The thin line between love and friendship
| I suppose that to others, our relationship has always been confusing. People could never really decide whether we were merely friends, or something more. Honestly, I didn’t quite know myself.
We would spend every minute we could in each others’ companionship – chatting, sharing, laughing, living life as it came along. It was an exciting life that we each led, made even better by our closeness.
People would often tease us, schoolmates, classmates, other friends. Some of them, though, I believed they really understood. But then again, what did we care? What did others’ opinions matter? We were not going to give up our precious friendship just because of a few rumours. We couldn’t.
I always enjoyed being around him. He would cheer up the gloomiest of my days and I would find solace with him during those few times where I was at my most down. He joked like there was no tomorrow, couldn’t be bothered about the ‘boring things in life’ as he called exams and studying, and sailed through his days without a care in the world. He was the most exciting, most carefree, most humorous person I had ever met. And that was what fueled our friendship.
I thought him a fire-cracker, explosive and exhilarating. He thought me a spit-fire, with the most interesting personality he had ever seen. We were from the same side of the fence.
We had so many experiences together, some fun, some not so, and some right down there on the wish-I-would-never-remember-it-ever-again level.
We shared the same interests and the same ideas of how to have the time of our lives. Our snorkeling trips with a bunch of friends, our holidays spent doing nothing but outdoor sports, our best tricks on April Fools’ and so many more memorable times.
We also spent a lot of time talking to each other. Our topics ranged from Nothing-In-Particular-Nonsense to quiet sharing sessions. Indeed, we poured our hearts out to one another; each knew the other almost as well as the other knew himself. On trips, we’d sometimes talk into the wee hours of the morning. One of us would be on the bed and the other on the floor, and we’d talk facing the ceiling.
Despite all that trust, we had our disputes from time to time. I’d disagree with something: usually his sometimes overly-flirtatious ways and he would accuse me of being jealous, even though we both knew that was not true. But not long after our fall-out, everything would be back to normal.
There was just that once, though, I let a little doubt worm its way into my thoughts. What was our relationship, exactly?
I answered my own question soon enough.
It was a bleak day and the sun had been playing hide-and-seek with the clouds, dodging in and out of them. These days often gave me a bored disposition, for it seemed as though the whole world went lifeless; stripped of its sunlight, it was grey and colourless. If it rained, I would also have trouble getting home from school. I’d get drenched cycling all the way.
The bell went, signifying the end of school. I hurried off, anxious to get home before the skies opened up with a torrent. Unlocking my bicycle, I looked around, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. Usually he cycled me home, but today he was nowhere in sight.
Thunder boomed overhead. I could not afford to wait any longer. I pushed off, praying with all my might that the rains would not start before I got home safe, sound and dry.
Evidently, I had hoped for too much.
Halfway home, the clouds released their burdens. Rain fell like sharp spears on my skin, heavy and soaking.
Damn, I thought.
I caught sight of a small shelter by the side of the road – a building that looked like a cross between a telephone box and an outhouse. I saw it all the time, just never really paid much attention to it. Sceptically, I laboriously pushed towards it.
Surprisingly, I found it dry and spacious, though smelling a little of mold and cockroaches. I rung out my dripping hair and left it looking like a shaggy dog’s fur. I sat on the ground, prepared to wait for the blasted rain to slow down.
Fifteen minutes later, staring out into the sheet of sight-obscuring rain, I saw a dark silhouette making its way towards me. I stood up, straining to see who it was. It took the person five whole minutes to get to the opening of the shelter.
It was him. I raised my eyebrows. He looked as if he had just walked through a hurricane. His hair was all over the place, his school shirt was un-tucked and flying and he was soaked to the bone. Shivering, he gave me a mischievous grin as he wheeled his bike beside mine and shook his hair, causing water droplets to land everywhere.
“Nice weather to fly a kite,” he commented.
I sat back down on the ground, hugging my backpack. Both of us were freezing.
“This weather,” he said again, “is impossible. We’ll never get home at this rate!”
“Damn, I’m cold,” I replied, my voice cracking with the lack of water.
How ironic, I thought to myself, All this water and I’m thirsty.
He handed me his bottle, placing himself beside me on the ground. I chugged the water greedily.
“Oi,” he poked me.
I gave him back his bottle, having drained almost half of it. He drank another quarter and kept the tumbler.
“In case we’re trapped here forever, I’d like to have a source of water,” he joked.
“If we’re trapped here forever, I’d eat you first,” I said.
I curled up, placing my head on my knees, trying to conserve body heat. I was beginning to shiver violently. Suddenly, I felt a thin sheet of cloth land on my back. Turning around, I saw that he had taken off his school shirt and placed it over my shoulders.
“Question,” I said, “What difference do you think it makes? It’s wet, I’m wet,”
“Um… Good point,” he smiled sheepishly, taking it off and re-wearing it.
I leant back against the wall with a sigh. The thundering rain did not give any sign of letting up.
He laid his head on my shoulder, purposely pressing down hard. With a jerk of my shoulder blade, his head flew up again. Rubbing the side of his head, he mumbled something that I couldn’t hear. He lowered his head again, this time softly. I left it there.
My thoughts wandered to that little doubt I had…
“What do you… How would you describe out relationship?” I ventured, my voice low and sudden.
He yawned, then hesitated. “Um… We’re friends? Right?” he said, after a long pause.
I felt a relief I did not understand. It was a strange feeling. “I… Guess so,”
I felt his head nod against my shoulder. “Good…” he said, his voice trailing off.
He fell asleep.
I must have, too, for the next time I opened my eyes, it had stopped raining.
“Oi, let’s go home,” I woke him up; feeling like a burden had been lifted off my back.
It didn’t matter what others said or thought, we were only friends, but the best of them.