Better off Friends

Page 13


By the time November rolled around, Levi and Emily were inseparable. They were constantly holding hands and I swear I once saw them rubbing their noses together between classes.
I tried desperately to not be bitter. It wasn’t that I wanted a boyfriend, but I couldn’t help feel a slight sting when they didn’t want me around. Instead of being a necessity, I was a hindrance. Anytime I asked one of them to do something, they already had plans with each other. And I wasn’t included.
Sometimes I even wished they would break up. But then I figured that would make things even worse. What if I was forced to pick sides?
There was no way for me to get things back to normal.
So instead I spent more time with Danielle. “They’re getting pretty serious, huh?” Danielle asked me as we waited in line to see a movie the week before winter break, just the two of us.
“Yeah.” I was also getting tired of having to be the happy couple’s spokesperson.
Danielle hesitated a second. “Don’t you think …” She looked around to make sure we didn’t know anybody. “Don’t you think Emily’s kind of slipped away a bit? I mean, I know she wants to spend time with her boyfriend. Duh. But she’s never strayed this far from us. It’s a bit much, you know?”
Yes, I did know. And times that by two for me. The only reason I still saw Levi on Wednesdays was that Emily had cheer practice.
“It is a little much.” I only allowed myself to admit it to Danielle.
“Although, let’s be honest, you’ll probably have to remind me of this conversation when I finally get a boyfriend,” she said dryly.
I tried to give her an understanding nod, although that just wasn’t one of my priorities.
“Speak of the devils.” I followed Danielle’s gaze to the concession stand, where Levi had his arm draped around Emily. She leaned into his side and laughed at something he was saying.
I really liked Levi, I really did. But he was not as funny as Emily always pretended he was.
I groaned. “Do you think they’re seeing the same movie as us?”
Dread came over me that I’d have to watch the Emily and Levi Make-Out Hour instead of the new Paul Grohl romantic comedy.
Danielle apparently read my mind. “Maybe we can sneak by them and sit toward the front?”
“Sounds good.” We grabbed our tickets and headed toward the theater with our heads down. I felt my heartbeat pulsing quickly.
“Hey, guys!” I froze in my tracks upon hearing Emily’s voice. For a split second, I debated pretending to not hear her, but Danielle was already heading over.
“Hey!” Danielle said cheerfully. “What are you guys doing here?”
I made a mental note to encourage Danielle to join the drama club.
Emily laughed. “Seeing a movie, silly!”
“Really? You didn’t come here solely for the popcorn?” Danielle shot back.
“We’re seeing The Salem Reckoning.” Emily pretended to get chills down her spine. “Fortunately, I have this one to hold me tight.” She beamed at Levi.
In the many years I’d known Emily, she’d always refused to watch a horror movie. Even the cheesy, so-bad-it’s-funny kind. But I guessed she’d use whatever excuse she could get for PDL (public displays of Levi).
“Cool,” Danielle said in a way that you could tell she found it the opposite of cool. “Well, I need to hit the little girls’ room before I watch Paul Grohl be romantic and dashing for ninety minutes.”
“I’ll join you!” Emily grabbed Danielle by the arm and headed toward the restrooms.
“Hey!” Levi finally acknowledged my existence.
“Hey.” I decided not to act like it wasn’t awkward.
“Listen,” he began. “I was thinking that maybe on Wednesday we could go grab a bite to eat and do some shopping. I totally need help picking out what to get my mom for Christmas.”
I let the icicles that were beginning to form around me melt a little. He was making an effort. He was also asking me to help him with his mom’s gift because I knew her better. I knew him better. Maybe I was being a little harsh. I wasn’t being replaced. Because that was really what I thought was happening.
I was being foolish. Levi would never replace me.
We’d solidified our plans by the time Emily and Danielle came back from the restroom.
“Ready?” Emily grabbed Levi’s hand.
“Yeah.” Levi winked at me. “Have fun!”
“You too,” I replied.
And I meant it.
Levi and Emily weren’t the problem. My attitude was. Clearly, there was something wrong with me that I got threatened the second my two best friends didn’t give me one hundred percent of their attention.
I knew right then what my New Year’s resolution would be: to stop being so needy.
Once I gave myself an attitude adjustment, I began to smile whenever I saw Levi and Emily together. I remembered reading somewhere that if you smile at something, it automatically makes you happier.
So whenever Levi or Emily would bring up the other, I’d smile.
Soon it became an automatic response.
Levi and I were walking around the mall, our hands full of shopping bags. “So I was telling Emily” — SMILE! — “that I still haven’t gotten used to this weather. I know everybody said last winter was particularly brutal, but I think this year’s even worse. Like, negative degrees? How can it be so cold that the temperature doesn’t even exist? Or, like, it’s less than zero? How is that even possible? At least Emily has promised to keep me warm.”