We met in primary school. I didn’t like her at first. I can’t recall exactly why now it was so long ago, I just know that I didn’t.
The dislike didn’t last long. We began to talk one day in class and became bosom buddies in the space of one afternoon.
That friendship endured throughout primary school. We sat together in class and played together at breaks and lunchtime. We shared secrets that we knew for a fact nobody else would ever hear. We helped each other with schoolwork. There were many times I would go to her house after school or she would come to mine. Other friends would get involved, but she and I were always at the heart of it. We were inseparable.
Time passed. Primary school came to an end and secondary school began. It didn’t need to be said that we would go to the same school. Both of us picked a school we knew we’d get accepted into. It wasn’t the best school as we were concerned one of us might not make it if we both applied for that. My mum questioned my choice. I didn’t tell her why; I think she knew though.
Little changed when we made it to secondary. Other kids would tease us at how we were always together. Neither of us cared. We helped each other study and achieved good grades. Our tastes were almost identical, from the movies we liked to watch to our preference in boys. I was there when she had her first kiss; she was there when I had mine. Both of us were blessed with reasonably good looks and so had our groupie males that would follow us around school. It was as fun as it was annoying.
Five years of secondary school passed in the blink of an eye and we’d both grown so much, yet nothing had severed that bond between us. If anything, it had grown only stronger. There were arguments, as you’d expect when two people spend so much time together; they were always quickly resolved and usually laughed about afterwards.
College saw us head in different directions. We went to the same one, but attended different classes at different times. That didn’t stop us meeting on lunchbreaks whenever we could and we would still spend a lot of time together outside college.
Then I got a boyfriend and that completely altered the dynamic. Naturally, he wanted to spend a lot of time alone with me, so my time for her grew regretfully less. I knew it hurt her, even though she didn’t say so. It hurt me too. There were things I’d see or hear and I’d immediately want to tell her about it. I couldn’t because he was there instead of her. I’d tell him and he wouldn’t understand, even after I’d explained it. How frustrating!
I soon came to realise that he wasn’t right for me and brought an end to the relationship. That didn’t help matters with my best friend much unfortunately as she had found herself a man in the meantime too, and he, just like my ex had with me, consumed the vast majority of her time.
After college I got straight into work. I was mortified to discover that she was going on to university in a completely different part of the country. The fear quickly set in that I was losing her. No doubt she’d find new friends whilst at uni and then completely forget about me. The very idea broke my heart. She promised me that wouldn’t be the case.
To be fair to her, she invited me to see her on many occasions. She’d talk enthusiastically about how great it was, how lovely all the people around her were, and the variety of fun places there were to go. I always said I’d go and see her, but I was a working girl and had to keep the money coming in. I did visit her once or twice, just never as often as I thought I’d be able to. It was often left to her to come to me when she came home for summer and Christmas, which she always did.
I was simply too wrapped up in myself, too busy to notice that, even though she was over a hundred miles away, she was still always there for me as much as she could be. I’d fill the voids in my life with trinkets, short-term boyfriends, and nights out, none of which sustained me for long. In retrospect, I was somewhat envious of the fact that she was bettering herself and loving life whilst doing it. All I could ever seem to achieve were fleeting moments of gratification—if I was lucky!
She moved back into town once uni was finished, both in our late twenties by this point. I was excited. I had my best friend back. The only problem was that I didn’t. She wasn’t the same anymore. She had grown up. I still felt like a teenager in a woman’s body, like I was playing at being an adult rather than actually being one. She was so cultured, wise, and interesting; I couldn’t make a paycheque last for splurging on materialistic crap and leaving myself broke after the second week of the month. My jealousy towards her grew, especially since she seemed not to acknowledge that I was a screw-up and regaled me in the same manner she always had.
Another relationship ensued for me. As usual, I felt convinced I loved him after hardly a month. Her warnings were frank and clear; she could see he was bad news. I told her she was just jealous and to butt out. All she did in response was say that she loved me and would be there for me whenever I needed her to be. No anger, no desire to hurt me back. Gah! Damn you and your grown-upness!
As always, she was right. He turned out to be as possessive and controlling as she foresaw he would be. My pride wouldn’t accept it at first and I convinced myself it was because of things I’d done that he’d become that way. I actually hadn’t done anything, but, y’know, ‘love’ is blind.
Eventually, after far too long, I saw the light and realised I was far better than the way he was treating me and making me feel about myself. I tried to leave him; big mistake! That was the first time he put his hands on me in a violent manner. It wasn’t about to be the last! The mental abuse became physical. The first person I contacted about it was my best friend; he found the messages on my phone and smashed it to pieces, forbidding me to talk to her or anyone else again without his permission. I was under house arrest. I was made to quit my job and everything.
This went on for months; it felt like years.
One day, I heard the door being kicked down. I thought the house was getting burgled in broad daylight. In came three strapping blokes and one woman. The woman was none other than my best friend. My boyfriend immediately shrank before the blokes. It turns out they were all friends of hers and they insisted I’d be leaving the house to come with them. The only other choice would be that my boyfriend would get his head kicked in! I was free.
What I was also was a complete mess of a human being. I had no job, no income, and no home. My best friend insisted I stay with her and that, together, we’d find our way through it all. I was disorientated for a few weeks having become conditioned to the ill treatment of my ex. I soon got over the fear and doubt and gained the confidence to be me again.
With the confidence came complacency. I exploited my best friend’s generosity. I’d tell her I spent the day searching for jobs and opportunities when in actual fact I’d been watching series’ and movies on Netflix, browsing social media, or talking to men on dating sites. I thought I was getting away with it until she politely pulled me on it. Of course, Little Miss Defensive here took that as a slight and made her out to be as controlling as my ex.
That’s when the shock of my life came. In the middle of my petulant tirade, she walked over to me, put her arms around my waist, and hit me with the most passionate kiss I’ve ever experienced in my life up to that point.
I was agog! I didn’t know how to react. All I could do was stand in bemused silence while she calmly declared that she was madly in love with me and had been for a long time; that my rebellious and immature nature was exactly the reason she had fallen for me in the first place.
Speechless, I ran to my room and didn’t come out again until the following morning after she’d left for work. All day I contemplated what had happened. I went out for a walk, sipped a latte in a café, and aimlessly looked around shops; nothing was budging the memory of what my best friend did and said the night before.
Later on, I waited for her to come home from work so we could talk about it. Talk about it we did. She admitted it was confusing for her as she’d only ever been attracted to men. I was the only woman she had ever felt an attraction for. The weirdest thing was that the more she spoke about it the less I was able to disagree. No person had ever shown me as much love, respect, and support as she had, not even my own parents.
There was something else about her too that I had noticed, but only in a passive way until that moment: she was beautiful. Physically and mentally, she was almost flawless, and even her little flaws were beautiful.
It all hit me in that one moment. All these years I’d been searching for perfection and the perfect partner. Little had I realised that she had always been both. With trepidation, I gave in. It was the best decision I ever made in amongst a sea of truly dreadful decisions. It was the most amazing night of my life.
Just over a year later, I stand at the altar, looking into the eyes of the person I love with all my heart. My rock; my soulmate. Her gender is completely immaterial. The only thing that matters is how she makes me feel, how much of a better person I’ve become because of her. It was always meant to be this way. My best friend was always the perfect person for me and I was always the perfect person for her. As I proudly say the words “I do”, I know that my life is finally complete.