Okay, let's start at the very beginning of this whole mess. Third grade.
"Audrey Hunter?" Mrs. Silva scanned the room of new students on that first day of school.
"Here!" I raised my hand enthusiastically, excited to see who my desk buddy would be.
She smiled warmly at me. "Hon, your buddy is Will Jackson. He just moved here from Arizona."
I looked over at the small, skinny kid in the corner and smiled sweetly at him. In return he made a face and stuck out his tongue. Shocked, I glared at him and reluctantly drug my stuff over to our new desk.
Mrs. Silva continued herding the rest of the children around her classroom and Will whispered to me. "Hey, I got some sweet markers, wanna see?"
I was still fuming from the tongue incident, but the promise of new Crayola markers got the best of me. I leaned in close. "Okay, lemme see 'em!"
He grinned widely. "See?" He asked as he whipped one out too fast for me to see clearly, dragged across my arm, and hid in his backpack again. I looked at my arm. He had stained it with blue ink and I was furious.
"Mrs. Silva!" I wailed. "Will drew on me!"
"Did not!" Will stood up indignantly.
"Did too!" I kicked him in the shin so hard my Barbie shoes lit up. Having no brothers, I hadn't yet learned boys are considerably more vulnerable in a different place. Of course, Will would be present and in pain when I figured that one out a year later.
"Audrey, calm down, it's okay. The marker will come out. Will, we keep our hands to ourselves or else we visit the principal's office. Understand?"
"But—" Will protested.
"I don't wanna be his buddy any more!" I whined at the same time.
"Will, Audrey, enough." Mrs. Silva's mean voice was scary. I looked up at her meekly and shut my mouth.
Through out the year, Will and I created lots of problems. Although we didn't sit by each other for long—frequent elbow throwing contests kicked that one out of the question—we took great lengths to annoy each other as often as we could.
Throughout the rest of elementary school, we were in the same class. We sat next to each other every year for on average six days before the teacher's moved one of us to the opposite side of the room. (Unfortunately 'Hunter' and 'Jackson' are pretty close alphabetically. Cool, huh?)
Middle school came and finally, finally I didn't have to deal with him any more. But then, oh heyyy, my best friend decided she thought boys were cute and she liked them. And do you know who the cutest, most popular boy in our school was? Will Jackson. Awesome.
Will was the class stud by then. He was only thirteen and had kissed five girls by then. Count'em. Five. It was well-known throughout the school that Alyssa liked Will—she even invited him to her birthday party, which was a big deal because there was a boy there. At that party, everyone was in the pool playing volleyball or on the deck tanning, except for Will and Alyssa, who were making out in the shed. Oh, and me, who was the lucky one that caught them.
So, naturally, Alyssa and Will started 'dating'. You know, the pretend kind where you just sit next to each other in school and walk awkwardly from class to class? Basically after that, hanging out with my best friend meant spending a lot of time with my enemy as well.
You know how long middle school relationships last. Will and Alyssa's wasn't much different. They broke up eventually and that was that. Alyssa cried over her first boyfriend, I patted her back and cursed his name right along with her, and slowly she moved on to boyfriend number two and forgot all about him.
But I wasn't okay with what Will had done to her. She had told me stories about he treated her—things he had said and things he had done. Those stories didn't settle right with me. One day in the first week of eighth grade, we were sitting next to each other (nothing had changed since elementary school—they still sat us next to each other that first week of school) and I confronted him.
His entire story was radically different from hers, and it rang true to me. Alyssa was calculating and manipulative, not to mention she knew make someone feel awful by just looking at them. She was that classic mean girl and everything he said fit her. I hated to admit it, but I was siding with my supposed arch enemy over my supposed best friend.
That year, eighth grade, Will and I became closer, much to Alyssa's dismay. At the end of the year, she accused me of dating him behind her back, which of course wasn't true, but it alienated me from our group of friends and I had no one else to turn to but that same boy in third grade who lied to me about his new markers that fateful first day.
My ex-best friend moved away unexpectedly just before we started high school, and Will and I only got closer. By our third year of high school, we were all set to win our senior superlatives next year as the class best friends. We were the closest of friends, nothing more, until our junior year where things changed between us and not for the better.