2017 Composition Contest Winnners 17 The Promise of Sunshine Allison White New beginnings are never easy. The silent ache creeps in, past all hopeful wishes, kicking them out of sight, out of mind. My mind was crammed with thoughts, possibilities available to me as I started over in this new city. The possibility of friendship, which should have been exciting, just made my stomach churn. I craved the new relationships, yet the fear of rejection overwhelmed me, leaving behind an aching in my chest. My family had moved permanently to sunny California only sixteen hours ago, from my childhood home in Puyallup, Washington. I sat in the cramped school bus on my way to a weekend retreat with a bunch of girls I had just met from my new church in Santa Clarita, California. I pulled at the bottom of my pink and black swim top. It was so out of style with its high neckline and busy, paisley pattern, but I had never needed a swimsuit in Washington. I hadn’t had time to buy a new swimsuit for the retreat. My mom forced me to go, thinking it would be a good opportunity to make new friends. “Don’t worry Allison, most of these girls have been friends since kindergarten but I am sure they are all very nice,” she said as she handed me my beach towel. “You’ll become friends in no time.” I frowned. Yeah right, I thought to myself, but I tried to seem enthusiastic so my mom would not worry. A squeal of laughter broke out behind me, jerking me back from my melancholy thoughts. The bus was loud with conversations about the Dodgers’ next big game and what new trend was hot for the summer. I had been able to tune out the dull roar of conversations that I was not a part of and immersed myself in my own thoughts. I looked tentatively over at the girls in the seat across from me. One girl with flat, brown hair and large, droopy green eyes was sitting with her back up against the window, talking. Her face lit up with animation that comes from telling a really good story. Jana, I thought, I think someone said that’s her name. I felt that ache in my chest again. I thought for a brief moment about scooting over and trying to introduce myself, but I was sure they wouldn’t welcome the new girl into their conversation. My stomach churned at the thought. Why was it so hard to be friendly?