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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writeon said...
Dec. 9, 2010 at 2:06 pm

This story is AMAZING !!! I loved the descriptions. It gave me a total insider to what the character was going through.


LegandInTheMaking said...
Dec. 9, 2010 at 1:09 pm
very good! i like the twist at the end.. i hope you continue writing!
britty66 said...
Dec. 9, 2010 at 12:58 pm
sweet i like how u wrote
Bad_Rymer said...
Dec. 9, 2010 at 12:49 pm
I LOVE This  Story!!! <33333 It Was Better Than Anything I've Read In A While <3 Good Job.
SkyLane said...
Dec. 9, 2010 at 11:58 am
this is so good! not the ending i expected-- but amazing. fabulous job!
bookworm77 said...
Dec. 9, 2010 at 9:56 am
I loved this! it wasn't the typical "crush" story. the twist at the end was great and the perspective of the character was genius! way to go :)
skyblue95 said...
Dec. 9, 2010 at 7:06 am
amazing. i kno its just 1 word, BUT AMAZING :)
SoccerChick Rocks!!! said...
Dec. 7, 2010 at 11:08 am
The story was off the heeze it was awesome i really luved it but could added more deatils
Erin32 said...
Nov. 17, 2010 at 4:55 pm
Ok, first its great and second keep writing!!
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 17, 2010 at 3:37 pm
love it.... though the first sentence is a bit confusing.... anyways, sooooo romantic!!!!!
emmernemmer said...
Nov. 17, 2010 at 12:46 pm
mr.suit said...
Nov. 17, 2010 at 11:00 am
thisiswhatiwant. said...
Nov. 17, 2010 at 10:36 am

amazing. i really like this.


Tolstoy17 said...
Nov. 17, 2010 at 10:29 am

Tag as favorite?


CanadianRose This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 16, 2010 at 2:27 pm
Nice story. I like it, but that girl made a stupid choice. I know from experince.
Gabiiiii This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 26, 2010 at 7:29 pm

I like how the end is a total surprise.

You don't get a lot of surprise endings, so i love when they stumble along. Great job.

Gadzooks said...
Oct. 26, 2010 at 5:12 pm
i think this is amazing. i love the flow!
JayeMizzles said...
Oct. 26, 2010 at 5:03 pm
i really like this story.... i love the repetition, the vocab and most of all, i can relate to it really easily!! :) great job...only one question (a dumb one :/ ) when she says "yeah me too." does that mean she likes him back? or something else? 
RedNeck said...
Oct. 26, 2010 at 1:59 pm
WOW! that way a good paper!
zippazap said...
Oct. 4, 2010 at 8:57 pm
I love teen ink!
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