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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SassyBeauty said...
Oct. 17, 2009 at 2:31 pm
Omgg! That was greeaattt (:
I wish I could be as inspiring as that,
This was .. I cant even find the word.. This was beautiful.
((Loved the ending))
Kercer said...
Oct. 17, 2009 at 2:30 pm
I think that was totally awesome. Isn't reading fun.
mandygale77 said...
Sept. 24, 2009 at 6:24 pm
That was great! I love the ending.
poemgirl55 said...
Sept. 24, 2009 at 5:34 pm
That is so amazing. I had a similar situation in which I was really good friends with a boy from my class, and I ended up liking him, but he didn't like me. So our friendship fell apart.
I can totally relate to that though. That was really great and you are a good writer. Lots of detail.
Loved it!
Fredwardness said...
Sept. 24, 2009 at 5:32 pm
Um, it soundedlike u were trying to turn the boy into the bad guy to me almost, i didnt like this piece im sorry
Arkytekt said...
Sept. 24, 2009 at 4:56 pm
The more i read the more it sunk into me that this is what happens to me everytime. Then i got to the ending. It's a little ray of hope.
allyfelldownthewell said...
Sept. 11, 2009 at 9:15 am
I keep coming back to this story and every time I get the same satisfaction.
Arleen said...
Aug. 26, 2009 at 5:17 am
This was a very good story. It wasn't very predictable, I loved it! The other stories I've read bored me but this story had all my focus and attention. Good job! :)
Bella4puppyz said...
Aug. 7, 2009 at 10:45 pm
wow!! that was totally relatable!! and very well written!!!
jatz318 said...
Aug. 2, 2009 at 9:26 pm
If this is a true story. Whoever the girl is...did the right thing.
crimson.k said...
Jul. 31, 2009 at 1:58 am
AWESOME. loed it wasn't expecting that ending!
Amanda F. said...
Jul. 30, 2009 at 9:24 pm
This story is well put together, I liked the way you put detail and it really shows that you put time and effort. I liked the way you discribed her emotions and her personality. You did very well on this piece, hope to read more of your work! It's awesom!
Ashlynrae said...
Jul. 30, 2009 at 7:47 pm
Great story! I agree you should write a sequel!
MyChey5 said...
Jun. 28, 2009 at 5:06 pm
Wow talk about Deja Vu! I think this has happened to every1!!! You wrote it ina very understanding way!!
Great job!!!!
bookhugger14 said...
May 22, 2009 at 12:46 am
wow this was a very good read! i am glad you wrote it, i can really relate and understand how the character feels. nice job!!! :)
akbaby2011 said...
May 22, 2009 at 12:34 am
this is really good :) I like how you made me think that something had happened like two people dated and broke up and now they're just friends, and then it's something entirely different..I love it :)
.:ArleneNicole:. said...
May 22, 2009 at 12:17 am
Had my attention the entire time. It was relatable to almost every girl, so you had the reader hooked to find out the outcome. Very good work.
daisydee123 said...
May 21, 2009 at 9:42 pm
super super good!!!!!!!!!!!
Anjo! said...
May 18, 2009 at 6:34 am
Wow. awesome. i wish you guys could write books and be able to get published! these are all so amazing!!!
Kimberly P. said...
May 2, 2009 at 3:07 am
Amazing piece.
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