Laura needed another drink. It was Friday night and she was at her best friend Catherine's birthday house party. As she wound her way through the masses to the kitchen she heard someone call out her name. Someone she had been trying to avoid all night. Five feet and six inches of trouble (four-and-a-half inches of that trouble being platform heels) that she was afraid of running into.
"Hey Laura!" yelled Nicole as she wormed her way over to the counter where Laura was pouring herself a drink.
"Hey Nicole," said Laura, trying to avoid eye contact.
"Great party, huh?" asked Nicole.
"Yeah, Cat sure can throw herself a party."
"I feel like everyone we know is here."
"Why did you come over to talk to me?" Laura asked. They both knew why, but Laura did not want to admit to anything. The two of them were not particularly close.
"I noticed you unfollowed me on Twitter," said Nicole.
"Oh, did I?" asked Laura.
"Yeah, cut the shit Laura. Why did you unfollow me," said Nicole, not so much a question as a statement.
"Oh, well you know, we are not really friends or anything…" said Laura before Nicole interjected.
"We are totally friends! I tell people we are friends all the time. 'My friend Laura' and all that."
"Yeah well I guess I do not feel that way about us. We never hang out, I only see you once every couple months at a party and we never talk about anything but Neil," said Laura. Neil was the boy they both had dated, briefly. Their first conversation was bonding over his numerous annoying quirks.
"Besides, all you do is post pictures of your cat and you know I'm deathly allergic to them, so it is a bit of a sore point for me," said Laura.
"If you are so deathly allergic, how can you be in Cat's house when she has two cats of her own?" asked Nicole.
"Because I mostly have been standing outside all night," Laura spat out, suddenly angry, "and I'm using an EpiPen as a tampon. What do you want from me, Nicole? I am not really interested in what you have to say. Just because we have mutual friends does not mean we have to be besties." This made Nicole scoff.
"Oh like you are so much better to follow. You always do those at midnight hashtag things that I have to mute. Do you realize how annoying you are?"
"So just unfollow me! This is so simple!"
"BUT WE'RE FRIENDS" screamed Nicole. People in the other room stopped their conversations and turned to look. Nicole's cheeks turned a bright shade of red as she shifted to the other side of Laura, out of their gaze.
"This just seems like a shitty thing to do to a friend, Laura," she said.
"I guess I just don't consider us friends. Maybe we were when we met, but I don't think we ever made it that far. We know people in common. We are acquaintances. We are casual social contacts."
"That is bullshit and you know it. How can you be so callous about this, Laura? I didn't do anything to you. I thought we were always pretty friendly." Nicole said, starting to sniffle as though she were about to cry. "I just think you are so cool, and everyone loves you. You really hurt me."
"Yeah well, you could have been there for me when I broke up with Lewis earlier this year," said Laura.
"What are you talking about, I totally was there for you!" said Nicole.
"No you weren't! Almost nobody was! I stopped hanging out and going to parties and it felt like everyone but Cat forgot I existed entirely."
"Wait a minute, I know I texted you when I heard you and Lewis had split."
"I guess I expect more from my friends than getting a text that reads 'hugs' every now and then. I expect my friends to actually be there for me, you know? I went through some real shit this past year."
This gave Nicole pause. She thought about what she was going to say next, her mouth opening a couple times but no words coming out.
"I had no idea. I thought you just didn't like us any more. We all thought that."
"It really felt like as soon as I stopped commenting on everyone else's life, you all just forgot about me," said Laura, "It really hurt!"
It got really quiet again, Laura looked around to see if there was anyone else she could talk to. From the other room she heard the familiar sound of Cat's laughter, and as she turned to leave Nicole said something.
"You never gave me a chance."
"Excuse me?" asked Laura.
"I said, you never gave me a chance to be your friend."
"From the first time we met, you decided that we could never be friends. I could tell right away, you always kept your distance from me for some reason. And no matter what I did, you had already made up your mind that I was no good."
"Nicole, that's ridiculous. We-"
"Don't bother with excuses, Laura. I thought you were really fucking cool and I really wanted to be your friend. So don't tell me how we are 'acquaintances'," said Nicole, using her fingers as scare quotes, "as if I don't fucking know it."
Now Laura was completely unsure what to say. Before she could even open her mouth, Nicole kept going.
"You say you 'went through some shit', well I'm sorry. But if you had said one word of it to me, I would have been at your door with ice cream and Rushmore on DVD and you would have been happy for a minute." Rushmore was Laura's favorite movie, but she could not remember ever telling Nicole that.
"And I would've told you that Lewis was a dipshit and you could do better, because we all thought you could do better. Because you can, Laura. So don't say nobody but Cat was there for you, cause you never let any of us even try."
With that, Nicole put down her drink and stormed out of the room. Laura, completely blindsided, tried to collect herself. She poured herself another beer and took a big sip.
Nicole was not wrong, Laura had assumed the two could never be friends. Nicole was loud and emotional and always dressed like she was on Gossip Girl even though they went to a tiny school in the middle of nowhere. Laura had always thought she was too much to deal with and kept her distance, it really had not occurred to her that they might have more in common than both having dated Neil.
"Hey! So this is where you disappeared to!" said Cat as she walked into the kitchen.
"Oh hey Cat. Yeah I got distracted," said Laura, happy to see her friend. "I was talking to Nicole."
"What did you say to her? She just stormed out of here. I have never seen her so upset," said Cat.
"Uh, well I unfollowed her on Twitter and she confronted me about it. Pretty stupid, right?"
"Oh," said Cat, "no that is big. Now I understand why she was so upset. She adores you."
Laura felt really embarrassed that Cat knew this all along.
"I guess I had no idea. I never thought we were that close," said Laura.
"Yeah, Nicole always asks me about you. I'm pretty sure you two would be great friends if you gave her a chance. I know it sounds crazy, but the two of you are kind of the same person in a lot of ways."
"Huh," said Laura, trying to process everything that had happened.
"Anyway, a bunch of us are gonna go to IHOP. You wanna come?" asked Cat.
"Sure, just let me do something real quick first," said Laura. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out her phone and brought up Twitter. Scrolling back through her timeline, she found @thenicolefrenzy, clicked on her profile and hit "Follow". Laura knew it was probably too little, too late, but she had to start somewhere.