Because what’s more cliché than the best friend?
She’s unthinkable, untouchable until the December night she’s not. And you hate yourself for every second you spend with her, learning the curves of her body, but there’s almost nothing better than something so taboo even Hollywood has a hard time accepting it.
And then one day it’s all you have left, the affair, and the best friend isn’t the girlfriend and you find yourself comparing them at every chance even though she now is your girlfriend and your ex can’t even be in the same room as you. When you look back at the summer nights you spent wrapped in your lover’s arms – I mean the real lover, the girl you loved too much to leave – and you witness how you fucked it all up, royally, you hate yourself to the point where sex isn’t going to change how you feel inside. That big, gaping hole? Nothing fixes that. Not the shots you guzzle or the joints you smoke, not even the lines you snort or the pills you pop. They’re escapes, but you grow immune. Even under the haze of white powder, you see her face. It haunts you; it fucking follows you wherever you go. You can down twenty shots and before you pass out it’s what’s burned into your eyelids.
And you’re still with the best friend, but she wants more from you. Commitment. A promise of forever. A diamond right to slip onto the finger of the left hand so that the world knows she’s taken. Fuck no, you think, but it’s what society’s told you to do. Somehow it’s less wrong if you broke an angel’s heart if you did it for love. Yeah, you slept with the best friend – but then you married the best friend, and when Kid 1 and Kid 2 and Kid 2.5 ask you how you met, you can find a story to tell them. Summer nights that turned into winter. And winter you found yourself in the arms of the best friend.
She’s straddling you, right now. The love of your life. The ex. You’re stars on some TV show and she loves her paycheck more than she hates you. And the paycheck comes at the expense of your great love story – the made-for-TV version because behind the glow of neon screens passion and summer go on forever. The new girlfriend – the best friend – doesn’t like it. You lose ‘em how you got ‘em, after all. But you reassure her there’s nothing between you, even though you’re barely convincing yourself.
“Andrew,” the ex says in this husky voice that she used to use to whisper sweet nothings. Andrew’s not your name; it’s the name of the prissy, whiny vampire who’s managed to capture the heart of the enigmatic volleyball star.
“Caroline,” you moan and you long to have her real name on your lips, so you try to convey every ounce of your feeling and being into the words you say next. “I love you. I really, really love you.”
“I love you, too, Andrew,” she says in the same tone and gives an imperceptible shake of her head to remind you it’s not enough.
“CUT!” the director shouts and he’s beaming because the chemistry between you and her – driven mostly by you – is off the motherfucking charts. You take five and watch and she turns the corner before you jog after her, hoping, praying, she’ll give you one last chance.
“Maisie,” you say, and she turns and looks at you and there are tears in her eyes and she’s all choked up and you feel so trapped within yourself you can barely breathe.
“No,” she says, and you open your mouth to talk, but she puts up a hand. “No, Ryan. Don’t come after me with those big blue eyes and the dimples and the sorry's and forgive me's and the bullshit you’re going to pull to get into my pants. I loved you, you asshole, but that’s past fucking tense. Love-d. With a D the size of Texas – not that you’d know anything about that, considering yours is Rhode Island.”
“Ouch,” you say quietly, with a small smile on your face, but you take a step closer and she doesn’t recoil. “I never heard you complaining.”
“That’s cause I was too polite,” she spits, but a small smile breaks through and now she’s the one stepping closer to you. And the mood, it’s suddenly shifted. There’s something electric between you now. “We were good together, weren’t we?”
“The best,” you say.
And that’s the one question that nearly breaks you. She asked the how and when and the what when somebody ‘fessed up, but never why. You thought it was because she didn’t care, because she was already 500% done with your cheating ass, but maybe it was because the truth hurts so much we can’t even see the end of the pain. Pain hurts less when you ignore it. That’s the theory, anyways.
“I don’t know,” you say, and it’s maybe the truest thing you’ve said to her about the affair. You don’t know. There is nothing to know except you don’t deserve her. You don’t deserve the best friend, you don’t deserve the angel in front of you, hell, you don’t even deserve yourself. You’re a twisted bastard who doesn’t deserve love. But somehow, you’ve got two of the world’s finest girls loving you.
“You don’t know?” she whispers, and there’s something fiery in her eyes now, something you’ve never seen before. “Was it me? Was I not good enough?”
“Of course you were,” you say softly.
“Were you bored with me? Was I too uptight, too prissy, too sweet?" she questions in this tone that reaches inside your chest and rips your heart to shreds. You never stopped to think that she might hate herself too, blame herself for the degradation of the relationship. Because she's selfless like that. She carries all your burdens, and even now she's trying to make them lighter for you.
“No-o,” you deny frantically. “Don’t do this to yourself. Maisie, you’re incredible, you’re angelic and godlike and make me a sinner in a single breath, and any guy on this whole planet would be lucky to have you and none of those smug motherfuckers deserve you.”
“But you do?”
“No, Maze. I deserve you least of all.”
“Do you?” and she draws ever closer to you until her lips meet yours and you’re connecting frantically in a series of burning kisses that say all the words you can’t. Because she smells like summertime and it’s mid-July and winter seems so far away it could practically never happen. Because you’re thinking of moving to the Southern hemisphere when the leaves go golden so you can have infinite summers with the love of your life. Because you’re young and you’re stupid and you’re in love and right now August merges into September in a way that keeps both of them together and your infinity is greater than all the other infinities.
You try to do it right this time. You break up with the best friend. You wait a month and a half –Cosmo says three, but fuck if you’re waiting that long – and you ask the girl of your dreams, your co-pilot in all things grand and eternal out on a real date, and three weeks later you ask her to go steady. And everything seems perfect to you because your TV show is a hit and you’re rolling in cash but none of the babes that come with it even tempt you. You puff out your chest when you're walking downtown, hold her closer to you so every punk on the street knows she's yours.
And then one day she turns to you and tells you she’s pregnant and your whole world seems to burn a little brighter because you’re going to be a dad.
That doctor visit where you see your baby for the first time, you cry. And you're not ashamed in the slightest. There's something so manly about shedding a tear over a baby who you love so much you'd die for already even though she hasn't been born yet. The little fingers of her hand that ball up into a fist on the ultrasound screen make your heart sing. That's your daughter. You've made so many mistakes in your life, but she is perfect.
"She's a fighter like me," you say to your girl and she reaches up and flicks your ear in an admonishment.
"Don't give her any ideas," Maisie says to you and you break into a big grin, a goofy thing that makes you look twelve years old. You're going to be the best dad in the world. You can feel it.
You give up the joints and the pills and the lines and the drinks. You're clean and sober. You get a movie deal and Maisie gets a modeling gig and your baby kicks at night in her stomach and the feeling of being alive and free is all around you. There's a hum in the air that only you hear and it makes you want to sing and dance and scream so that the whole world hears your joy.
You’re flying high, so high you can’t even see the clouds, until you crash land to the earth with a pain in your hip and an MRI that changes everything.
You spend a lot of time looking at those x-rays. At night, burning the midnight oil, by candlelight during power outages, in the light of day. How Death has been creeping up on you for years and years and you never felt it. The circular splotches that dictate your end.
You lose 40 pounds, all your muscle tone, your hair, your dignity, your smile. You go through chemo, radiation, and surgery. After all you’ve fought through to get the perfect life with the perfect girl, why let a little cancer stop you?
But there's nothing little about it. The last thing you lose is your will to live. You die in her arms with your daughter looking up at you with big blue eyes and a killer smile and the good looks of her mother and the patience of her father.
And you float away into an eternity of infinite summers.