A/N: Sometimes you wish you could say what you need to, feel how you feel, and not have to justify it to anybody. But sometimes you have to, and if you never do... nothing gets solved. This is the 'what-if'. What if you said everything? What if I'd said something?
I'm standing in her driveway, leaning on my car, and I still don't know what the hell I'm doing here. I mean, sure we were best friends in High School (and even for a while after), but we hardly know each other anymore. I quickly decide that I'm insane, and go to open the car door and get in, drive away forever. That's when she opens the door to the house. I see a slight smile break out on her face before she remembers our rather uneventful falling out.
"Uh… hey." My voice is shaky and uncertain. And feeling this way is killing me. My hand shoots up in a kind of dorky half-wave, and I try not to grimace as I bring it down quickly.
"Hi, Nel…" The look on her face says it all. 'What are you doing here?' It is late, and we haven't spoken in almost two years. And when we had, it was only for a few minutes, and forced, awkward. But she called me 'Nel', short for Penelope. She always had, but now it's strange. Knowing what we do; that we are irrevocably changed, different from each other.
"I just, um… I needed to talk." I'm shaking a little now, and hating it. I take a few steps forward, hopeful.
"With me? I mean… are you sure you want to associate with me?" That hurts, goes right to my heart. Mostly because it's Jenna who's saying it; partly because that's not who I am, not who I want to be. She had started going to church all the time around our junior year of high school. That wouldn't have been bad, and it wasn't. Not really. It made her happy, I guess, and that made me happy for her. But I didn't believe; I don't. It's not that I hate Christianity, or religion in general. It's just that I think nobody has the answers, not even me. I can't accept things as being finite, because nothing ever is.
We just drifted apart. She started doing more at the church, and she got a boyfriend who was Christian. And this church wasn't the good kind with young people who accept you no matter what. This was the church with old ladies that had nothing better to do than talk about things that were none of their business, and teenagers who had been taught that God loves, but you should also fear Him. It wasn't a place I wanted to be; it didn't make me happy. I did try. I tried so we could still be friends. But we drifted anyway.
"That's bullshit," I say, with more force in my voice than usual, because I'm angry, "and you know it." She seems shocked. I guess when we were younger I didn't used to speak my mind as often, even to my friends. That feels strange now. I'm all grown up. I decide to take advantage of the silence she's left open, and continue talking, "We just… grew apart. We believed in different things. It happens."
"Oh really?" She seems angry now. And she probably has a right to be. I admit that while I know myself wholly, almost painfully at times, I can be somewhat selfish. Even when what I want most is to help someone else. And sometimes I don't pay attention where it counts the most. "The way I see it," she continues walking down the steps, "you just stopped taking to me. You and Alexandra didn't think being Christian was 'cool' enough, or some shit like that. And you were my best friend, Penelope. You hardly even talked to me. I felt like a freaking leper."
I can see the hurt in her eyes, and I should feel bad, but it's reflecting my own. I won't let what she said stand; can't. Alex and I had our reasons, just like she had hers. We did what we did.
"No way. We tried. I tried! I went to Youth Group, I tried to believe. I wanted to believe. But suddenly you were different. Like all of a sudden you just didn't need us anymore, or like you didn't know us. And then there was Anthony. All the time around him with us there, you pretended like we didn't exist! Like our past together, our childhoods meant nothing. Like at Alex's birthday party, when she was back home. And when you guys were talking about the times you used to goof off with the Navy boys when she was engaged to Adam. And Anthony was right there. Oh, 'I'm not the same person I was then'. Bullshit." I stop for a second, disregarding the stricken look on her face. I'm panting with my fervor to get these feelings out of my chest before they rip it to shreds. "Or maybe… maybe not, ya know? Maybe you weren't the same person you were then. The truth is, Jen, I felt like you just said 'fuck you' to our entire friendship up until that point. You just dropped me, wanted to forget about me…"
She's staring at me like I've just recently grown two heads. I'm tired, breathing heavy, and I'm looking inward at all the resentments I've harbored. Not just for her, but for myself. And the look she's giving me is changing as she's stepping closer.
"I… I never felt that way. What would make you think that?"
I feel beaten down by my own mind. Years. Not so many that it's too late, I guess. But I let all that time pass. I let it all go for this anger. We all did.
"I felt like I wasn't good enough for you. The things you said, the way you said them… I felt like you didn't think I was good enough to be your friend." I feel like dropping to my knees. The air around me is cold, and the snow blanketing the ground crunches lightly with her footsteps. I can think of only one thing to say.
"Shit." That seems to stop her in her tracks. "We really fucked it up, didn't we?" A weak smile is offered, sad but present. And she accepts it with one of her own. It's lame, and it's corny, but we hug. It's us, how we are. Or how we used to be.
Neither one of us knows or cares who's the first to say it. It doesn't matter, because it's been said and we both feel it. Really feel it. We did what we did. Looking at all these resentments, these annoyances, these petty arguments… I feel empty, lost. I've given my reasons, said my apologies. What now?