Below is an excerpt from my young adult novel, The Mad Ones. Fina isn't getting along with her best friend Gwen at the moment, but she's making friends with a different pair of best friends, Dennis and Erin. The only problem is she thinks she might be falling in love with Dennis. In this scene Fina tries to tell Erin about her crush.
Erin and I are at The Caffeine Bean. It’s actually the first time that we’re hanging out alone and I’d say it’s going pretty well. I almost feel like we’re on a blind friend date. Even though I know Erin, it’s different when Dennis isn’t around, since they have such a good rapport with each other. Plus, I always have my crazy crush monologue going on in my head when there’s nothing to say. We both ordered a large coffee black but after both of us taking the tiniest sips and then grimacing after each one one too many times, we caved and added so much milk and sugar that it tastes more like coffee flavored milk.“Don’t you think the guy behind the counter is cute?” Erin asks me once we’ve settled in at a table by the window so we can people watch. The guy has to be at least 25 years old and his arms are covered in colorful tattoos. The sleeves of his t-shirt are cut off and he’s wearing a red bandana around his neck. He looks totally rock and roll and totally cute.
“Yeah he’s cute,” I say and try looking at him while my coffee cup is covering most of my face. “He’s totally in college though or older, you don’t have a chance,” I say.
“I know I don’t have a chance,” Erin says raising an eyebrow, “I never have a chance, but I can still think he’s hot can’t I? I can still try and flirt with him.” She looks in his direction and winks. He has no idea that she’s looking at him let alone talking about him right now, but I burst out laughing because it’s still totally bold.
“I dare you to go talk to him,” I say adding yet another packet of sugar to my cup.
She closes her eyes and makes a kissy face in his general direction while I fail miserably at stifling a laugh
“Hmmm, I could really use a cookie right now, but I’m too lazy to get it. If I give you a dollar will you get it for me? Some sweets from your sweet?” I say grinning. She rolls her eyes.
“Totally cheesy; but good idea. Give me the money. Watch and learn Fina, this is how you work magic.” Now it’s my turn to roll my eyes, Erin manages to start up a conversation with Mr. Tattoo about god knows what while he gets her the cookie.
“I can’t believe you just did that!” I say when she returns to the table handing me half of her triumphant cookie and shrugs.
“So,” I say “speaking of having a chance.” I’m totally nervous to tell her about Dennis, but I have to do it. It’s now or never, really. If I don’t tell her now, when we’re just starting to be friends, it will be even worse later.
“Having a chance about what?” Erin asks and I realize that while I’ve been sitting here worrying she’s been chatting with a guy way out of her league like it's no big deal, which it is.
“Um, so who do you like?” I say.
“I just told you, tattoo boy over there!” she says waving at him.
“I know, but do you like anyone in school?” I say glancing over at tattoo boy who’s talking to another girl on the other side of the counter. I decide not to point this out to Erin.
“No, not really, I think I’ve pretty much given up on the idea of ever going out with someone from High Gate.” She says shuddering as if she’s just gone over the High Gate prospects in her head.
“Do you think Dennis likes anyone?” I ask, wondering if that will lead her to the next obvious question which is if I like Dennis.
“Well he hasn’t said anything to me directly but,” she pauses and leans forward. I can feel my heart racing. This is perfect, I think. She’s going to tell me she thinks Dennis likes me and all of my problems will be solved.
“Yes?” I press her.
“He talks about these girls in track that are in his gym class kind of a lot. I think he might like one of them named Christina. It’s so stupid. You know who she is right? Bottled blonde, preppy jock; my cat is smarter than her. I don’t know why he would like someone like that.”
I can physically feel my blood start boiling when she says this. Like I can see it overflowing in a pot on a stove, and the stove is my heart.“What?” I say, and then I say it again, almost screaming. I start looking around frantically, overcome with the urge to smash my coffee cup against a wall.
“Oh no,” Erin says, looking concerned. “You’re not friends with her are you?”
“I hate that girl,” is all I say.
Erin is playing with the gold chain around her neck and it reminds me of the best friends necklace Gwen gave me in the fifth grade. It seemed like every girl in the fifth grade had a best friends necklace. The one shaped like a heart that you broke in half. One friend would wear half of the heart that said “be fri” while the other friend would have “st ends.” When you put the two halves together it read best friends. But even though everyone had those necklaces, mine and Gwen’s was different. Everyone else had cheap fake gold, some were even plastic but ours was real and it was beautiful. The gold was extremely thin and fragile, but it wasn’t fake and that was all that mattered. Even if we still were best friends, I still wouldn’t be able to wear that necklace because I lost it the summer after Gwen gave it to me. We were at the beach together and even though our mothers tried to get us to take the necklaces off so they wouldn’t get lost in the ocean we both refused.
“It would be like not wearing your wedding ring,” I said to my Mom.
“Oh so you guys are getting married now?” she replied.
“Noooooo, obviously, but it’s the same thing. Those necklaces are a sacred symbol of our friendship. If I took it off in to go in the ocean I’d probably drown or something, it’s bad luck.”
“Don’t say that,” my mother said, but she didn’t push the argument any further. She is also afraid of the higher power of jinxing.
Gwen and I weren't like other girls our age at the beach. Other girls our age were hanging out on the boardwalk wearing short cutoffs and bikini tops or walking slowly by the lifeguard stands giggling. Gwen and I still only owned one pieces and our main concern at the beach was making sure our boogie board straps stayed tightly secured to our wrists while we spent hours competing with boys for the best waves. This is probably why we should have just temporarily taken the necklaces off. I remember the wave as clearly as I remember the necklace. Staring up at it felt like looking at a big green shiny wall that was slowly closing in on top of me. As I started to paddle, I could feel it’s strength pulling me inside, like a giant mouth about to swallow me whole. I got caught right at the crest of it and pushed underneath the water instead of on top of it towards the shore like Gwen was. Coming up I remember gasping for air as water ran out of my nose and looking around grinning for Gwen. Getting caught under a wave like that can be so scary and fun at the same time. Time and sight and sound just disappear and all that’s left is your body twisting and turning whereever the water takes it. Only until I instinctively touched my neck did I realize that I had lost the necklace in that wave.“It’s gone,” I said to Gwen, my flushed cheeks becoming cold. “I can’t believe it.”
After searching in the sand for a few minutes, hoping to see the shiny gold necklace caught on a piece of seaweed or underneath a rock, Gwen tore off her own necklace, breaking the clasp and threw in into the water too.
“Gwen! What did you do that for?” I remember yelling.
“It’s better this way, now we’ll always be best friends in the ocean. And anyway, I can’t wear mine if you don’t have one to wear too, that would just be weird.” We linked arms and then went back to our blanket for a break. I remember how mad Gwen’s Mom was when she found out what she’d done. She didn’t get it. She only saw it as Gwen throwing a real gold necklace into the ocean, lost forever. But it was lost around her neck, without mine. If we were going to be “best friends forever” that’s where it needed to be. Or so I thought.