35. Sweet teenage years

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      On my way back home, I bumped into Clarissa. Well, I didn't really bump into her. As I rode into my neighbourhood, I saw her sobbing on a bench all alone. I don't know why I did what I did, but I got off my motorbike and walked up to her. Maybe it's because she was doing what I had wanted to do for days. Because seeing her so vulnerable and exposed painted the picture of what I felt in that moment but didn't show. Because her loneliness reminded me of mine.


She noticed my presence only once I called her name. She put up her head and looked at me. And then she cried even more.

Confused, I sat on the bench next to her and studied the ground. We weren't really friends, Clarissa and I. We couldn't be considered an ex couple, either. We were just two people who had made out constantly for like two weeks and then forgot about it like it never happened. And then we had to hang out with each other everyday because my friends were also her friends and we were in the same group chat. Well, actually I wasn't in the group chat anymore. Too many notifications and too much life to live.

She kept crying and I just sat there not knowing what to do. I avoided the whole 'are you okay?' bullshit because who the fuck can be okay and cry on a bench at 3pm?

"Do you need a ride?" I offered. I didn't even know where it came from, but it seemed appropriate.

She sniffled and let out a sweet chuckle. "Oh Pit, I really missed you."

I smiled and ruffled my hair. How long had it been since the last time I hung out with them? Them, the crew of which I used to be a permanent member.

"Yeah, how have you been?" I asked.

She pressed her lips, as though trying to stop the tears rolling out of her eyes. "Well," she whispered, "I just saw my boyfriend sleeping with my best friend, so...."

Silence. There wasn't much I could say in response to that. I was shocked, yes, but not too much. It was Gloria and Stiff, after all.

"How did you find out?"

"By accident. I came over because I wanted to surprise him and then boom, there they were in his bedroom..." She gulped and closed her eyes. "What am I supposed to do now, Pit? They're the only two people that I ever trusted. And I feel so disgusted and ashamed of myself. And it's crazy, right? That I'm the one feeling ashamed, while they're the ones that... they're probably laughing at me right now. And I feel so stupid, so fucking stupid and naive. I just want to hide myself under a rock."

She fell into my arms and hid herself in my hoodie, pressing her head against my chest. She cried and cried until her breathing became less ragged and her tears less salty and then she slowly calmed down.

"I'm an idiot," she whispered.

"You're not."

"Oh come on, Pit, I know you might not think that, but let's not be delusional, everybody else does. I know what people say when I leave the room. I see the way they look at each other when I say something not very intelligent or how they openly laugh thinking that I don't understand what they're laughing at. There's this quote I read the other day... just because a girl acts and looks like a doll, doesn't mean she's made of plastic. Might be stupid, but I really like it."

I smiled. There were people who wrote sophisticated words of deeper meaning and significance. People who crafted every syllable, enriching them with metaphors and alliterations. And then there was Clarissa with her quote about a doll. Simple and genuine. She might have not been the deepest person on the universe, but she had her own philosophy and that's as deep as one can go. And who's to say she fell in love too easily or danced too freely. Who's to say she didn't use her brain. She was just a girl who liked parties and boys and make-up, and who knows, maybe she was the one to hold the secret key to happiness.

"But you know what else is fucked up?" she said. "I almost feel guilty for being the one Stiff calls his girlfriend. Because he's been sleeping with her for months now and he never took her out on a date. He said it in front of us, you know? He said he slept with her because she's a freak in the sheets, but he likes me more because I'm prettier and sweeter. And I just, I felt so sorry for her, because she's always so insecure and she's obsessed with the idea that nobody likes her... "

"You should have both punched him in the face," I said.

"I actually thought of that. But then you had to see the look on her face. It was as though she was proud of standing by his side, happy to see the shock on my face and how I broke in front of them. It's just... I don't even know what to think."

"You should let them go," I said. "I know it might sound scary at first and you might try to forgive them or something, but just remember that you're not alone, okay?"

She smiled. "Thank you, Pit, for just... being who you are. You're a truly good friend."

I nodded softly and looked down.

"Whatever is happening between you and Dario, I hope you can sort it out. I don't know him that well, but... he's really different now, you know? Or maybe he's different because you're not around. The other day we were chilling at Stiff's house and it was just the three of us. Stiff tried to ask him about his family and it got really awkward. I don't think they know much about each other. Maybe they once used to."

"Well, that's how it works," I said. "You know someone for a long time and you think you know them, all about who they are and who they want to be. But then things change and suddenly you have nothing to talk about."

"Well, at least you have your girlfriend. What's her name? Noemi, right?"

"Not anymore, I don't."

Clarissa seemed confused, but she didn't need an in-depth explanation. She looked at me with all that compassion and understanding that only two broken not-so-friends and not-so-strangers share. ''Well then,'' she said, ''to our lovers and best friends!''


We raised our imaginary glasses and with laughter and sadness, swallowed the bittersweet taste of loneliness.

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