If the floor hadn’t creaked, I could’ve made it out without a sound, but they heard me and now there’s no way to deny it. Crissy’s parents were getting a divorce. Crissy was an old friend of mine from high school and in hindsight, if I had just told her the truth rather than trying to spare her feelings, we would still be friends to this day, but that’s not how this story goes. I never gave Crissy a heads up or the chance to try and rekindle her parents relationship, but in my defense, neither did her parents. She started noticing her father’s things slowly disappear from the house, but whenever she would ask about it, he would always say It’s okay sweetheart, I’m just cutting down on my hoard of things. Crissy graduated that same year and would later find out that the reason they waited so long to tell her was because they wanted her to finish school first; they didn’t want her to stress or fall behind in her classes because of their inability to stay together. Unfortunately, when they finally sat her down to tell her about their decision to separate, they said that they thought she had already known because of me. That’s how Crissy found out that I knew about her parents divorce that whole year but didn’t tell her. In that moment, my decision to spare the truth to spare her feelings became an instant regret and from then on, I realized that the truth would always be mine to give, but one’s trust would not always be mine to have.
All I wanted was water. That night, I was sleeping over at Crissy’s house and we had challenged each other to a who-can-stay-up-the-longest battle and so far, no one was losing. It was about midnight when I decided to get up and make something to quench my thirst. For the past 20 minutes, I had been scrolling through social media as I watched her paint her nails meticulously. I remember that whole night, we listened to John Mayor on Youtube. Finally, I rolled myself off her bed and started walking towards the door.
“Want anything? I’m heading to the kitchen.” I inquired.
“No thanks,” she said, “I’m almost done here, then I’ll start on yours.”
“Sounds good, be right back.”
Walking out of the room, I stopped at the stairway. Crissy’s room was closest to the kitchen as they were both on the first floor, but I could overhear a noise coming from upstairs. It was so faint, I almost thought to just keep going, but instead, I started making my way up the staircase. As I grew closer to the first door at the top of the stairs, I realized the voices were Crissy’s parents. My first thought was Oh, they’re playing who-can-stay-up-the-longest too! But as I overheard their conversation, it was more serious than that.
“So I spoke to the lawyer today and he said he’d meet with us on Monday to go over the contract in greater detail.”
“Oh that’s just great Tom, could you have made this meeting any sooner?”
“What? Kate, I thought you wanted this.”
“No one ever wants a divorce!
“That’s not what I–”
“Can we…can we just slow this down? Crissy’s a senior this year and I remember when my parents divorced when I was a senior. It was the hardest year for me, I hardly graduated. I’d never want Crissy to go through that.”
Then everything fell silent and at that moment, I could feel nothing but heartache for Crissy. She knew they were having problems, she had told me before, but not bad enough to think they’d separate. I froze with my hand clutching my heart and my mouth agape. After a few seconds in utter stillness, I slowly began to maneuver back downstairs. I had only gotten 3 steps in when the floorboard creaked and sounds of footsteps amplified within seconds. Drowning in fear, I scurried down the remaining stairs as fast as I could but before I knew it, Mr. Wielder had sprung the door open and watched as I reached the last step. She can’t know I know this, I thought, it’ll break her heart. I decided to pretend not to notice him and race back into Crissy’s room. However, following my entrance was his.
“Hey, what took you so long?” she questioned me but before I could answer, Mr. Wielder peeked his head in the room.
“Hey girls, what are you still doing up?”
“It’s a sleepover Dad,” Crissy remarks, “what are you doing up?”
Mr. Wielder took a quick glance at me before he replied, “Good point, see you in the morning. Love you, sweetheart,” he gestures to Crissy, “and you, Brooklyn, sweet dreams.”
My stomach just about dropped and if I thought I was thirsty before, I was ten times that now, but I couldn’t gather the courage to leave the room again for an irrational fear that he was standing outside the door.
I ended up winning the who-can-stay-up-the-longest game that night because I couldn’t sleep after that. I felt like everything I told Crissy other than what I had heard was some kind of form of betrayal. During our senior year, she would ball her eyes out to me about her parents fighting and all I would do was pat her on the back and say, “They’ll make up, things will be better.” Things will be better? I cringe at those words now. I led her on knowing damn well things were not going to get better. Now all that echoes through my head are the words, “You knew?”
“You knew?” she asked me. “You knew and you didn’t tell me? How could you? I
came to you, I cried to you, I trusted you. I looked to you in comfort because I thought that out of all the relationships crumbling around me, our friendship would be the one to outlast every single one. Now I’m not so sure.”
“Wait, Crissy plea-” I cried but she cut me off.
“No, Brooklyn, I don’t want to hear it. You know, the truth will always be yours to
give, but one’s trust will not always be yours to have and you have lost mine.”
And with those words, she walked away. I’ve reached out countless times ever since but the truth is like a surgery, it hurts but cures the same way a lie is like a pain killer; it gives instant relief but has side effects forever. And I lied, or merely avoided telling any version of the truth, and I will have to live with that as a consequence forever.