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Just Friends This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

I saw you when your hair was all mussed up and your eyes were big and blue and tired, and I knew deep down that I should already be asleep. We tried to have a conversation, but luck wasn’t with us, and every attempt failed. We wanted to talk, we really did, but technology wouldn’t let us. When it finally would, it was time for me to go.

I miss you, you know.

I know it’s kind of crazy. It’s only been, what, five days? It’s going to be much longer before I see you again. Maybe weeks, or months. But maybe you’ll come down here to wintry New York to escape wintry Connecticut for a few days when it’s snowy Christmastime. We’re both Jewish, so who cares about that. Maybe we’ll see a movie. Maybe your girlfriend will be gone and suddenly we’ll both fall for each other, body over body, mind over mind. Maybe we’ll go to the same college, like you said, and have sleepovers every night, and until then we’ll tell my parents you’re gay so you can stay overnight even though nothing would happen between us anyway.

I haven’t fallen for you. At least, I don’t think I have. It’s just this intensely intimate friendship, a kind that I haven’t really had until now. Of course I would have to find this connection with someone who lives so far away. You know. We make fun of my luck all the time.

Are you really going to record yourself singing “Elephant Elephant” with Travis for when I feel sad and tired and alone? I know you care. I told you that I didn’t get the part and you snuck out of your rehearsal just to call me and see how I was doing. No one’s done anything like that for me before, cared that much, and it was great to hear your voice.

Why did you say you loved me yesterday when we were rubbing our sleepy eyes and saying good night? You said it all quiet and vulnerable. Maybe you were just plain tired, and we both do theater, where proclamations of love are common and expected, but then why did it sound so intense? Your girlfriend is everything to you, and I know you wouldn’t risk that, and I don’t even love you like that.

I just want to hug you and smile with you and maybe sing and sit on a couch and just lean on each other because, lately, I’ve been so tight and cold that you’re the only person I ­really want to see. It hurts to feel for someone so far away, even if the feelings aren’t Love but love, familial love, platonic love, or some other kind of love altogether.

Maybe we’ll read Fitzgerald late into the night or I can show you more Salinger because you loved The Catcher in the Rye when I lent it you, just like how I loved your copy of The Little Prince. Or maybe you can teach me the dance to “Single Ladies,” which you’d still probably be better at even if I practiced for years.

It’s been hard to find people like me lately. I’m just breathing, seeing, smelling, being all wrong. You’re the only one who sees me as some semblance of right.

And I know that you could have better friends than me. You do have better friends. Cooler, more interesting friends. I’m just asking you to sit with me and maybe read for a while. Then we’ll take it from there.

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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