Better off Friends

Page 17


Troy said the smartest thing he could at a time like this. “I’m going to head downstairs.”
Emily and I were silent after he left. Only the sound of laughter from the oblivious adults could be heard.
Emily finally spoke. “I know.”
“You know?”
“I was stupid, it’s just … it’s New Year’s Eve. I’m at a party. Is it so wrong that I wanted to have some fun?” She sank back onto my bed and put her head in her hands. “You can’t tell Levi.”
I couldn’t think of a response. I was so shocked at how quickly the evening had changed.
She finally looked at me. “Can you please say something? Anything?”
I was afraid to open my mouth because I had no idea what would come out. Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore. “How could you?”
Emily shook her head. “I don’t know. I mean, you know I used to like Troy. And we were flirting while we were playing, and I think he’s cute. You know I used to like him.”
“You have a boyfriend. And need I remind you that he’s my best friend.”
“I thought I was your best friend.”
“You both are.” But in that instant I certainly felt closer to Levi.
“Levi’s great. But he’s not here.” Emily sank back on my bed, her feet dangling toward the floor. It was a position we’d both been in often. A physical position. This awkward emotional position I was currently in was a first. And not one I cared to repeat.
“So that makes it okay?” I asked.
“No, it doesn’t.” I was relieved that this was her answer. “I’m confused, that’s all.”
“About what?”
“Everything.” She started to tear up. “I’m getting freaked out over next year. I don’t think you realize how much things will change. Everything’s going to change. It already has.”
I sat down next to her so we were both staring up at the glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling. “Emily, you’ve got to let this go. You’re not your sister.”
“You know what happened with her. You saw. Cassie had all these friends when she was our age. Then she went to that big school and got lost. She’d come straight home freshman year and go into her bedroom to cry.”
“But your sister’s a lot quieter than you. You’re more outgoing. You’d never be lost. And you have me.” I wanted to add that trying to date the entire male population at our school at the same time wasn’t going to make things better for her, but I knew this wasn’t the time. What she needed was reassurance. “Not everything is going to change.”
“Our group will be broken up. I used to be your only best friend, and don’t think it hasn’t hurt me that you’ve been spending more time with Levi.”
I couldn’t believe she was trying to turn this on me. Yes, I spent a lot of time with Levi. But she was the one who canceled plans with me to spend more time with him.
“And I get worried for you, Macallan. I do. Levi’s great. But when he gets to high school, do you think he’s going to be fine hanging out with only you? He’s going to have all these friends, and I don’t want you to be left alone.”
“I didn’t think I was going to be left alone.” My throat tightened. “I thought you were my best friend, too.” I turned my head in time to see her cringe.
“I am your best friend. But sometimes I question where your loyalty lies.”
I stayed motionless on my bed, repeating Emily’s words in my head. This was an impossible situation — was she really asking me to make an even more impossible choice? A knot began forming in my stomach. Could I really choose between the two? I’d known Emily for as long as I could remember. She was always happy to lend a hand when I needed girly advice. She had been there for me during the absolute worst time in my life.
Maybe Emily was right. Maybe I had been neglecting her since Levi had come to town. But did that make what she was asking me okay? Levi and his family had meant the world to me the past eighteen months. I couldn’t imagine my life without him. But I felt the same about Emily.
Why was this landing all on me? This was exactly the situation I’d been worried about when they’d started dating. What would happen after they broke up?
I tried to keep my voice steady. “Are you giving me an ultimatum? That I need to be loyal to you?”
“I don’t know what I’m saying.” Emily sat up. “I’m obviously really confused. I’m so sorry. I feel horrible. I don’t want to come between you and Levi, and I don’t want Levi to come between us.”
Yeah, I thought, you’re one kissing session too late on that one.
Just then, I heard everybody downstairs counting down. While they happily rang in the New Year, I was trying to figure out how to salvage the two most important relationships in my life.
A “HAPPY NEW YEAR!” chorus erupted below.
“Hey!” Emily hugged me as I got up. “Happy New Year, Macallan! Can we make a fresh start? I promise to figure out what to say to Levi. I don’t want you to worry about it. It’s my problem, not yours.”
All I could do was hope she was right.
Emily got up off the bed and clapped her hands. “Come on, Macallan! It’s the New Year, a new start, a new beginning! Anything’s possible.”
I felt a sense of dread envelop me. Because anything was possible. But those last ten minutes had made me realize that maybe that wasn’t a good thing.