I never thought I’d doubt you, I’m better off without you, More than you know
|Well I never saw it coming
I should have started running a long, long time ago
And I never thought I’d doubt you
I’m better off without you
More than you, more than you know
Over You by Daughtry
I sat there, leaning against the wall, wishing I could go back in time and kick myself hard in the butt.
What was I thinking inviting Kim?
Kim sat on the opposite side of the room. She pushed a lock of blond hair behind her ear as she leaned back casually. Abby and Meg sat between Kim and me, smiling. But I had a feeling that they sensed some of the tension, it was so thick you could cut it with a knife. And yet Kim was oblivious.
I must have temporarily gone insane when I invited her to my winter party. At the time I thought it would be a good thing to do. Give her one last chance for old times’ sake. I thought there was a chance that things could go back to the way they used to be. But all hopes of that disappeared hours before the party even began.
Kim called me when I was setting out the food. She wanted to know if it was ok if she brought Guitar Hero. I had never really been a fan of the game, and I was a little miffed that Kim couldn’t take a few hours off from the video game marathon that was her weekend and just hang out with me and our friends. But I wouldn’t show that, I didn’t want to be rude.
I reminded her that I didn’t have an X-Box. But Kim volunteered to bring hers; either she missed the hint or she ignored it. I couldn’t come up with another polite excuse so I reluctantly agreed.
So when she arrived at my house an hour later with her game in hand I knew that things were not going to change. Kim would spend all evening in front of my television with a plastic guitar in her hand, ignoring me just as she did at school.
I was grateful that she couldn’t stay the night like the other girls could. I didn’t think I could stomach having ‘girl talk’ with her. But it turned out I would have to. Because half an hour after the party started she herded Abby, Meg and me into a small room in my basement, away from the guys.
“I need to have girl talk. There’s a lot of stuff I want to get off my chest,” she explained as she shut the door. “And I want to have it before Summer gets here. I don’t have anything against her anymore, I just don’t trust her.”
Anger swelled in my stomach. How was I going to sit in this room and listen to her talk about her problems? How was I going to feign sympathy for the inconveniences that were the disastrous catastrophes of her life? Well, at least Summer was supposed to arrive in twenty minutes, so I wouldn’t have to put up this charade for long.
God, why did I invite her? Why was I trying to save this friendship? Were we ever even friends? What had Kim ever done for me?
Kim helped me grow thicker skin. She helped me become tougher. She taught me not to take things personally.
Yeah, that’s because she was always making fun of me.
“I’m excited, because I think I got accepted into Youth Symphony Orchestra,” Kim said.
“That’s good,” Abby commented.
“Well, I’m mostly excited because Jordan is in it,” Kim continued.
Here we go. Jordan again.
I hadn’t seen Jordan since the Homecoming dance. Kim asked him to go with her and he agreed, only to break off the date the next day by saying his parents didn’t want him to go with her. But to everyone’s surprise Jordan showed up to the dance with another girl. Kim was pissed. Had I been in her shoes I would have been too, but Jordan really liked the girl he went with, and although Kim thought Jordan lied to her I found it conceivable that Jordan’s parents didn’t approve of her. She wasn’t exactly an angel.
“So you and Jordan patched things up?” I asked.
“Please. I haven’t spoken to him since the dance,” she replied. “I just can’t wait to go to the practices and see him and totally ignore him. You know? Show him what he’s missing out on. And if he tries to talk to me I’ll answer and be polite but I won’t say anything other than what he asks me.”
Kim smiled when she said that. I clenched my teeth. I wanted so badly to smack her and tell her what a bitch she was being, but I knew that I never would. How had I ever considered this girl my friend?
Then I remembered something I hadn’t thought of in a long time. My first party.
I was twelve, and it was the first party I threw without there being a birthday to celebrate. All of the guys and girls showed up, and I took the risk of not having activities planned. We just hung out in my basement and had a blast.
When the sky grew dark outside I walked the guys upstairs as their parents came to take them home. After the last boy left I walked downstairs to find Kim, Meg and Abby sitting in a circle in the dark.
“What are we doing?” I asked.
“We’re talking,” Kim replied.
She motioned for me to sit next to her, so I sat down with my legs crossed. And we talked. Before that night the idea of ‘girl talk’ had been boys and clothes in my mind. But that night I experienced it for the first time. We went around in the circle, taking turns talking about whatever we wanted. Little secrets. Funny stories about our families. Problems we didn’t know how to handle. We laughed at everything, and somehow by the end of the night we all cried. It was the first time that I had been able to pour my heart out to anyone, even myself. Kim had lured me out of my shell.
And here we were three years later: sitting in a circle, taking turns talking. It hadn’t changed, and yet it had. Kim didn’t change, she was the way she had always been, and yet she seemed different. And I changed. I guess that’s what this was all about.
“I just want to see the look on his face. I want to get back at him. I want to see him feel the way I felt,” Kim said.
“I know the feeling, Kim. And you’re right, that does hurt,” I said curtly.
“Wow! Cold, Sasha!” she laughed.
It took Kim a minute to see that I wasn’t laughing, that my frown was as hard as a rock.
Yep, I’d changed. Three years ago I wouldn’t have been brave enough to say that to her. But Kim helped me find myself, and she helped me grow a spine. Now I had enough courage to leave her behind me.
“I want you to explain what you mean by that,” she said.
“You’re supposed to be one of my best friends,” I said. “You never talk to me.”
“So?” she asked.
“I sat right next to you for a month in class. You ignored me every day. But you wouldn’t hesitate to talk to the people on the other side of me.”
Kim looked confused.
“You said you would try to talk to me more after Homecoming. And that was the last conversation we’ve had, over a month ago.”
“I guess I don’t understand what you’re saying, Sasha. I don’t talk to a lot of old friends anymore, but that doesn’t mean they’re not my friends. I haven’t talked to Meg since Homecoming either.”
This was the first time all night that I felt truly shocked.
“And that doesn’t bother you?” I asked.
Kim shook her head.
Strange as it seems, I felt happy at that moment. I knew that it wasn’t just me. I wasn’t overreacting, I wasn’t being sensitive. Kim truly was just being a jerk. And I had no reason in the world to think she was my friend.
And with perfect timing, Summer walked in.
“Hey guys!” she said cheerfully.
The tension in the air cleared. The girl talk was over. Something that was powerful and beautiful ended at that moment. And I hadn’t felt better in weeks.