Angela Reyna

The Angie I knew was a liar. She was one of my closest friends during the time I knew her, but she was a liar. I say this not to tarnish her memory, but to explain the way I’m feeling right now.

Alison, my best friend at the time, and I met Angie at the beginning of sixth grade at Palm Crest Elementary School in La Canada, California. Her mother worked for the district office, I guess, so she was “allowed” to attend school there even though she didn’t live in the district. The three of us moved from Palm Crest to La Canada Junior High School the following year, and two years after that, we moved up to La Canada High School together. The last move wasn’t really a big deal because the junior high and high schools were on the same campus and many of the elective classes shared teachers between them. After tenth grade, Angie moved away… or, at least, stopped attending LCHS for another school closer to her home. By the time she moved away, Alison and I had grown tired of her lies and Sara B., a mutual friend of ours, had become Angie’s main contact with friends at LCHS.

The last time I had any contact with her, Alison and I made the trip down the 210 freeway toward Magic Mountain in September 2002. Alison had called earlier that Saturday morning to make sure it was okay for us to visit, and it was, but when we arrived, she was nowhere to be found. We found out later that Angie had gotten into a huge fight with her parents, she’d run away, and her boyfriend at the time had been hiding her. But that day, we thought she’d just ditched us, and, since she didn’t have a cell phone (only Alison did, at that time), we called and filled up the message machine of her home phone with stupid stuff like singing “Old McDonald” and counting to 100 over and over. We didn’t think about the effect that would have on her mother, but we were 17; what did we care about an adult? Alison and I had our own relationship problems and it was good for us to have a scapegoat, though it only delayed the inevitable. We waited around for a long time waiting for Angie to call Alison back; we sat in the Denny’s nearby her apartment complex and had some kind of mint chocolate flavored dessert that had the word “grasshopper” in the name. Angie never called back.

It was better before we had a falling out. I was a vegetarian the entire time Angie knew me (since I’d become one in fifth grade, a year before I knew her, and only stopped being one hardcore after I graduated from college in 2007). I remember one sleep over during sixth or seventh grade, her mother took us out to the Outback Steakhouse and the waiter squatted down to be at eye level with us. It was weird; I’ve never before or since had a waiter squat to look me in the eye to take my order, but I liked it. I felt important for him paying attention that way. I had a baked potato with all the trappings, but with the bacon bits on the side. I think Angie ate the bacon bits for me. After dinner, we went to Blockbuster for movies and popcorn. We went back to her place and her mother went upstairs and we stayed downstairs with the TV. Angie and I watched Sybil and then something else—I don’t remember what because I was falling asleep by that time. I remember being fascinated with the VHS tape rewinder; the idea that a whole piece of equipment was used *just* for rewinding tapes was genius.

During our freshmen year in high school, Angie played clarinet in band. I have a picture of Felicia, Alison, and I (all of us in Colorguard) and Angie sitting posed in our uniforms in Oak Grove Park. That was my favorite year. I loved the music, the dancing, and I had my friends around me. It was shortly after that picture was taken that Angie told Alison and me about c-camp. C-camp was a summer camp for kids with terminal illnesses: “cancer camp”, Angie said it was. She told us about how she’d gone there and was probably dying. That the doctor had found another lump and everyone hoped it was benign. That she wasn’t feeling well and she had to eat special types of food so as not to mess up her medications. This went on for a *year* or more.

We tried to support her and give her all the help we could, but her words and her actions contradicted one another. It didn’t *seem* like she had cancer, we said to ourselves, but we didn’t want to make a big deal out of it; who would lie about having cancer, anyway? She seemed so vibrant, full of life. She was the one who always cheered us up when George, our Colorguard coach, gave us a particularly difficult time during practice. We went to band competitions and she performed as well as the rest of us. Except for the cancer thing, which only Alison and I seemed to know about, Angie was a good friend.

I remember Alison and I had long discussions about what to do with Angie’s cancer. What *could* we do? We were teenagers. Finally, we got so worried that we called her mother, who informed us that, no, Angie did *not* have cancer and, no, she wasn’t dying and, yes, thank you for telling her. After that, things between Angie and I became pretty distant—I think she resented the fact that we’d basically ratted her out to her mother—and she and Sara were closer. I think that was also the year I forgot Alison’s birthday. All my friendships at the time pretty much went up in flame—or were *starting* to burn, anyway.

I think that Angie just wanted attention, and she was willing to lie and make herself pathetic to get it. I feel like I’m allowed to say that because I’ve done exactly the same thing, though I used a different story and with different results. I understand, now, why she may have resented Alison and me; I didn’t want anyone to tell my parents about my lies, either. Only difference was, none of my friends ever did.

The Angie I knew was a liar. And I wish to God that she was just lying now, too. I want this to be another one of her ploys for attention. I want her to ring me up and say, “Actually, Vi, I was just kidding. Come over and we’ll watch Sybil again.”

I have no words for Angie’s parents, other than to tell you: I’m so, so sorry for your loss. Losing a child is horrible, and losing one in the prime of her life must be even worse. I can’t say I know how you feel; I don’t think anyone can.

Rest in peace, Angela Reyna. 5 April 1985 – 11 April 2009.

Viannah E. Duncan

Viannah E. Duncan is a writer and activist hailing originally from Los Angeles. She lives outside of Baltimore, Maryland, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. She has a cat, Cleo.

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