short stories

January 12, 2022

just friends


We were always just friends, ever since those golden state days. I’ve known you almost as long as I’ve known myself and for some reason, this means something to me, so I thought it meant something to you too. 

I’ve learned you should never assume. 

There are sunflowers outside your building. It’s summer and it’s the same day as the day my sister went into the hospital. She died later that week. It’s been eight years since then. I’m fucking nervous because I haven’t seen you in that long either and I’m starting to wonder if you’ve forgotten me like you forgot to call that day and see if I was okay. 

I wasn’t. 
Sometimes I’m still not. 
But today I’m good enough. 

So I take a deep breath, push my heart back into my chest, and walk to your door wondering if you remember me like I remember you.

And you do. 

It was in the way you looked at me when I walked through the door and suddenly we’re both sixteen again; sheepish grins and a collective sigh of relief when you wrap your arms around me then kiss me on the forehead before you kiss my lips–something we never dared to do back then. 

We were just friends. 

We were just friends when I followed you home that night down those Sycamore-lined streets. You don’t know this, but they’re my favorite tree. 

We were just friends sitting on the couch in your basement, pretending to give a fuck about conversation with my brown legs draped over your jeans. 

We were just friends when you pulled them closer after I moved them away because I didn’t want to look like I was trying too hard. 

Just friends when we leaned in. 
Just friends when I moved my hips over you.
Just friends when your hands slid under my thighs, then slipped under my shirt, and the blues slipped off my waist.
Just friends when you carried me to your bed.
Just friends when you went down on me.
Just friends when you told mewell, you remember what you said.
Just friends when I was giving you head. 
Just friends when we – harder, oh my god.
Just friends – breathless.
Just friends – but naked.
Just friends the next morning doing it again. 
Just friends when I left. 
Just friends when you send me gifts.
Just friends when you say, let’s move here.
Just friends when you tell me you love me, again.
Just friends for the next thirteen weeks.

Then out of nowhere, you say, I can’t do this. I don’t even want a relationship right now. You deserve someone better. Someone who will make you happy.

But I was happy without you. Happier to be with you. 
What it really came down to was the truth: you met someone else. You want to see where it goes. And we were just friends.

You call yourself a coward
I call you a dick, a fucking asshole
Because we’re just friends. 
And we can say that to each other.
You say, yeah, I’m an asshole

I’m upset that I’m crying because it makes me look weak, but I’m crying because I’m so angry at you! I’m such an idiot, I should have known better–just friends always do this. 

You tell me I’m not an idiot, but we both know the truth. 
I am. And so are you. 

I lie a little and say, I’m happy for you I guess, but I’m sad for me and what makes you think that you won’t do the same thing? 

You tell me you don’t know, but she doesn’t seem to care that you’re around and that’s the kind of love you need right now. 

I couldn’t sleep that night so I sent you six angry text messages at three a.m. because no one deserves to hear this but you, I’m still angry, and I can’t believe you treated me this way and that you think the kind of love you deserve is someone who doesn’t care and the next morning you sent me one angry text message like, thanks for telling me what piece of shit I am

I never said that, but fuck you. 

We didn’t talk for a week. 

Then one night I drink enough to send you a drunk voice note where I tell you, I just miss my friend. You called me back immediately with an apology even though it’s one a.m. with I miss you too, I’m so sorry. 

And we try to fix the damage we did. 
It sort of works for a minute. 
But it’s like putting a bandage over your knuckles. 
You keep splitting the cuts open and the wrap keeps falling off anyway, so eventually, you stop trying and hope it heals on its own. 

It’s been another thirteen weeks. 
I still have bloody knuckles.

And they ask, what happened to the two of you? I thought you were really something beautiful.

Oh, nothing really, I guess, you say as casually as you can.

We were just friends.