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It's What Friends Are Here For

She fell for her best friend. He has someone else in mind.
"Shall we head to the mall? Hang around a little?” Dale suggested with his back leaning on the wall, his arms crossed.

I looked into his gorgeous green eyes.

“Great idea!” I replied, “I'll have to get me some new shoes anyway.”

I looked down to my feet. My old chucks were about to fall into pieces, and since we were in the middle of May, it was way too warm to wear these piles of winter boots I had gathered over time.

We slowly took the walk down the hill to the mall. It was a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Dale and I had grown up as neighbors and quickly become best friends. We had shared the same toys, the same sandbox – you name it. As we grew older, our feelings grew bolder. Well, at least mine... Eventually, I fell for him. But still he was my best friend, and that's a no-go. We'd also share everything with each other. And if say everything, I mean everything – except for my crush on him, of course.

We were both approaching our seventeenth birthday. Dale was only a few days older than I was.

“Hey Kate,” he addressed me.

“Huh?” I replied.

“Remember that last time, when I mentioned that girl?”

“Yes,” I said, expecting something I didn't want to hear, “Laura, right?”

He smiled.

“Yes, Laura. I think she likes me.”

“Oh really?” I stated, trying my best not to sound offended.

“Do you think I should ask her out?”

Of course I wasn't amused to hear this at all, but as long as he wasn't really dating her, I still had a chance, I guessed. He had told me about Laura a while ago, making me wonder what she had to offer what I hadn't. No, I wasn't really fond of him talking about her the way he sometimes did. Oh, who am I kidding? I was jealous of that alien intruding our little world we'd built over all these years even though I had never met her.

Sometimes I tried to comfort myself with the idea that all of this I'm-in-love-with-my-best-friend-thing was just my naive teenage and hormone-doped mind fooling around with me. I was just unhappily in love for the very first time of my life. Something that happens to everyone of us, right? No reason to ruin a friendship that runs so deep over some immature hormones.

How would it work anyway? Dale and I were like night and day. He was popular with everyone, I was more of a loner. He was good in languages, I was good in science. He loved sports, I loved reading. He had a healthy sun-tanned complexion, I was as pale as the moon . He was more the intellectual type, I was a geek. Need more?

' Why don't you just ask me? ' was what I so desperately wanted to say. Instead, I said, “Why don't you give it a shot? She'll only say 'no' in worst case.”

He looked a little lost in his dreams.

“Yeah, you're right. But... What should I do? How should I ask her? When should I ask her? Right after school? Or should I take her out on a real date? What should I be wearing? All of this is so complicated.”

Oh yes it is, otherwise I would have asked you out a lot earlier, I thought.

“Naw, c'mon! It's just as complicated as you make it. Know what? Let's have a drink at the café, and talk this over!”

He approved my suggestion, so we sat down on the terrace of the café. Each of us got a cappuccino , the best in town. He had tons of questions about how he should ask Laura out, and I had tons of (unspoken) questions about what he found in her. I hadn't had a chance to meet her yet, but judging from the way he talked about her she had to be the wet dream of the teenage boy he was.

As we were talking, I noticed a silhouette approaching us in the corner of my eye. Dale's eyes instantly moved from my face to the silhouette now obviously standing beside me. His face lightened up. I had grasped whose presence we were enjoying before he was able to explain.

He raised his voice, “Kate, this is Laura, and vice versa.”

My boring hazel eyes met her sparkling turquoise ones. Her divine facial features made me understand what Dale found in her. She indeed looked like that before mentioned wet dream of an every teenage boy. Full pouty lips, sandy blond hair, just the right amount of make-up to enhance her facial features in the right way, an aura so full of life, firm D-cups, a perfectly toned body, a skin to die for, and did I mention these eyes? Short: A real bombshell. She had everything to make any other girl envious of her luck.

As for me... I was just the regular-looking girl next door, with the regular features, eyes hid behind regular glasses, two B-cups I used to be proud of until I met Laura. To top it off, I was a little on the plump side. I wouldn't consider myself as chubby, but I sure weighed one or another extra pound above the average. In that moment, I realized I wouldn't stand even the slightest bit of a chance against Laura.

“Hi Kate, pleased to meet you. Dale's told me a lot of you,” she said very politely.

'And on top of that, she's so well-mannered,' I thought, already losing myself in despair. I felt so small, so dull beside her.

I tried my best not to sound too awkward, but still my voice cracked a bit.

I was very happy to hear her say that she wanted to go shopping with a few friends of hers. I felt eased as she turned around, and walked away... until I caught Dale not even trying to hide that he was peeking – no, obnoxiously gawking – at her butt. That sent a jolt of heat through my face. Oh yes, I hated her already! I wanted her to disappear!

Dale sighed, “Isn't she just perfect?”

I forced an agonized smile to my lips.

“Yes, she is,” I affirmed, “go for her!”

Had I really just said that? I couldn't believe my own words. My own words made me sick. The only soothing thing left was my hope that she'd be too picky to take Dale as her boyfriend. With his popularity at school? Like SO not gonna happen, buster.

“Oh, thanks for your support, Kate. I guess you're right.”

“Thanks for what? That's just what friends do, you know? They support each other.”

I decided to forget about my shoes, and to use some lame excuse to get back home.

As soon as the front door was slammed behind me, I let my feelings free, totally unaware that someone might notice. Both my parents were sitting in the living room, looking questioningly at me, as I did not even try to go to my room unnoticed.

“What's going on, sweetheart? I thought you were hanging around with Dale?” Mom asked concerned.

“We just picked a little fight, nothing to be worried about,” I lied.

This looks like more than just a little fight to me,” Dad added.

“I don't wanna talk about it,” I said and ran upstairs straight into my room.

Once arrived there, I slammed my door as well, and flung myself on the bed. I shouted random curses into my mattress with my head buried under a pillow that I pressed over my ears with my both hands. I didn't want to hear a thing. I didn't want anyone to hear me. I just wanted to sink into the deepness of sleep where there was just enough space for me and my old muggy teddy-bear who had accompanied me through the ups and downs of my entire life. He had always been the most attentive listener I ever had, and he had always let me hug him whenever I needed it. I wanted to wake up from this nightmare that was so clingingly haunting my hours.

After I had drifted off, I got woken up by my Dad who was calling me for dinner. I had a bit of a headache, and still didn't feel that much better, but I went downstairs anyway. After eating, I helped my parents tidying the kitchen, and went straight to bed right after, exhausted from my tormented mind.

The next day, Dale and I had to plan our coming birthday party. There were only four weeks left to organize everything. We wanted it to be a great party in our combined backyards. No parents and a huge load of guests. We had to agree on someone in charge of the barbecue, someone behind the bar, watching that not too many hard drinks would end in inappropriate hands. We had to agree on the guests. The parents of both of us had given us the permission to drink, as long as we didn't carry it to excess. They also promised to go away for the weekend.

I was so busy with planning that I completely forgot about the past events. Every now and then, we would joke around, and laugh. It was as it had always been, as if Laura had never existed, as if I had never fallen in love with Dale.

The next few days were just common routine. Awake, arise, eat, school, eat, sleep, awake, arise... Dale and I always walked to school together, for we only had to walk around two blocks to get there – ten minutes, nothing more. Luckily we didn't go to the same class.

As we were grouped into different classes for high school, we tried to protest but couldn't succeed. As for now in this particular situation, I felt rather lucky not to have to share classes with him.

It was Friday morning when we used our little walk to talk about Laura.

For some reason I can't recall, it was the stupid me who came up with the question: “And? Did you ask her out?”

He grinned widely, nodding in approval. I bit my lower lip. I had managed not to think of her, and to avoid this topic for the past five days. Why would my curiousness benefit from the first little moment I let my guard down to ask such unwanted questions?

I was almost too shy to ask for any more details: “And... Does she... I mean... Does she...”

“ me?” I got cut short by Dale, “watcha think?”

His bright smile left no doubt.

“And now what?” I had troubles forming these words.

“ I guess she I'm her so-called boyfriend ,” Dale stated while smiling at me.

We were already standing in the middle of the school yard. Dale told me, he'd tell me the whole story after school. Oh, yeah, I was soooo looking forward to hearing it in all details. I quickly said goodbye, and hasted to the classroom.

This day, and I knew this already, would be a day of blank horror. During the whole first lesson, I was about to burst out in tears. I couldn't pay attention. I couldn't talk. I couldn't do anything but stare right on the back of the guy sitting in front of me. It eventually got better as the day went on, and the clock lazily advanced towards four thirty pm. By the time the bell rang, I had finally succeeded in swallowing the lump stuck in my throat.

Dale was already waiting in the school yard. I saw him kiss Laura goodbye before they parted. I stopped in shock. I felt all my fellow classmates brushing my sides and my shoulder, as they passed by me. I turned my head away in disgust. As I turned my head back, I saw Dale standing right in front of me.

“Are you dreaming or something?” he asked, “must be pretty much of a nightmare judging from the disgusted look on your face.”

I blushed red. Not a single word slipped from my lips.

He took me by my arm, and we followed the stream of people rushing homeward.

He didn't start telling me the whole story right away. He let me wait. He let my resentment grow bigger and bigger before finally crashing my heart one piece at a time. To rub even more salt into my wounds, he described everything to the tiniest details. He spared me nothing.

They had gone to the cinema to watch some cheesy comedy; my heart sank. They had shared a huge bowl of pop corn, and he had fed her with it throughout the whole movie; my face got all hot. They shared a drink with two straws; my breath got harder. They flirted through the whole evening; my eyes began to burn. He accompanied her home, and they kissed – no he literally stuck his tongue down her throat – on the threshold of her front door; my heart burst. I forced my mind not to picture how it would have been if he'd done all of this with me. I once back in time had planned the exact same evening with him. It was supposed to be me, not Laura.

“Er... yes... I'm... Yeah... Very happy for you guys... I hope it'll work out.”

No I didn't. I wanted their relationship to break. I wanted it to be a dream. I wanted to be her. I wanted him to be mine... I was obsessed with the thought of having to share my best friend with that Laura bitch, whore, witch, slut...

Dale looked at me to say the most disgusting thing I could ever imagine: “Thank you. I'm sure you'll be good friends.”

Ah yeah? Sure!

We were back home. Dale hugged me goodbye. His gentle touch was almost too much. It cost me all I had not to burst out in tears right in his arms. I didn't want him to let go off me. Why her? Why not me?

My parents did realize that something was wrong with me that evening. I couldn't hide these kind of things from them.

“Honey, did you pick a fight with Dale again?” Dad asked.

“Yes, sort of. But I don't think he's really aware of what he did, ” I replied.

“Get used to it, lady,” Mom said, “you've got one like this right here in the house.”

Both started giggling.

We had a little talk about what was going on. I didn't tell them too much about what made me so sad. I just let them know that something wasn't alright, but didn't tell all the exact details. I didn't want anyone to know that I was unhappily in love with a boy now clearly out of reach. The fact that I got to see him every day didn't make it any better.

That night I went to bed crying. That stupid, stupid Dale... He wasn't even realizing what he was doing to me. On the other side, he was my best friend, and wasn't I supposed to want the best for him? I had seen how happy he was about being with Laura.

“You probably already know, but I've seen Dale's got himself a girlfriend,” Mom said on Monday evening, “what a pretty and well-educated girl she is... Dale's told me that she's a straight A student, and that her parents want her to work a lot for school. Maybe she could help you out a little?”

On top of all I was so envious of, she was probably the best student in school, and – what was that? – my own mother wanted her to be tutoring me? Had I heard right? I didn't comment on her suggestion. To be honest: I didn't say anything for the rest of dinner.

Again I had a night of crying to survive. I was a wreck, and it didn't get much better during the next two weeks. I had to get used to walk to school alone, since Dale was spending most of his nights at Laura's. The more time passed, the more I got pissed. Dale was really letting me down. I started to be really mad at him.

During the next days, I had various talks about Dale with my parents. They tried everything to comfort me, but nothing could. I wasn't even able to tell them it was all just teenage jealousy. Well, how could I? They were such caring parents, and it hurt so much to turn them down all the time. All I was during that time, was being a bad daughter.

On Saturday afternoon they went down town to buy a few groceries. Mom told me they'd sure need some time till they got back home. I was sitting on our bench in our backyard.

“Don't stay out too long, Katie, it's going to rain pretty soon,” she said before leaving.

I didn't care. All I wanted was to be sitting alone on this bench, staring blankly into space. Before long, the first droplets started to fall, along with the roaring sound of thunder. It was going to be one hell of a thunderstorm. I didn't care. Barely five minutes later, I was soaked. My white dress with the red flowers was sticking to my skin. It had turned transparent a while ago. I didn't care. I heard a door fling open, and a voice calling my name. It was Dale's. I didn't care.

Suddenly, the rain stopped. Just around me actually. Only the very spot I was sitting on was spared from the pouring rain. I looked up. An umbrella was floating right above my head – well, not exactly floating. The arm that held it above me was Dale's.

“Is this seat taken?” he asked.

I slowly shook my head numbly.

“What's this gonna be? D'ya wanna skip school next week? Got some crappy exams you wanna ditch?”

I slowly turned my head to look in his eyes.

“Fuck you, Dale,” I whispered.

“It's not like I didn't try, but it's not that easy, you know?” he replied.

To my surprise he wasn't pissed at all. I kind of chuckled from his shallow joke.

“So,” he asked again, “what's it gonna be?”

I took a deep breath. I was hesitating. How do you tell your best friend that you're jealous of his girlfriend?

“It's because of Laura...”

He replied as if he had expected this answer: “Really? I'm sorry to hear that. Tell me why.”

I gathered my mind before answering.

“I know, I as your best friend should be happy for you. But I'm not. I feel like... like... I feel let down and alone. We used to walk to school together. We used to hang around together. And now that she's here...”

He wrapped his arm around me, and pulled me to him.

His voice changed to a more caring, more concerned tone: “Oh... Listen, I'm sorry... I... I didn't want to disregard you in any way. I'm so sorry. I really am.”

I lay my head on his shoulder.

“All that makes me jealous of her, you know. Sometimes I feel just substituted,” I added.

“Kate... Don't say things like that. I'm right here beside you, you see? And no one else, just you and me.”

He kissed my forehead, and started to stroke my shoulder. His touch felt so sweet. I was in heaven. But why, oh why couldn't it be like this all the time. Him and me, intimate as we were at this very moment. Close to each other. Caring for each other. And no Laura to worry about. Why...?

“You know that if I had to decide, I'd always choose my best friend over my girlfriend, and you should know that,” were Dale's words that lit a tiny flame of hope somewhere deep inside of me.

Another, yet more distant voice broke our intimacy: “Dale, Kate, sweethearts, come on inside. You're gonna catch a cold!” It was his mother.

“It's alright, Mom! We'll be back inside,” he yelled back.

I grabbed his hand that held the umbrella with mine, before I let it go again, realizing what I was doing.

He leaned in, and whispered, “That's okay. As long as it helps to comfort you, it's okay.”

I was fighting the urge to turn my head around, and start kissing him and nibbling on his neck. It would have been so easy. Instead, I didn't move an inch.

“Do you remember our first kiss?” Dale suddenly asked, almost throwing me off guard.

It made me smile. “Yes I do. It was my gift for your twelfth birthday. I hadn't figured anything better. It's so stupid and cheesy. Why on earth do you come up with this now?”

He laughed: “Yes, hahaha, I know. First, I wouldn't let you do. You had me all nervous with this.”

“Yeah, you wouldn't let me do until you were ready. But in the end, you liked it, right?”

Dale smiled at me. “It was the best birthday gift I'd ever gotten.” He paused. “And look who's miss smile all of a sudden!”

During at least another ten minutes we sat there cuddling, and keeping us warm.

“I'll go back inside, and jump into the shower, I guess. Otherwise I'll really catch a pneumonia,” I suggested after a while.

For the rest of the day, I was caught in a dream. A dream about me being happy with Dale. I gathered new hope. I was all myself again – a change that my parents noticed immediately.

But this dreamy bubble didn't hold on for too long. My happy mask started to crumble on the Sunday evening of the same weekend. It was one of these days where all the little things you try to do just seem to fail, and slowly, mistake after mistake, the facade slowly cracks here and there, and suddenly bursts into dust. That moment occurred after I dropped my fork on the floor for the third time during dinner. I just burst out in tears right then and there, sitting at the table with my parents. I couldn't understand my own feelings. I didn't understand what was happening in that moment.

My parents looked at me in shock. Of course it was impossible for me to keep my secret about my love for Dale any more.

My confession came out in deep sobs: “It's Dale... I... I... I love him... so much.”

That was all I managed to say. I couldn't look in any of my parent's faces. My father stood up, and came over to me. I looked down, tracing the trajectory of my tears right on to the floor. Dad put his hand on my cheek, and forced my face up. My eyes slowly inched their way up from his chest to finally meet his eyes. His face was filled with concern.

He used his soft consoling voice that had always managed to sooth me even in my darkest hours, “C'mon, Kate. Let's go upstairs to your room, and have a talk. You just tell me everything, okay?”

I nodded, and hugged my Dad, letting my head rest on his chest. He wrapped his arms around my back, to carry me to my room. I had always loved to be carried by him around the house like this as a little kid. This time was no different. His mere action of holding me made the pain slowly subside.

The last tears were running down my cheeks as I crawled under my sheets. My Dad closed the door before sitting down on the bed right next to me, and stroking my hair with his hand.

“I'm all ears,” he said.

I sniffed two or three times before saying anything.

“Like I said... I'm in love with Dale... And he's got Laura. And he's so happy with her... And he doesn't know... And...”

With every word I said, I felt a new lump growing in my throat. My voice became heavier again, until my words were swallowed by sobs.

“Shhh...” my father whispered, “just let it all out, my darling. It helps a lot.”

He stroked my cheek. I looked at him with tear-filled eyes. He smiled kindly.

“Your first real love, right?” he asked.

I nodded my head yes.

“I remember my first love like it was yesterday. We were a group of three inseparable friends. Ann, Joey and me. Two boys, one girl. We were just as close as Dale and you are. Eventually, Joey and I both fell in love with Ann. First we didn't talk about it, until one day I told him I had a great secret to share. On that day, we swore each other that Ann would never ever know about our feelings, because we didn't want to ruin our friendship.”

My father's voice was so caring and soft, it gently put me at ease again.

“Only a few days later, Ann came to me overly happy, confessing she was in love with Joey. Things came as they had to, and Joey broke his promise. It tore my heart into tiny little pieces. We didn't talk to each other in years. Just because of a girl, can you imagine that?”

My father laughed. It made me smile a bit.

“Dale can't know about this, right?” he asked, gently smiling and winking at me

“Of course not, silly,” I laughed, “or why don't you just open the window and shout it out loud?”

We both giggled over my remark.

“He often tells me about Laura. You know he tells me everything. He just doesn't realize how much it hurts whenever he does. But he's in for nothing. It's not his fault. He just doesn't know,” I explained.

“Kate, you don't wanna know how many times I've been through this.”

“But for me it's the first time. You're used to it, you're old.”

We laughed again.

“Hey, watch your tongue, young lady.”

I stretched my tongue out to show him.

Suddenly, we heard Mom yell something. Dad opened the door.

He turned his face to me . “It's Dale. He's asking for you. Do you wanna see him?”

I shook my head no. Not today.

“No! Tell him she's sick, and needs to have some rest!” my father called back.

Dad also turned down Dale's suggestion to come upstairs and spend some time with me, for I was ' asleep already' . He closed the door, and sat down on the bed again. We had a good talk about the situation, Dale, love, and growing up.

After a while, I said I wanted to sleep.

“So, goodnight, sweetie. And don't forget: Don't lose your hope, 'cause tomorrow might be a new morning with changing weather.”

“Thank you Daddy!”

I hugged Dad goodnight like I'd hug my teddy-bear.

Only two weeks remained to our birthday party. One part of me tried my best not to think of it in any way. I was anticipating a total disaster, for Laura would show up among all the guests. Of course she would, she was Dale's girlfriend. I tried my best to stick with it. I kind of worked. Frankly, I forgot about everything: the party, my unhappy love, Laura, everything.

Later that week, Dale asked me if I wanted to join him and Laura for next Saturday night. There was a great dance party in a local pub called The glorious Five . He appeared to ask me on Laura's behalf – that's what he said. I agreed, and knew my parents would be happy to see me go out for a change.

Saturday evening came, and I had a feeling that I was about to completely forget that I was actually in love with my best friend. Eventually it all seemed natural, and right . I started accepting that Dale and I weren't likely to become a couple. The idea of being with him also started to feel strange yet weird. Should best friends become lovers? It felt so... wrong!

It was a great Saturday night. I lost myself in the rhythm of the music, I danced with my eyes closed as if there was nothing around me, as if I was the only one here, and no one was to see me. I was highly surprised to see a guy trying to dance with me, as I opened my eyes again. He smiled at me, and tried to come closer, but I turned him down. I wasn't there for the guys, I was there for the music and the change of ideas.

The later it got, the more the place was crowded. At around one in the morning it was packed like sardines. That was about the moment when I saw Dale and Laura standing right in front of me. Dale leaned in to shout something into my ear.

“Hey! There's too many people around, we're gonna hit the road home soon. You coming with us?”

I nodded my head yes, and Dale grabbed my hand. Laura led the way out.

This may sound pathetic, but I knew that Dale only held my hand not to lose me. I knew that perfectly well. But still his grip felt so soft yet firm. It was a strong grip, as though he didn't want to lose my hand, but it was very gentle at the same time. His skin was so warm and soft. Feelings surged from my heart in little waves, growing stronger and stronger with every heart beat. I felt my cheeks redden, and my blood slowly filling all the capillaries in my skin. Both my body and mind started remembering my feelings for Dale.

Once outside, Laura said she would be going to the restroom around the corner.

“I still can't believe what a good dancer you are, Kate,” said Dale.

I was lucky that the darkness of the night made it impossible for him to see my now glaring red cheeks.

“Um... er... thank you”, I stumbled.

He hugged me.

“Oh man, I'm so glad you came with us. You looked great on the dance floor.”

As he said this, I realized that he reeked of alcohol. He'd had more than just one over the eight, but my body didn't seem to care. I hugged him back; he felt so warm. I just wanted him close to me. All I wanted was closeness and to feel loved.

However, my mind quickly came around, so I pushed him off me. Merely one second later, Laura showed up again. I was petrified of shock. Apparently she hadn't noticed a thing. She just suggested that we'd go home. I agreed.

Halfway back home, Dale lost control over his legs a bit, and we had to help him a lot. He didn't say much. Actually neither of us did. I was too lost in processing what had just happened. I knew it shouldn't be a big deal, and I certainly knew it didn't mean a thing, but I just couldn't focus on anything else.

All three of us arrived home deadbeat. A thought that had started making me sick from the very beginning of our walk home was that Laura would probably stay over at Dale's. Guess who wasn't amused... I just numbly said goodnight to Dale and Laura, and went inside. Even as I heard Dale mumble something that sounded like quite a disappointed ' no nightie-hug '-question, I didn't turn around to grant him that pleasure.

Although I was so tired, I couldn't sleep a bit, my mind was still struggling with the idea that my beloved Dale had female company this night which was not mine. I was at the same time sad and frustrated, second of which I could at least try to relieve, I thought after a while.

To my surprise, substituting the thoughts that haunted me by any kind of sexual fantasy seemed pretty easy. But well... What fantasy would you expect from a virgin little not-yet-seventeen year-old brat? It's not that my parents had been hiding anything that had to do with sexuality from me, nor had I been raised in such a straight way; it was just that I didn't have too much interest in any sexual activity. Of course – I had passed through all these stupidities teenage girls do like trying to stuff their little pussies with various more or less phallic devices, and stuff like that. But the total number of times I had really done that with wanting to reach satisfaction was far below the usual. As I already said... My fantasies weren't that thrilling, for I just had no idea how sex would really feel or be. Porn? You gotta be kidding me? Even as unexperienced as I was, I knew this was the last thing I wanted actual sex to look like.

Only, this time, for some reason, a craving after getting filled by a massive male's cock for real flooded my body. The moon was lighting my room enough so that I could look at the reflexion of my fingers tracing the outlines of my pussy in the mirror. It turned me on to no end. I was trying hard not to raise my voice in moans of pleasure while I was just running my fingertips around my pussy lips. Before long, I plunged my index finger as deep in my wetness as possible. I couldn't stop watching me pleasuring myself in the mirror, until my eyelids fell closed.

In this very moment, my mind pictured Dale having his dick buried deeply inside me instead of my fingers. That was when I realized that what I was doing was just pathetic. It shook me back to my senses. Everything felt so wrong, so dirty, so miserable. Was I really trying to substitute my unfulfilled desire for a person out of reach by masturbating? That was not me. What the hell was wrong with me?

Tears flooded my eyes. I let out a sigh into the silence of the night, followed by a whimper. Soon, heavy tears came rolling down my reddened cheeks. I blankly looked at the ceiling, lingering on the same spot for what felt like hours. My mind turned black, no thoughts flashing by. I was lying on my back, one hand resting on my forehead.

After a while, I wiped clean my tear-stained face, turned on my side. I wanted to sleep my grief over, to forget about all the turbulences of the past hours. I reached out my hand as to touch someone who was hypothetically lying beside me, but no one was there. I closed my eyes shut.

During the best part of the coming week, I tried to avoid Dale and Laura whenever they were together. Well... actually, I avoided Laura in general, and still enjoyed the walks to school with Dale. Our birthday party was up sooner every day. Every time we'd bump each other, Dale and I would count back the hours. Both of us couldn't wait for it.

The week passed by and Saturday came. We were yo excited about our party. Of course we had planned to organize the greatest party ever. There were supposed to be lots of people from all over the place, a DJ, good weather, a cocktail bar, a huge barbecue, games, short: all necessary ingredients for one hell of a night. All the odds where indeed pointing to a night to remember. But fate had another plan – at least as far as I'm involved. It would, in fact, turn into a night to remember, but not in the way I had so eagerly looked forward to.

Our parents and – to my disfavor – Laura helped us getting everything prepared. We had finished around 5 pm. Our parents left the house at precisely this time, and the remaining three of us retired to our respective rooms to get prepared.

Having prepared myself, I took a good glance of me in the mirror. For the first time in a long, I realized that I too could look pretty. My parents had bought me a fancy light blue dress just for this evening, and – if I may permit me to say so – I looked genuinely stunning in it. It framed my female curves in all the right places. At the beginning, I was afraid my tush would look too fat in it – nothing to be concerned about, for it looked perfect. I had also put on a pair of plain black ballerinas that went perfectly well with my dress. I hugged my small breasts in approval, noticing that they looked bigger in this my dress. To top it off, I had applied on an almost glowing crimson lipstick. My lips looked more than kissable. Even my eyes looked pretty with the black eyeliner framing them. Nod doubt I would be the prettiest girl on the entire party!

I thought of Dale and Laura. For some reason, I didn't care. Why bother about it anyway, it was our birthday party, and no jealousy contest, right?

I picked a random melody, and filled it with the so famous mirror mirror on the wall, who is the most beautiful one of all , while putting on earrings a pair of carefully chosen earrings. Then I leaned towards the mirror to kiss it. My lips printed a crimson trace.

“Thank you, dearest mirror. This is going to be a blast!”

I walked out in the garden to look at the setup. Our guests would arrive at any moment. I entered Dale's house to wait for the two lovers. Before long, they marched down the stairs holding hands.

The moment my eyes fell on Laura, my heart almost skipped a beat. No need to describe how she looked. My efforts to look pretty appeared so dull next to her perfection. I swallowed hard.

Dale had hardly seen me as he ran down the stair set to place both his hands on my waist, and take a good view of me from head to toe. His glistening eyes were full of amazement and surprise.

“Wow! You look great,” he said, “You really look so pretty, Kate!”

I slightly blushed, and thanked him for his remark. I knew he really meant it by the way he said these words.

My eyes moved to meet Laura's. She was still standing on the stairs, waiting to be accompanied by Dale. Her eyes transfixed me. They were piercing mine. There was something overly hostile in the way she looked at me. It was a gaze of true mischief; a glance of true aversion. Her eyes said: ' Don't you touch my trophy, or I will kill you.' All of this with a matching little sadistic grin that said: ' By the way, I know that I am way prettier than you.' She was the queen looking down on a helpless bug that was to be smashed by one of her servants. I decided to just ignore it.

The first guests arrived at 7.15. It didn't take long for the whole place to fill with people. At around eight the place was crowded. From all our guests, none had failed to compliment me for my looks. Based on the amount of people and the atmosphere, it looked like the evening would be a complete success.

I had a nice chat with most of the guests, some longer, some shorter. Eventually, Dale would also find my company – alone. He had a Piña Colada in each of his hands.

“Hey, Kate! You gotta try this! It's so delicious!”

The cocktails were delicious indeed. Soon enough, we were to get another two drinks all the while chatting about the party, the guests, the ambiance. It was perfect! As we were talking, I once again caught a glimpse of Laura sharing that evil glance of hers. I decided to ignore it this time as well, and carried on chit-chatting with Dale.

Soon after, we parted again to fulfill our duties as good hosts. I almost ran into Laura who stood in my way, obviously on purpose.

She leaned towards me, and whispered a few words into my ear: “Listen, princess. Let's put an end to this masquerade, shall we?”

Her voice was sharp and cold. I didn't show reaction to her words.

“I know you're into Dale. I know it from the way you look at him. But guess what... He's mine, and I'm not willing to share him. Not with you, you little bitch.”

Still I didn't react. Who was she to tell me such idiotic stupidities. I mean, what's her age again? And by the way, this was my birthday party, and no one was to crash it. It was an evening of entertainment and fun. She certainly wouldn't be the one to get in the way of that.

“And by the way... I've got a special gift for him tonight,” she continued, “I'm gonna give him my virginity.”

Wait... What?! Had she just said what I believe she said. Had she just said she was going to give him her virginity for birthday? No way! She could not be serious! Should she really be the one to share her mutual first experience of the real thing with Dale? This could not be true! No! I felt sucker punched. Her sadistic little grin returned to her face after recognizing that her words had caused the desired effect on my feelings.

My mind was a mess... I decided to get another one of these cocktails, or actually just something to hammer down. The message of them being delicious had spread like fire in dry grass, so there where almost two dozens of people standing in line before me. Thoughts filled my head. More than I thought I could bear. My mind was overfilled. On top of that, I started feeling dizzy from drinking. This was bad... Really bad!

I hadn't taken my time to think of what to order as it was my turn, so I stumbled over a few names of drinks I didn't know: “Sex on the beach... no Manhattan... wait... Mojito... no...”

“You look like you need something special,” said the barkeeper grinning widely, “just one special drink for our little host princess. Happy birthday.”

He poured me a triple shot of Hendrick's Gin, Absolut Vodka and Jose Cuervo. I hammered it down without hesitating. The liquid burned in my throat, causing me to cough, and the barkeeper to laugh.

“I suggest you better stay with coke for a while,” he added.

From that moment on, everything happened too fast for my juvenile perception. I only felt my senses fail one after another with each drink that found its way down my throat.

As my consciousness kicked back in, I felt like I had blacked out for several hours. I was having troubles with opening my eyes. They just felt way too heavy. Another, yet far more uncomfortable set of feelings overwhelmed my perception: A terrible headache coupled with a that kind of ugly nausea pregnant women often refer to as morning sickness.

Bits of memories flashed through my damaged brain, feeling like golf balls that where hit to the inside of my skullcap. I heard a familiar voice from beside me, but couldn't make out the words. My blurry eyes tried to find the source of the unidentifiable syllables. They rested on some silhouette that looked humanoid. Eventually, my senses provided enough information to be processed by my overloaded mind. I recognized Dale sitting on a chair by my side. I was in bed.

Suddenly, it all came clear to me: The birthday party, Laura, the drinks... I had totally lost it. I realized what had actually happened the last night. My heart sank. Tears where coming out of my eyes all from alone. I looked at Dale.

He handed me a bowl. “It's eleven in the morning. Drink this, all of it. It's twenty ounces of quite concentrated bouillon, you'll need it. It's against the hangover. And after that, you'll drink the quadruple espresso I made for you.”

I was still in some sort of half-coma, so I just did as ordered although it wasn't easy, and I'd feel even worse after it, having a largely inflated stomach from the high amount of liquid. But it seemed to help. The need to puke subsided after a moment or two.

“What... what happened?”

Dale's voice was soft and caring: “I don't think you wanna know this.”

Although I knew he was right, I pressed on, and eventually he gave in: “Someone told me that you where completely fucked up. And yes, you where far beyond drunk. You where like totally wasted; in a delirium.”

I had a very bad feeling about what Dale was telling me, and it grew worse and worse with every word he spoke. I felt my larynx clenching around my trachea as to block every possible sound coming from my throat.

“I found you lying on the ground, babbling wild, incoherent stuff. You where a wreck!”

I found it hard to even listen to him, don't mention to formulate any understandable expressions: “A...and... and then?” Sobs where blurring my pronunciation.

It was getting harder and harder to breathe. The air inside my lungs was burning hot, causing a pain that returned in short flashes as if tiny glowing needles were shot into my skin one after another.

“Well...”Dale took a deep breath. “Someone filmed you...” he paused to take a deep breath. “...and put it on the internet.”

Oh my god no! No... no... Who the hell would do this? NO!!!! My eyes widened in shock, but still I asked Dale to show me. He navigated his laptop to the required video, and shifted it so that I had a clear view of the screen.

It was blurred and low-res. Unfortunately, one could still recognize the person who was writhing on the floor, laughing and crying at the same time, babbling undefinable bits of words – except of course some crucial information: “Oh my Dale... My beloved Dale [random babbling] Why can't you love me? Why her, and not me? Fuck you, you little prick [random babbling] I couldn't be your first [random babbling] Now I can't even be your first fuck... Cuz you go for that bitch [random babbling] Never had a chance against her, did I?”

Everyone on this video was standing around me, laughing their brains out.

After one minute and a half, another voice was to be heard: “Kate?! Oh my... Cut it out, guys!!! Let me through!!!”

It was Dale who made his way through the masses of spectators to support me, and dragged me away. That was the moment the video stopped.

So many times I had watched this kind of videos. So many times I had laughed about those poor involuntary actors. And now it was me who was being laughed at by everyone. This was so embarrassing. Had I really given away my deepest secret to everyone? I wanted to crawl under my sheets, and never come out again. It was too much for me.

“So you know it,” I said bursting out in tears, “you know that I've been loving you for so long? This is so humiliating!”

I shouted random curses into the room. Dale tried to silence me with his hand taking mine.

“Shhhh... It's okay. I'm here, you know?”

“You are the last person I want to be here right now!” I yelled back.

“No I'm not gonna go, I will stay right here until you feel better. I've been waiting for you to wake up the whole night long.”

I hadn't been expecting this. I didn't know what to say. For the first time, I felt cared about more than from my parents or just a friend.

“Yeah, that's what friends do, you know. They care for each other,” he added, “your words.”

I fell into his arms to hug him. He wiped my tears off with his sleeves. I noticed that I was wearing my white pajamas with the red hearts.


He smiled awkwardly. “You had wet yourself... and also puked on yourself. I had to do this, I just couldn't let you sleep in your own secretions, could I?”

I also realized I was neither wearing the same panties as during the party nor any bra.

“Well... For your underwear... You wanted to sleep with me for some obvious reasons, and you practically undressed yourself... but by the time you where naked, you where fast asleep. So I picked what you're wearing right now from your drawer.”

I blushed. The color of my face immediately turned to a tone of glaring red. I was thankful and embarrassed at the same time. It was really sweet of him. The part of me that wasn't busy bothering about the past events any more felt truly happy to have Dale as a friend. He was a true friend, a friend I could rely on. He was right... That really was what friends do.

I was so embarrassed to hear that I had been naked in front of him that I was hardly able to form the one question that was burning in me: “And Laura?”

Before he even raised his voice to confirm it, Dale's expression made it clear that something had happened, “That bitch! She dumped me.”

“What? Why?” I asked.

“As she saw that I was helping you, she made me choose between you and her. Guess who I picked?”

“No, you didn't! I'm so sorry, it's all my fault.”

“No, it's not. That bitch was just with me for reasons of popularity. She just wanted to brag around that she had slept with the most popular guy at school. What a fucking slut... By the way... Thanks for opening my eyes.

“Like you said... That's just what friends do,” I replied

Dale smiled at me. His smile was so gentle that it made all the pain subside, except for my terrible headache, of course. I don't know how he made this, but I simply had to smile back at him. We approached each other to meet in a warm-hearted hug. I almost pulled him into bed. This embrace felt so natural. My heart was racing, but it wasn't unpleasant at all. It was his hands that gently stroked my back, his warmth that surrounded me protectively, his breath that caused goose bumps on my skin, just everything made me feel safe and sound.

For some reason I knew that it was right, I knew that it had to be like that. There was tension indeed, strong tension, but it wasn't heavy or unpleasant.

As we parted, we looked into each other's eyes. I recognized my own silhouette reflected on his moist eye balls. A shy kiss was exchanged, just a soft touch of two pair of lips that were not yet ready to give themselves away to one another, a gentle rub, nothing more.

We parted again, holding our hands entwined.

After a this instant of agreeable silence, he gently whispered in my ear, “There's something else I have to tell you...”

I was all ears, but it took him a little moment to find the accurate words to express what he was about to tell me.

“I know it sounds weird... but... last night... as I took care of you, and waited through the whole night for you to wake up... I realized something...”

He paused.

“Which is...?” I shyly asked, not wanting to interrupt him.

“Well... I realized that the whole story with Laura was a big mistake. It's not her I should be into, It's... It's...”

Yet another deep breath had to be taken before his confession could be resumed.

“Because, it's you Kate... It's you I'm in love with... I love you!”

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