I cradle my phone in my hand, willing it to ring but knowing deep down that it will not. And if, by some chance it does, I know it won't be who I really want to talk to. When I'm alone I let it hit me and I hole myself up in my room. But when I'm in public I shove it inside because I refuse to let on that anything is wrong. I must be professional about this, even though every time I hear Demi's name leave someone's lips, it's like my stomach sinks.
I'm listening to a CD I made a few weeks ago of songs that just depress me more, and the one that's on right now is "I'm Not Over" by Carolina Liar. Not only do I know that Demi would totally love their music, but I relate so much to this and I listen to the lyrics, picturing myself singing this at a concert or even directly to Demi herself.
I'm not over
I'm not over you just yet
Cannot hide it
You're not that easy to forget
The last line to me is the best because it reminds me of her song and it's true, I can't forget her. I can't forget the way she made me feel and the way she makes me feel now, like all my organs are twisted into knots and my heart has been enclosed in a slow-moving vice that gets tighter and tighter until I explode.
When the phone finally rings, I'm not surprised that it's Taylor. Ever since the awkwardness started with Demi, Taylor has been there for me; for me to talk to, to get me out of the house, to make me live my life. If Taylor is an expert on anything, it's how to get over someone, and even though I might not be over Demi, Taylor has helped immensely in my dealing with everything that happened. I answer my phone hesitantly, because the tears have started flowing and I don't want my friend to be worried. I feel like I'm sucking up all her time because all I ever do is call her crying about the same damn thing.
"Hello?" I try to keep my voice level, even though it's impossible for me not to cry once I've started. Taylor doesn't say anything for a moment.
"I'll be right over."
The wonderful thing about Taylor is that, unlike me, she NEVER hesitates. She can hear my tears through the phone and she doesn't hesitate to come over to comfort me. But I have been trying to work up the courage to talk to Demi for almost a year now. I have hesitated for eleven months. The more time that passes, the more awkward it will be to talk to her and now I feel that I've missed my chance. All the things that I want to say just hang in the air. I say them to Taylor and I write them in my journal, but the words never reach their intended audience.
I burrow further under the covers and hold my phone close to my heart. I think about everything that has happened. Demi has changed. One of the first things was when she started cutting at the end of 2008, but instead of telling me, I had to find out through the media. That distrust is hard enough but then there are the new friends. It's not that they are terrible people, but they aren't the type of people Demi should be around. They are mature and Demi is still a child, as much as she fights against it. It seems that Disney has that effect on some of its stars, not only Demi but Miley and a large handful of others—Disney stars are children forced to be role models and the stress of it pressures them to take the opposite path. Demi is by no means a slut, or a druggie, or anywhere near as fucked up as someone like Lindsay Lohan, but what scares me is that she could be on that path. Demi's friends have sex, they sometimes drink and sometimes smoke weed or take a few pills. Demi was raised to wait for marriage, not to do drugs and to drink only when she was of age. I don't know whether Demi has done those things or not—because once I started questioning Demi about it, everything got fucked up.
Before I can think anymore about it, Taylor appears in my doorway. Her blue eyes are narrowed and clouded with concern for me.
"Did something happen?" She whispers as she takes her place at the end of the bed, where she has been for the past few months. I shake my head. "Oh. Same. Well…I know you have a lot you want to say to her, right?"
"Of course. But I can't."
"You know why. We aren't friends. I would be overstepping my bounds." I mumble.
"What bounds? There are no bounds. You guys have been friends for half of your life. It's awkward now, sure, but you need to patch things up or you'll never be friends again. I know you don't want that." Taylor is always so delicate with the way she words things, because she knows how fragile I am. I appreciate this more than I can tell her.
"No, I don't. But it's complicated. I don't know if I can handle the way she's going to react if I tell her everything. It's not like I didn't already try. She pulled away even more then. At least we could've been civil but I screwed things up SO badly that she won't even talk to me. The stupid media people realize what's up, and then she goes and says these insensitive things like 'ask Taylor.' I get that she's weirded out or upset, but does she have to lash out like that? It…it hurts." I huff, biting my lip to keep from breaking down into tears again. Demi is the only person who can wreck me so completely.
"You're just worried about her. You need to tell her that and establish that you're still there for her. It'll be okay. I promise you." Taylor tries to make me feel better.
"Stop with the clichés. Things don't always work that way. I've tried and I've tried but I'm just too, too broken to even try anymore. I don't want to give her the chance to completely obliterate me."
"You'll never know until you—"
"Try. Yeah, I know. Well, what do you expect me to say? Oh, sorry for jumping down your throat about your new loser friends but I don't want you to end up some binge-drinking, cocaine-snorting, STD-ridden slut? I mean, get real. By the way that whole 'I'm in love with you' thing? I was totally kidding. So you don't have to be freaked out by it. It was a joke! It was all a joke. Ha,ha. Got you…Yeah right." I know that I sound bitter and the resentment is building in my voice. Taylor tries to touch my shoulder but I jerk away from her. "I should never have said anything to her about that."
"You can't take it back now. Just put yourself out there. Selena, you're one of the most honest and loving people I know. Just talk to her, tell her how you feel and maybe things will work out. You've got so much between you two. I'm sure she's bothered just as much as you are. Call her right now. I'm here. It's better than if you were doing it alone." She squeezes my hand and I let out a deep breath. "Seriously. Call her or I'll do it for you." She has her phone out like she means it and I take it away from her, cracking a smile.
"Could you imagine the look on her face if you called her?" I'm giggling at the thought.
"Yeah…it's nothing compared to the look on her face if YOU called her."
Neither of us says anything.
I take my phone in my hand.
I find her name.
I stare it for a minute.
"Can I just text her?"
I push the green call button.
"Selena?" Her voice fills my ears and I realize how surprised she sounds.
"I'm really glad you called. I've been wanting to call you but—I didn't know what to—I've missed you. How are things? How are you?" Everything she says comes out hurriedly and she's breathing hard into the phone. I'm quiet because I expected her to yell at me. I wasn't expecting THIS.
"Speaker phone." Taylor whispers desperately. I push the speaker button.
"Selena?" Demi calls out when I don't respond.
"I'm here. Sorry, it's just…I thought you were going to be mad. I've been okay—well, no I haven't—I've been awful. But I've been dealing. Um…how are you?" I sound ridiculous and I haven't said anything that I've practiced. I wasn't expecting it to go this way, but I guess it's a pleasant surprise.
"I'm fine. I guess. Listen, I'm really sorry about the way I reacted to everything. I was acting like a spoiled kid when you were just looking out for me. Because you care about me. And I didn't need to be such a jerk about it. I wish I would have apologized sooner, but honestly, I didn't know how because I made such an ass out of myself that I couldn't bring myself to talk to you." Demi explains and it's funny because I was thinking the same thing about the way I reacted to everything.
"I do care about you. I accept your apology. But can I just…let me tell you what I meant by all that. I know you have new friends and some of them you met because of the new movie and everything, but I was just worried because some of them seem a bit grown up. I mean more grown up than us. I just wanted to make sure that nothing bad happened to you." I'm gripping the phone tightly in my left hand and Taylor has my right, squeezing it and looking up at me with her encouraging smile.
"No, nothing bad." I relax. "I might have maybe smoked once, but it was awful, and I'm never doing that again. I haven't changed as much as you think I have. I'm still the same Demi."
"You look different. I…stumbled across some pictures." I feel like a dork for admitting that I've looked at pictures of her on celebrity gossip sites.
"Yeah, I got some highlights and lightened up a little. Maybe a bit of a tan too," She laughs awkwardly. "You look nice, too. From…what I've seen on—well…yeah. Anyway. I'm guessing you heard about Joe." Ouch. His name makes a dent in my newly reformed ego. I feel Taylor stiffen beside me and realize that for a moment, I forgot she was there.
"I did." A million other responses run through my head but I'm too chicken to say them. What does it feel like to date Taylor's seconds? Why Joe? Are you seriously that deluded? I wish you'd date me. I wouldn't hurt you that way. I clear my throat.
"Yeah. What a mistake that was. I really wanted to call you when I broke up with him but—"
"Wait, I thought he broke up with you?" Needless to say, I'm shocked. Not that the gossip sites aren't wrong sometimes but I heard that Demi herself said that he broke up with her.
"I let everyone think that. For him. But I broke up with him. For a lot of reasons. I was only dating him because of the movie, and I knew it would look good, and he was only dating me because…well…I was there, I guess. It's not like I love him or anything. He's a great guy but just not my type. I prefer someone completely different from who he is." As Demi is telling me everything about Joe, Taylor has inched closer to me and to the phone. I can tell she's struggling not to say something.
"He's totally gay isn't he?" The words slip from her without any regret and Demi laughs. Apparently she thinks it was me that spoke.
"That seems to be a Disney epidemic nowadays, huh?" I can't tell if she's joking or she's being mean, so I don't say anything. "No, I didn't mean it like that. I mean, I don't claim to know anything about your sexuality or whatever but it just seems lately that two out of three Jonases are gay, and Miley's apparently into girls too, and you were into me at some point and well…"
"I still am."
"Into you. I never was gay. I mean, I don't know about that, there's never been any other girl. But there's never been any other boy that I really loved that way and um, I'm totally making a jerk out myself, aren't I?"
"No. Never. I'm the expert at that, remember? Ah, how could you forget? Anyway, what I'm trying to say is, I'm okay with it. The gay—the me thing. Whatever it is. It's cool. I still love you no matter what." Demi's words sink in and I realize that while she hasn't yelled at me, she hasn't told me that she feels the same way either. Stuck in limbo…as always.
"I'm glad." I swallow. "I love you, too."