Better off Friends

Page 6


She was all “Yeah, no … I don’t feel well.”
I saw her holding her stomach. I hoped she wasn’t going to blow chunks in front of me.
Once we got home, she sat there. She didn’t talk, she didn’t want to watch TV, she didn’t want anything to eat. She didn’t even crack open a book to study. That’s when I knew things were serious.
I started playing a couple video games; she silently watched from the couch. “Man, I tell you …” I looked at her and saw that she didn’t look so great. I figured there was only one thing that could put a smile on her face. “Oi!” I called out in my best cockney accent. “You gonna just sit there or you gonna help me deliver … a baby?” Then I pretended to faint. It was classic Buggy.
She got up suddenly and went to the bathroom.
This was the problem with being friends with a girl. They could be so complicated. Like, was I supposed to guess what was wrong? Couldn’t she give me a hint?
After I played a few more games, I realized she had been in the bathroom for an unusually long time. Gross. But what if she’d hit her head on the counter or something? I didn’t want to bother her, but she had said she wasn’t feeling well.
I approached the bathroom cautiously. “Ah, Macallan?”
“Go away!”
“Um, do you need —”
I was pretty sure she threw something at the door. Or she banged on the door. There was some noise that happened and it was clear she was not happy.
I didn’t know what to do. My buddies back home never locked themselves in a bathroom.
Thankfully, Mom arrived home a few minutes later. At first she gave me a questioning look when she saw me staring at the bathroom door.
“Mom, I don’t know what’s going on. She’s locked herself in there. I think she’s crying. I swear I didn’t do anything.”
Mom’s eyes got wide. “Go play video games.”
Mom was always harping on me to stop playing video games. I went back into the living room before she could change her mind.
After what seemed like an eternity, Mom emerged from the bathroom.
“What’s —”
She cut me off. “Listen, you’re not to say anything to Macallan about this, or anybody at school. Do you understand me?” I wasn’t used to her having such a harsh tone with me. “I need you to go to your room —”
“What?” I protested. “But I didn’t do any —”
Mom snapped her fingers at me. Great. Now Mom was mad at me.
She lowered her voice. “I need to have a private conversation with Macallan’s dad when he gets here. Now go to your room and I don’t want to hear another word about this.”
She folded her arms and I knew I had no choice but to do what she said.
I went up to my room totally confused. But I did know one thing.
I would never understand girls.
Oh, wow.
I finally realized what happened that day.
You’re just figuring this out now?
Yeah, I guess —
We’re not having this conversation.
I can’t believe I didn’t realize you got —
What part of we’re not having this conversation are you failing to comprehend?
Do you think I want to talk about this?
Then why are you talking about this?
Uh, never mind.
We better hurry up and discuss something manly to get your dude points back up.
Yeah. Uh, me like meat.
Okay, you promised you’d never mention that. I had a blister, I was just …
Excuses, excuses.
You’re the worst.
And you love me for it.
Yes, because I’m a total glutton for punishment. And one hundred percent pure man.
Stop laughing.
Seriously, stop laughing.
Macallan, it’s not that funny.
“What if I got my hair cut?”
It was such a simple question Levi asked, but he had no idea what a what-if question did to me. It was a game I played with myself often. I had been doing it a lot that summer before eighth grade.
What if I hadn’t been the one to show Levi around on his first day of school?
What if I hadn’t seen his KEEP CALM AND BLIMEY ON button and opened up a conversation to see what else we had in common?
What if Uncle Adam had never mentioned Wednesday nights to Levi’s mom?
What if his mom wasn’t always around when I needed her?
But that’s the thing with the what-if game — you really can never know the answer to the question. And maybe it’s better that way.
Because underneath the surface what-ifs are much worse ones.
What if you hadn’t forgotten your science book that day?
What if it hadn’t been raining?
What if the other driver hadn’t been texting?
What if Mom had paused for even three seconds before leaving that day?
What if?
“Ah, Macallan?” Levi waved his hand in front of my face. “What do you think?”
Levi removed the elastic from his hair and it fell a few inches down his back. “I feel like I need a new start for eighth grade.”
I shrugged. “Might be nice.”
“Even a few of my buddies back home have finally cut their hair.”
Back home.
I noticed that even though Levi had been here for nearly a year, and his parents had no plans to move back to California, he kept referring to California as “back home.” Like he hadn’t fully been able to accept that this was now his home.