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Her eyes skimmed over the contents of her freezer before they settled on a bag of frozen peas. Maya grabbed them and ambled into the living room where Lucas had sat, still holding his sore hand.

"This'll do," Maya muttered, placing the peas over his hand.

"Thanks," Lucas glanced up at her with a cryptic smile. She sat next to him, raking her fingers through her hair.

"So, what happened?" Maya asked. Lucas silently stared at the peas, his lips forming a straight line. She dusted off some nonexistent lint on her pants and cleared her throat, shaking her head as if to say 'forget I asked.' They weren't that close, right? It wasn't her place to ask those kind of questions. "Or we could just start on our reading discussion."

"He wants us to move back to Texas with him." Lucas suddenly blurted.

"Oh," Maya furrowed her brows. Something was tugging at her heart, but she pushed it to the back of her mind.

"Just when I'm starting to feel like I belong here too. H - He didn't even tell us that he was coming home." Lucas clenched his fists, the bag of peas beginning to slide off. "And my mama - she has a life here that she's finally proud of. Back in Texas, she had no job, she was a housewife. But here she has a real career and my father thinks he can just come whenever he pleases and uproot our lives."

Maya placed an arm over his shoulder, her thumb rubbing light circles on his arm. Her distant position made it a little awkward, but she wanted him to be aware of her compassion.

"S - Sorry," Lucas glanced at her, his gaze flitting away when they made eye contact. "I didn't mean to dump this all on you. You probably just want to get this reading discussion over with."

"Lucas. Screw the reading discussion." Maya shook her head, shifting closer to him. "If you need someone to talk about this stuff to, I'm here. Okay?"

"Really?" Lucas looked at her, his expression softening the slightest bit.

"Of course. You're... my friend." Maya grinned. No matter how much shit they had gone through, she was always going to be there for him. Did Lucas really doubt that?

Lucas nodded, a solemn smile on his lips. "I miss the nicknames, you know? And the jokes... and just everything." Maya's arm slid from his shoulder and she slowly leaned away, averting her gaze. "Don't you feel like things have been... different between us for a while now?" It was a loaded question that Maya had many answers to but at the same time no response. His gaze felt heavy on her.

She shrugged, meeting his eyes again, attempting to appear nonchalant. "That's what happens when friends like us enter high school. Things change." Maya stuck with a guarded reply, the last part of her sentence no louder than a whisper.

Lucas was frowning now. The same way he had been back at the bay window in grade eight when she was covered in purple paint and telling him what she had 'discovered' about herself.

"But I'm always going to be your friend." Maya finished, her dimple deepening as she smiled. "That's never going to change."

Friend. The word ate away at her.




They lounged in Maya's living room for hours, talking about nothing and everything. Lucas—whom had previously felt a little alienated in the Hart-Hunter residence was now taking up almost the entire sofa with his body, staring at the plain ceiling. Maya was laying down on the rest of the space, her hair hanging upside down and her feet resting against the wall.

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