When Max steps out of the music room, I can only stare at his back, my heart beating like a drum in my chest.
No matter how I tried to hide my emotions, he could see right through it.
I don’t know how I should feel about this. I should feel glad that someone can finally understand what I feel and actually cares, shouldn’t I?
But why am I feeling worried?
I’m worried about so many things. I’m worried about him, because he’s new here and oblivious about what happened. Worried that once he finds out, he will be just like the rest of the people.
Why would he be different, when nobody has been so?
I ball my fist on the piano and sigh — I definitely shouldn’t stay here any longer. Going home would be better now — maybe a good warm bath will take my mind off this for a while.
After taking a few deep breaths to calm down, I stand up from the piano bench, sling my backpack across my shoulders and trudge toward the door.
But then, I stop short in my track as I look at the person who just emerges in the doorway.
She just stands there, looking at me, her bag slung across her shoulder, like she’s ready to go home too. But of all the places she can visit after school, she chooses to come here.
Why is she here?
“Rory?” I stutter, automatically approaching her.
The closer I get to her, the more visible her dark grey eyes, now filled with anger and sadness as she stares at me. I miss those eyes, which used to glint with happiness, with excitement every time she tells me a story.
I feel a lump in my throat again, remembering whose fault it is that I can’t see that kind of emotion in her eyes anymore.
It’s all my fault.
I want to ask whether she’s here to see me, but I’m afraid that I would sound stupid.
Rory’s lips form into a thin line, her grip on the strap of her shoulder bag tightens.
“I need to talk to you.”
I’m stunned. It feels like a miracle that she finally said those words to me, because it’s usually me who said that sentence, asking her, begging her to listen to me.
“About my birthday party invitation,” she starts, and my heart sinks as I hear her voice crack. “I admit that it was a shitty thing to do. I know that I purposely left you out of the invitation list, because I wanted you anywhere but there.”
Tears pool in my eyes, and I’m trying so hard not to break, because those words hurt me to the core.
“Still, it dawned on me that we’ve been like this for a year,” she says. “Last year, I didn’t even have a celebration because I was too heartbroken to celebrate anything. It took all the power in me to still go to school after what happened with you and Tyler in the cafeteria.
“Yes, I know about that. I know how much that incident broke her heart.
It broke mine too, but all I could think about was my best friend.
“I probably should have talked to you sooner, but I knew that I wasn’t ready.” Her voice is shaking, her other hand balled into a fist at her side, and my breath catches in my throat. “I wasn’t ready to forgive you.”
It shatters me, even more, to see her so broken that a year is still not enough to mend her heart. My lips tremble as I watch her chest heaving up and down.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” she snaps. “Why weren’t you being honest with me about everything?”
I unknowingly let my tear drop onto my cheek. “I…” I shake my head in shame. “I couldn’t do that to you.”
She glares at me, her angry tears visible in her eyes.
“I couldn’t bear seeing you hurt,” I rasp, hoping that she would understand that it pains me just as much as it pains her.
“Did you realize that you hurt me even more when you hid those things from me?” she snaps again, and her words feel like a slap on my face.
“I did,” I whisper, more tears rolling down my cheeks. “I did, and I’m sorry for that. I’m really sorry, Rory. I’m so sorry for everything.”
Rory’s lips are shaking too when she says the next words, “Did you know how stupid I felt when Tyler confessed to you? And how betrayed I felt when I realized that you’d been listening to me going all crazy about him while knowing all along how stupid I was? You made me feel like I was the Fůçƙing dumbest person in the world.”
Slowly, I step closer to her even when I don’t remember moving my legs. I want to hug her, to make all her pain go away.
“I’m sorry, so sorry,” I cry. “What should I do to make you forgive me? Please, tell me, Rory. What should I do?” I beg, shamelessly.
My tears aren’t rolling down my face anymore — it’s streaming, hard.
I’ve realized that it wasn’t the fact about Tyler liking me that broke her heart the most. It was about me. About me not being honest with her, about me encouraging her toward something that wasn’t even real while hiding the ugly truth, which then crashed her in front of everyone.
I’ve treated her like she’s not my best friend.
I would do anything, anything to have my best friend back.
Then the next words that come out of her mouth shock me. “I miss you,” Rory rasps.
“I miss my best friend.”
My world seems to stop.
Did I hear her right?
“You–” I choke as a sob escapes from my lips. “You miss me?” The last three words are barely a whisper.
Rory misses me? She still thinks of me as her best friend?
Am I dreaming?
She nods, and my heart feels like bursting out of my chest. My arms reach out to her before I pull her into a tight hug. I’m sobbing uncontrollably, my tears dampening her neck as my head lies on her shoulder.
I can’t believe that this is happening.
If this is a dream, I don’t want to wake up.
Rory’s shoulder shakes as I hug her, and because of that, I know that she’s crying too, which only makes me tighten my hold on her. When I pull away, she wipes under her eyes, and a small smile touches her lips.
“Does this mean that you’ve forgiven me?” I ask between sobs — it would be difficult to understand what I’m saying, but I’m just too overwhelmed that I need to get that question out of my head.
Rory lets out a sigh, and my heart thuds as another smile appears on her pretty face.
“Just promise me that you’ll never do that kind of thing again.”
“I promise. I promise,” I blurt those words so fast, and when she nods, I can’t help but pull her into another hug, startling her. My eyes squeeze shut as more tears spill from them.
Jesus. I might scare the hell out of her right now, but I don’t care.
It’s finally happening. After a long year, we’re finally able to push our ego aside. Rory finally comes back to me.
Thank you, Rory.
Thank you for giving me a second chance to be your best friend again.
When we pull away again, it’s her turn to ask, “So would you come to my birthday party?” There’s a hopeful look in her eyes, and it makes my heart melt even more.
“Of course,” I say in a firm tone. “I’ll go there even if there’s a world war going.”
That makes Rory laugh between tears, and it’s the best sound that I haven’t heard for a while.
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