Friendship High School Coming of Age

A long blink. A steadying breath. Sweaty palms. “Can I tell you a secret?”

“‘Course. What’s up?” Diana doesn’t take her eyes off the movie.

“D’you remember Dylan Jameson?”

Diana looks startled. Lucy knows that saying his name is like flicking a switch in her brain from light blue to thick grey.

Diana turns to face her, her brows furrowed in confusion. “Yeah. Why?”

“You remember when you told me you and him cancelled your date because of some family thing you had?”

“Yeah.” If Lucy didn’t know her friend had lied, she wouldn’t catch the glint of deceit in her eyes, but it’s there. She can see the question in her eyes. They whisper “Does Lucy know?”

This is the hard part. Lucy takes another deep breath and reminds herself why she has to do this. It’s the only way to be properly honest with each other and this has gone on long enough. Still, that doesn’t make it easy. What if Diana is mad? 

That’s a silly question, she tells herself. Of course, she’ll be mad. But it won’t last. Hopefully.

“I know you lied, Di.”

“What?” Her voice doesn’t deny it. It is not accusatory or angry, only confused. A very light grey. She clicks pause on the TV remote.

“I know he called it off. I know he...” Lucy’s voice shakes.

Her best friend is lost for words. She simply asks “How?”

“I heard you talking to Dylan in the hallway by the library that day.” Lucy watches in fear as Diana’s eyes widen and her cheeks turn red. She looks like she’s about to say something angry, but Lucy continues instead. She knows how difficult it is for Diana to talk about this. “We were meeting in that spot to study that day and I went to meet you and he was there. I knew how important this was to you and I didn’t want to interrupt so I just waited for the right time… but then it didn’t come. And I heard what he was saying and I just felt so bad for you. Rejecting you like that, and after he already said yes? It was horrible. And you were so excited about it too. I know how much you liked him. So I just… stood there. And then when he walked away I walked around the atrium and to you. I didn’t want you to know I was listening.”

Diana looks shocked. She’s generally slow to anger, but it sits on the orange horizon in her eyes. She takes a moment to compose herself, seemingly trying to process this new information.

“Why didn’t you leave?”

“I should’ve, I know. I should’ve walked away when I first got there. I’m sorry. After, I thought you would tell me when you saw me - ”

“That’s not my fault,” Diana interrupts, looking annoyed.

“No, no, I know,” Lucy fills up with alarm, “of course it’s not. I just meant that I assumed you would tell me what happened and I could tell you I was there and it would’ve been fine. But you didn’t, so I didn’t know what to do.”

Diana looks betrayed and vulnerable and it hurts Lucy to see her best friend that way. She cares so much about a friend for the first time in a while. Lucy is desperately afraid of losing that. “Why didn’t you just tell me? Why lie?”

Lucy looks away, focusing instead on Emma Stone’s tap shoes, mid-tap in the foreground of the sunset. “I was going to the next day, but you beat me to it. You told me you cancelled the date and I was surprised you were lying but I wanted to give you your privacy. I knew how humiliating that must have been for you, especially by the way you talked about it like it was a loss.” Lucy’s voice shines with pastel yellow sympathy. She speaks gently, as if to a spooked animal, and looks down at her blanket. Her heart beats heavily with every admission. “But you didn’t say anything and I didn’t want to make you say anything. I didn’t want to hurt you any more than Dylan had. I tried to bring it up a couple of times for you to tell me the truth, but you never did and I could see it hurt you. So I just let it be.”

There’s a long pause while Lucy’s words echo in the air. “So I just let it be,” rings in her eardrums. She wonders if they’re still in her friend’s, too.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have eavesdropped and then I should’ve told you I knew. But I promise later on I was just trying to help.”

Lucy looks down at the drawstrings on her sweatpants, twisting them around each other nervously. Every ounce of her being wishes for Diana to forgive her, to understand. It’s a long time before anyone speaks again. When Diana does, it shatters the silence into sharp fragments littering her bedroom floor.

“It’s okay.”

Lucy turns again to find her friend looking over at her, a small, forgiving, and fragile smile on her lips. Her eyes look delicate but strong, like snowflakes. Lucy lets out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding, donning a tentative smile of her own. 


“Yeah. I mean, you were just trying to help, right? And you’re sorry,” Diana mutters.

Lucy nods and accepts a hug from her friend. When her face is hidden, Diana mutters “God, that day was tough.”

“I know.”

They pull apart but neither reaches to play the movie.

“I don’t think I ever told you this,” Lucy murmurs, “but I used to like him too. Dylan, I mean.”

Diana gasps. “Seriously?”

“Yeah, even before you said you did. I liked him a lot,” Lucy says, sighing. Dylan’s face materializes in her mind. She always thought he had the nicest eyes. He was always so smart, too.

“Wow. I never knew.” A thoughtful pause. “Why didn’t you say anything? I wouldn’t have asked him out if I knew you liked him too.”

“That’s exactly why I didn’t tell you. It bothered me to see you go after him but I wanted you to be happy. I did regret it sometimes, though. I didn’t think you’d actually ask him. ” Lucy remembers scolding herself every time her best friend said anything about her date. She recalls the ever-persistent sinking that came over her that week.

Diana chuckles. “This is becoming a theme, you know.”

Lucy laughs too. “I know. I swear I’ll try to be more honest from now on.”

“Me too,” Diana agrees resolutely. She holds out her pinky finger and gives off a goofy smile. “Just for laughs?”

Lucy laughs and they pinky swear.

“Seriously, though. Dylan was such a jerk. At least we don’t have to worry about him anymore,” Diana says, reaching for the TV remote. She presses play and Emma Stone’s shoe finally drops.

Lucy takes in a sharp, guilty breath. She stares straight through the TV screen. “Yeah. At least,” she fibs. It’s a white lie. Harmless, right?

November 21, 2020 00:19

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Vanessa Kilmer
18:35 Nov 27, 2020

Hi Susie: So many lies and secrets in your story, those we tell each other and ourselves. Well done capturing that universal behavior. You used "looks" several times, for example, "Diana looks startled." Perhaps instead you could describe the look, like Diana's eyes widened, her mouth opens in an oh. Something like that. Showing us what startled looks or sounds like. You did a good job following the prompt and this seemed like a very real situation. I enjoyed reading your story. Vanessa Critique Circle Participant


Susannah Webster
22:35 Nov 28, 2020

I always look to capture the real life elements when writing a story, so I'm really proud that you sensed that. I will definitely take that into consideration and try to be a little more descriptive to indicate what I'm trying to say rather than saying it outright, which is what I think you're trying to say. That is a good skill to have. Anyway, thanks! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. -SW


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