In honor of International Friendship Day I wrote a little something. Enjoy x.
“Happy best friend’s day!” I tell him, feeling the butterflies in my stomach flap their wings with vigor that could send me spinning if I let it.
But I don’t.
By now I’ve learned to control it.
I’ve had years of practice.
Years of looking into his eyes and biting the insides of my cheeks so hard I could taste the copper.
So much time of swallowing that knot in my throat wanted to come out, to speak, to say it aloud.
So many moments of heart palpitations that could have killed the healthiest man on the planet.
So indeed when the butterflies throw their tantrum in my stomach I’m not affected.
Or, to put it better, I am, but I don’t let it show.
I’m a pro, you see.
“Happy friend’s day, Cory,” he says and punches my arm in the gentle, brotherly kind of way that sends shivers down my hand and to the back of my neck.
He smiles brightly with that cocky grin he’s mastered all those years picking up girls in college, bars, clubs, buses and in video games, if you would believe it.
Apparently killing someone in a video game can lead to actual, very real life, sex.
Sex I have not been included in. Not ever.
Although I guess inviting your best friend to a threesome would never, ever, cross Harry’s mind.
But hey, a boy can dream.
Not that I would want to fool around with a girl, mind you.
Tried it, tolerated it, hated it, thank you very much.
And to be honest, even if it had crossed his mind and he ever invited me, do you think I’d do it? Seeing someone else ravish the man you’ve been pining over since you knew what was between your legs and inside your chest is not how I would want to spend precious time with Harry.
Will I ever get over you?
“You need to stop being friends with him,” Nellie has told me over a hundred times.
She’s my business partner, by the way. In case you were wondering. You were not. Fine. Fine. Don’t bite me. I’m a mess. I’m just trying to compose myself and when that happens I overthink, overanalyze, overdo it.
We make pet adoption papers.
I know you didn’t ask, but that’s what we do.
We make adoption papers, birth and graduation certificates of puphood to adulthood. We zhuzh them up, add a hella lot of glitter, and then mail them to people with healthy treats and accessories.
Have you ever heard of book boxes?
What am I saying? Of course you have. You’re a reader. An avid reader, right?
So that’s what we do but with pet stuff—mainly puppies and kittens.
Shit. Sorry. I know. I’ve gone off topic.
It’s what happens when he’s close and I can’t function.
It’s my coping mechanism.
“Happy best friend’s day thank you very much. I’m not just a friend.” Oh but how wrong I am.
“Sorry.” He smiles and, yeah, well, my heart melts.
What do you expect? I’m a schmuck.
“Happy best friend’s day, then.” He makes sure to emphasize best because he knows details are my thing. And I pay attention to them.
I pull open my tote bag and take out the wrapped-red box.
I hand it to him and he shakes it beside his ear.
“You’re an idiot,” I tell him.
“Because.” Insulting him sometimes also does the trick of making my time with him more tolerable. “What if I got you a porcelain doll? You would have broken her.”
“Fuck no. Those things are creepy A-F.”
His grimace deepened.
“Besides, I only collect Barbies. I donated all my creep A-F porcelain dolls.” He says it so seriously that for a minute I forget he’s a player and I buy it.
Obviously, not for long.
I’m hopeless. I’m not an idiot.
“So?” I ask him.
“So?” he asks me.
Agh. He knows how to frustrate me. If only it was enough to make me move on.
“Are you gonna open the fucking thing or what?”
“Language, young man.”
“I’m the same age as you.”
He shrugs and tears through the perfectly wrapped paper.
“Oh, my God, Cory! Really?” he asks with big puppy dog eyes that make me sick.
Well, not sick sick, but you know. Sick with love and all that.
He lifts the box in front of his face and shows it to me as if I don’t know what I got him.
It’s a rare Star Wars Shadow Trooper Funko Pop. I had to kiss a lot of ass to get it—figuratively, get your head out of the gutter—and spend a lot of cash.
But he’s worth it.
“I love it. Thank you so much.”
He hugs me and as per usual I fight with my body for control. Because he smells so good. So divine. So manly. And he feels so soft and hard at the same time and in all the right places.
“Must have cost you a lot.”
I shrug it off.
Money is not a problem for me. Thanks to Tiktok we’ve gone viral so never a dull moment.
I don’t know when this best friend’s day became a tradition.
It must be around college. We did it as a joke once and it kinda stuck.
Of course when we were in college we tried to find the crappiest, wackiest, silliest gifts ever.
We got serious after that.
Well, I did.
“Oh…” he says.
“You forgot.” I raise an eyebrow and make sure he knows I criticize him.
I don’t particularly care. He does forget sometimes. But he always makes up for it by getting me something, even if it’s a month late.
“Well, not really.” His amused expression shifts and it takes me a moment to realize he’s being shy.
“Why? What is it?”
“Well…I wanted to tell you something.”
This is it. This is it. This is it.
The moment he’s realized I mean everything to him and he expresses his undying love.
I shake my head and with it the preposterous idea that he now loves me all of a sudden.
I should be far more composed by now but it seems even years of friendship and suppressing feelings doesn’t ever change that little shit inside me called hope.
“I met someone.”
Well, there goes hope, I guess.
“And? Is that news? You always meet someone,” I tell him.
“Yeah, doh, I know. But they’re…different.”
“Don’t tell me they’re foreign, because I can list at least ten foreign exchange students you hooked up with in college.”
“No, idiot!” he flicks my forehead. “They’re a…a man.”
“Excuse me?” I ask, unable to hide the shock in my voice.
“Surprise! That’s my gift to you. I’m now officially bi. I mean, he was my first, but I liked it so it won’t be the last.”
I must be hallucinating. All those dog shampoos I had made today must have made me woozy.
“Yeah. Aren’t you going to welcome me to the club?” he asks and opens his arms wide as if he expects a hug.
“How? How did it…you’ve always been with girls. I don’t understand how this…happened.”
Have I gone pitchy? I think I have. Oh fuck it. My world is falling apart. I can go soprano if I want.
He starts counting on his fingers. “A lot of beer. Like a lot. A handsome guy who was also very willing. And a game of dare.”
The butterflies stopped and I could feel them perish inside me.
“That’s it,” he says.
What has just happened? Did he really tell me he’s been with a man?
“Are you fucking kidding me?” I shout.
“Are you. Fucking. Kidding me?” I repeat.
Gone are the flutters and the butterflies and the longing. It’s all replaced by anger. Hot, irrational, uncontrollable anger.
“I’ve been in love with you since the moment I met you, been with you through everything, put up with all your fooling around with anything that walks that also has a vagina, hid my feelings because I didn’t want to ruin our friendship and this is how you repay me? You choose to hook up with a random guy you’ve just met over me?”
I am breathless by the time I finish. I used one breath to spout everything and now I can’t even stand up straight.
Thank God for that, though, because did I really just tell him I’ve been hopelessly in love with him all this time?
“Cory? What…what are you saying?” he asks.
I shake my head and turn my back on him.
“N-nothing. Forget about it. I was…I was just kidding.”
I try to walk away but he stops me by grabbing my shoulder.
“Do you mean it?”
He turns me around and I make an attempt at laughing it off.
“Of course not—”
“Do. You. Mean. It?” he shouts at me, matching my earlier intensity.
I don’t answer, I just look down. I can’t face him anymore.
I’ve gone and ruined everything.
“Cory…if you’ve been…why wouldn’t you say something?”
“I didn’t want to ruin our friendship. Guess that’s over now.”
Harry hooks his finger under my chin and lifts my gaze back to him.
His eyes are wide and glimmering, the green in them shining like emeralds.
“Cory, why wouldn’t you say it?” he stares at me and his brows furrow.
“Because…you’re straight,” I mumble. “Or were until a minute ago.”
He doesn’t respond. His eyes narrow and he cocks his head to the side.
“What?” I ask.
He doesn’t answer me. Just, stares. At me.
“Harry, what?” I shout now.
Some of my spit paints his face. I don’t care. I’m angry and embarrassed and…sad.
“I just…I never realized how beautiful your eyes are,” he says.
And before I can even ask him what the hell he’s on about, he closes the gap between our lips and makes my every wish since I was eleven true.
I’m kissing my best friend.
And he tastes good.
“Now that’s a gift.”