Author: Esther Ingram PM
She promised to make sure he wouldn't cheat. So how did she end up the one he cheated with?Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Chapters: 6 - Words: 11,243 - Reviews: 8 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 15 - Updated: 01-17-13 - Published: 01-04-13 - id: 3089317
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
She was one of those girls. The confident ones, the intelligent, the naturally attractive ones. Her hair danced in the wind and her lips puckered, rosy pink, as she sang along to a song on the radio. Sitting next to me in the car, glowing with a kind of happiness that we all felt that afternoon. It was our last day of high school. The world was a definitely brighter shade of pink.
He was the perfect guy for her. The handsome, proper, personality-less kind. Sitting in the back of the car, he looked out of the window dreamily, not participating in the sing-along. The car was parked and he was kissing her lightly, teasingly, on the lips before walking away, hands in pockets, the wind tousling his hair. She was hurrying towards me as I fiddled with the key, touching her lips, smiling, flustered.
I was her best friend, and he was the past I wished to forget.
Chapter 1: Her relief, my chagrin
Jen's sitting on the bed, her back erect, her face expression serious, her hands placed carefully on her knees. I, standing in the doorway with a plate of warm pop tarts, consider my words carefully. Just minutes ago she was singing 90's hits in the car, kissing Max, and laughing at the cat. In the two minutes it took me to get these ready, she's looking as though she's just received the worst news.
I clear my throat awkwardly, and she looks up at me with a tight smile.
"I've been thinking about something," she says. I put the plate on my vanity and plop next to her on the bed.
"About something dreadful, I suppose" I say, trying to lighten the seriousness of the moment.
"Not really," she says, "I'm just nervous about school."
I snort. "You got into college, so I don't really get the-"
"It's not that!" she retorts, "it's just that Max is going to Grey's and I'll be miles and miles away at the Academy and he'll have free reign to find other girls, and fall in love with them, and cheat and do whatever else he pleases," she squeaks hastily, as though the quicker the words are out of her mouth, the easier she'll feel about them.
"You've got to be joking!" I say, laughing. "You're the prettiest, the smartest, the most talented girl he could ever wish to date. He lucked out big time with you, and you're-"
"Jesus Margo, he'll be at Grey's. There's thousands upon thousands of girls who are prettier, smarter, and definitely more experienced than me," Jen says, "Parties, study-groups, dorms, all opportunities for that swoon worthy girl to appear, and my life to end."
"Don't be dramatic," I say rubbing her back, "Max wouldn't cheat, and you sure as hell wouldn't die if he did in any case."
Jen looks petrified.
"Jeeeeen!" I whine, "he won't cheat, but if it makes you feel better, just ask him to send you daily reports. I'm sure that'll keep him committed."
Jen snorts, about to laugh, but something flickers in her mind, something that lights up her eyes and curls the corners of her lips. Suddenly, I know what she wants.
"Margo, you have to help me with this," she begs, clasping my hand in hers desperately. "I'm not asking you to spy on him, nothing like that. Just, keep an eye out. Be friendlier, ask around, maybe go to lunch with him once in a while."
I furrow my brows doubtfully. "You're asking me to become friends with Max?"
"Well,-" she pauses, "It's not that hard. You're neighbours, childhood besties, your fathers are in the same golf club, you shop in the same grocery store. Let go of this imaginary grudge on him already and move on."
"It's not imaginary," I frown, "and I've moved on a long time ago. Moved on from him and I don't feel like rekindling a burned out fire, that, may I remind you, left no traces behind."
"Right," Jen says with a sigh. "I don't really get this whole feud you had with Max, but it's your business. Just do this for me, at least until Christmas. At least until our relationship is at the place where I trust him not to cheat."
I consider it for a moment, my mouth a tight line. Every fiber of my being warns me that this is a terrible idea, that I'll get hurt in the process. Looking at Jen though, her eyes large and teary, makes me feel like a terrible friend to refuse.
"Fine," I moan, "but you owe me. You owe me big!"
Jen claps excitedly, pulling me into a tight hug. Her hair smells like a freshly cracked orange.
And it still does when she pulls me into a tight, rib-cracking hug on the day of her departure, two months later. She's tanned and her hair is pulled into a high ponytail that swings as she jumps onto Max with excitement.
"I can't believe I'm finally going!" she squeals, pulling him by the neck, closer to her. My stomach rumbles with repulsion. I look away from what I know is a long, eye-roll inducing kiss, and when I look back, I see Jen whispering something into his ear, and he nods, his lips pursed.
"I'll see you both at Thanksgiving!" she says, beaming. "Don't get into too much trouble without me!"
She goes in for another hug, whispering "I'm going to really miss you, really."
I nod, saying, "I will too, Jen."
She gives Max another loud kiss, and then calls out to her father, who, dangling the keys in his hand, gives us friendly smiles and climbs into the car. Jen waves at us and climbs into herself. We stand silently in the driveway, watching the car disappear into oblivion.
"I think I'm going to go home," I say, awkwardly swaying on the spot. This is one of the few times I'm left with Max on my own, and I'm not sure I can handle it. Not with Jen's departure only minutes ago.
"Oh," Max says, "Want me to give you a ride?"
He seems to be suggesting it sincerely, and despite Jen's request of making friends with him, I don't think I can accept the offer.
"I'll take the bus," I say, shaking my head. "See you later, I guess."
"Yea, see you."
I nod and turn away, walking away in a pace that's neither too fast, nor too slow. The pace that says, I'm sad about my best friend leaving, but I'm not trying to get home as soon as possible so I can cry my eyes out.
I reach the bus stop, reaching into my pocket to get my bus pass, but it's not there. A frantic panic sets in. It will take hours to walk home. I call my mom and as expected, she's furious with me.
"Your father and I are at the Edgerson's," she says stiffly. "Are you sure no one can give you a lift? It'd be so very impolite to leave just so I can drive my irresponsible daughter home."
"But mom!" I whine, "It'll take like two hours to get there on foot, and the only person who could possibly give me a lift I hate. I don't want to spend another minute with him, especially while he's doing me a favor."
My mother frowns, "You've got your choices cut out for you. I've got to go back to the table. John is telling a very interesting story about his trip to Miami this summer."
"Ugh, fine." I say bitterly, "guess I'll walk home then."
"Bye, honey. Don't forget to start packing when you get home."
I let out another whiny sound and hang up. Turning back to the road, I put my cellphone back into my pocket, and for a second, my eyes settle on a very familiar silver car with none other than Max inside the driver seat.
He gives me a very forced smile. The window is rolled down the whole way. "You still need that ride?"
Blood rises into my face. I feel my ears burning with embarrassment, thinking that it is very possible that he's heard everything I said about him on the phone.
"How long have you been here?" I ask, tugging on the end of my shirt.
"Here, in the car."
"Not long." Max says shortly. "You might want to get in though."
I sigh and climb in. I remember this car from when it was his father's. It hasn't changed. The nauseating smell of pine washes over me immediately, and I feel as though any second, I might have to hurl out the window.
We drive in silence, and I look at him from the corner of my eye, trying to determine whether he heard. He looks a little rough, but that could be from the fact that Jen just left. Although, I wouldn't have thought that he had a large enough emotional capacity to feel sad over something like that.
A couple of minutes go by, and I start looking out the window, my ears still flaming red. When I look back however, I catch Max looking at me, and my face grows even redder. He turns back to the road almost instantly, a vein on his temple pulsing.
He pulls into the driveway of my house, and I, with a curtly nod, open the door and breathe in the fresh evening air.
"Do you hate me as much as you say you do?"
I take a couple of seconds to determine whether that was actually something that came out of Max's mouth, or whether that's just my paranoia talking.
"What?" I say, cautiously.
"I heard you," he says resolutely. "I heard you talking on the phone."
"Oh," I whisper.
"I know we're not exactly friends, but I thought-"
"What did you think? That you'd date my best friend, and all of a sudden I'd want to be friends with you again? That I'd just forget everything?"
"Thanks for the ride," I say, anger rising quickly, "but you dating Jen means nothing to me."
I slam the car door shut and flee into my house as fast as my legs can carry me. I watch Max, seemingly defeated, driving out of my driveway and into his own, right across the road.
I feel past hurts whooshing back into my head and I don't know if I can look at Max ever again.