said softly.

Paige and Tyler had tried twice to visit her in the hospital while she was recovering, but both times her parents turned them away. They felt it best that Isabella didn’t see either one of them right now.

The next morning, Isabella’s mom greeted her bright and early in the hospital. “How are you feeling?” 

“I’m okay, still a little sore.” 

“I brought you something,” Mom said with a smile, hiding the surprise behind her back. 

“What is it?” Isabella asked.

Bringing her arms out in front of her, she held up Michael’s Magic Box. “I thought you might want this here,” Mom said smiling. 

“Oh, good! I was going to ask you to bring it up here for me. Thank you, Mom. Will you put it on the table next to me?” 

She set it down gently on the table, looking over at Isabella, trying to get a feel for what she was thinking.   

How could they do this to me, Mom?” Isabella blurted out. “My best friend and my boyfriend. How could they betray me like that? I thought they loved me?” 

Just then Michael’s Magic Box started to shimmer. “I knew there was a reason I felt compelled to bring this up here!” Isabella’s mom said as she reached for the box and handed it to Isabella.

Upon opening it, Isabella heard these words being sung to her: 

You help me understand that love is the answer to all that I am. 

She carefully closed the box, looked up at her mom and said, “I don’t want to love anymore. It hurts too much.”

“Isabella, love doesn’t hurt,” her mom stated confidently. 

“Well, if that’s true, why do I hurt so much then?” Isabella questioned. 

"You hurt because Paige’s and Tyler’s actions have caused you to look at yourself in an unloving way. Who you are is love, Isabella. That’s what Michael is trying to tell you!” Pointing to Isabella’s heart she said, “That’s what the spirit inside you is made of. If you’re thinking about yourself in a positive way you will feel the love inside you, but if you’re thinking about yourself in a negative way you will feel emptiness inside you.” 

“How do I think of myself in a positive way when someone treats me like that?” Isabella questioned. 

“You’re forgetting one very important thing,” Her mom replied. 

“What?” Isabella asked. 

“That you are the one who controls the way you feel about yourself.” 

“What do you mean?” Isabella inquired. 

 “What other people think of you, and how other people treat you, can only affect you in a negative way if you let it influence the way you view yourself,” her mom asserted. “Eleanor Roosevelt said it best: ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.’”

“Hmm…interesting,” Isabella responded, sounding intrigued.

“If you can’t love yourself unless other people love you, that’s a dangerous situation to put yourself in because you give other people the power to determine how you feel about yourself. And that’s exactly what you’ve done, Isabella,” her mom affirmed.

“How do I change it?” 

“You have to learn to love yourself!” her mom stated unequivocally. 

"What exactly does it mean to love yourself?” Isabella questioned. 

“Loving yourself means treating yourself with love,” Mom explained. 

"Love has many attributes: kindness, compassion, empathy, understanding and forgiveness. Love is also truth, honesty, integrity, dignity and respect. Loving yourself means thinking, talking and treating yourself and others with the attributes of love. The more you treat yourself with love, the less you need other people to love you in order to feel good about yourself. In return, you have you so much more love to give.” 

“Ah. Okay. I am starting to understand it more now,” Isabella said happily.

“When you treat yourself with love, you no longer settle for people who treat you with a lack of love because you don’t need them to make you feel good about yourself anymore. That’s the point you have to get to, Isabella,” her mom encouraged.

“Thanks, Mom. That helped me a lot!” Isabella said gratefully.

“You’re welcome, honey.” 

“Isabella, you have a visitor,” her mom called out.  

“Who is it?” she answered, appreciating the fact that she was home now. Since she still had some recovering to do, she was lying in her bed.

Paige walked in from behind her mom. “It’s me, Isabella.” 

“I will leave you two to talk,” her mom said, closing the door behind her. 

Paige burst into tears.  Kneeling down beside her bed she said, “I am so sorry, Isabella. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen.”

“How could you do it, Paige?” 

“I wasn’t thinking. The night you said you couldn’t go to the dance club with me, I was so angry. Tyler had taken over your life.  I felt like you abandoned me.  I was hurt.”

“Oh, so you decided to get revenge on me by kissing my boyfriend?” Isabella said angrily. 

With regret in her voice, Paige said, “No. When Tyler showed up at the dance club that night I asked him where you were. He said he went down there to see if you were with me.”

Isabella rolled her eyes.  

Sitting down with her legs folded beneath her, Paige continued, “Since he was there, we danced a few times together, but I should have stopped when the slow song came on because…before I knew it, we were kissing.”  

With tears in her eyes, Paige pleaded, “It meant nothing, Isabella. We just got caught up in the moment. Please forgive me. I know what I did was wrong and I hate myself for it.”  

Isabella lay silently for the longest time while Paige sat on the floor waiting for a response. Remembering what her mom said about forgiveness being an attribute of love, she finally spoke. “I forgive you, Paige, but I need some time alone to heal.” 

Reaching her arms out for a hug, Paige said, “I understand. I’ll leave you alone now.” 

Isabella smiled and hugged her back, but spoke no words. 

“Bye,” Paige said, waving her hand and closing the door behind her as she left. 

“Bye,” Isabella replied quietly.   

Beep! Beep! Beep! Isabella grabbed her phone to see who was texting her. It was Tyler. 

“Can we talk?” the message read. 

Isabella thought long and hard before answering him back. 

“Nothing much to say,” she replied.

“Can I come over?” 

“Not a good idea!”

“Please, Isabella. I don’t want to lose you.”

“Shld have thought about that B4.”

“I know. Give me another chance?”

Again, Isabella thought long and hard before answering, but ultimately she knew what she had to do. It’s time to show myself some love and respect, she thought.  

“I can forgive, but no second chances. Hope u find the love ur looking for. Bye Tyler.”

As Isabella was getting ready for bed later that evening, she received a message from Michael. It was a very special message; one she was not expecting, but it helped put everything she learned into perspective. It featured a guest he brought along especially for her. 

This one's especially for you...

"No matter what they take from me, they can't take away my dignity

Because the greatest love of all is happening to me.

I've found the greatest love of all inside of me.

The greatest love of all is easy to achieve

Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all

And if by chance that special place that you've been dreaming of

Leads you to a lonely place

Find your strength in love"

Thank you Whitney.

You're welcome. 

Isabella let out a sigh of gratitude as she started climbing into bed. Looking over at Michael’s Magic Box she said, “Thank you, Michael. I love you!”  

A shimmering box awaited her touch.   

I love you too!

She laid her head gently down on the pillow and closed her eyes. Feeling very blessed, she wished that somehow everyone in the world could experience the gift of Michael’s Magic Box. 

Linda Higgins
Director of Community Development
Linda@michaeljacksontributeportrait.com

© 2012, Linda Higgins, All Rights Reserved
 

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Subscribe to my column or connect with me on Twitter or Facebook to follow Isabella's journey as she uses Michael's Magic Box to live a life filled with love and help others do the same. 

 

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