Better off Friends

Page 23


“Yeah, some friend,” Emily said coldly.
What I wanted to do was stick up for Macallan, who had been best friends with Emily since they were little. I hated that something was getting in the way of their friendship. And that something was me.
I started trying to piece everything together. “Why do I think this doesn’t have anything to do with something Macallan did, but something she knows?”
Emily didn’t have a response. Which was when I realized I was right.
“Just tell me the truth,” I said flatly. I knew in that instant that Emily and I were over. There was no way this was going to involve some kind of misunderstanding that would make everything okay. If it was enough to make Macallan uncomfortable and deceive me, it must’ve been bad.
Emily studied me briefly before her bottom lip started to tremble. My instincts told me to reach out to her. My head told me this was all an act. I remained still.
“I’m so sorry.” She covered her face with her hands. “I’m so sorry.” She then leaned into me. I didn’t move. I wasn’t going to wrap my arms around her and comfort her when she wasn’t doing the one thing I’d asked her to do: Tell the truth.
“What happened?”
She straightened up and began wiping away her tears. “I …” For a second I thought she wasn’t going to tell me. That I would have to get Macallan to fess up.
Emily must’ve realized she wasn’t going to get any sympathy from me. “You know I’ve been hanging out with Troy. Things just sorta happened on New Year’s, but you weren’t there, so I didn’t think it was a big deal. Then I realized I wanted to see if what he and I had was real, you know? But I didn’t want to give up on us and I guess I was confused and didn’t know what to do and it’s obvious you hate me now.”
She finally took a breath, which was enough time for me to understand what she had told me. Something had happened on New Year’s Eve. Even though Emily had already told me the opposite. And if I remembered correctly, that was the same time Macallan had started acting different anytime Emily was brought up.
So Macallan knew something had happened and had kept it from me.
I knew I should’ve been furious with my girlfriend of nearly eight months. But instead I was disappointed in Macallan. She had to choose between Emily and me. And she’d chosen Emily, the liar.
I stood up. “Thanks for telling me the truth at last.”
I didn’t even wait for a response. I walked out the door and knew there was only one person I wanted to see. I realized I should’ve been mad at Macallan for keeping this secret from me, but I was more worried that I was going to lose her.
What started as a steady walk quickly developed into a jog. I’d never had to worry about losing a friend over ending a relationship with a girl. But this was different. Macallan had known Emily for practically her entire life. I wasn’t going to ask her to take my side, but part of me thought that she was going to be put in that position. I’d be totally cool with her and Emily being friends. But I didn’t think Emily was going to be that generous.
While Macallan should’ve told me what was going on, I didn’t really blame her. She was being a good friend to Emily. Because Macallan was a good friend. She was loyal. But that loyalty also made me worried that she would pick Emily.
I could see Macallan in the kitchen when I approached the house. She looked up and saw me. She gave me a weak smile, probably knowing that I finally knew the truth. Or was she dreading having to dump me? She opened the door, and neither of us moved.
“You talked?” she asked.
She nodded. “I’m really sorry I didn’t tell you the truth the day you got back. I should’ve. There’s no excuse.”
There was this awkwardness between us that we hadn’t had since we first met. Neither of us was sure what to do around the other. In that instant, I wished I’d never dated Emily at all. Especially if it had cost me my most important friendship.
“It’s not your fault,” I said, and noticed her composure relaxed slightly. “We can still be friends, right?” I almost hated how desperate I was for her response, but another part of me didn’t care. I’d be lost without Macallan. We both knew that. I’m pretty sure everybody knew that.
She looked confused. “Of course.”
“You’re not going to have to choose?” I felt so juvenile, standing on her front step, begging her to pick me.
“I already did.” She stepped aside to let me in.
At first, I felt a little guilty about being responsible for ending Macallan’s friendship with Emily. Macallan didn’t say much about what happened. It was more like a fact to her: She and Emily were no longer friends.
I wanted to do something to show her how much I appreciated everything she’d done for me. But since I didn’t have the means to build her a chef’s dream kitchen, I was at a loss. Thankfully, Mom suggested having a joint graduation party with Macallan’s family. And Macallan wasn’t allowed to cook. She was going to be pampered that day, all day.
The morning of the ceremony, Mom took her to get a manicure and pedicure. I was invited, but refused — I needed to keep some of my guy points intact. The ceremony was boring. We all got to go up and get a diploma, but we were only graduating eighth grade. We’d see each other that fall, in a different school. With more people. Thankfully.
We headed back to my house afterward. Macallan, her dad and uncle, and me with both my parents and my mom’s family from Chicago. Mom had been fretting all week what to make since Macallan had quickly eclipsed Mom’s cooking skills.