"We declare these three travelers in life bound in the sacred union of friendship, which can never be broken." The fifth-grader sprinkled playground sand over the first-graders and lowered her arms. A pair of fourth-graders removed the ritual headdress, a ripped kickball dangling with tattered jump ropes. Without a further word, she walked away. "That's right," Jean said. "Friends forever." She brought in Sam and Alex for a hug, and they held each other tight, grinning and laughing together.
"Nothing can split us apart," said Sam. He put his hand up, and the other two high-fived him at the same moment, a Musketeers moment. Some of their other friends clapped them on the backs, bumped fists, or gave them words of congratulations on finding their official best friends.
"Let's play kickball," Alex said. The three of them ran down to the field with their other friends. A few minutes later, Manny made Janet the first pick for his team. All eyes turned to Jean, captaining the other team.
She ignored the other kids, looking at Sam, and then Alex. Her stomach fell. Picking one would hurt the other. No choice was right.
"I resign as kickball team captain," she said.