A Story of Best Friends and Happily Ever Afters

The day that Reid and I had our fight was the loneliest day of my life, hands down. We had been there for each other ever since the days when we first met, at age fact, my first instinct was to call him after we fought, not accepting in my mind that my best friend wasn't talking to me and that a lot of it was my fault;I admitted that. He had been there through the horrible middle school years when the whole embarrassing incident with Parker, my ex-BFF, occurred and stayed with me despite the social stigma that must have come with it. And he was still there when Cole, my crush and later boyfriend, broke up with me and at the same time broke my heart, admitting after being forced by Parker to tell me that they had been going out for two months behind my back, a move that Parker had made for the sole purpose of hurting me, badly. After all, she was the one how who knew how long I had dreamed of being with Cole Adams, the cutest guy in the school, but also the most popular. And because he was there in that moment of ultimate rejection, he also heard the things that I had said and sorely regret. It started at prom, a scene carefully crafted by Parker. Apparently, Parker had told Cole that she didn't want to be his secret fling any longer the night before prom, and he had agreed to break me the news AFTER prom. Of course, he was definitely at least partly at fault for being a cheating boyfriend who played right into the hands of his other girl, so I can't say much else complimentary about him. Anyways, she decided that wasn't good enough. So my boyfriend's infidelities were revealed in front of the senior class, who already knew yet neglected to tell me. The first person who found me running at track star speeds across the my sports fields, shoes clutched in my fisted hands was , of course, Reid, closely trailed by Hailey and her date James.

"Cee, wait up," he calls as we cross the quad. I keep running, wanting to stop and breathe and just cry until all my tears are gone. But my legs won't listen. That hardly stopped him. Reid is actually the star of the football and track teams, and can run faster than should be humanly possible. As a result, he caught me quickly. A hand is on my arm, preventing me from running any further. Then suddenly everything I've been running from catches me, and I'm broken down, sobbing.

"Come on Cee, don't let them see what they did to you, be strong. Let's get out of here." With that, he lead me, hesitant yet unable to resist with the energy I had left, from the lawn to his car, a fairly ugly old thing that you would not associate with anyone younger than 85 or with any social status.

"Reid, just leave me alone. I'll be fine , I promise."

"Yeah, sure. Remember, I've known you since you were six; it's not that easy to fool me."

"Really, I'm serious. Tell Hailey and James that I'm fine, then go make a splash with your dance moves." I manage a weak smile; he can't dance AT ALL." Really, I just need to be alone for a while. I promise I'll be okay, and I'm not mad at you."

"If you're sure… let me give you a ride home at least, then I'll leave you alone." I consider this. I don't have a car with me, since Cole had driven me here.

"Okay. I owe you."

" No debt. Lets go." With that I lifted the fancy skirts of my beautiful dress into his old rusty car, grimacing at the thought of the fast food containers that were almost certainly strewn on the car floor.

He seemed to read my mind, chuckling and saying "Sorry about the car. I don't even notice it.".

"Its okay. Thanks for the ride."

"Really, you don't need to thank me. I don't mind."

"Still, it sucks that this all happened tonight, and that you aren't there now."

"This was more important. You're hurting more than me. And you don't need to be strong for me. I've watched you cry god knows how many times before. Maybe I'm finally catching on."And with that, the tears and anger surface again.

"How could Parker be so terrible? She already ruined my life once, why does she need to do it again? And to think that she used to be nice…"

"I don't know. But I agree that she has been absolutely horrible to you. Maybe she's jealous that you actually have good friends, while hers only like her if she looks pretty and acts right."

"Okay, enough Dr. Phil ." We both manage half laughs.

"Here we are. I'll walk you in. Text me if you need to talk to someone"

"Its okay, I don't need an escort, really. Look how much good that's done me; I mean, chivalry's dead. Those guys just want to get laid."

"Do you realize what you're saying and to who? I mean, do you really believe that just because Cole and Parker are horrible that everyone is? You're letting this one thing make you cynical and jaded, even toward the guy who's been there for you all along."

"Is that how you see yourself, a hero, or a knight in shining armor, ready to step in and save the poor, frail princess? Cause, FYI, I'm not that girl."

"Don't you get it? Or are you really that self -centered that you can't see it. I'm not here because I want something. I'm here, because, unlike Cole I actually care for you. It was hard to watch him be so terrible to you, especially since if I were him, I would have considered myself the luckiest guy in the world, and would have treated you so much better. Haven't you ever thought for a moment that I liked you in a 'more than friends' way?"

"Oh, shoot. So, here I was, thinking that you were the good guy when you're just like them. You want something from me, and nothing will stop you until you get it. Just one more guy with expectations." With that I unbuckle my belt, not even caring as I feel the fabric of my precious dress catching as I hop out of the car, then the definite sound of a tear. He's screaming, trying to get my attention one last time, but I'm blocking it out, not wanting to hear the justifications hat are sure to follow. I know this all too well.

I run into the house, which, thankfully was empty. The skirts of my now desecrated dress leaves subtle trails of dirt on the entry floor (I had to go scavenging in the muddy backyard to find the spare key), but I was beyond caring as I picked them up, ran up the stairs and flopped on my bed, tears, undoubtedly laced with mascara, running down my face.

After that, Reid and I stopped speaking. We weren't even on civil terms. We went out of our ways to avoid each other for the rest of his senior year; I learned not to take certain staircases, and he went to sit with his football friends at lunch, leaving me with Hailey, James (who was now a permanent fixture at our table since he and Hailey started dating), and a couple other friends of ours. Looking back, we were both stubborn to a fault, neither wanting to be the first to break and say that the things we said that night were horrible, that we were wrong and that the other was the victim. There wasn't any reconciliation in sight. Eventually he graduated, and I heard through a mutual friend that he was off to Brown, his dream school.

Then came my senior year. I slaved over all my applications, work which ultimately paid off. Before Christmas, I got accepted at my reach school, and my dream school, UNC Chapel Hill. After that, senior year flew by in a blur of indistinct events, all which brought me a little closer to escaping the rumors that still flew in my small town, where everyone thought they knew everyone's business. According to them, we had hooked up, and then he had left me for some other girl when I thought we had something exclusive, making me furious. If only they knew, I thought every time I heard this. /the end of the year was the hardest and the part where I relived everything the most. As I considered whether or not to go to prom with friends, I thought of the horrible, miserable time I had last year. When I bought my dress, I remembered how my one from last year still sat in a crumpled heap in the back of my closet, a reminder. And even as I sat beside Hailey as we got our manis and pedis and hair done, and as she told me about the latest cute and polite thing James did, I hear myself saying that those type of guys only want one thing, even though I was 99 percent sure that James wasn't like that. After prom (it turned out okay) came senior picnic, then physics day (an excuse to spend the day at Six Flags with friends), and finally graduation. As I walked the stage, I felt a sense of peace and relief, as I was that much closer to leaving my identity connected with rumors all behind, but also an overwhelming, unexplainable sense of sadness for what was being forfeited and left behind.