No I Won't

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“No I won’t.”

“Yes, you will. You can’t not. He was doing it to protect you.”

“But he lied to me,” I growl at my best friend who’s leaning on my bed doing her nails while I snack on a candy bar.

“Tell me again what he said to you,” she swoons unnecessarily. I grumble and huff as she gives me those pleading puppy dog eyes she know I can’t resist for long.

I sigh and mumble, “he said he couldn’t lose me again.”

“What?” she cups her ear as if to hear better – like she doesn’t know exactly what I said. She’s asked me to repeat it like ten times already. I smack her in the head with my pillow and she squeals.

“Watch out for the nail polish!” I laugh as she glares daggers at me. Then her face clears to only slightly annoyed as she says, “whatever. It’s your rug it’ll stain if it tips over.” She kinda has a point. “Anyway back to the topic at hand. If his words aren’t a confession, then I don’t know what is.”

“Wha?” I choke on my snickers and cough uncontrollably until whatever went down the wrong pipe ends up in the right one. After one last cough for good measure, I repeat my initial statement, “what?!”

“He confessed to you, honey,” she states matter-a-factly, as if it isn’t a big deal – or even vaguely surprising!

“No, he didn’t,” I scoff indignantly.

“Oh honey, he certainly did. And your denial is all the proof I need that he did.”

I scrunch my face at her. “How is my denial proof. That makes no sense.”

“Just is. Besides, he said he doesn’t want to lose you. That means he likes you.”

“Maybe as a friend…” I start when she interrupts with a grunt.

“No hun. Maybe you two have been playing friends but he likes you. Plus, he wants to protect you,” she adds as I open my mouth to protest. I clench my jaw shut and glare at her for seeming to know more about Will and his feelings then I do. How do I not know about this – his feelings

Snatching my pillow from the floor next to her, I flop dramatically back, covering my face. She snickers as my fanatics.

“I don’t know how you can be so dense. He’s liked you since forever, honey.” I grunt, refusing to speak to the traitor. She should be on my side, not his. “But I understand your initial reaction,” she quietly says.

“To what,” I hesitantly mumble from beneath my pillow.

“To him hiding you know what,” she whispers, not daring to look at me.

My throat starts to close and my ribs turn into a cage as my heart desperately tries to escape. Suddenly, Im upright, clutching my pillow to my stomach, trying to breathe. My face must be stricken in fear because – upon cautiously peeking up – she quickly abandons her nail polish to wrap me in a hug.

“Oh, I’m so sorry, hun. I didn’t mean to bring back painful memories.” She squeezes me shoulders, managing to loosen the cage around my heart. “But… you know we need to talk about how you’re going to handle… him,” she says in disgust, “if – and when – you see him.”

My momentary ease vanishes as the cage constricts once again on my heart and I start to hyperventilate.

“Or not!” She bursts rubbing my back, attempting to calm me. I close my eyes and try to take deep breaths. I push the oncoming flood of anxiety and fear back down into the well of my emotions and start counting. One, two, three… By the time I reach twenty, my breathing is normal and my ribs have returned to being just ribs. I have Jen, I remind myself, and Will. And I will get through this. He can’t hurt me. Oh yes he can, a devilish little voice whispers through my head. I shake it to rid myself of those ominous words, but they continue to echo before fading completely.

“You ok,” Jen asks warily.

“Yeah… Im... ok. Thanks.”

“For what?” she asks sitting back on the floor. “I nearly gave you a panic attack.”

“No, you helped me avoid a panic attack,” I say.

“If you say so,” she watches me nervously.

“You’re right,” I redirect, “we need to talk about… him,” I whisper as knots tie themselves in my stomach and my ribs being transforming into a cage once again. I take three deep breaths to compose myself before continuing. “If he really is back, then I’ll need a strategy or I might… you know… have an episode in school…”

“No worries, honey, I got you,” she says as we carefully being to discussing how Ill deal with him now that he’s back.