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Best Friends, Somehow

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“Get out of my way… loser” the words rung though Michael’s mind like a mantra as he slipped through the crowd of sweaty teenagers, inching towards the front door. Being bumped and thrown around made his destination hard to get to, but as he wedged his way through the crowd of dancing bodies, he finally ended up facing the polished white wood.

 

The cool metal of the doorknob in his palm helped ground him, the chilling sensation sending a shiver down his spine. The brisk outside air suddenly hit him as he opened the door, the wind nipping at his face helped dry the tear tracks left discarded on his reddened cheeks.

 

His feet seemed to move on their own, but he stopped in his tracks when he saw the shuddering shoulders of one Brooke Lohst in front of him. He could hear the choked sobs coming from the girl who was sat on the last few steps leading up to the Dillinger household, curling in on herself as if it would help the pain go away.

 

He didn’t quite know what he was going to do, but Michael slowly walked towards the girl, gently sitting down next to her as to not startle her.

 

“Hey,” he spoke in a hushed whisper, trying to keep his voice soft. Brooke looked up from her lap, trying furiously to wipe the tears from her eyes. She looked at Michael with curiosity before realization settled in.

 

“Hi. You’re… Michael, right? Jeremy’s friend?” She continued to cry, giving up on trying to hide her tears. Michael simply nodded, suppressing a wince at the mention of Jeremy, hesitantly placing his hand on the smaller girl’s shoulder. She smiled sadly, but he could see that she was truly grateful for his sympathy. They sat in the quiet night together, looking out at the street and the nearby rooftops, a comfortable silence settling between them.

 

Michael turned to face the girl next to him, his hand still resting on her shoulder. He rubbed his fingers against her skin for a few fleeting seconds before sighing. “You wanna go for a drive?”

 

Brooke looked back at the boy who she could practically refer to as a stranger. He didn’t feel like a stranger to her, though. Something about they way he was trying to comfort her despite knowing nothing about her and that he, too, seemed to be in a funk made her feel drawn towards him. She nodded shyly, getting up after him.

 

She followed him to a beat up PT Cruiser parked on side of the road, getting in after he unlocked the car doors. Sitting down and shutting the door after her, Brooke looked back at the house through the slightly dirty passenger side window. Closing her eyes and shaking her head, she looked away from Jake’s house and back down at her hands which rested in her lap. The car smelled faintly of weed and ripened blueberries, a smell that she didn’t think should be as comforting as it was.

 

Shoving the key into the ignition, the car hummed to life, slightly vibrating the seats it’s two occupants were sat in. Michael looked in his rearview mirror before pulling out of his spot, kicking an empty slushie cup lying on the floor out of his way. The roads were barren considering the crowd of kids trick-or-treating had dwindled out a few hours ago.

 

Michael didn’t ask any questions and neither did Brooke. They both were grateful for that. The silence was nice, almost peaceful. They had no certain destination, just as long as they were away from the bitter memories they had left behind at the Dillinger house.

 

The hum of the car’s engine was enough to lull Brooke into a restless sleep as Michael drove down the various familiar streets of Red Bank, New Jersey. He looked over to see Brooke resting her head on the car window, her hair hanging in front of her face. He smiled, pulling into the parking lot of 7/11.

 

Putting the car in park, Michael took another look at the resting girl in the passenger seat, debating if he should wake her up or not. He decided against it, making sure his run into the store would be a quick one.

 

He was gone for a total of five minutes and was relieved to see Brooke had not waken up in his absence. Putting one of the slushies in the cupholder, Michael pulled out of the parking lot, sipping on the straw of his own slushie.

 

Looking at the girl in the passenger seat once more, Michael started to drive off towards his house, not knowing where Brooke’s was.

 

The drive to Michael’s house seemed slower than usual but he enjoyed the serenity that only the early hours of the morning seemed to provide. The stars seemed duller because of the foggy haze the night held, but he could still make out the few constellations that he knew.

 

A sudden buzz filled the car as Michael turned onto his street, coming from the seat next to him. Looking up, he saw Brooke’s phone light up, guessing that she had an incoming call. He wondered if he should wake her up, but before he could, she started to stir. Blinking her eyes blearily, she looked down at the phone resting next to her against her leg. She read the caller ID before ignoring the call.

 

Brooke looked at Michael, who held two slushies in his hand, holding one out towards her. She took it gratefully, smiling at the boy, whose lips were already pressed against a straw of his own. He smiled around the straw in his mouth before looking back at the road.

 

She took a sip of the drink, feeling the tangy grape taste hit her tongue. She smiled to herself, enjoying how cold the ice felt as it landed on her tongue and went down her throat. She felt the cold droplets of condensation on her palms, sending a shiver through her body.

 

She recognized the street they were on as the one next to hers.

 

“My street’s the next one down,” She whispered, her teeth still against the plastic straw. Michael nodded, the car inching towards the next street before he turned, seeing the rows of suburban houses surrounding them that were hnot unlike his own. He slowly drove down the street until Brooke held up her hand, pointing to the pale yellow house to their right, signaling that they were here. Michael pulled into the empty driveway, unlocking the doors as he parked.

 

Brooke took one last look at Michael before opening the car door. She smiled sweetly at him before closing the door and walking slowly towards her porch. Michael started to pull out of the driveway when he heard a faint shout from outside. Looking out the car window, he could see Brooke running back towards the PT Cruiser, going towards the driver’s side.

 

Confusedly, Michael rolled down the window to talk to Brooke but instead, a phone was thrusted into his hands. He looked at the screen that now illuminated his once completely dark car, seeing that she had her contacts app open with the name “Michael❤️” already typed out. Smiling slightly, Michael put in his phone number before handing the device back to Brooke, who just returned his smile before heading back towards her house.

 

Michael drove back towards his street, which wasn’t that far of a drive, he now knew. Pulling into his driveway, he saw that there were no other cars there, meaning his moms were out at work again. He sighed, turning off the ignition before heading inside.

 

Kicking off his shoes, he left them discarded at the door before heading down to the basement. Descending down the stairs, Michael left the lights off, instead opting to leave the constellations of glow-in-the-dark stars that stuck on his ceiling as the only form of light.

 

Sitting on his rickety old bed, Michael grabbed his ukulele from where it rested propped up against the leg of his bed frame. Playing a few random chords, Michael could recognize the tune he subconsciously started to play.

 

“You can have the toaster and the PC

Or even my Timothy Green DVD

I’ll let you have the couch and the TV

Hang onto the jacket that you bought for me”

 

Michael’s fingers stopped moving as he sighed, closing his eyes as he took a breath.

 

“I don’t really care

You can keep the things we used to share

But what did you do with my heart?

What did you do with my heart?”

 

Michael shifted, moving back on his bed so that he could lean on the headboard.

 

“No more fireworks, no more compass

You didn’t leave a single butterfly in my stomach

You took my spyglass, no knowing what lies ahead

Took my warmth at night, but left a dent in my bed”

 

Closing his eyes, Michael let his head lean back until it hit the headboard, halting his strumming for a second.

 

“I don’t care

You can keep the things we used to share

But what did you do with my heart?

What did you do with my heart?”

 

A choked sob escaped Michael’s lips, his hands starting to tremble.

 

“Strip me of my pride, that’s for the best

But you also deprived me of a full night’s rest

So no more dreams where we pull through

And I can’t collect my thoughts ‘cause they’re still with you”

 

Taking a deep breath, Michael pursed his lips before continuing.

 

“I don’t really care

You can keep the things we used to share

But what did you do with my heart?

WHat did you do with my heart?”

 

Tears started to flow down Michael’s face freely throughout the instrumental break, his fingers trembling with every chord. He shut his eyes even tighter, but it didn’t hold the tears back as much as he wanted it to. His breaths turning into heaves, Michael could feel his heart yearn for the boy who left him. The boy he used to call his best friend.

 

“I wouldn’t take it back even though I feel sore

I meant it when I said what’s mine is yours

But I need to know now that we’re apart

What did you do…”

 

Michael’s shuddered breaths turned into sobs, his voice growing louder with every word, pain and emotion seeping in through his voice.

 

“I need to know now that we’re apart

What did you do with my heart?

What did you do with my heart?

What did you do with my heart?

What did you do with my heart?”

 

Michael opened his eyes, looking down at his wrist where the brown leather friendship bracelet he and Jeremy had made each other in elementary school was still knotted around his wrist.

 

“What did you do with my heart?”

 

He whispered the last line before letting his ukulele drop into his lap, his tears finally stopping. He felt his heart drop in his chest and his eyes ache from all the crying, but he continued to stare straight in front of him, his eyes void of any emotion.

 

The Blinky pac man ghost charm attached to the bracelet swayed as his hands trembled, hitting his wrist with every movement. Jeremy’s bracelet had Inky on it.

 

He ripped it off.