How’s my favorite artist?
I sighed, and chuckled to myself as the text from my old best friend popped up on my phone screen. My room lights were off, but my phone screen glowed brightly in the darkness.
I held the phone up and typed back, my head resting against my pillow.
Satisfactory. And you, Alex? It’s late.
Her response was quick, and I had already guessed the answer.
Pfft sleep is overrated you know this
I shook my head. It was true. Neither of us got much sleep, something we both had in common. Still, even past 12:00 was pushing it for me, while Alex was notorious for not giving a shit about rest until she ended up finally passing out.
So what’s new with you? New school working out?
I thought for a moment before texting back. I didn’t want her to get worried, even if it was the littlest thing.
Yeah. It’s good.
Her response came back and it was already accusatory.
Don’t even think about lying to me, dude.
Damn. Why were my friends so damn perceptive? Was I seriously just an open book to them or something? I groaned and banged my head back against my pillow before replying.
I’m not, Alex. It’s fine, seriously. Classes. Homework. The usual magic teenage life.
There. I couldn’t help but add in a little sarcasm, and was sure she would comment on it. As usual, when it came to Alexandra Gildner, I was right.
Sarcasm is really convincing, dude. Srsly, what’s up? Is it about that girl you always talk about
Jesus. Now she was on to me about Lucy. I had told her a fair amount about her, but they had only met once or twice. They had gotten along well, but sometimes I wasn’t sure if Alex knew her well enough to suggest to me on how I should act around her. Still, she knew that meeting her again was driving me insane.
As her best friend, I knew Alex acted somewhat crazy and wildly carefree most of the time, but she was so much more intelligent than most people first thought when they met her. Not to mention, she could always see right through me. Damn.
No. And it’s none of your business anyway.
Yeah, good going, Lin. She’s really going to leave you alone now. Argh. Damn my automatic guardedness. It wouldn’t work with Alex, that was for sure. She knew me too well.
Sometimes I really regretted going up to that little chatty blonde girl on the preschool playground and saying hi.
She always had an uncanny ability to figure out exactly when I wasn’t feeling alright. And not a minute later, with no hint of humour, exactly like I suspected:
Faith, you can tell me. You know you can. Is this about Lucy?
I rubbed the heel of my hand against my forehead, and took a deep breath before slowly typing back.
OK fine. Maybe. You’re the only one who really knows about this though. You and my friend Liz. Well...actually...she kinda figured out some of it on her own.
So what’s the problem?
Great. Now I had to tell her or she would come charging down my door all guns blazing. I sadly wasn’t even kidding. Even though we lived pretty far apart across the city, and went to completely different schools, I could still count on her support, no matter the reason why.
One time she hopped three different buses and walked two miles to get to my house when I said I felt like honestly running away and never coming back.
She was my oldest friend, and honestly, one of the only people I actually trusted in the world. If anything, she was probably the closest thing to a sister I had, even though on the outside we looked about as different as people could get.
She was laid-back and very friendly, tall and blonde. I had a pathological dislike of most other people and was small and dark. On the outside we looked like polar opposites, but I still felt like I could tell her more than I ever confessed to other people whether close to me or not.
You know what, Alex.
I know you like her. Is that so bad?
What’s really wrong here?
Things were complicated. I couldn’t help but replay that moment from the Canal back over again and again in my mind, how Lucy kept shouting “Onwards!” like the adorable dork she was, and holding onto me whenever we were about to fall over. How she listened to me about the art project, how she had to yank the ends of her hair to get the hot chocolate I (accidentally?) knocked onto her when we actually fell. It was infuriating how frustratingly cute I thought she was.
And most of all--I felt my cheeks go hot--how her hands wrapped around my waist when I had spun around under the snowfall, how her face had gotten so damn close to mine...how I felt like any second we were actually about to kiss.
No. It isn’t bad
I bit my lip in frustration, trying to figure out how to answer Alex’s prompts. I wasn’t prepared to answer something so close to home.
It was difficult answering how I felt about Lucy exactly. I liked her like I had never liked anyone before, or since. But it was painful at the same time, because I knew we couldn’t be.
It’s just complicated
The answer was lame, and definitely looked even more so onscreen. I should probably take a class on how to better communicate my feelings.
I tried to expand on the idea.
I like her, yes. But it would never work out
What about you two doesn’t work out?
Was she just being oblivious on purpose now? It was getting irritating having to spell everything out.
I don’t know. She’s too happy. She has a great family, good grades, and lots of adoring friends and schoolmates
Dude. All that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t work out.
She just didn’t get it. She really didn’t understand at all.
What part of any of that do you have trouble understanding?
None of it. I hear you loud and clear. And I mean it. It doesn’t mean you guys shouldn’t be together.
Like Alex would know. She knew so much about me, and yet it seemed she didn’t know enough at all. Otherwise, she wouldn’t be giving me this useless preaching.
Listen to me, Alexandra. She’s freaking perfect. Golden Girl.
And you listen to me. Nobody is perfect. Is that what you srsly think?
I typed back another reply, getting annoyed at her reasoning. I was starting to sound like a broken keyboard.
You know me better than practically anyone. So you know this couldn’t possibly work.
Don’t sell yourself short dude. I’ve known you for over 13 years now, and you’re not as bad as you make yourself out to be.
I bit my lip hard and scowled, starting to get angry. What the hell did that even mean?
Maybe I shouldn’t have even bothered texting her to begin with.
So you’re saying people like her should be happy to be with people like me? Would you go out with someone as messed up as me?
My fingers were shaking, and I was feeling more angry and sad than I had in awhile. I understood where she was coming from, but I was too stubborn to listen. Somehow, even my oldest friend just didn’t get it.
Her next answer was unfailingly patient, which was more than I likely deserved.
You’re not messed up, Faith. You’re my best friend, remember? I know you. And I know none of that is true
I felt tears prick my eyes, and squeezed them shut. Great. I was a living waterwork display. It seemed I couldn’t even get my screwed-up emotions under control.
I was like the abridged version of what would have happened if the little emotions didn’t actually end up fixing the little girl in Inside Out. If only things in life could be solved half as easily as in a Pixar movie.
But deep down, a part of me knew Alex was right, even if I hated to admit it. I just wasn’t sure about where this was going. Desperately, I texted back, asking a simple question.
So what do I do?
Her reply came later than usual, and I could tell she thought in depth about the question before finally answering.
I’m not a love expert, but I think you should at least tell her how you feel
I stared at her suggestion for a few minutes, thinking deep in the dark. Again, a part of me knew she was right like before, but it wasn’t as easy as it sounded. Confessing this crush I had on Lucy might just kill me. Well, Alex called it a crush. I personally called it a steady descent into Hell.
There were just so many things that could go wrong. For one thing, I had little to no idea if Lucy was even into girls at all. Sure, I knew she didn’t have a boyfriend now, and didn’t have one in elementary unlike most of our schoolmates back then, but still. I didn’t know.
For another, if I actually braved up enough to tell her. What then? She might think I was joking around, which would be humiliating. Worse, she might get offended or freaked out and stop talking to me completely or stop being my friend. I didn’t think I could handle that happening. Even worse, she could reject me in the nicest way possible but never look at me the same way again. The following silent pity might really kill me.
The closest I had gotten to confessing was that horrifyingly awkward moment when I had kissed her. I had kissed her. What was I thinking?!
“I mean, I’m not. Looking forward to it.” I swallowed hard, forcing myself to continue talking.
“Why? No boys?” Lucy joked.
It was so dark I was having trouble seeing exactly where she was. I took a deep breath, shaking my head.
“No. Because...there’ll be no...no--”
“‘No’ what?” Her voice was suddenly soft, quiet. I could just make out her hair and face.
Now was as good a time as any. I leaned in before I could stop myself.
I know it was three years ago, but that moment was always going to be stuck in my mind whenever I even thought about telling her how I really felt. Even if she said we didn’t have to worry about it, it wouldn’t stop me from continuously remembering in excruciating detail.
I had screwed it all over once already. I wasn’t willing to do it again.
Finally, I texted Alex back, a heavy feeling sinking in my chest.
Thanks, Alex. But I tried this once before, and I screwed it up. I don’t know if I can do it again.
I waited for her reply, scrubbing at my eyes blankly. I had forgotten I had even been on the verge of crying not 10 minutes ago. Just remembering my half-confession had really thrown me off. It didn’t seem to matter anymore.
About 5 minutes passed, and no response. Maybe she had given up and gone to sleep.
Another 5, then 10 minutes.
Then 5 more.
It looked like she had turned her phone off. I didn’t blame her. If I was her I would have given up on me a long time ago.
I sighed, and leaned my head back, just about to turn off my phone, when--
That was then. That was 3 whole years ago, Faith. You can’t keep blaming yourself for what happened next. You have the chance to make this right.
Don’t throw that away.
The screen faded to black as I stared at it, and Alex stopped texting completely after that.
I didn’t get much sleep the rest of that night. I just kept thinking about what she wrote at the end, repeating it over and over in my head until my muddled, emotional mind could hope to make sense of it.
That was then. You have the chance to make this right.
Don’t throw that away.
Don’t throw that away.
Alex was right, as usual. I would never confess that to her out loud, though. She might get insufferable.
I did have a new chance. But it was down to me what I was going to do with it. For the first time in nearly 4 months, I actually felt like I had an idea of what I was doing.
Finally, I picked up my phone and texted a number I had only called twice before and only when the situation had demanded it. The contact’s name popped up onscreen, with the contact picture of a beautiful smiling girl with glowing reddish blonde hair and shining jade green eyes.
I took a deep breath, just barely noticing my hand shaking as I began to type out a message.
Hey. It’s me. Wanna talk?
I gazed at the screen with my sent message, waiting.
I was about to forget the whole thing and go to sleep when a new message popped up.
Now what are you still doing up?
I released a breath I didn’t know I was holding in until now. She actually replied. That was a good sign. Her next text nearly made me chuckle out loud.
And you better have a good answer.
I was having a really nice dream.
In spite of myself, I grinned at her sarcasm, and began to text back, feeling more confident already. I started off in a joking manner:
Oh, you know. It’s my demonic tendencies. My coffin tonight wasn’t nearly as comfortable as it looks.
That’s a vampire, you nerd. And I’m sorry to hear that. Maybe you should look into some IKEA products. They have a wider selection.
I snorted out loud, and texted back.
Debatable. Who says demons can’t sleep in coffins either? And that’s good advice. I’ll have to take you up on it.
Well what are you doing tomorrow? I think they’re open from early till late.
I grinned like an overeager idiot as I quickly typed in my reply.
IKEA? You certainly know how to pick your hangouts.
Meatballs, Faith. Meatballs! Swedish gourmet food. 50% off all non-refundable items.
I shook my head, replying sarcastically.
Wow. Should have known it would be all about the food.
Her next response actually did make me laugh out loud.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, Ghost Queen.
Lunch, 1:00. You in or out?
I paused, my finger dangling above the screen. It was the same hesitation I always had, no matter how hard I tried to ignore it. As I hesitated, Alex’s words suddenly came running back through my head: You have another chance. Don’t throw that away.
Even if Lucy and I weren’t supposed to get together, it didn’t mean I couldn’t at least try.
I took a deep breath and texted back, feeling immediate satisfaction run through me as I hit ‘send’.
I was truly and utterly screwed.