"Open the door
Let me in, just once more
Then you'll see
What your friendship means to me"
I apologize in advance for the streamlined version of the past week's events, but by now it's been about a month since I first met Diane. And I must write this down now, or it will likely be lost from my memory forever.
Me and Diane got it in our heads to collaborate on a comic book story arc that had both stunning art and legitimate writing. I got to see some of her artwork-most of it was on old math tests and homework assignments. I was surprised at how good she was, although of course I didn't show it. Her attention to detail was surprising, especially knowing Diane, yet at the same time her style had a comical irreverence to it that made it enjoyable. I even found a surprisingly accurate sketch of myself-accurate, except that she'd drawn me smiling. Smiling. See what I mean by 'irreverence?'
The next night I got started on a plot, remaining on my laptop late into the night for days on end to write and rewrite the outline. Of course, once I emailed it to her, she was too lazy to read the whole thing, which was what I had expected. What I had counted on. The whole outline was a faux-I never intended for Diane to read the five-page monster, let alone incorporate it into a work-intensive graphic novel. The hours in front of my laptop just last night were spent regurgitating the plot from one of my romance novels that I'd written over two years ago. No, what I intended to give Diane was something much more vital.
Something from my own memory.
By now I had streamlined my Cube, to the point that yesterday I had attempted to strike a deal with a slimy American businessman known as Jon Spiro. As I should've expected, he double-crossed me. As soon as I contacted the fairies for their assistance, I had known in the back of my mind that the possibility of a mindwipe was near certain. The Cube being fashioned from fairy technology, the very fact that I lost it would prove to the LEP that I was too dangerous to retain my knowledge of the People. But I had to take precautions. Most of them were much more complex than this silly scheme, and most of those complex ones were hoaxes to lead Foaly off-track. But with luck, that paranoid centaur would overthink to the point that he would completely miss this simple note that I had thought up at the last minute.
He'd better. I leave to intercept Spiro in half an hour.
I was in Hartfoot's class in one of the back seats mere seconds after the bell rang, so anxious was I to deliver the 'plot' to Diane. I tapped Beethoven's Fourth Symphony on the desk with my fingers, expertly mimicking the trills and glissandos as if I had composed them myself. Yet my mind was on something much more important. I found myself roving the influx of students, scanning them for the only girl in the school. Doubtless others noticed the change in my behavior-normally by now I was jotting concepts and equations in my notebook, even hacking into websites on my phone. Nobody paid me any attention when I did these apparently mundane things, but now that I was looking up with an uncharacteristic fervor, there were bound to be whispered words carried up and down the grapevine.
Finally, a wave of unruly red-tinged blond broke the surface when the hair's owner sprang up to smack the top of the doorjamb. Diane.
I hastily looked away as she took her seat next to me, trying to remain calm. My face was on fire, as if I were blushing. I'd better not be blushing, I thought furiously at myself. Diane's one of the best face-readers I know that's under the age of twenty. She'd see right through me. She has to think that it's nothing important, or it could ruin things between us forever.
Despite myself, I shivered at the thought. Diane was one of the only friends my age, of my species even. How could I risk destroying that fragile treasure?
Treasure? Gold is treasure. retorted my finances-oriented frontal lobe. But recently my conscience had began to fabricate a voice for itself.
Is it? it pondered in a rare moment.
"You okay, Nosferatu?"
I frowned at Diane, perfecting the 'really?' expression with a lazy look in my eye and a sarcastic drawl in my voice.
"Nosferatu?" I echoed flatly. Diane shrugged at me, an action that grew less annoying and more endearing the more she did it.
"Isn't that a vampire or something?" she confirmed. I nodded with a sigh, reaching into my breast pocket with a pang in my heart.
"I revised the plot in more concise terms for you last night so that you wouldn't hurt your brain trying to read the whole thing," I fibbed, pulling out a sealed envelope with my signature in the upper corner and Diane's name on the back. "A little childish for my liking, but you can't exactly write Pride and Prejudice into a comic book. I was too lazy to juggle quality with action, so I leaned a little heavily on the action side. I hope you don't mind."
"Don't mind if I do!" she assured, snatching the envelope. She stared at it intently, as if it would burst into flames if she stared at it long enough. "It's not that thick. Are you sure you wrote a whole plot? I mean, knowing you, and all..."
"I wrote all right," I muttered, half to myself. "You don't have to read the whole thing, it's just-"
"Naw, naw, I'll make time," she insisted, waving a hand at me as she twirled the letter around in her fingers. "You've done so much already, I wouldn't want to make you work any harder. All I do is make pretty pictures. You're the brains behind the whole thing."
"I often am," I mused to myself. Diane's last quote really had me thinking; of course, she probably hadn't meant for that to be the case, judging by her innocently simple mindset. My job was always to think through things, not to go in there and do the actual work. I never strayed outside my comfort zone for someone else, never went out of my way to do something good or heroic. For years I had concocted up perfectly logical excuses for this, such as the fact that I simply wasn't cut out for the whole heroism thing, both physically and mentally. Butler, maybe, but not me. But Diane had shown me something that I had been trying to denounce for years: logic simply can't solve some things.
Things like friendship.
I cleared my throat, drawing a cursory glance from Diane. I looked over at her too, but had to look away when I carelessly looked into her eyes. I knew I couldn't fool her; I saw that same awful concern in her eyes that had been present the day she'd taken Ike's beating for me. She'd read me like an open comic book with huge lettering in obnoxiously loud colors.
"Diane," I began quietly, forcing myself to look down at the quantum equation I was scribbling. "there's something you should know about the...the plot. No, not the plot, me. It might sound weird, crazy even, but you must trust me. Okay?"
She nodded at me, all ears now that her suspicions had been confirmed. I took a deep breath.
"I'm about to go through something that...that's going to change me," I improvised, finding my words to be heartfelt. Surprising. "You might not like the change. I might relapse-I used to be crueler than this, more calculating. That was before you knew me. But I want to remember this. The memories you've given me, of my very first actual friendship. I might...I might lose them. I don't want to, but I can't be sure. I-"
I cut my own sentence short, taking another shaky breath. The claustrophobia in my throat threatened to shatter my composure. I could feel Diane's eyes on me, willing me to carry on. To be okay.
"You're my best friend," I murmured, turning to look her in the eye to drive this point home. "I want you to know that. Because when I come back, I won't anymore."
"Come back from what?" demanded Diane, the emotion in her gaze shifting from heartbreaking to accusational. I looked out the window to the left to see the Bentley pulling up to the school gates.
"I can't tell you that," I said apologetically, getting up without bothering to gather my school things. "But I will return. I promise you."
I stormed out of class, waiting until I was out in the hall to dash my tears-and hopes-on my sleeve.
'What Your Friendship Means to Me' is copyright SimGretina and Chi-Chi