“David, why can’t you just tell me? You’ve never kept anything from me before!”
Esther followed me as I tried to walk away towards my car. I knew she was mad by the edge in her voice, the way her footsteps fell heavy on the pavement behind me. You notice these things about a person after being their best friend for fifteen years.
“Just drop it Esther, okay? It’s not a big deal.” I shrugged, going to reach for my keys in my pocket. My clammy hands shook.
“No,” she pointed angrily at me. “No, it is a big deal or you wouldn’t be keeping it from me. Just tell me what’s going on!”
I groaned and turned to face her. “Can’t you just give it a rest already? I swear, you’re always like this. Nag, nag, nag. God, you’re so annoying.” I watched words shoot out of my mouth and puncture her. I wished I could take them back. She quickly masked the hurt though. I hated that mask.
“Oh excuse me,” she spat, “I guess I’m just not used to my best friend keeping secrets from me. What on earth could be so important that you couldn’t tell me?”
“You wouldn’t understand.” I turned back to my car.
She was silent a moment. “Don’t you dare say that David,” she spoke in a low tone. “If there’s one person on the entire planet who would understand, it’s me and you know it. So you’d better come with another excuse or tell me truth because I’m sick of this.”
I laughed but there was no humor in it. It was hollow, void of any joy. I spun round to face her. “You’re sick of this? I’m sick of this! God, I want to tell you so badly.”
“Then why don’t you?” She cried.
“Why, why can’t you?”
“Because!” We were both yelling, our voices filling the night air and the mostly empty parking lot.
“Because what? I’m not going to get mad! I promise, whatever you’ve done, I won’t get mad or hurt.” She brought her voice down, trying to calm the situation. I didn’t follow her lead.
“No, you’re going to get scared, and then you’re going to run away! And I can’t lose you!”
“You can’t scare me. Nothing you could do would ever scare me!”
“Oh really?” I took two steps forwards, closing the gap between us. “How about this?” In one swift motion, I placed my hands on her cheeks and pressed my lips to hers. She was warm and I was shaking, although I couldn’t tell if it was from rage, fear or the pure joy of doing what I had wanted to do for so long. Hesitantly, I pulled back and looked at her, terrified of what I would see there, ready for her to run.
Her eyes were open in shock, and they looked into mine with an expression I couldn’t read.
Then, she kissed me back.