I bite my thumb as I try to hold in laughter. But what makes me laugh more is the fact that I'm biting my thumb.
Ian notices and gasps. “Thou shalt not bite thy thumb at moi!” He says a bit too loudly. Then he lowers his voice and his face turns somber. “I thought I taught you better than that.” It’s a mix of French and Shakespeare. My best friend is the weirdest person I know, but he is the only other person who willingly spends time at the library with me.
“Ian, hush,” It’s all I can do to hold my laughter in as the librarian gives us dirty looks. “You’re gonna get us kicked out.”
The librarian was a stickler for silence. I’m not joking around, she has literally guided people out the door for so much as a yelp.
I look over to the front desk, and sure enough she is giving us dirty looks.
“Maybe that's what I’m trying to do,” He wiggles his eyebrows. “Maybe I'm trying to get us kicked out so we can go do something fun.”
“This would be fun if you didn’t insist on being so difficult.” I roll my eyes to try and portray my annoyance, but my smile gives me away.
“You know you love me.” He nudges me with an elbow and looks down at his book again. He is very bad at pretending to read. I know he is waiting for my reaction. I normally correct him. I can’t love him, he is my best friend. That's what I always say.
But lately I have noticed something. The way I feel around him. It’s almost… Shy in a way. I have grown to realize I want to be more than just friends. But I’m not willing to tell him that, for fear we mess up the relationship we have already. I’m not even sure if I do like hi—
He looks up at me, his teasing chocolate eyes boring into my green ones. “Kalen, you haven't insulted or corrected me in the past five seconds. Are you feeling alright?”
I like this boy way more than I will ever admit.
“I’m fine.” I lie. “I just have a test tomorrow that I'm trying to study for, but I promise after we can go get ice cream?”
I look back down at my text book and start to read. I want to be as prepared as I can for our exam tomorrow. I have read this over twice, and now I plan on making flashcards to review tonight and in the morning.
I turn to my backpack, hanging on the chair behind me and I unzip the front pocket. I’m normally organized, but lately I have been getting sloppier. I peer inside and there are a few stray highlighters, but in their pouches everything sits perfect. My erasers, extra pencils, notecards, and glue sticks all arranged meticulously according to the pockets. My idea of sloppy is a few things out of place.
I fix the highlighters that have strayed from their place, when I feel a sharp tickle. I don’t know how exactly to describe it, but Ian had sort of jabbed the inside of my sides and it tickles. I give a sort of yell, but then double over laughing.
“Ian,” I hiss. “What was that for?”
He just smirks at me.
“Out.” I hear a voice say.
I turn and the librarian is behind us, her gray dress matching her strict tone.
I grab my backpack, glaring at Ian the whole time. He just looks proud of himself. As soon as we walk through the doors of the library I shove him. “You just got us kicked out!”
“Wipe that smug smile off your face this instant Killian Xander Wood, I know you did that on purpose.”
“And what are you gonna do about it if I did, Kalen Mae Chambers? Come one, let's go get donuts.” He fits his hand in mind and tugs me along.
How is he so alright with touching? He does it so easily. Although I guess we have known each other our entire lives, touching shouldn’t be a big deal.
“Not so fast,” I say, fixing a playful glare on my face.
“Killjoy.” He mumbles.
“We’re getting ice cream. The deal was you would suffer and then we get donuts. But you didn’t wait in the library, so we are getting ice cream.” I state simply. Now I’m the one leading as he drags his feet. “Ice cream won't kill you, you know.”
“I know.” His expression was a little forlorn. Did the donuts mean this much to him? What was going on with him today?
“What’s the matter?” I say as he stares wistfully into the donut shop as we pass it. Inside I catch the glimpse of red and sparkly gold fabric that clings to the curves of a few girls. “The cheerleading team? I didn’t know they could eat, much less consume sugar.” I joke.
Ian doesn’t answer and so I follow his gaze through the glass and right to the register. There is a girl handing over a few bills. Her blonde hair tied up in a high ponytail. It swishes around her shoulders as she turns to hand a friend her donut, and sees us out the window.
“Seriously Killian,” I whirl on him, using his real name to annoy him, but not even a flicker of aggravation burns across his face. “Abbey? Of all the people you choose the head cheerleader to crush on?”
“Let's go get ice cream.” He mumbles.
I feel slightly abysmal that I reacted that way, but at the same time, I need to cover up my own bit of heartbreak. It seems stupid to call it that. He is my best friend. I get to be satisfied with that. I don’t cry, because this is the sort of sadness you can’t see. I’m not even devastated, but there is this… empty pit in my chest. Like a whole that has been dug and needs to be filled.
I have to hurry to catch up with Ian’s brisk pace. “Hey,” I say. “I’m just surprised. I didn’t realize you liked her.”
He sighs. “No, you’re right, as usual. I mean, she is the head cheerleader and I’m… nobody.”
“You’re my best friend.” I try, forcing myself to lace my fingers with his again.
He gives me a dejected look. “I know but that's… that is not enough to—”
My nostrils flare the way they always do when I’m mad. “Oh so am I not good enough now?”
“Kalen, I never said that.”
“You were going to.”
“But you cut me off.”
I notice that our hands are still entwined as we argue.
“I was going to say,” He continues. “That being your best friend isn’t enough social status for her to ever notice me. I love being your best friend, Kalen, and I would never trade that.”
“Except for her. You would trade years of our friendship for your ongoing crush, right?” I make it sound like his like for her is a temporary thing, but when I look back on all the times I've caught him staring at the football field during biology, it all makes sense.
“I don’t know. Probably not. She is one girl… you are—”
“What am I Ian? What am I to you?” I’m practically in his face, not out of anger, not out of love, though I wish that's what it was, but something else.
“Thou art my closest, most cherished friend.” He grins.
I want to sock him in the head so bad.
“Why Abbey? I mean, she is way out of your league.” I fold my arms across my chest, wrenching my hand out of his death grip.
“What is in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
“In english please?” I roll my eyes.
“Her name carries connotations. She has a title, she has her status, but I think if I could catch her alone, or somewhere she can be herself, I think Abbey and I could work out. I think she would like me. In other words, it’s just—”
“I know what you mean. 'Tis but thy name that is mine enemy.” I say softly. “Good for you. I hope you get what you want.”
“I hope so too.”
“Can I pick your ice cream?”
“Only if I can pick yours.”
We walk into the shop. The quaint blue walls are decorated with pink streamers and matching paper lanterns. There are a variety of flavors.
There are a variety of people. I remind myself. He isn’t the only flavor.
I choose strawberry cheesecake for Ian, and he chooses rocky road for me.
But his lips probably taste the best.
We walk out after we both pay.
“This is disgusting!” I say.
“You’re disgusting.” Is Ian’s immediate response.
“Seriously. Chocolate ice cream is gross. Normal chocolate is good, but I don’t know what they do to this ice cream to make it this bad.” I lick around the waffle cone to keep it from melting out of control.
I reach over and take the strawberry cheesecake out of his hands and trade it with the rocky road.
“Hey!” he protests.
We sit down at one of the outdoor tables. “Next time don’t choose such a gross flavor for me.”
He takes a lick of it. “Your right. Something is wrong with this ice cream.”
Strawberry cheesecake is so much better.
“Please sir, can I have some more?” He mimics a British accent.
“More?” I say, continuing the quote. “You want more?”
He simply nods and I laugh. Ian uses this opportunity to steal a lick of his— my— ice cream.
“You're such a nerd.” I say, laughing more.
“Well you’re such a…” He pauses and looks over my shoulder.
I turn and look where his gaze is directed.
“Hey Ian!” One of the girls walking with Abbey says. He lifts a hand up and greets them as well. Another blonde whispers into Abbeys ear. They both glance at me and then Ian.
Once the girls are farther down the street I smirk at him.
He folds his arms in annoyance. “She's different behind all that make up, I know it. It’s only a name, remember?”
“And that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” I taunt him as I take another lick.
“If you keep this up, I’m not going to tell you anything ever again.” He looks at me. Again I feel like his eyes are dissecting me from the inside out. I must cut off this connection, or there will be nothing left. Eventually he will dig deep enough to find what has been on the surface of my mind this past hour.
So I bury my secret. I bury it deep.
What is in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But it does not follow that whatever we choose to call a rose will posses the rose's fragrance.