I walk into the kitchen and she’s sitting on the long, black bench. Her long blonde hair is so beautiful and I feel jealous.
“What are you doing here?” I ask, concern clogging up my head like hair in the shower drain. There’s Wendy’s on the table. I just ate pizza. I’m not hungry.
She is wearing sweatpants and her hair is pulled back underneath a headband.
“I didn’t feel good,” she answers and goes to sit down on the couch. I stand in the kitchen and look at her for a few seconds. She’s holding her iPad like a gymnast holds the trapeze.
“Did you go to school today?” I ask her.
“Yeah,” she says, “but my parents and my sister aren’t home, so I came here.” I feel like I’m choking on the hair in the drain.
I look at her for a few more seconds. Slugs are crawling up my body and into my ears.
“It’s about her, right?” I say and my voice sounds like a hundred butterflies or a thousand fluffy dandelion seeds.
She doesn’t say anything and I stand for a couple more seconds, even though it feels like I am one of the tears dripping off her eyelashes instead. Her eyelashes are so pretty.
I walk like I’m walking on a hundred baby sea turtles and sit next to her on the couch. My legs are on top of hers because there isn’t enough room.
“I know you don’t want to hear this from me.” My fingers twitch in my gloves and my foot taps the bottom of her car. Her red-black hair shakes from side to side as the lights from Kmart flash by and disappear. We cruise like a sailboat with the force of a six horsepower engine. “You were different and I know you can’t really see how you were acting, but I’m telling you like how I see it and, like, I only want the best for you, you know?”
She says something to me, but it’s not really what I want to hear. I trust her though because she is my best friend. I’ll believe anything she says. And I know she’s smart. She’s smart and beautiful and I want to tell her all the time. Why don’t I?
“I’m just going to take a break and be like the Mother Goose of the group and then when it’s been a couple of months, I’ll just start it up again.”
I don’t want her to start it up again, but I trust her because she’s smart and beautiful and I love her.
“I just want you to look out for yourself, okay? I’m looking out for you too,” I say before we pull up to my house and I get out of the car that isn’t a sailboat and watch her sail away from me.
I am hugging her. I am rubbing her shoulders as she cries next to me.
“I didn’t know,” she says.
“I don’t think anybody did,” I answer.
She cries and Marina and the Diamonds are playing on her iPad.
It smells like smoke, but I’m not scared because I know she smells like smoke and she’s beautiful and I love her. We sit in her car and eat the cupcakes I made. They have rum icing, but I was hoping she’d appreciate my homemade gesture instead of the anarchy. She did and she’s beautiful and smart and I love her and I look out the windshield at the New York skyline.
She rolls down the window and picks the rectangular box out of her bag. There are other things in her bag too, but she says she won’t take them out while she’s driving with me in the car if it makes me feel uncomfortable. I feel lame. I want her to see me as her rational friend who’s fun in an Amanda Bynes from What A Girl Wants way. I look at the skyline again and pretend it’s London.
We sit like this for a while until the song is over and she stops crying. I don’t feel uncomfortable, but I don’t know how to ask if she is. I get the feeling that she wants me to leave her alone. I want her to know I’m here for her always, that I’m always here for anybody and that –
“There are some fries on the table if you want some,” she says. Hint taken.
“I will have some actually, thanks,” I say before getting up and pinching a soggy cold fry between my fingers and walking across the kitchen floor like there are a hundred baby sea turtles searching for the sea under my feet.
Originally appeared in 2013-2014 edition of Outside In