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Never. It could never be allowed to happen.
I glanced once more to my right, my best friend’s face inches from mine. I lay on my back on his couch, legs in the air and head hanging over the side, upside-down. The afternoon was hazy and we had time to kill in these long summer days.
He swatted my face playfully as I squealed in the delight at the sight of the opening credits. Just a typical day for the two of us; watching movies, absentmindedly sipping wine, and avoiding the sweltering city heat. Of course, we began chattering away not five minutes into the movie. We were nothing if not conversationalists.
We’d been best friends for an eternity. I could hardly remember a time in which I couldn’t turn to him in my direst time, as he did to me in his ugliest moments. I watched the sunlight through the apartment window highlight his silhouette. I probably know his face better than my own, I mused. In the background, the familiar city skyline rested heavily, weighed down by tourists and blistering, muggy sunshine. I smiled faintly; we were in the city of our dreams.
I remembered the day that the letters had come. We’d promised to open them together. Luckily, they came on the same day, for my impatience was notorious. He had driven immediately to my house, and my knee had bobbed in waiting, the wide envelope taunting and tempting me. With terrified eyes, we had ripped them open simultaneously. The thought of one of us getting accepted and not the other… I remembered staring at the type, my thoughts just comprehensive enough to take in the words but not the weight. With a tight gasp, I had wrenched his from his hands; I had to make sure they matched.
Congratulations! I am delighted to inform you that the New York University College of Arts and Science’s Creative Writing Program is honored to offer you a place in the class of 2011.
We’d screamed. We’d hugged. I’d even admit to crying. Our dreams were going to come true; we’d move to New York and write. And do it together. We couldn’t have asked for anything more.
Here we were, three manic years later. No longer foolish eighteen-year olds, merely twenty-one and pretending we knew everything, thinking we’d never have to compromise. We were on top of the world.
But what kind of best-friendship doesn’t have a romantic side?
But I knew we weren’t the typical “girl-secretly-in-love-with-her-best-friend-and-he’s-completely-oblivious” story. That was too cliché for us. We were bigger than that, and always had been. We picked each other up off the ground. We sat there when the tears fell. We fought through the darkness. It was us against the world.
And maybe it was my tendency to overthink and overanalyze. Maybe it was my capricious moods. Maybe it was my passionate personality. But whatever it could be pinned on, the end result was the same: we’d always felt like more. More than friends. More than lovers. More than people. Somehow we transcended it all. So… was I in love with him?
At first the idea had been preposterous. But we were the only ones each other truly needed. Anyone else was extraneous in comparison. So what was it? What were we?
The ideas had started to flow. The creativity unleashed, the imagination run wild. But, soon enough, logic kicked in, as it had to eventually. Reality has a nasty habit of getting in the way of things. Every relationship comes to an end. All dates but one eventually earn the title of “ex.” And the odds that we would be each other’s one and only? I could never be sure. I could guess at numbers and figures, but it meant nothing. No matter what, there was always The Chance. The Chance that the attempt to add that extra layer, the different view and label, would be the end of it all. And, as long as that Chance lurked in the shadows, waiting, it could never be done. Never attempted. Without him, I would be nowhere.
I blinked my eyes back into the land of the present and the concrete. The edges of his face were blurred in the dense sunlight behind him. I felt the slight coolness of the shadow cast upon my face by his. I could never let this go. I knew it could never be risked. It didn’t matter how I felt because whatever I did end up determining, this was better. Lazily spread out in the living room with a movie, wasting time with the most preferred company we could think of.
I turned over onto my stomach and wrapped my arms around his neck. I smooshed our faces together and we laughed at the simple silliness.
I didn’t know if he thought about these things as well. And I realized that I’d never know. But I also realized that losing what we had would kill me much more than wondering.
As long as things stayed the way they were, we were untouchable.