The Best Woman
Every time I think about it, I want to run to the hospital and get my head examined. I needed someone to tell me that I was not seriously doing what I was doing. I needed a friend. But, then there wouldn't be a story, now would it? Besides, what happened, well, it happened with my friend. My best friend, who happens to be male, and who I happen to be very much in love with. Unfortunately, it seems I am the only one that feels this way, yet I have sat quietly by and allowed myself to say yes to him. To happily tell him...
"I'd love to be your "Best Woman"."
What was I thinking?
Fifth grade. That was when we met. More or less, that was when Wally, Walter to the adults, came to Laurelton Elementary. He'd moved from the Mid-West and settled with his grandmother after a tragic accident claimed his father who was raising him. Wally didn't know where his mother was, although there were plenty of times he made up stories about where she "could" be. I think that was our turning point so to speak.
Wally had come into Mrs. Kelly's classroom that morning. He was quiet and had on a pair of wire rimmed glasses, his dirty blonde hair was spiky and cut in a crew style. He had a splash of freckles over his nose and was very thin. Mrs. Kelly introduced him and after a nonchalant wave of his hand, he took a seat. Right next to me.
I remember trying hard not to look at Wally. He was the new kid, but there was something about him. When he looked at me, a pair of gray eyes focused on mine and my heart jumped. I don't know if I was just scared or what, but I'd like to think I fell for Wally right then and there.
"What state did you come from?" I asked when we were dismissed for lunch. Wally was gathering his book bag, which he really didn't have to.
"Really? Why did you come here?"
"My dad got killed." he said it with such finality, I felt instantly sorry for him.
"I'm sorry. Did you and your Mom move to come live here?"
"My Mom flies on airplanes, so she travels a lot. I live with my Grandma." he whispered. "What's your name?" he asked me.
"Francesca, but everyone calls me Sissy."
"Why not Fran?"
"Cause I hate it..." I told him.
"I'm gonna call you Fran." he grinned at me.
"You better not." I threatened. I watched as his mouth turned into a teasing smile, he had a chipped tooth on one of his front teeth and several were spaced apart slightly. Braces would correct that when we got to high school. I laughed at his teasing and shook my head.
"How about Frankie, then?" he compromised.
"No one's ever called me Frankie." My throat let out a cutesy sound. Giggles? I was giggling.
"Well, then, I'mma call you Frankie." He promised.
We continued back and forth like a ping pong ball. I'll ask questions, Wally would answer them. He'd ask me questions, I'd answer him. Honestly, it was the way we wound up being. A question answer session were our conversations.
We lived on different sides of town, so the only time we saw one another was at school. When we got to Junior high, my family moved and I was happy that Wally was only a bike ride away. I'd go over to his Grandmother's house and pick him up on the weekends, then we would bike ride all day just before it got dark. Wally would always ride with me home and sit on my porch until the street lights came on. Sometimes, my mother would invite him for dinner after calling his Grandmother. He became part of the family eventually. Mom and Dad thought he was cute and felt sorry for him. While I just found myself crushing on him even more.
By High School, Wally wasn't so much available to me as when we were kids, but that was alright. He still came by on the weekends and ate dinner with my family. We still sat on the porch and chatted until it was time for him to go on his date or whatever. We behaved more like sister and brother than anything else. I loved him as more than a friend by then and every time I got the courage to tell him how I felt, he'd open his mouth up about some girl he wanted to date. I always told myself that maybe it wasn't the right time.
I was the opposite of all of the girls Wally dated. While they were dark brown hair to blonde, blue to green eyes, I was wild curls, brown eyes, dark espresso colored skin, and just as tall as Wally--who by twelfth grade was almost six foot one. I used to get every tall comment there was. Being taller than every boy in school had it's drawbacks. I always felt aware of my height and my thick body. My hair, well, there wasn't much I could do with it. If I left it out, it would do what it wanted, so I kept it mostly in a ponytail during our high school days. To say the least, I never had a date, I didn't go to my prom, and Wally was my only friend.
Wally and I both were nerds, but in a good way. Wally still managed to be "cool" and be on the A/B honor roll, while I could only be a nerd. We both graduated with high grades that garnered scholarships from the school of our choice. While Wally went to business school at Harvard, I stayed close to home and went to Art school. That still did not keep us from staying in touch. Wally would come home to visit his Grandmother during his breaks. He'd seek me out and I him so we could go to our spots. Reminisce about high school and the like. When his Grandmother passed away we both took it hard, but my parents and I were there for him.
Wally graduated and came back home to work at a big firm in Manhattan. That was where he met Lisa. She was an okay person and I believe she cared for Wally. He was attractive and his once crew cut was tapered. He was no longer skinny, but filled out his Hugo Boss suits. His chip tooth added character and he still had those disarming eyes of his. They were what always made my heart skip when he looked at me with them.
Lisa was dark brown hair, green eyes, slender, five foot six, and very independent. They made the ideal power couple in the business world. Wally was a different person once he met Lisa. He and I still hung out, but not as much. He came by my apartment once in a while, but it wasn't the same. Lisa tolerated me, so to speak. She knew we had almost twenty years of friendship that didn't just go away because she wanted it to. I invited her over and opened myself to her, but she remained reluctant. Wally said she was just apprehensive and probably felt threatened by our relationship. I knew eventually our "relationship" would end because of that.
Wally and I have known each other since we were ten. When he said "I do" to Lisa, I knew seventeen years of friendship and love would be over.
I really should have said...