Just Friends

You have been best friends with him since kindergarten. It all started back when you were playing with some kids your age at the park, and they all started teasing you at the same time. You didn’t like being teased, so it was only expected of you to cry; after all, you were only but five years. They were all laughing at you because you looked so funny, crying out there with no one to help you out.

Suddenly, he came to your rescue. Like a knight in shining armor, he defended you and made all your troubles go away. He wiped your tears ever so softly, and he soothed your pain. He smiled at you and promised that he would never let anyone make you cry ever again. You nodded at him and smiled as he, a small boy just your age, helped out. When you were only five, he was your hero.

You became even closer when his dad made him a tree house, a “camp” for him and his friends. He would always only invite boys into his tree house, but he would always make a special exception for you when you wanted to. Your mother often referred to him as that “nice little boy” and you would beam ever so suddenly. You didn’t know why, but it made you feel nice and warm whenever someone praises him.

You prepared well for your seventh birthday. Seven years meant a lot, because your mother told you that it would mean you’d be hitting the “two-digit age” after three more years. It meant you were slowly growing up.

It was a beautiful party and everyone was there. Your father let you have a clown and lots of people around, because it was your party. But at that wonderful day, you weren’t happy. He didn’t attend, and he was the lone VIP ever since the previous year.

The day after, he apologized for not being able to come. His mother was sick and needed some attending to. You didn’t want listen to him and wanted to scream at him. You never wanted to speak to him again, but as he took out a gift from his pocket, you seemed so happy and surprised that he had a gift for you that you completely forgot about your anger.

You opened the little box covered with your favorite color of wrapping paper (he knew exactly the right shade) and took out what was inside. It was a nice little ring made out of cheap metals and covered in silver. It looked nothing like what rings your mother and older sister wore, but you didn’t mind. He gave you a ring, and that was all that mattered.

Years passed and boy, you grew up well. You weren’t that shy little girl anymore, but became a vibrant pretty little girl nearing her teens. You and he remained close as ever, and he never forgot to give you presents during your birthdays and holidays. Even on regular days when nothing extraordinary happened, he would give you something…anything just to make your day. Your face would always brighten up as he would give you a small token of friendship, and you would treasure and keep it in your small shoebox full of all those things he had given you for the past years.

By the time you reached thirteen, it wasn’t nearly as good as before. Your vibrancy shook often and you became your old self: shy, coy, timid…whatever people may call it. He, however, was atop his field. He was shining bright, like a star whose light never seemed to fade away. He began to become popular and witty. Yet, although things about you had changed, he was still there. He was always there. Your best friend.

Things became a little more different when you became fifteen. It was as if he was leading a life away from yours. He didn’t have so much time to hang out, he had so much to do. On the rare occasions when you would go out together, he would always talk to you about that girl. That girl irritated you. She would always put on a smile in front of him and he would always smile back. Everytime he talks about that girl, his face would simply light up and his features would seem softer and a whole lot handsomer. It irked you to find that there would be someone who could affect him like that…someone that wasn’t you.

They got together a fortnight after. He was so happy, like was on cloud nine. You wanted to cry right then and there for no good reason at all, yet you didn’t. You smiled despite of yourself and patted him on the back. Congratulations, you said. Yet as you said the word, you wanted to take it back and ask him what he liked about that girl that he couldn’t find in you.

He wasn’t there on your next birthday. Again. This time he hadn’t got a good enough excuse for you. He said he promised that girl that they would go out on that day, and he completely forgot about your birthday. He apologized again and again, but it was of no use. Your sixteenth birthday, your second most important birthday, was finished, and your VIP up to that time on, wasn’t able to come because of that girl. But you forgave him anyway, because he promised you that on his seventeenth birthday, he would spend the day out with only you.

It was then his turn for a birthday. You prepared yourself hard and well for it. You wanted to go on that spectacular movie with him on his birthday and play arcade games with him on the afternoon. You wanted to take him out on a dinner, your treat. Afterwards, you planned on watching the stars at the park like you used to, back when you were only kids. You planned everything and were so excited about it, until he called you and told that he couldn’t spend the day with you. Not again, you complained. He said sorry, but his girl, that girl, had plans for that day, and he wouldn’t want to miss it for the world.

You were very upset to find out about it, but you didn’t want to make it sound so. How were you going to voice out that you wanted him for yourself without making it sound like you were jealous? You knew you weren’t jealous, but you knew that perhaps if someone else could hear what you had been thinking, maybe they would think you were in love with him, your best friend. Yet you weren’t. It was a preposterous thing to even conceive in the head. No, you were not in love with him; you were only missing him so badly and hating that girl in the process, for she was taking your friend away from you.

A few weeks later, he said sorry for not being able to spend time with you that much. So many things has been going on lately, he said. It was a dull excuse, but you didn’t say a word. He wanted to make it up to you by taking you out the next day for dinner. It was surprising, yes; but it made it all the more fun and appealing to your ears. You said yes with no hesitation of any sort, and you swooned around your bedroom with your head in the clouds. At last, you thought, everything was falling right where it should be.

But just when everything felt so blissfully happy, that girl came in the picture. On your ‘dinner date,’ she was also invited. He forgot to tell you and asked if you mind one bit. If he could only hear what your inner voice said, he would have had the impression that you didn’t like that girl’s company, but he was completely naïve and didn’t even find you weird as you answered him on gritted teeth. Just then, when you thought things couldn’t get more complicated, another one came into the picture. That another one was a he, and that he was a nice-looking guy who was a part of the varsity team your best friend was in. You shook hands with him and he smiled at you, showing perfectly white teeth. You thought, perhaps, that some other girl might find that smile to be breathtaking, but to you, it was utterly plain and boring.

After an hour’s worth of awkwardness in your part, your best friend decided to go get some fresh air with that girl, leaving you with him. That was when you realized it; he was setting you up with his friend!

It hurt you so much that you wanted to chase after him, slap him hard on the face and tell him how much hurt he had caused you ever since that girl came along his life. Tears were trying to make its way out of your eyes, but you blinked them away. You only smiled to the guy in front of you and tried to make small talk as you wondered what your best friend and that girl were doing outside in the fresh air.

You let out a sigh of relief as your company called it a night. Your best friend winked at you as he walked away with his girl, leaving you, again, with that guy. You didn’t mind him much, actually, and he looked like he was a nice enough guy. But it really bothered you that your best friend didn’t mind that you were with another guy alone, when you had been minding about him alone with a girl since he first went out with a girl. It was like he didn’t think about you. He didn’t think about you at all.

The nice guy walked you home and bade you goodnight. He smiled softly and thanked you for a wonderful evening. You smiled back and said you had fun, too, although at the back of your mind, you marked it as the worst night of your entire life.

Can I…possibly take you out sometime again? He asked. It surprised you a bit and flatly, you said no. He wasn’t upset, though, and said it was alright. I won’t give up, he said and winked at you. Somehow, when he did so, his wink reminded you of your best friend.

You immediately went to your bedroom and slumped on your comfortable bed. You closed your eyes for a moment and sighed heavily. What exactly was wrong? You didn’t know. It was as if everyday your heart was becoming more and more of a burden. You disliked it, but what in the world could you do? You hated to admit it, yet you knew.

You were in love with him. You loved him from the moment he saved you from those teasing kids. You loved him when he always took you to his tree house, although it was a tree house only made for him and his boys. You loved him and wanted to be perfect on your seventh birthday, and you got mad when he didn’t come. You loved him again when he gave you a ring, which up to now you still consider as “yours and his” ring. You loved him when he always cared for you and gave you gifts now and then. You loved him for being there for you, you loved him for each and everything he had done.

You loved him since you were five that you never noticed that you do. You never noticed how your heart beat faster whenever he was around because it always did, ever since. You never noticed how he always brightened your day when he was around because he was always there. You didn’t notice just how much you do…until now.

Your telephone rang suddenly. You jumped a bit and didn’t mind the telephone. You knew who would be calling you at that hour and you didn’t want to talk to him. Let the machine get his message, you said to yourself.

You listened as you heard your own voice playing on the answering machine. After the beep, you heard his deep voice on the line. Hi, he said. You couldn’t see his face, but by the sound of his voice, you knew he was all happy and giddy. He talked on the answering machine about just how much he had fun. Call you tomorrow morning, alright? He said and hung up. As he did, his words kept repeating in your head over and over and over again. Every word he said seemed to be cutting your heart a bit, and a bit. Another bit, and again. It went over and over again until you couldn’t bear it. You clutched your chest, tears welled up your eyes and you curled on your bed, like a cat about to sleep. He was terribly in love with her, you could tell, just as how terribly much you were in love with him.

You loved him, yes. From the moment you first met him, you already did. And yet…he didn’t give that love back. For him, you were only just friends. Just friends…and never will it be anything more.

Written on February 26, 2006. Unedited.

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