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3.20 Day Twelve: Parker

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PARKER

Originally, I was only joking that I'd miss Lizzie, but standing in the kitchen, surrounded by Camille's friends, I craved her company. All these girls were from another planet, speaking a language that didn't register. It hit me in such a crazy way that Lizzie just might be my best friend and I didn't know what to do with that revelation as if I was suddenly holding a beautiful bouquet of flowers that also spontaneously burst into flames.

Instead of thinking of these thoughts, I grabbed a black and orange cupcake and stuffed it into my mouth in one go, but the sugar hit my stomach like a nuclear bomb. I didn't want to think about the future with Lizzie. I wanted to enjoy what we had now.

If we stayed as friends, I'd have a better chance of keeping Lizzie. Being with her, I mean. So far friendships have lasted the longest for me. Not that any relationships last at all. People just break off like fingernails in painful bitter ways and I was spending my life trying to grow them back and fearing the next break.

"Parker! There you are!" someone called and my whole body cringed the moment I recognized it. The way this girl practically sang my name really tipped me off.

Gulping down the rest of the cupcake, I still had to cover my mouth as I turned around. "Norah." I slowly turned to find Norah dressed in an admittedly adorable skeleton onesie and I refrained from rolling my eyes. Norah and Camille matched. Then, the questions started rolling around my head:

Did they plan this together?

Was this an accident?

When did they become so close?

"You've got some..." Norah said, pointing to the side of her own lip.

I used my whole palm to wipe away the rest of the icing. "Thanks. So, uh you come here often?" I half-joked.

"Yeah, all the time," she laughed, but I just got more nervous, wondering if she really was around all the time. It was obvious, the sudden lack of her art class friends and the burst of the thespian crowd.

My aggravation pricked my face like hot needles. The situation drove me crazy. It was like being shouted at to "think fast", but my mind wasn't quick enough and I got a softball to the mouth and a ruined day. Clear thought burned to a crisp inside the dumpster fire that inhabited my brain.

"I'm guessing you've picked out a Halloween costume already, right?" Norah asked, standing at my side. She smiled, picking at the spread, pinching small portions out of everything. Her plate was slowly growing a mountain. "I'm sure yours is going to be amazing, but I might have you beat."

My brow furrowed. "It's not a competition."

"Oh." She blinked. "Uh, yeah, I know. I didn't mean it like that—" She floundered like a fish flopping on the dock and that didn't know how to make it back to the water.

"How did you mean it, then?"

"I- not like in anyway way."

"I'm messing with you," I said, forcing a laugh, not because my joke didn't really exist, but for once in my life, I didn't want to be the stupid person in the conversation. Besides, my smile wasn't any faker than any single time Norah has smiled at me. Two could play this game.

She smiled uneasily and made a sad puttering laughing sound as Camille finally arrived. "Okay, grab some snacks—" At that, Norah grabbed a drink and ducked through Camille and me on her way to the living room. Camille's eyes tailed her as she disappeared around the corner. "We're gonna start the movie soon..."

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