The Lonely Hearts Club
Page 10

 Elizabeth Eulberg

  • Background:
  • Text Font:
  • Text Size:
  • Line Height:
  • Line Break Height:
  • Frame:
"When we went white-water tubing?"
Diane's eyes lit up. "Exactly! What were those guys' names?"
I looked down at the table, trying to remember the two brothers who'd hung out with us for that week.
"I just remember you completely schooling that one guy in air hockey." We both started to laugh. "Seriously, Penny, I thought your arm was going to come out of your socket, you were swinging it around so much." Diane started to flail her arms around fiercely and nearly knocked over her water.
And then something unexpected happened.
It was if the past four years had disappeared. As if it was just the other day that she was carrying around my books while I hobbled on crutches with a sprained ankle. the two of us began to reminisce about our friendship, and before we realized it, over an hour had passed, Diane looked thoughtfully at me, "Wow, Penny, it's been too long. We always had the best time together."
I smiled at her. We'd done everything together, made the promises that best friends make when they're in grade school -- we'd go to the same college, get an apartment together, be each other's maid of honor . . .
Diane started to tap the table nervously. "I also wanted to tell you that I'm sorry." tears were forming in her eyes. "I'm sorry that I threw our friendship away. I'm sorry that I treated you so poorly. And, most of all, I'm sorry that it's taken me so long to come to my senses. I can't begin to imagine what it must've been like for you. I couldn't help but think of you when Ryan and I broke up." Her voice cracked as she said his name. the tears were now flowing down her cheeks. "At first, I was fine. My family was going on summer vacation. I had tennis lessons to keep me occupied. But a couple of weeks ago I had nothing to do. Practice hadn't started yet. I was on my own."
She grabbed her purse and took out a tissue. She started sniffling. "I would call Audrey and Pam, but either they had plans with their boyfriends or, if they made plans with me, they'd cancel the second Don or Brian called. And I know -- I know -- that I used to do that same thing to you. that's something else I'm sorry about."
Flashes from years ago. the moments that I realized that I was losing my best friend and feeling alone, having no one.
Diane wiped the tears on her face. "It was hard for me to realize that I really didn't have any true friends. Not the kind of friend that you were. Now that school's started, it's making everything worse. I used to have a routine -- Ryan would pick me up for school, I'd go to his locker, I'd . . , well, you know. You saw it. I made him my everything, and now, now I have nothing," Her sobs turned into sharp staccatos while she tried to steady her breathing.
"I..." I tried to find some words to comfort her, but felt so conflicted. "Diane, what do you expect me to do?"
She looked up at me with her bloodshot eyes,
"I'm really sorry about what happened with you and Ryan. Really, No one should feel that way, especially over a guy. But still... I don't know what to do. Because I can't forget that you completely abandoned me. I don't know what I would've done if Tracy hadn't moved to town the next year."
Diane struggled for air. "No, you're right, you're totally right. it's just... I don't know who I am anymore. Everybody knows me as Diane, Ryan girlfriend, or the cheerleader, or class president. I feel so lost. Part of me thinks it's best to continue like nothing has changed, but there's another part of me that wants to just stop doing what everybody expects me to do. I don't know . . ." She shook her head. "I don't know if I want to cheer anymore. I really don't feel like cheering. I don't know what I feel like doing. I'm just, , ."
I felt sharp prickles of moisture behind my eyes. Who would've thought that I would still have something in common with Diane? I felt lost, like her.
Diane looked at me with a mixture of surprise and sympathy. She quickly handed a tissue over to me. Before I knew what was happening, I was telling Diane all about Nate. I felt stupid, knowing that I'd only dated htm for a few weeks, not a few years. But for some reason, I knew she would understand. It took me a moment to comprehend that the tears that were now running down Diane's face were because of Nate.
"Oh, Penny, I'm so sorry. that's horrible! You trusted htm, and he . . . Penny" -- she made sure I was looking at her -- "you did nothing wrong."
Although so much time had passed, I hadn't completely forgotten this Diane. the Diane who always knew the right words to say, the Diane who supported me no matter what. this Diane was the reason we had been best friends.
I tried to smile. "Yeah, well, I'm not making that mistake again, ever. I've decided that I'm basically done. You know, with guys." I tried to laugh, so she wouldn't think I was mental. "I just. .. I'm sick of it all. Look at us, both in tears -- and for what? Because we decided to trust a guy. Big mistake- I actually formed a little club."
"A club?" Diane leaned in. "What club? Who's in it?"
"Me, myself and I -- the Lonely Hearts Club. I bet you think I'm pathetic huh?"
Diane grabbed my hand from across the counter. "Not at all. I think you've been through a lot, and you've got to do what you need to do to get through it. if only you would've thought of this years ago, imagine the trouble you would have saved both of us. But. , , there's only one problem." Diane started to smile.