So, Bobby was one of my closest friends. Our moms were friends, and we went to church together, even though we went to different elementary schools.
Then, in sixth grade, our elementary schools fed into the same middle school. Bobby and I were on the same “team” and had all the same teachers, even though the only class we had together was choir.
And, another person on our team, and in choir, was Bobby’s good friend from elementary school, Blair. For the first chunk of the school year, Bobby, Blair and I hung out in choir, and soon I thought of Blair as one of my best friends.
One day, my mom was at Bobby’s house in the morning to feed her horses. Bobby saw her and asked her what I was wearing to school that day. She said a blue striped shirt. Bobby made a call to Blair, and we all arrived at school wearing blue striped shirts that day.
In fact, Blair and I went to the bathroom after lunch and traded shirts for the day.
But you know what happened if you’ve read My First Love. Bobby became my boyfriend and my first kiss and my first love.
We broke up. We mended our friendship. And all was well. I thought.
One day, Blair told me that she and Bobby were now “going out.” Meaning they were a couple, boyfriend-and-girlfriend. I was surprised, but also not. They were best friends, just like Bobby and I had been when we decided to become a couple. They sat together at lunch, but I didn’t join them. I saw them walking around the basketball court together, but not holding hands.
Someone asked me if it was an April Fool’s joke. I shrugged but got suspicious.
Turns out they were right. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something was weird about it. The fact that Blair had been the one to tell me. Their behavior being more performative around me than anyone else. Bobby seeming to feel more awkward about it than Blair did. They “fooled” everyone, but it seems that I was the target of the “joke.”
Toward the end of the year, I passed around my yearbook for all my friends to sign. I specifically remember when I asked Blair to sign it during our choir class.
The next day, we were all watching a movie in history (forgive the teacher, it was the end of the school year and we were hormonal maniacs), and I passed the book to a table of girls sitting with Blair to get more signatures. Stacy signed it, a few other girls. And I noticed Blair signing, too, but I thought nothing of it. I didn’t really look at the book when I got it back because there was a movie playing.
The next day, Stacy, one of the girls who had been sitting with Blair, asked to look at my yearbook. Not sign it, look at it. After all, she’d already signed it.
After a few moments she flipped to a page and said, “Did you see this?” Someone had written “I don’t like you,” in disguised handwriting on one of the pages. Things clicked together in my brain. Stacy had been sitting with Blair. Blair had signed it my book twice. There had been a look of conspiracy among the girls she was with.
I looked Stacy in the eyes and said, “Who wrote it?”
She gave an exaggerated shrug.
I took my yearbook back and said, “I think I know.”
I knew from the way she—one of Blair’s friends—had made sure I saw it. She’d known it was there and wanted to see if Blair’s anonymous jab could get a reaction out of me.
Blair didn’t like me. And our whole year of friendship changed color in my memory.
I saw it clearly, but I never confronted her. Blair had always like-liked Bobby and that had made it hard for her to friend-like me. She had also always thought of me as a rival. That made the betrayal sting less–I could feel sorry for her. Bobby friend-liked her, but he never like-liked her.
I was civil but distant until the end of the school year. She moved out of state summer—I wouldn’t see her again. And once she did move, Bobby confirmed my suspicions.