Her hand quivered as she gripped the pen, the worn cover of her journal warm and soft in her palms. “Dear Elle… no, that’s stupid. She’ll never see it. I’ll chicken out when the time comes anyway.” She shook her head violently, trying to declutter it. “Come on, Deb. Just think, think, think…” Her eyes wandered away from her desk, finding their way across the room and onto a pink sequin sweater. Elle’s sweater. Deb’s face lit up. “Of course! When I return her sweater, I can slip the note in her pocket! Perfect!” She turned her eyes back to the page, studying it intently. Dear Elle, she wrote, I’m writing this because I need to tell you something. You’re my best friend, and I’m so glad to have helped you pass your LSAT. But before you leave... Suddenly, a knock at the door interrupted her thoughts. Before she had a chance to respond, the door flung open.
“Deb!!” Elle raced over to Deb and threw her arms around her. “Hey, girly!! What’s up??” Deb’s face flushed, and she hastily shut her notebook. “Uhh, nothing,” she said quickly. Her face turned sour. “Look, can’t you see I’m busy here? I have work to do.” Elle laughed. Elle’s laugh was contagious, bright and twinkly. Bright and twinkly? Jesus, I’m an English major. I should be able to come up with something better than that. Deb let out a little “eh heh heh”, a little embarrassed. “Okay, miss grumpy pants. Anywho, I was wondering if you’d like to come to my goodbye party. Meet me outside the dorm building tomorrow at 5pm, ok?” Elle handed her a little pastel pink slip of paper, scented with perfume and covered in glitter. Of course she did. Elle grinned, her lipgloss shiny against the dorm’s fluorescent lighting. “Well, I’m off. Toodles!” She wiggled her perfectly polished fingers and swished out the door, pulling it shut behind her. Deb’s fingers gripped the paper, and she looked down at it, realizing she hadn’t yet read it. deb, I know you’re going to forget (or ‘forget’) because I know how much you hate anything that’s not school. 5pm in front of our building. xoxo elle
Deb smiled, and she let out a shaky breath that she didn’t know she’d been holding. Things would be okay. This was Elle Woods, for Christ’s sake. God knows how many people had asked her out. This was routine for her, being one of the most fashion-forward, and dare she say it, hottest students at UCLA. Deb clutched her pen and pressed it to the paper, ready to write more, but nothing came out. She sighed. These things were natural, not something that could be read off a piece of paper. She reluctantly crossed out what she’d already written. “Dammit. I guess just an English Lit degree can’t do everything. Should’ve taken public speaking too.” Deb got up from her desk and collapsed onto her bed, imagining what the next day would bring. Maybe, finally, she’d be able to tell her. She’d tried for years, but she was always too busy with Warner. Warner, Warner, Warner. Goddamn it. What did she see in that guy? Deb crossed her room and went to the mirror, staring at her reflection. Her old checkered pants, soft from years of wear, hung loosely against her legs. She adjusted her thick round frames and tweaked her messy bun. She looked nothing like that stuck-up jerk that Elle was somehow obsessed with. She would never love Deb, or at least, not in the same way Deb loved her.
She glanced at the clock. Damnit. It was late. She changed into a more comfortable flannel pants and t-shirt, brushed her teeth, and tucked herself in. Her stomach churned. Not only would tomorrow be a confession, it would also be her coming out. Knowing Elle’s social circle, the cat would be out of the bag within minutes. She hoped it would
Deb glared at her closet, silently cursing its contents. Of course on one of the most important days of her life so far, she didn’t have a single thing to wear. Whatever, it was 4:55 and she needed to be downstairs stat. She grabbed the nearest sweater and worn out jeans and threw them on, grabbing her bag and racing to the elevators. She rushed outside, but no one was there. She glanced at her watch. 5:03. She should’ve expected this; Elle was notorious for being, as she called it, ‘fashionably late’. Really, though, it just meant she had awful time management. Deb glanced down the sidewalk and saw a figure dashing towards her, as fast as she could go in heels. “Deb!” She cried. Deb smiled back at her. “Elle! I’m over here!” She ran over to Elle and gave her a tight hug, a bitter reminder that she’d be leaving for Harvard soon. “So, where to? Who else are we seeing tonight?” Elle smiled at her. “No one! I was thinking just you and me. And I was thinking we could grab some bubble tea and hit the park?” Deb gave her a blank stare, stunned. “Who are you and what have you done with Elle?” Elle gave her a fake annoyed look. “Come on silly, can’t I have some one-on-one time with my friend before I have to leave?” Elle grabbed Deb’s hand and started walking in the direction of the bubble tea place. Deb’s heart fluttered, her face flushing bright red. Elle had never held her hand before. “Uhh, okay,” she managed to sputter out, following Elle and keeping her grip on her tight.
Together they walked through the park while sipping bubble tea, still holding hands. “How’s yours?” Elle asked, then took a sip. “Pretty good! I got taro,” Deb responded. Her heart was going nuts inside her chest, and she willed it to slow down. Can you feel heartbeats through holding someone else’s hand? Elle smiled and nodded at her. “That’s good. You know, I wanted to thank you for all your help, Deb.” She stopped walking, and Deb stopped too, turning to face her. “For what?” Deb asked. “For the LSAT. I would’ve never gotten into Harvard without all your help. You’re amazing, Deb.” Elle squeezed Deb’s hand. “But, if I’m being honest, I’m scared to leave here.” Deb stared at her, confusion written across her face. “But why? Isn’t this what you’ve wanted, for forever? Or, well, since Warner got in?” Elle pointed to a park bench nearby. “Come on, let’s sit.” They sat down, fingers still intertwined. Elle took another sip of her bubble tea and let out a long sigh. “I’m not sure if that’s what I want anymore. Warner, for starters, and well, law school… it’s all so much. I don’t think I’ll be able to handle it. Do I really want to become a lawyer just because my ex boyfriend wants to?” A little flame of hope rose in Deb’s chest, but she blew it out immediately. This was Elle’s future, not hers to meddle in just for her own needs. “Elle, you’re smart and strong-willed and organized and a million other things a lawyer should be. I truly think that if you want to become a lawyer, you have what it takes.” Deb’s eyes met Elle’s. “Honestly, Warner doesn’t matter anymore. But you do.” Elle smiled softly, and she looked down. “That’s kind of you, Deb. But I guess it’s not so much that I’m going to dislike being a lawyer as much as it is that I’m going to miss it here. Miss you here.” Elle looked back up at Deb. “You’re something special, Deb, did you know that?”
Deb’s heart was going even wilder, and she wondered if she needed to see a doctor or something. Is it physically possible for it to be going that fast? Am I having a heart attack? No no no you’re fine it’s fine everythings- “Deb?” Deb’s thoughts stopped in their tracks and she turned to face Elle. “Yeah?” Elle smiled at her. “I don’t know, you just seemed like you needed me to say something. Is there something on your mind?” Deb gulped and gripped Elle’s slender fingers tighter. “Yeah.” Elle nodded slowly. “Go ahead.”
Deb let out a tiny laugh, and she let go of Elle’s hands. “I.” She stopped, needing a breath. In, and out. Tears pricked her eyes, and she blinked them away. “I love you, Elle. I’m heartbroken that you’re leaving. I just needed you to know that before you left. I’m sorry.” The words spilled out of her mouth faster than she could stop them. She looked at the ground, unable to meet Elle’s gaze, and a small sob escaped her.
Elle’s breath caught in her throat, and she grabbed Deb’s hand. “Look at me, Deb. What are you apologizing for?” Deb tearily looked up at her. “I- I don’t know, it’s just you’re pining after Warner and I don’t want to get in the way, and-” Elle put up her other hand in a stop gesture, and Deb paused. “Deb, I…” Her voice trailed off, the words leaving her. Quickly, in one swift motion, she leaned in and gave Deb a quick kiss, then pulled back.
The two sat in silence for a few minutes, holding each other’s hands. Eventually, Deb broke the silence. “Did you have strawberry boba?” She smacked her face. “Damnit, that was such a stupid thing to say. Forget I said it.” But Elle started laughing her contagious and bright and twinkly laugh, and Deb let out a little giggle and suddenly they were both laughing, relief and happiness flooding through them as they let it all out. They laughed until their stomachs hurt and tears, happy ones this time, welled up in their eyes and they wiped each others’ away. Deb leaned her head on Elle’s shoulder and sighed contentedly. The golden rays of sunset danced across the trees, gently touching their leaves and making them blaze with color. A slight breeze picked up, carrying the wonderful warmth of early summer with it. Deb looked into Elle’s eyes, comforted by their steady gaze. She squeezed Elle’s fingers tight, feeling the gentle heat of her skin. Her heart would stay there forever, surrounded by warmth and love and sheer joy.