Illustration by Thomas Pitilli
Female • 16 • England
We grew up together — I think he transferred to my primary school when he was six or seven. I don't really remember much from back then. We had to take special classes together as we were preparing for the Eleven Plus, and since then, we'd always been friends. I lived in the middle of nowhere, quite far away from the all-girls school that I eventually got into; he lived quite near, and we saw a lot of each other. He got into the all-boys school, but we would meet every morning before school and every afternoon after school to get the train together. We became closer.
One night I was at a friend's house when I received some upsetting family news. I immediately rushed to get the next train home. It was late at night and it was dark — I think it was winter because I remember it being really cold. While I was waiting, he texted saying he was about to get the train and asked if I was around. I replied that I was on the platform. He arrived and in a moment of weakness I began crying. Wrapping me in his jacket — I was shaking — he asked what was wrong.
I didn't really want to talk about it, but he understood. He told me about his day and I think he even made me laugh. We sat in silence on the train, and when we got to my stop he hugged me and said that if I wanted to talk he was only a phone call away.
Later, we were at a house party; someone's parents were out of town. Since the evening on the train, I hadn't really spoken to anyone. He and I found a room and started talking. I came out of that room feeling like a weight had been lifted of my shoulders. I guess I was flattered that he spent time listening to me. He was, after all, quite popular, the drummer in a band and the captain of the rugby team. I knew loads of my friends who liked him and were jealous of our friendship. My own confidence was very low; I wasn't popular at all.
That night we slept holding each other in his sleeping bag on the sofa. He was comforting and kind — my own personal security blanket. We weren't together and I knew he didn't like me as anything more than a friend. He wanted someone else. She was popular, tall, thin, pretty, and blonde. He had liked her for a while and everyone knew she didn't like him. That night, he told me I was better than her and pulled me back onto the couch with him. We whispered until early morning and fell asleep.
It was a regular thing for me to stay at his at the weekends. Everyone did. One weekend it was just me and him and another of his friends. We were all pretty drunk. His friend had a little too much to drink and consequently ended up in bed upstairs pretty early on, while the two of us went into the living room to watch a film and spoon on the sofa. We had always been touchy-feely together, but tonight it seemed different; we'd even kissed before, but when we kissed that night, it felt odd. We weren't together and I don't think he wanted me, but I guess I was a safe back-up. I didn't mind; I did like him, and I reasoned that I wasn't going to get a better chance. He was hot, all my friends wanted him, and we were good friends. I wasn't going to let the fact that I wasn't who he really wanted get in the way.
Sex hadn't crossed my mind before, but he must have been thinking about it, because he got up and got a condom. Embarrassed, he struggled to get the condom on; it was his first time too. It hurt quite a bit but it was nowhere as bad as I thought it was going to be. Still, my face probably showed some pain — he was slow and gentle, not wanting to hurt me, and I appreciated that.
All the same, it wasn't that memorable or enjoyable. It was awkward, slightly shameful, and scary. Afterwards we remained friends for a while but grew apart. He changed and decided I wasn't cool enough for him anymore. I still see him about sometimes. I wish I could say that we're still good friends, but we haven't spoken in years.