The wind was harsh, and Adriana was cold. Freezing, actually. She was on a hill at the peak of winter, skis in hand, ready to race. And of course, she couldn't start without her lovely companion Maryrium.
Maryrium, who was traversing the mountain and fighting to get to the top. Except it was a small mountain -- more of a hill -- and the only thing she was fighting was her hair that kept getting in her face.
Adriana didn't even want to be there. She'd only come along at the promise of hot chocolate and the opportunity to once again destroy Maryium at a competition.
Their two intertwined groups of friends had decided to go skiing at a park nearby. Adriana had been planning to cancel so she could play video games instead -- she had a complicated Minecraft farm to build and seriously needed to get started on the resource gathering.
Until she found out Maryium was coming. She could build a different day, but she could not skip out on flexing her skiing skills. And now she wished she had spent the day doing literally anything else. Waiting for her sworn rival was getting tiring and the wind kept blowing into her face. She was sure she resembled a cherry-flavoured popsicle by now.
"Maryium could you please hurry the fuck up?" Adriana said, avoiding eye contact with the mother giving her a dirty look for swearing.
"I'm trying but my hair is stuck in my zipper and I can't get it out." Maryium was fiddling with her long braid, trying desperately to get it unstuck. She wasn't doing well. Adriana debated on helping her, realized getting anywhere near Mayrium makes her feel sick, and instead settled on giving verbal instruction.
"You're making it worse."
"Why don't you give it a shot then?"
"No." Adriana turned around, put her skis in the proper hands, and looked back again. She found Maryium staring at her with a look on her face that clearly said she was done with Adriana's bullshit.
Adriana sighed, before walking towards Mayrium, took off her gloves, and pulled the caught piece of hair out of Mayrium's zipper.
"See? It's easy." It was so easy that Adriana wondered whether Maryium was bad at using zippers, or if she'd faked her struggle so Adriana could become disoriented and lose.
Which is exactly what had happened. Adriana spent too long overthinking this small interaction that she couldn't put her gloves back on correctly. The wind hit the tiny area where her wrist was uncovered as she raced down the hill. She was winning but the added benefit of snow falling into her gloves forced her to slow down enough that Maryium took the lead and won.
She wasn't too prideful to ask for a rematch, one that Maryium turned down quickly.
"You're scared I'm gonna win," Adriana declared, albeit a bit childish, but it was fun acting like a kid sometimes.
'"No, I just want hot chocolate. Don't you?" She did.
"Wanna have a game of imessage 8-ball to settle this then?" Adriana suggested.
Maryium smirked, "So I can win twice in a row? You fucking bet I do."
Maryium had won. And when they made a bet to see who's drink would get cold faster, she won that, too. Adriana had gotten distracted with pigeons outside and didn't notice Maryium chugging her drink.
It was quite unfair, really. Maryium was always perfect at everything she tried. Even when they first met, Adriana made a fool of herself.
Maryium was introduced as "the new girl" in Adriana's grade six class. And of course that chilly November morning, Adriana was running late. She'd woken up after her alarm had rung multiple times. Her blanket was so warm and anything outside of it was so cold, so she didn't want to leave.
Adriana entered school completely out of breath, rushed to her locker, wasted extra time messing up her lock combination. And then more time hanging up her jacket and retrieving her belongings. So when she finally entered class eight minutes after the second bell had rung, her teacher was upset.
A prompt, "Why were you late? Go take a seat," was ordered by her teacher. Her mood only got worse when she found another girl she'd never met before sitting next to her.
"Hey, I'm Maryium. I guess I'm your seat partner?" The mysterious girl said. She seemed nice enough. She was working on the math exercise their teacher had on the projector. It was something about fractions. Looking back, it's no surprise to Adriana that Maryium was the first person to complete all the questions. At the time, however, Adriana was stunned.
"How did you complete those so quickly? I thought everyone struggled with fractions," Adriana asked once Maryium returned from handing in her work.
"I don't. It's not that hard, actually."
And thus began their first competition: being better than the other academically.
It started with Adriana being jealous of Maryium's skills with numbers. Adriana spent hours studying for her math tests, specifically so she could get higher marks than Maryium. And then when she went to boast about only getting one question wrong, one glance at Maryium's perfect score shut her up.
Then it was all the other subjects. Adriana figured she was quite good at geography. She liked learning about all the different cultures in the world, so imagine her excitement when her teacher gave the class the perfect assignment.
"You are to research about any country in the world and answer the provided questions. It could either be the country you or your parents are from, or any other country you would like to choose."
Adriana picked Australia because she went through a phase where she wanted to live there and loved the Australian accent.
Maryium picked India. She was born there, but her parents emigrated when she was about a year old.
The closer it came to Adriana's turn to present, the more she began to dread it. She had put in a lot of effort into the visual, spent hours decorating the piece of cardboard -- mostly thanks to the flag. But presenting was a whole other thing. She could make a poster that had all the important information, but she could not form words well enough in front of the class.
Adriana guessed it was because she was an introvert, she didn't know. Every time she was asked to talk in front of the class, her brain began working at a lower speed. It didn't completely shut down or anything, it just worked slower. Adriana would blank when she was standing at the front of the class and read out whatever she needed to, but could never bare looking towards the other students. If she even accidentally glanced at them, her voice would falter and she would tumble on her words.
That was the main issue. Her content was good, yet she got deducted marks for not making eye contact more than once. It was a stupid reason to cut marks. She was loud enough, her words had emotion, but that much didn't matter. She was reprimanded for not taking her eyes off the paper.
Maryium, on the other hand, was flawless. She was everything Adriana was not. Adriana couldn't stand it. It wasn't fair that someone could be so perfect. Maryium had gone through that presentation with such ease that Adriana had wondered whether she was a robot.
That is essentially how their relationship went: Maryium would do something that required basically no effort, and Adriana would be impressed but also envious.
"Hey Ade, do you wanna walk home with me?" Maryium asked. Adriana seriously hated that nickname. Maryium had come up with it sometime spring of grade seven, claiming her name was "too long and annoying to say the whole thing."
"Why?" Adriana didn't consider them friends, but she also didn't absolutely despise Maryium either. She could just tolerate her and liked to compete for anything with little importance. She figured it was mutual.
"You'd be walking alone otherwise and out of all our friends, I'm the one that lives the closest." Maryium walked closer to Adriana so they could move simultaneously. "Plus you hate walking alone and I'm excellent company."
"I don't hate walking alone. We're also not that far." Maryium almost looked disappointed, but Adriana figured that couldn't be right. Why would she be?
"Exactly! So I could just go with you and you wouldn't have to deal with me for too long," she answered, quickly masking her expression.
"Fine, whatever." Adriana moved to the edge of the sidewalk to make enough space for Mayrium. "But you're not that good company, sorry to break it to you."
"You're lying. You love being around me."
"What makes you think that?"
"I know you only came on this skiing outing because I said I would come."
"Yeah, but that doesn't mean I enjoy being around you. I just like our competitive dynamic."
"So you admit it," Maryium smiled. "You do like me enough to want to keep our dynamic."
"Well, why wouldn't I?"
"Gosh, you ask too many questions," she complained. "Just admit that you like me more than you say you do."
"Never." Adriana smiled. Maybe she did enjoy their banter, but Maryium didn't have to know. "Why're you so desperately trying to make me falsely admit to something anyway?"
"Again with the questions. I've only trying to get you to confess to the truth, that's all."
"When you know that is a whole-ass lie? It seems sus."
"It's not sus!" She defended. "I'm just saying I'm quite fun to be around and I know you agree but you refuse to say so."
"You're so caught up on it. Sorry love, I would never choose to be in your presence."
"But you chose today, didn't you?" Maryium's voice drops. "And you chose to walk home with me."
"Only because you insisted!"
Adriana began to feel squished on the small sidewalk and needed to put some distance between her and Maryium. Maryium, who was so close, their hands would brush together if they weren't in their respective pockets. Good thing it's cold, Adriana thought.
"You could just stop talking to me, but you haven't"
"What are you getting at?" Adriana was starting to get antsy, and that sick feeling was coming back. She really needed to get home. Luckily, they weren't too far.
"You like me. I'd even go as far as to say you love me," Maryium smirked.
Adriana breathed a small sigh of relief when her front porch came into view. Finally, she wouldn't have to think about such an improbable thought.
"What makes you say that?" Adriana asked.
Adriana walked up the slight step of her porch, Maryium right behind her.
"You get jumpy when I get close to you. Do I make you nervous?" Maryium's voice was getting deeper now, and Adriana could barely breathe.
"No," Adriana swallowed. Maryium stepped closer, causing Adriana to take a step back. She hit the wall, and Maryium filled the gap. "You wish."
"Then why are you breathing so heavily?" Maryium smirked. Did she ever stop smirking?
There wasn't much room between them now. If not for their jackets, they'd be much closer. Adriana wasn't sure if she wanted it to be summer or not.
"I-" Before Adriana could respond, Maryium moved back.
"You're in denial."
"I'm not in denial." Adriana denied, before realizing the irony. "Maybe you just have a big ego.
"Maybe. But you know what?" Maryium paused, waiting for an answer. When she didn't get one, she continued, "I bet I could make you fall in love with me."
"I'd love to see you try."