“Allie! How nice to see you, you haven’t been over here in a while.”
Mrs. Horton gave me a friendly smile, which I returned. “I know, school’s been crazy. Are you on your way to work?”
She sighed. “Yes, they gave me another night shift. As usual. But it’s fine.” Her smile returned. Mrs. Horton worked so hard, but never really complained. I liked her a lot, even though she was hardly ever home.
“Is Philip home? He hasn’t been picking up his phone, so I decided to check on him.”
Mrs. Horton frowned. “He’s been home all day. He’s with… uhm… a friend.”
“A friend?” I asked, confused. “But… I’m his friend. Who else is he hanging out with?”
“I’m sorry, honey, but I really have to go. I’ll miss the bus if I don’t leave now.” She hurriedly checked her watch and left the door open for me. “Phil told me they’re working on a science project. That’s all. You’ll find him in his room.”
As she hurried down the porch steps, I walked into the house. I gave Mrs. Horton one last smile, but my throat felt dry. So Phil had been hiding something from me. A new friend, apparently. Who could this guy be? And why wouldn’t he introduce me to him? Was it some sort of criminal? Or was it… a boyfriend, maybe? Was Phil afraid to come out to me? Could that be it?
I gave a short knock on Phil’s bedroom door. “It’s me,” I announced, before opening the door. There was Phil, sitting on his bed with his new friend. But it was definitely not a guy. Their lips (and tongues) were locked in what looked like a passionate, but rather sloppy, kiss and his hands were firmly on her not-so-masculine parts.
I let out a shriek in surprise.
Phil and his make out buddy pulled apart, with a horrible slurpy noise. “Allie! What are you doing here? I…” He quickly wiped his mouth dry and looked at me, confused and embarrassed, unsure what to say.
I didn’t exactly know what to say either. Phil, my Phil, was in his bedroom, making out with this… this dark-haired, sexy looking girl who I’d never even met. He’d never even mentioned her. Wasn’t I supposed to be his best friend?
As my surprise died down, I felt anger rising like a hot flash, starting from my stomach and working its way up to my cheeks. But somewhere underneath that anger, I felt a dull, hollow feeling. Like somebody had just punched me straight in my heart.
The girl frowned at me.
“Haven’t you ever heard of knocking? Phil, who is this girl?”
“Uhm… Angela, this is Allie. Remember how I told you about Allie?”
For some reason, this didn’t make her face look any less annoyed. In fact, she got an even bitchier smirk when she heard my name.
“Yes. You did.”
“Well, he hasn’t told me anything about you,” I sneered.
“Look, Allie,” Phil quickly interrupted. “I’m sorry. I can explain. I just… Can we talk outside for a second?”
“You’re seriously leaving me here by myself to go and talk to her?” The girl, Angela, apparently, crossed her arms and frowned. “Just for a second,” Phil said, trying to soothe her. “I’ll be right back. Wait here.”
He stood up, grabbed me by my arm and pulled me out onto the porch.
Out there, away from this weird intruder in our friendship, I finally felt my anger bubble over.
“What the hell, Phil?! We’re supposed to be best friends. And now you’re avoiding me, ignoring me, lying to me, all because of… Because of some girl? Where did you even meet her?”
“In the library,” he said softly. “Her name is Angela.” I didn’t know if learning more about this girl made me more or less upset. Whatever her name was, she had taken my best friend away from me. And I hated her for it.
I guess my anger was visible on my face, because Phil put his hand lightly on my arm and started talking in his usual soothing tone. The only tone that could make me calm down when I was truly upset. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.”
“Why didn’t you?” I asked. He hesitated for a second, wanting to say something, but apparently changed his mind.
“I don’t know. You know I don’t usually date, and we don’t talk about relationships that much. I just felt weird, I guess.” He shrugged. “And I didn’t want you to think that I’d, you know… Replaced you, or anything.”
Reluctantly, I looked over at him. The place on my arm where his hand had been felt warm, and it had calmed me down a bit. “So you haven’t replaced me, then?”
“Of course not.” He grinned. “Angela is pretty cool, but she doesn’t like old, black-and-white movies. And she prefers burgers over pizza.” He rolled his eyes and I chuckled. “Nobody can replace you, Allie. You’re… my best friend.”
Those words made me feel better and worse at the same time. But I smiled anyway. “You too, Phil. I’m sorry I yelled at you.”
“It’s okay. I deserved it.”
“Yeah, you kind of did.” I smiled. Then, looking over his shoulder, I saw Angela still sitting on his bed, looking angrier and angrier. “Maybe you should uh… talk to your girlfriend.”
“Oh. Right.” Phil looked confused for a second, like he’d actually forgotten she was there. “I should.”
“So… I should probably leave, then.”
“I can come over tonight,” Phil said quickly. “You know, have some pizza, watch that Beatles-movie you were talking about. Think of it as a true apology.”
“Great. Pizza’s on you, then.”
He stepped forward and hugged me. His arms were stronger than I remembered and his chest felt warm and inviting as my head was pressed against it. I felt like my stomach jumped for a second.
Finally, perhaps a few seconds later than usual, Phil let me go.
“I’ll go… Take care of that.” He gestured towards his bedroom. “Good luck,” I said. “I’ll see you tonight.”
I turned around and walked away. I didn’t really feel like staying to watch Phil make up (and out) with his new girlfriend. For some reason, it just all felt so… wrong.
I just didn’t understand why. Phil was my friend, I’d never even thought about him being more than that. So why did it feel so weird to see him kissing a girl who wasn’t… me?