MidReal Story

After ten years apart , Emily attends her friend Olivia

Apr 24
Scenario: After ten years apart, Emily attends her friend Olivia's wedding and runs into her high school sweetheart Ethan, causing old feelings and secrets to resurface amidst the reunion with their old classmates.
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After ten years apart, Emily attends her friend Olivia's wedding and runs into her high school sweetheart Ethan, causing old feelings and secrets to resurface amidst the reunion with their old classmates.
I graduated from high school ten years ago, and I haven’t been living my best life.
I’m basically the same person I was back then, just with a college degree and a job at a yoga studio.
I still haven’t changed the sheets on my bed or vacuumed in months.
I don’t even want to think about how long it’s been since I cleaned the bathroom.
Next week is the class of 2009’s ten-year high school reunion, and if I haven’t matured enough to clean my bathroom by now, I’m definitely not mature enough to attend my high school reunion.
Olivia Parker, however, has other plans.
I’m staring at my phone and daydreaming about what it would be like to have enough friends for me to be on a text thread with, like all the girls are in those movies with the sassy BFFs who talk all day every day and get together for dinner and drinks every weekend.
Just as I’m about to go full Bridget Jones and talk to my cat, my phone rings, and Olivia’s face pops up on my screen.
“Hi.” My voice comes out raspy from disuse, and I clear my throat.
“Hey, are you free?”
The fact that she’s asking if I’m free before talking to me only means one thing: she wants something.
Of course she does, because who else would call me?
It’s not like I have any friends of my own for her to ask about.
My heart squeezes with longing for the way things used to be when Olivia was my best friend, my person.
But that was a long time ago and we’ve both moved on.
I know that now, even if it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure it out.
“Can you come to dinner tonight?”
Olivia asks before I can think too much about what went wrong between us or what I would do differently if I could go back in time.
“Please say yes.”
Every fiber of my being wants me to say no, but somehow, maybe masochistically, I find myself saying yes before I can stop myself.
“Great.” She sounds happier than I’ve heard her sound in more than a year.
I don’t know why she’s so happy to see me, but I have a feeling it’s not going to be good for me when I find out.
She’ll ask me to do something, and I’ll say yes because I can’t say no to her even when I really should.
“Do you need me to bring anything?”
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“Just your pretty face.” She hangs up before I can ask for more details about where we’re meeting or what time I should be there, which is probably for the best.
I put away my phone with a sigh, but when I grab it again ten minutes later to set an alarm so I don’t accidentally stand Olivia up, I see that she’s sent me the address where we’re meeting for dinner.
By some miracle, her restaurant choice is only a few blocks from my apartment building, so when the time comes to leave my apartment, I just have to throw on a jacket and walk outside.
The sun is setting behind the skyscrapers, casting everything in a golden light that makes the city look almost romantic instead of just dirty and crowded.
I walk at a leisurely pace, staring at the storefronts without really seeing them as I think about what Olivia could want to talk about that can’t wait another day.
She hasn’t talked to me in over a year aside from one awkward encounter in the grocery store several months ago when she acted like she didn’t see me even though we’d almost collided in the produce section.
I’ve been avoiding her since she moved back to the city and took over the yoga studio down the street from mine.
It’s not like I have to see her at work or anything—I only work the desk on weekends when I can’t afford to survive on the salary I make as a yoga instructor and need extra shifts to make ends meet.
But it feels like Olivia is everywhere all the time.
It probably doesn’t help that we have so many friends in common.
Cassie and Faith moved away years ago for grad school and never came back, but the rest of them are still here living their lives and going to work and doing all the things that normal people do.
I just…don’t.
I’m not sure why I said yes to dinner with Olivia tonight, or what I think I’m going to get out of it.
I don’t want to relive the past or talk about everything that went wrong.
I don’t want to think about how much I miss her or how much I miss Ethan.
She’s marrying someone else next month.
She has no reason to drag up the past and make me feel like an idiot for all the things I did wrong when we were kids.
The only thing that could make this worse than it already is would be if Ethan shows up, too.
I can’t talk to Ethan.
I don’t know what I would say to him, or how he would react if I finally tell him the truth.
The last time I saw him, he said he didn’t want to see me anymore, but I don’t know that he ever really understood why.
He just thought I was being petty and mean.
Maybe I was.
But it didn’t matter.
It still doesn’t.
My phone buzzes in my pocket, and I glance down to see Olivia calling me.
I answer on the first or second ring, and her voice comes through loud and clear.
“Hey, are you almost here?”
she asks without preamble.
I’m standing outside by the restaurant and I don’t see you.”
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How does she know I’m outside?
“I’m in the back at the hostess stand,” she says.
“I told them to seat us in the private room, but it’s not open yet.
They’re getting it ready, so I’ll come get you when they’re done, okay?”
“Yeah, I’ll be there in a few minutes,” I say, even though I know I should probably just go home instead.
Maybe I can fake a stomach bug or something.
“Great, see you in a bit.”
No chance of getting out of this now.
I sigh and shove my phone back into my pocket before pushing open the door and stepping inside.
The walls of the restaurant are painted a deep red color, with black and white photos of old movie stars and musicians hanging everywhere.
The smell of garlic and tomato sauce wafts through the air, making my stomach growl even though I just ate dinner a little while ago.
I check in with the hostess before heading for the back of the restaurant where Olivia is waiting for me.
She’s sitting at a table near the bar, sipping on a glass of wine and looking at her phone.
She looks up when I approach, a bright smile on her face that falters slightly when she sees me.
I can tell she’s trying not to look surprised by my appearance, but I don’t blame her for being taken aback—I think I’m still getting used to the way I look, too.
It’s only been a few months since I cut off all of my hair and dyed it blond, and while I’m finally starting to feel like it’s actually me in the mirror, it’s not the me that Olivia remembers.
“Hey, Em,” she says, pushing her chair back so I can sit down across from her.
“Thanks for coming.”
“Of course,” I say, trying to sound as casual as possible.
“I was happy to help if you need anything.”
Her smile falters even more, and she sets down her wine glass so she can reach across the table and take my hands in hers.
“This isn’t just about the wedding, Em,” she says softly.
“I miss you.I miss having you around, and I miss being able to talk to you about everything and anything without worrying about what you’re going to say or do or if it’s going to piss off Ethan.”
She lets out a long, slow breath and shakes her head a little bit before continuing.
“I’m not going to pretend like I don’t know what happened between the two of you after we broke up.It was…really shitty of you to handle it like that.”She looks at me closely, as if she’s trying to gauge my reaction, but I’m not sure what kind of reaction she expects from me.
She knows Ethan and I broke up a long time ago, that much is clear.
What else does she want from me?
“What do you want me to say?”
I ask after a moment of silence.
I feel like there are a million things I want to say, but none of them are appropriate or helpful or will give either one of us the closure that we need.
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“I want you to tell me why,” she says, her voice barely above a whisper.
Why did you leave him?”
I can feel myself starting to sweat, and it has nothing to do with the unseasonably warm weather outside.
“I just…It wasn’t right anymore.
It wasn’t good for either of us.”
Her eyes narrow a little bit, and it’s obvious that there’s something else on the tip of her tongue.
But before she can say anything else, the hostess comes over and tells us that our table is ready.
Olivia squeezes my hands one more time before letting go, and we follow the hostess through the restaurant toward the back.
I can’t help but think about what she said as we walk, and a funny thought occurs to me: I haven’t seen Ethan in ten years.
It’s been ten years since he and I have been in the same room together, or even in the same state.
I don’t know why this realization hits me so hard—it’s not like I wasn’t already aware of this fact—but it feels different now.
It feels final, somehow.
I don’t remember the first time I met Ethan, but I do remember the first time I fell in love with him.
It was just a few months after we started high school, and I was sitting in the library, pretending to read a book for my English class while I was really just listening to music on my iPod and staring off into space like I usually did when I was alone.
After a while, I guess I got bored with that, because I remember looking up and seeing him standing at the end of the aisle, looking at me like he was trying to figure out if he was in the right place.
We made eye contact, and he smiled at me—a big, wide, toothy smile that made his blue eyes light up and crinkle at the corners.
That was it for me—I was a goner from then on out.
Ethan and I had been inseparable ever since, and not just because we were best friends.
We both grew up in a small town in New Jersey, a few hours away from the shore, and we got along well because we were both so similar.
We were both introverted and shy, even though we had big personalities once you got to know us, and I was pretty sure that we were the only two people in the entire town who liked old movies more than new ones.
We had a lot of classes together in high school, which only made it easier for us to become best friends, and by the time senior year rolled around, I wasn’t sure what I would do without him.
I don’t know if Ethan was ever exactly what you’d call popular—neither one of us was—but he was definitely well-liked, even if most of our classmates didn’t really know him all that well.
He was good at making people laugh, and he was always quick with a smile or a witty comeback no matter what the situation was, and I was just about the only person who knew how much it hurt him when his older brother had gone away to college the year before.
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