Bend(7)

By: Kivrin Wilson


I spent some time trying to figure out what to get my grandma for her birthday. Technically, we’re not supposed to give her gifts. She’s told us she prefers that we donate money to the Alzheimer’s Association instead. It’s a cause that’s been near and dear to her heart ever since my grandfather died of early-onset Alzheimer’s when I was eight.

Still, it’s a big birthday, and I want to get her something. Nothing extravagant. Just something…special.

So that’s where my mind is at as I’m lying on my couch, staring into space with the latest Liane Moriarty novel open on my chest.

I actually would call it a good day if I hadn’t been waiting—waiting, waiting, and freaking waiting—for him to text me. Like he said he would.

Waiting impatiently, getting more and more antsy, like I’m his girlfriend or something. Waiting impatiently, even though he’s been at work all day and possibly too busy to even eat or take bathroom breaks.

Texting me should be low priority. I know that. Really, I do.

I haven’t sent him a message, either. Resisting was about as hard as holding your pee after chugging a pitcher of brew. But I did it, and I’m not going to cave now. I’m not like a nagging girlfriend, after all.

Yay, me.

So instead I’m lying here, pondering and agonizing over why. I want Jay, have wanted him for a long time, but why am I suddenly acting on it?

Maybe it’s because I feel safe not expecting too much from him. He won’t be around that much longer. Two more years of residency, and then he’s leaving to go work with his uncle Warren at Relief International, a global humanitarian organization that provides aid in conflict and disaster areas.

That’s been Jay’s plan since high school and he spent a summer with his uncle in Ethiopia. He intends to be gone not just for several years but maybe indefinitely, and that’s why he’s avoided any serious relationships. At least I assume that’s the reason he said he’s not looking to meet anyone right now.

Or maybe that’s not why I couldn’t stop myself from bringing up this topic with him. Maybe, with just two years left, I’m finally realizing that I’m running out of time. Running out of time to find out if being that close to my best friend is as amazing as I’ve imagined. I want to touch him, to feel him, to know all of him—while I still can.

But the thought of Jay not being in my life anymore is one I can’t dwell on for long without feeling like I’m starting to suffocate. So I push it away, put my book down, and get up off the couch to get ready for bed.

I brush my teeth on autopilot. Change into sleepwear, crawl in bed, plug in my phone, and switch off my bedside lamp.

I lose my sense of time and have no idea how long I lie there, my eyes wide open in the darkness. Two minutes? Ten?

To hell with this.

I fumble around on the nightstand until I find my phone, tap the power button, and enter my passcode. Then I find my messaging app, select his name, and type: I’ll be at Three Oaks tomorrow morning at nine if you want to join me. Parking near the restrooms.

There. I hit Send, mute the phone, and turn off the screen.

Whether he answers or not, I don’t plan on losing any sleep over it.





When I get to Three Oaks Park at five to nine, the only vehicle in the parking lot is a black MINI Cooper Convertible with white racing stripes—Mia’s pride and joy. She made me come with her when she bought the pre-owned car only three months ago, to help her negotiate the price down. I told her she was dealing a blow to feminism just by asking me to do that, and her excuse was that she’s uncomfortable with conflict.

Which is true enough. And really unfortunate, considering she’s chronically incapable of keeping her big mouth shut.

I’ve been trying to keep those facets of her personality in mind ever since that clusterfuck on Friday night. That’s just Mia, I’ve been telling myself. Stuff pops into her head, and then it comes out of her mouth, unfiltered. Most people like her anyway.

I like her anyway. Like her a hell of a lot more than is good for me, probably.

I swerve out to pull into a spot farther down, but at the last minute I decide to back my truck in next to her car instead. It’s a petty and kind of childish move, done just to annoy her. She’s irritated by people who back into parking spots for some reason. I guess they slow her down too much?

I’m doing it as payback—or the beginning of my payback, at least—for the stress and lack of sleep she caused me this weekend. Because that crap she pulled the other night? Not okay.

So yeah, I’m here for our usual Sunday morning run, but that doesn’t mean we’re okay. And she’s going to find out just how not okay we are pretty quickly.

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