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No. Don't go.
My friend and I were walking around the empty park in circles. She had way too many boy problems and I’m the one who got to help solve them. I didn’t mind. I didn’t have guy problems. I lived them through her. Most my friends were guys and it was hard for me to see them another way. Having tons of guy friends made me useful with relationship problems. I could tell my friend almost exactly why her boyfriend would do the thing he did. Except this time, her boyfriend as the one guy I couldn’t understand. It was the one guy I didn’t want to help with. It was my best friend. We’d been friends for nearly twelve years. He was practically my brother. He’d been going out with her for a while. It started in sixth grade. He asked her out and then broke up with her a while later. This would happen all the time and it wasn’t so bad until he decided that it would be fun to mess with her. When they weren’t going out he’d go out with someone else and make her feel like he still liked her when he didn’t. It made it really hard for her to get over him and I was stuck in the middle. They’d been going out for almost all of senior year but it seemed to me like he wasn’t really into it anymore. I was afraid for her and for him. Most of her friends would kill him if he broke up with her again. He was holding on though. I realized she was talking to me then.
“Huh?” I asked, having missed the whole conversation.
“You didn’t hear any of that did you?”
“No. Sorry. What did you say?”
“I think he likes you.”
“Who?” I asked. Most guys only see me as friends so I was curious.
“No. No. Come on Arianna. He’s like my brother. He would never.”
“What if he did?”
“What if he did?”
“He doesn’t and that’s all there is too it.”
“Think about it. He’s not into me anymore. You and I both know it…”
Here I interrupted her. “That doesn’t mean he’s into me.”
“Every time I see him, he’s with you. Every time he has a smile on his face. Every time he tells you all his secrets. He never lies to you. He’s lied to everyone else since the first grade.”
“That’s not true.” I whispered.
“It is! He lies to everyone else and you know it!”
“That’s not what I meant. He lies to me too.” My voice was weak and my shoulders dropped from their normal confident position. Arianna noticed.
“I can tell. He hasn’t been honest lately.” She could feel my fear and sadness, I’m sure.
“That can’t be. What’s going on with him? He hasn’t lied to you since first grade!”
“He’s lying to me. He’s losing interest in you and at the same time. I can’t help but think they are one in the same. Why he’s lost interest in you and what he’s hiding from me.”
“You mean, you think the reason he’s losing interest in me is what he’s hiding from you?”
“He likes you. That’s it.”
“No its not.”
“It has to be. That’s the only thing he’d keep from you.”
I didn’t reply. She made too much sense.
After ten minutes or so and another lap around the park she asked, “What do you do now?”
“I pretend like you never said that and wait.”
“That’s it? That’s all you’re going to do?”
“I don’t want to ruin our friendship.”
“If you don’t, he will.”
“No he won’t!” I turned on her in rage. My confidence was back and my voice was strong. “You don’t get it! He is my friend! That’s it. He’s never liked me and never will!”
“What if he did?” She whispered.
I finally understood that she wanted to know what I’d do, if he liked me. She wanted to know if I liked him. “I’d tell him that I didn’t like him like that and I’d tell him to act like we’re friends, treat me the same, or leave.”
“You’d ask him to leave?”
“If he chose not to be my friend, I’d tell him to go.” Everyone had always told me one of my guy friends would fall for me. I said no but they were right. He had, and he was behind me.
“You want me to go?” He asked, crinkling his eyes in worry.
“No. I didn’t say that.”
“You said that if I liked you I had to choose between our friendship and leaving.” Sadly, it was not a question. I suddenly felt set up by Arianna.
“I did say that but…”
He never let me finish. He turned and walked away. He stopped, turned around and whispered an almost inaudible goodbye.
“No. Don’t go.” I whispered.
He left. I cried. Silently.
Arianna went to hug me, and even though I knew she would never set me up like that, I shrugged away and left in the opposite direction of him.
I didn’t feel about him the way he apparently felt about me and I wished every night that he would be just my friend again, just my brother. I prayed. I never pray. He can attest to that.
He never became my friend again. He broke up with Arianna the next day and ignored me like I didn’t exist. At the end of the year we went our separate directions. I still pray every night that someday he’ll come back. He used to read my mind all the time and I tried to send him some telepathic message. He never came and I lost my best friend. One day, long ago, he’d said that he wanted to move to his dad’s place. I was going to ask him a question but he interrupted me and answered, “Yeah, you can replace me when I’m gone. I don’t care.” I cared. You can’t replace a best friend. I hoped that I’d never lose one. I lost him the only way I never imagined. I still don’t feel about him that way but sometimes, even though I know I shouldn’t, I wish I did.
I think that I probably will end up praying very day all my life for him to return. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t.
I guess it’s true, “there are no atheists in the trench.”