Just Friends This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Final class of the day; I’m almost done. I’ve managed to avoid him for the majority of the day, somehow escaping his attempts at conversation. Always somewhere to go, something to do. Sorry, no time to chat. If I can just stay out of sight for the next fifteen minutes, I’ll be home free.

Rushing into the crowded hall, I push through the swarm of buzzing students. I fight against the flow of bodies, the warm crush that threatens to overwhelm me. Desperate, I keep shoving, longing to reach the safety and quiet of my locker. I’m almost there, just a bit further. Finally I’ve made it, and he’s nowhere in sight.

I open my locker and lean into it, sighing with relief, when I see him. I straighten up, hurriedly shoving everything into that tiny metal box, but my hands aren’t cooperating. My nerves are making me shake, disconnecting my mind from the rest of my body. I struggle to remove myself from the impending situation, but as I start to spring away, he grabs my arm and says, “Now can I talk to you?”

And that’s when my heart sinks. My stomach starts to churn and I know nothing will be the same again.

Somehow I always knew it would come down to this moment. A silent showdown in some empty hallway, the echo of slamming lockers long since faded, but the shouts of students still lingering in the air. He stares at me, expectantly, awaiting an answer. I look at my feet, purposely not listening, not looking at him. I don’t want to hear it, don’t want to see him proclaim his love. It makes no difference; it doesn’t change the situation.

I’ve known him since first grade. I’ve seen him pick his nose and suck at kickball; I watched him grow six inches like a beanstalk and, with all the grace of a newborn calf, give himself a concussion on a shower head. We’ve been friends for what seems like always, but never ventured anywhere beyond that. To be honest, it never occurred to me that he could someday be more than a friend.

“Did you hear me? I said I like you. I like you a lot.”

Don’t say that. Anything but that. Talk to me about the weather, how horrible Mrs. Matthews is with her evil calculus equations. Even sports would be better, (and you know how much I hate sports). Just don’t say those words. Why would you say something that could irreversibly change our friendship?

“I’ve liked you for so long. Didn’t you know?”
Yes, of course I knew. I’m not stupid. I was – I don’t know – I guess I was hoping it was just a crush. Something fleeting, a passing fancy. Puppy love, if you must, but apparently not.

“Say something, anything.”

You don’t mean that, not really. I know what you’re hoping to hear, what you want me to say. I can’t and I won’t. I look at you and I see a brother, a friend, not a boyfriend. I don’t think anything could ever change that in my mind.

Everyone knew we’d end up here. That’s the rub. The whole freaking world probably knew that sooner or later we would clash at opposite ends of the spectrum. My parents, my friends. Hell, even your parents and friends knew it. They told me it was cruel to lead you on, but I never meant to. I never meant for it to go this far; it just never seemed like the right time to say, “Hey, we’ll always be best friends.” I never, ever wanted to hurt you; I just didn’t want to let you go.

I’ve deluded myself for years, lived in denial for so many summers, and now it’s senior year and you’ve finally found the courage to tell me how you feel. I’d love to blame you for this awkwardness, accuse you of letting this non-relationship charade drag on over the years. But truthfully, it’s my fault that we’ve reached this point, and I have to make things right.
I take a deep breath. This is it.

“Yeah. Me too.”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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CaityO said...
May 3, 2010 at 10:44 am
OMG this in a way reminded me of me and my brother!! Well he isn't my brother but our relationship is the EXACT same as a siblings. Everyone (including my mom who just loves his mom! we are family friends) says that we are either gonna start going out or get married some day! Hello! we are in the 7th grade!
Adum74 replied...
May 3, 2010 at 3:31 pm
I have a friend just like that and we are in the 10th grade now and we just admit now that we are best friends that are practically married in a non romantic way, but I hate it when kids say that we are going out or something else, it is so annoying!
CaityO replied...
May 3, 2010 at 4:33 pm
Its VERY annoying when people assume your going out!!
Adum74 replied...
May 3, 2010 at 7:28 pm
i can totally understand
Andrea W. replied...
May 25, 2010 at 12:33 pm
i know i have a friend and we are just like brother and sister and my friend asked if we were going out 
charzard said...
May 3, 2010 at 9:59 am
not sure i like the ending; was expecting something else. well written, though! i enjoyed reading it. very suspenseful.
LuckyThree said...
May 3, 2010 at 8:23 am
Clearly, a lot of people can relate. Maybe that's why it ended up in the magazine? good work though! Your last line contradicted everything else in the whole thing. It's kinda confusing actually. I dunno if you said that in order not to lose him, or if you suddenly realized that you like him too. Either way, nice turn at the ending!
mcpanicfanic said...
Apr. 20, 2010 at 2:42 am
Aw, I dont like the end. But I do like this piece alot. Good Job!
writer24/7/365 said...
Apr. 11, 2010 at 7:00 pm
Wow I loved that!  I really didn't expect the turn at the end. It's really awesome and cool! Will you read what I have and give me any advice you have?
Eilatan This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 11, 2010 at 5:17 pm
I like this a lot. I recently went through something similar so i know what this is like. good job, keep writing!!!!!
frnkplss55 said...
Apr. 11, 2010 at 1:54 pm
Oh my goodness! I couldn't believe you said that! It was awesome, I thought you were going to say that you didn't like him or something wow!!! That was really good writing, and I had to keep reading to find out what you ended up saying and why you were avoiding him. Great job and keep writing.
. said...
Apr. 11, 2010 at 12:07 pm
you had me. i thought she was going to say exactly the opposite!
miss_mt_dew said...
Apr. 11, 2010 at 4:34 am
what I'm not really sure about, was if she truthfully said that she like him back, or if she really did like him back.  in anycase, it was awesome and I love your style (especially the nostalgic/denial parts) :D
BleedingRose replied...
Apr. 11, 2010 at 1:31 pm

I'm confuesd by that too- but I like to think she really did like him.  :)  BTW, great article Jessika!


writer24/7/365 replied...
Apr. 11, 2010 at 7:01 pm
Yeah the end confused me some too! But maybe you're right, BleedingRose.
BleedingRose replied...
Apr. 22, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Maybe it's meant for us to take it where we want it, you know?


writer24/7/365 replied...
Apr. 22, 2010 at 7:01 pm
Hmmm...yeah. Maybe you're right!
Paige H. said...
Mar. 24, 2010 at 8:27 pm
i love love love this<3
PoetLaureate07 said...
Mar. 20, 2010 at 10:30 pm
great poem.. keep writing... dont give up on your gift!! ;)
Striker said...
Mar. 20, 2010 at 9:24 pm
Nice job. A very good story. Keep writing.
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