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We were all friends


I don’t know. Maybe I was too friendly. Led him on so that he got the wrong idea about us. All of this stuff—dating, love, doing the right thing—it’s so hard when you’re young. Feels impossible sometimes. I liked Kevin. He was my best friend. But I just didn’t like him in that romantic kind of way. Sunny grinned wide and sharp again, almost laughing. She said that if Kevin had looked as good as he could sing, well, how different the story would have been. But that was supposed to be a joke, too. In the summer before their Junior year Kevin was still learning how to speak up for himself. He was still growing into his body. This is kind of mean to say, but on the slope that night when Kevin put his hand over mine I found myself thinking back to gym class, watching him run laps around the gymnasium and sweat until his maroon headband turned black, in his big lanky body and too-short gym shorts, and being in the locker room afterwards with Paige and the rest of the girls and just dying with laughter about his hairy girl-legs, those godawful spider hands of his. And that night on the slope, the more I thought about it the more his hand creeped me out. I would look down when he wasn’t aware and see this pale five-legged thing with raw knuckles clasped over my hand—you know like in that movie where the alien creature sucks the guy’s face?—yeah, and it almost became too much. I had to fight the urge to scream and yank my hand away. I know that’s mean and unfair. Kevin was just trying to be romantic. He was a sweet guy. But sometimes. I dunno. Sometimes I think it was unfair to me too. We were all friends, and there were other guys and girls in the choir and we were all past that sort of thing. We weren’t like flirting and trying to kiss each other all the time, and I just think Kevin should have known that and respected that about our group.

from a story in progress



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