MY BEST FRIEND

MY BEST FRIEND

From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on Love & Friendship

My Best Friend

Do it for love.

Sark

My teacher is at the front of the class babbling some mumbo jumbo about regression equations or deviation scores. I lost her about two minutes into class. My attention is focused on something else—something more important to me. As I get lost in the gold X’s and the sparkle of the diamonds fastened around my wrist, I remember back to April. A time when I was happy. A time when life was “perfect.”

April was when Kevin and I got together (again). We’d been dating since January. We’d spent every free minute we had with each other. After all, he’d been my best friend since seventh grade. If neither of us had athletic practice, we’d sit on his couch watching television, wrapped in each other’s arms for hours. Then it’d be time for me to leave for a game or him to leave for work. Good-byes were always long. We never wanted to let go.

On April 20, things were the same as always. I had a softball game and the bus didn’t leave until 3:45 P.M. We were on his couch, as usual, but something was different with him. I’d never seen him look at me the way he did. I didn’t really think anything of it, though. He’d always played mind games with me. Saying good-bye seemed harder for him that day, too. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I didn’t have time to ask because I was going to be late. I drove like a bat out of you-know-where and got to school just as the team was boarding the bus. My coach yelled at me for a while, but I tuned him out. I couldn’t understand why Kevin was acting so strangely.

We were getting closer to the fields when my cell phone rang. It was Kevin. He sounded fidgety or antsy about something and said he really needed to talk to me. He told me to stop by his house on my way home from the game. Of course, I did. I cared about him so much and if something was making him upset, I wanted to be there for him.

We won our game. I drove to Kevin’s house. He was sitting in his driveway when I got there. He looked so worried. I wanted to ask him what was wrong. I wanted to know why he looked so lost and alone. Before I had a chance to ask him what was wrong, he came over and hugged me. We stood in his driveway for a good twenty minutes before he began to speak. He pulled away from me, but didn’t break contact. He looked deep into my eyes. I can still hear the words in my head: “I love you. I’ve never loved anyone before. I thought I had. You proved me wrong. I never thought I could care about anybody this much. It’s so new to me, and I’m so afraid that you don’t care about me like that.” Then the tears came. In the years that I’d known him, I had never seen him cry. I’d heard him cry once, but it only lasted a minute or two. Seeing the tears pour from his eyes broke my heart. I had loved him for a long time, but I never let my feelings out for fear of ruining what we had. I started crying, too. They weren’t sad tears, though. They were tears of joy. My heart felt bigger than my body. We held each other for what felt like minutes, but turned out to be hours.

“Jayme?” My math teacher’s voice interrupts my flashback.

“Yes, Mrs. Cooper?”

“Can you answer the question?”

“I think it’s three.”

“No. Anyone else?”

I drift back into my thoughts. It was June, the day before Father’s Day. My family and I were leaving the next day. Nine days in Wyoming with my family, not exactly my idea of a great time. My best friend, the person who held my heart, would be on the opposite side of the country from me. If I ever had any doubts about his love for me, they were all dissolved that night. He cried when I left his house, then we were on the phone in tears together until I had to get ready to leave at five-thirty the next morning. I called him every day from Wyoming. He would cry and tell me how much he missed me. He had a countdown going. Every day he’d tell me, “Only seven more days until you’re in my arms again.” After a delayed flight and an overnight stay in Dallas due to a missed connection, I was finally with him again. For some reason, I expected him to look different. He looked exactly the same: the same caring eyes, the same arms that always held me tight, the same soft lips that kissed me so gently. . . .

Someone hits my arm and brings me back to the present. “Hey, got any paper?”

“No, sorry.” I put my head down, hoping no one else would interrupt my visit to the past.

October 20. Our six-month anniversary. Usually, I was lucky to have a relationship last six days. We were sitting in his car before school. He gave me a card. I still remember every word it said: “Jayme, I love you because whenever you smile it really lights up your face. Because your laughter fills up a room and makes it a happier place. I love you because you hold me real tight and tell me you love me, too. I love you because there’s no one else in the whole wide world like you. Reach under your seat. I love you lots! Love, Kev.” I reached under the seat and there was a velvety black box. I was already fighting back tears when I opened it. In it was the most beautiful bracelet I’d ever seen. It had gold X’s and little diamonds in between them that represented O’s. He told me it stood for “hugs and kisses.” I started bawling.

It is these tokens of his love for me that still get me choked up. I feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I have to stop thinking about it. I listen to the teacher’s lecture and scribble down some notes. It’s no use.

December 17, I was at his car after school. I tried to stay strong about it, but I couldn’t stop sobbing. Couldn’t he see how much he was hurting me? Couldn’t he tell how much I loved him? Didn’t he care? I know he cared because he was holding me and wouldn’t leave me until I was okay. He didn’t understand, though. It was going to take me a long time before I was okay. I was so lost. In front of me stood my best friend, my first true love, and I was losing it all. He didn’t understand what he meant to me. He didn’t know everything he was to me. Who was I supposed to go to? I’d been with him for almost a year. My friends weren’t really there because I’d lost touch with them. He was the one I always went to with my problems. Now I was faced with the biggest one yet: a broken heart. And I had no one to turn to. I put on a fake smile. I pretended I was okay. Inside, I was dying. I had opened myself up to him and let him inside of my deepest thoughts and the darkest recesses of my heart, and he had ripped it out. I had given myself to him and he had taken the most important thing in my life away from me: him.

I can’t fight back the tears anymore. I ask Mrs. Cooper if I can go sit outside. Of course, she lets me. I sit on a bench and stare at the trees. A gentle breeze blows through them. My cheeks are stained with tears. I think about it all. What would I be if I had never gone through this? I would have missed the opportunity to love and be loved. Where would I be if I had never met him? Would I still be that shy girl with zero self-confidence who hid under a barrage of baggy clothes? I don’t know. I’m glad I don’t know.

Kevin is still my best friend. My walls are covered with pictures of the two of us, as are his. I still get teary-eyed whenever Tim McGraw’s song “My Best Friend” comes on. Kevin used to sing it to me. He still does. I can never forget the experiences we have shared together. And I’ll always be his “little munchkin.”

Jayme Johnson

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