We are eight Girls are, Sandra, Loretta Marilyn, Juanita, Emelda, Tamara, Katherine and myself, Judy, we are the best of friends, However, even best friends do have misunderstandings among themselves and we were no exception to this rule. It was after this particular incident that we realized how close we were to other and resolved never to take our arguments too far.

It was a fine Thursday morning. The first three deep passed by very smoothly. Then, in the fourth period, which was our class teacher’s period, the sparks began Not just any spark but the sparks of pride. Towards the end of the period our teacher, Mrs. Fernandes informed us that Emelda had stood first in the class the previous year. Well, that did come to a surprise to us as Emelda was not a very bright student or so we thought. Anyway, when we heard he was no response from her. Not a word of thanks or even acknowledgment. She just sat in her place with a slight smile on her face Just then, the bell rang and the teacher left the class, Immediately, we all crowded around her and congratulated her heartily. The first ones to congratulate her were, of course, her seven closest friends. But what a shock awaited us!

As soon as all of us congratulated her, she said, “Why are you treating me like an under-average student? I am definitely smarter than any of you. You seven girls especially. I have wanted to stand first but somehow missed the first rank. Well, now that I have proved my point, shall do as I please, I do not need your opinion about anything. I do not want to be your friend anymore.”

We were horrified. We could not believe our ears. We walked back to our seats feeling very uncomfortable but at the same time annoyed. The rest of the periods were uneventful. All of us were thinking how the sweet, deer-like Emelda could change so suddenly.

Usually, Tamara, Juanita and Loretta’s fathers came to pick them up in the afternoon after school. The rest of us, including Emelda, traveled by bus. That particular day we were all delayed for some reason or the other. Katherine and Sandra were seated in their buses and were waiting for the other children. Marilyn had gone back to look out for her cousin. Loretta’s younger brother had delayed in leaving the class. Tamara and Loretta’s fathers were caught in traffic jam, Juanita’s father’s car was given for servicing and my bus had not arrived.

The other buses and cars had left. Emelda’s bus was parked on the other side of the road. She looked on either side of the road twice before crossing to go to her bus. As she was walking across, a car zoomed by and knocked her down. It sped away and turned the corner when we saw what happened, we all ran towards Emelda from different directions throwing our bags and everything we had in our hands. Fortunately, she fell on the sand which lay between the two roads. After recovering from the shock. Marilyn checked Emelda’s pulse carefully and informed us that she was not dead.

I ran back to the place where I had thrown my bag and reached into the side pocket for my purse in which the Central Hospital number was written. I always carry important telephone numbers in case of emergency. I grabbed the purse ran into the school compound and soon was hammering on the convent door. Sister Alice opened the door, looking quite annoyed. But before she could say anything, I hear about our predicament and immediately her face softened. She led me to one of the rooms and handed me the telephone I quickly dialled the hospital number while she informed the other Sisters of what the commotion was about. As soon as I made the call I thanked the Sisters and some of them accompanied me outside the school compound.

When they saw Emelda, they were horrified. They asked us if we had noticed anything about the car. Loretta’s brother helped us by giving the make, model, and part of the license number. Meanwhile, the police and the ambulance arrived. Emelda was put on a stretcher. The police questioned everyone, and we told them the little we knew about the accident and the car.

During all this confusion Loretta’s and Tamara’s fathers reached the school. After we informed them what had happened, we begged them to drive us to the hospital. We told our bus friends to inform our parents about our whereabouts. Emelda’s sister, Esther, was supposed to tell her parents what had happened though she is refused to do so at first and the sky was covered with beautiful creatures. For the first time in his life, tears rolled down his cheeks. It was that very moment he realised-The Price of Freedom