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My Favorite Picture

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My Favorite Picture


Christopher Brandon was the best friend I ever had. He was kind and gentle and smart, and he was always there with a joke when I was sad. He never went by Chris, always Christopher. He always had an answer, a plan. He never hurt anybody, and he was everybody’s friend. He was tall, with straight brown hair, blue eyes and a crooked, lovable white smile. Sometimes he would watch me and smile, and I just pretended not to notice.
He had been my best friend practically since I was born, exactly one month after him. He was there when, after twelve years of marriage, my parents divorced. We were ten years old at the time. He was there when my 67-year-old grandfather had a heart attack and died. We were eight then. He was there when my father, now out of my life, moved out of state and remarried. My dad forgot about me, his only child, the eleven-year-old beauty. Each time, Christopher would take me to the hammock in his backyard and twirl my auburn hair and say, “It’s okay, Julia, it’s going to be alright,” until my tears were gone.
I would reply with, “I love you, Christopher. You’re the best friend I’ve ever had.”

He had pictures of us up all over his room. Some were just of him, the carefree little boy. Some were just of me, green eyes and ginger ringlets shining. One picture had been of me and my parents—both of them—when I was seven. Four years after putting that picture up, he had taken it down and cut out my dad, so that it looked like just my mom and me, her little carbon-copy. My favorite picture was a professional one taken of us when we were eleven. It was black-and-white, showing us, leaning apart and laughing. It was a true show of our friendship.
In sixth grade, at least three girls had crushes on him. He told me he didn’t have a crush on any of them, they weren’t “right.” I had giggled and told him that he had said the same thing about three different girls last year. He just smiled at me and held out his hand to help me down from the hammock. I took it, thinking nothing of his sweet gesture.
In seventh grade, he found a girl that was “right.” I liked Emily, but I was jealous—not because I liked him—because there was never a second when they weren’t together. I had lost my life-long best friend to a girl he had met this year. I would look at my favorite picture and cry sometimes, for loss. When they broke up, I was happy. Ecstatic, actually, because Emily wasn’t the one to break his heart. He had broken up with her, and I got my Christopher back, the same, as if nothing had happened. The message in my favorite picture rang true again.
***
The summer after seventh grade, he went to visit his grandparents in Phoenix, Arizona for six weeks. I missed him like crazy, and I would sneak into his backyard and lay in the hammock when his parents weren’t home. One day when they were, Mrs. Brandon caught me, and sat with me there for half an hour, talking about Christopher. She had brought me a plate of cookies and told me to take them to my mom, and then come right back. I did exactly that, but when I came back, she was gone, a sticky note left in her place. It read:
Julia—
Gone to pick up Christopher. Feel free to stay until I get back.







—Delaney
I hadn’t realized it had already been six weeks, and suddenly I was excited. I walked around the house and waited on their wooden porch for an hour or two, comfortable on the old green rocking chair. When I saw Mr. Brandon’s red SUV pull up, I waved. He came out of the car and sat on the porch step, inviting me to join him. He didn’t even seem surprised that I was sitting there alone.
We both jumped up when Mrs. Brandon’s car pulled onto the driveway, and he walked away, to the trunk of the car for Christopher’s bags. I didn’t move until Christopher jumped out of the passenger seat and slammed the door. I ran to him and hugged him. He hesitated, then picked me up and hugged me back; my legs bent a foot off the ground.
For some reason there was something significant about that day, and I never forgot it. I had just been so happy to see him. Maybe it was because we had never been apart so long. I didn’t know, but it didn’t really matter.
***

In ninth grade, I had my first boyfriend, Brady Carson. I thought he was perfect, blond curls, blue eyes, and muscular build. We dated for two months, and then I found him by his locker, arms around Lea Miller, the thin, blond cheerleader. I ran to them, pulled her away from him, and slapped him right across his stupid, arrogant face. As I ran away, tears welling up in my eyes, I knew they were embracing again, maybe even kissing. What did I care? He wasn’t my boyfriend anymore.

But I was still upset. That night, after I had come running to Christopher to tell him all about it, he put his arm around my waist and led me to his hammock. He sat me down and then settled right next to me. I leaned my head onto his shoulder and he stroked my curls, whispering, “It’s okay, Julia, it’s going to be alright. I know someone else who likes you.” When my tears were all cried out, I looked up at him.

“Who?”

“I’ll tell you someday.”

“Will you tell me when I get back from my trip?” For spring break, my mom and I were traveling to Florida to visit our cousins.

“Maybe.” That satisfied me.
I stood up then, brushed off my skirt, and said, “I’m off to pack.”
He waved as I walked away.
***

“Ooh, who’s that? Your boyfriend?” My 13-year-old cousin Kelsey asked loudly, staring at my picture of Christopher, that old favorite picture.

“No, that’s my best friend Christopher. I’ve known him forever.”

“Oh, he’s cute.”

I hadn’t really noticed it, but I guess he kind of was. Maybe that’s why he’d had so many girlfriends and girls crushing on him. I’d just been so used to his looks.
***
I missed Christopher so much, even though I was only gone a week. When my mom drove us up to our house, and we were finally back, I was almost disappointed. I didn’t see Christopher anywhere. I guess I shouldn’t have expected him to be here, I thought dejectedly.

Then, just as I was shutting the passenger door, I saw him. He was standing by the side of my house, immersed in the deep shadow of sunset. When he looked up and saw that I was out of the car, he ran up to me, smiling his crooked smile. He picked me up and I hugged him hard, my legs bent a foot off the ground again.

When he set me down, I kept my arms around him, not finished with the hug. He put his arms around my waist, and bent down to whisper in my ear.

“It’s me.” He said.

I was confused, but then he put his hand under my chin and pulled my face to his. He was kissing me! To my surprise, and no doubt his, I didn’t pull away. His arms, both back on my waist, picked me up again.
I moved away now, to whisper in his ear, “I love you.”
“The best friend you’ve ever had?”
“No. I love you, Christopher.”
“Good. You forgot to say that when I was comforting you.”He kissed me again. “I love you, too.”
***
Now Christopher’s wall was covered with pictures of us, not just from old times, but of us, with friends, at dances, on dates. Even an adorable picture my mom had taken of our fist kiss. We were really just a shadow directly in front of a pink-and-orange sunset, two intertwined black figures. You could see my arms wrapped around his neck, my feet hanging in the air, knees bent.
I had a new favorite picture.




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This article has 12 comments. Post your own!

ha52214 said...
Jan. 26, 2011 at 6:12 pm:
absolutely love it!!!!! sooo jealous!!! wish it was a true story!!!
 
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writerwriting said...
Sept. 1, 2010 at 8:45 pm:
loved this! its a favorite now:))
 
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jenniraffe said...
Aug. 22, 2010 at 12:50 pm:
hey thanks you guys!!! i had fun writing this and i'll definitely post more!
 
jenniraffe replied...
Aug. 24, 2010 at 8:17 am :
i'm writing a new one--realistic fiction this time. Its called 15 minutes of popularity and its sort of a short version of another story i wrote. <3
 
jenniraffe replied...
May 7, 2011 at 4:17 pm :
okay, this was a lie, 15 minutes of popularity didn't work. i'm more into writing books than short stories, and those take me months. at the moment, i'm working on 4!
 
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Janaynay said...
Aug. 13, 2010 at 10:53 pm:
aww! I loved this. This is the kinda story that makes you jealous of a fictional character! It wasn't to long though, your word choice was nice and it was just a very cute piece :)
 
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Meghan H. said...
Aug. 13, 2010 at 8:19 am:
wow that was really good.
 
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Garnet77 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 12, 2010 at 8:58 pm:
Oh wow!! I really loved it. It was one of those stories that just makes you feel so good :) Keep writing. You should check out some of my stories as well, if you want. Great job!!
 
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Dawn said...
Aug. 12, 2010 at 8:47 am:
i love this story keep writeing i can't wait to read more of your work!!
 
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naliba said...
Aug. 12, 2010 at 1:40 am:
Aww it was really nice! great job! check out my work!
 
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hisprincess said...
Aug. 11, 2010 at 5:18 pm:
ohhmyyy this is my new favorite article! this is amazing!!! i can totoally relate to this! keep writing! this is amazzzzzinnnnggg(:
 
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The~crayon~in~my~heart said...
Aug. 11, 2010 at 1:55 pm:
aawwwwww sooo incredibly adorable! i <3 it!!!!
 
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