The bright rays from the sun shine through the glass of my windows. A streak of light passes onto the messy scratch paper in front of us. I clench onto the white pillow next to me and burst into laughter.
“What did I do wrong?” Charlie asks me.
“You can’t add 8x and 3 together. They aren’t like terms. Didn’t you learn that three years ago in freshman year?” I laugh until my stomach hurts. The energy in the room feels like a summer day even though it was a cold february evening.
“Ok Aspen, not everyone can be a math genius like you,” he says lightly punching me in the arm. We are both lying on our stomachs on the light wood bedroom floor. I have my glasses resting on the brim of my nose and a rubber band loosely wrapped around the twist of my hair.
“It’s not being a genius; that is just common sense,” I giggle. Being nexts to Charlie makes me feel light on my toes. His laugh is contagious and I could sit around laughing with him for hours. Everything always feels easier with him, even if everything around me feels difficult.
“You don’t want me to bring up the 7th grade incident, do you?” he questions me. I place my hand on my thighs and roll my eyes. The 7th grade incident was one I don’t like to talk about, although Charlie likes to use it to tease me.
“Ok, ok Charles” I have called him Charles almost my whole life, mostly because he hates it, but also because it has been apart of our friendship since the beginning. “I surrender, I am waving the white flag.” I grab my white pillow from under me, waving it back and forth until I smack it on the back of his head.
“Oh. You are going to pay for that!” He shifts around and reaches for the throw pillow on the chair behind him and starts to smack me in the arms. It only takes a few seconds before the gentle hitting becomes a giant brawl.
“Alright, we need to go back to studying now,” I say. I shift my knees behind me and sliding back onto my stomach. I gaze at him focusing on his homework. He scratches the top of his head and stares down at the cluttered letters and numbers.
“This doesn’t make any sense,” he complains. Math has never been his best subject. He has told me many times before. So I volunteered to help him study once a week for his upcoming tests. He sat with his head on rested on the pencil marks on the page. I always thought he was very cute when he is frustrated.
“Don’t worry. You'll understand it as we go along,” I reassure him. I pat my hand on his shoulder and curl in my lips.
“That is easy for you to say!” Charlie insists, “you are literally perfect at everything.” I smile and look down at my carpet. My heart skips a beat and the butterflies flap against my stomach. I feel as light as air. I know he means it as best friends but I always felt that there is a chance we could be more.
Charlie and I became best friends in 5th grade. We were making clay bowls in art class when Charlie chucked a piece of clay at my brand new pink chevron dress. I cried to my mom complaining about how my life was completely ruined. My mom decided to give his mom a call and Charlie was forced to buy me a new dress. He came over to drop off the dress and apologize. My mom invited him into my house and the rest was history. It was a strange way of becoming best friends but it is our favorite memory together. Since then he has never showed any sign of wanting more in our friendship, which I have accepted for the past five years. But the feelings of high school coming to an end and leaving for college made me realize we don’t have much time before we move onto new things. This morning I finally decided that today I was going to say something to Charlie. I have waited too long; I had to mention the aching feeling inside of me.
“Listen Charlie, I need to talk to you about something,” I say with a crack in my voice. My heart is trembling out of my chest and goosebumps are spreading along both my arms.
“Ok hit me,” he replies with a chewed up pen sticking out of his mouth. His focus was directed onto the math problems scribbled on the paper.
“I have had something I wanted to mention to you that has been eating me up for a while and-” the flash of his phone distracts me from the heartfelt speech I had been planning all day. My eyes squint to see a snapchat from a girl I was not expecting in a million years to see. “Why is Sage snapchatting you?” I interrogate.
“Hmm?” Charlie asks before his direction shifts down at his phone to see the name Sage Townson shine on his screen. “Oh that’s nothing,” Charlie trembles clearing the lump in his throat.
“Nothing really?” I ask snatching the phone from the floor typing in the digits of his password as his fingers reach past my shoulder.
“Aspen give that back,” he demands, “I am not kidding”
“32 day streak, ok,” I smack his phone down on the floor and stare at the last bit of light from the sun shine through the window.
“See I knew you would be mad,” Charlie mumbles and crosses his arms, “You can’t get over what happened so long ago between you two,”
“Of course I’m mad! Why wouldn’t I be?” I utter in disgust.
Sage Townsen. She is the fakest person I know. In 8th grade we both competed for student council president. We acted nice but secretly we were both in competition with one another. When I won president, she told me she would make sure to ruin my life. I brushed it off my shoulder not thinking much of it. That was until freshman year when she decided to spread rumors about me. She told people that I hooked up with multiple guys in one day. She explained how I was doing this on a weekly occurrence. She also chose guys that had girlfriends which made everyone hate me even more. I was considered the school slut to the rest of my school. At the time I had no idea who was spreading these rumors about me. People were whispering as I walked in the halls and talking into the palms of their hands. Charlie knew how much this broke me and he was determined to find out who was behind all of it. During gym class he heard Sage talking about me and telling her friends more stories that never really happened. Charlie stormed over and confronted her.
“What the hell did you say about Aspen?” Charlie yelled
“I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about,” Sage mocked. Of course she knew what she did but she was toying with Charlie’s emotions.
“Ok listen here, I know you have been talking s*** about Aspen, so why don’t you just knock it off,” he screamed.
“Why? Aspen deserves every little hate she has going for her cause all she is, is an attention seeking bit-”
Without thinking, Charlie poured his Pepsi all over her head, resulting in his suspension. Of course this was a really stupid idea of Charlie’s, but it was the moment that I knew he would do anything to protect me. Sage has stayed away from me since then and the rumors slowly died down. I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with her ever again. Until now.
“Charlie, I thought she hated you, I mean you did pour Pepsi on her head,” I add.
“Well she got over that, we both did,” Charlie says with attitude in his voice. I drop my jaw hearing the words come from his mouth. The sun outside my window just set in the horizon and room was surrounded with a sudden shift in color. The darkness paints the walls and silence fills the room like the oxygen we breath.
“But she was a total b**** to me,” I say in disgust, “why would you want to go out with someone like her?”
“Because she isn’t that awful of a person ok?” Charlie exclaims, “She’s nice, and funny and has changed a lot from freshman year. We all have,”
“She’s lying Charlie! She’s two faced and nieve and is only trying to get closer to you to ruin me!” I begin to yell.
“Now your just being dramatic,” he rolls his eyes “Do you really believe that?”
“Of course I do! That girl does not have a single bit of good in her,” I rant to Charlie.
“You just can’t understand that people change. Sometimes you like to take things out of proportion. The things she said weren’t even that bad,” Charlie says defending himself. At this point I could rip his head off. But I needed to remember how I really felt during the Sage incident. How she treated me was not ok and Charlie was just blowing over it.
I stare deep into Charlie’s eyes and start to smile softly “Do you remember that day I came to your house filled with tears? I felt like my whole world was ending. You told me that no matter what happens you would be by my side every step of the way. Where did that Charlie go?” The words came off quietly. My words freeze in the air leaving the room cold and empty.
“Can’t you just move on from it already?” he snaps. My heart sinks to my stomach and my palms begin to tremble. I hold back the salty water in my eyes and keep them looking up at the dusty ceiling to stop the tears from falling to my cheek. With the look in his eyes, he knows he messed.
“You didn’t just say that,” I bite the bottom of my lip until my teeth leave marks on the inside of my lip. Each of my nails dig into the palm of my hand.
“Aspen I - I’m so so sorry. I didn’t mean it like that,” he places his hand on my shoulder. My reflexes shake his hand off of me. “Your my best friend and I love you. I hate when we fight over the little things.” When he used to tell me he loved me it felt like butterflies. Now it just feels empty. “I want you to know that I really like her, she makes me happy and I want my best friend to be happy for me too,” I sigh and look at him. All I have ever wanted was for him to be happy. I would never want to stand in the way because of my own selfishness.
“I understand,” the words have a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t really understand what Charlie sees in her. But he seemed to think she was someone special. If Charlie likes her then it’s my priority as his best friend to be the one he is able to come to. I want him to come with me with exciting news, or whenever he is upset. I don’t want to lose that between us because of one girl. “I want you to be happy too,” Both of release a breath of fresh air. We both smile at each other feeling we came to an agreement. We just want the other to be happy.
“It is getting late, I should probably getting home now,” he responds. I help him off from the floor. Step by step, we walk down the dark wooden stairs knowing that as soon as he walked out the door things will be different between us.
He reaches the door and slowly turns the knob. I lean towards the railing watching him step away. Before he takes his first step out the door he turns his head back around to face me.
“Oh, you had something important to tell me?” He smiles and stares deep into my eyes. The window of opportunity. I smile knowing that the words I speak will be different from the ones I was planning on saying. I release one last breath of air before I speak the words off my tongue.
“Don’t worry, it all worked out,” Charlie grins one last time before he steps out of the door frame and disappears in the midnight sky.