Sarah and Sara weren’t in a fight. They were best friends and had ruthlessly stuck by each other since middle school, when there had been three other Sarah’s and two other Sara’s in their grade. So they would never fight now, let alone “over a guy.” They were not in a fight over Mark.
But they could disagree about who had the right to email Mark first after he and Bev broke up.
As it turned out, they had both emailed him that morning, shortly after learning about the breakup via mass text from Aaron, who always knew the gossip. Aaron had suggested that the friend group rally to support Mark, because Bev had, in fact, been sleeping with her good-looking Russian co-worker, whom she had nicknamed Sergei the Great while swearing he was gay. Mark’s ongoing jealousy of Sergei had seemed so mean-spirited that everyone had interpreted it as insecure paranoia. They had all, over the course of many months and in group emails as well as one-on-one, persuaded Mark to “tone it down” and “trust Bev.”
Now they all felt guilty and complicit in her deceit. As if the glint in her eye every time she said “Sergei the Great” hadn’t been a dead giveaway.
What Aaron had in mind when he sent the text suggesting they rally was a night playing arcade games and drinking $4 PBRs and whiskey to a stupor, but what Sarah and Sara were channeling when they sent their emails was empathy, healing, and “real support.” Did Mark want to come to kickboxing class with Sarah? It’s so cathartic. Did he want to go to hot yoga with Sara? It so helps you sweat out all your toxins. Because no one felt sorrier about the whole broken-hearted business than Sarah and Sara, who both claimed, over email to Mark and later in discussions with each other, that they could have seen it coming, but they didn’t see it coming. They hadn’t let themselves open their eyes to the truth.
Because they had wanted Mark to be happy. And he had seemed so happy with Bev. He was so intensely committed. His paranoia, after all, had been totally justified. His quality of possessiveness was, really, very minor. Sweet, even. That was love. No one had wanted to intrude on it, disrupt it, least of all Sarah or Sara, who had known Mark for years and so appreciated him. For his sensitivity, and yet his manliness, and also his chivalric nature, always holding open the door for ladies and breaking up with prior girlfriends face-to-face instead of over text.
He was one of the few “good guys” left.
And so their hearts had overflown with compassion and they both had emailed him within five minutes of getting the text about the breakup.
“I’m just saying, I stopped everything and emailed him,” Sarah said.
“I stopped everything, like, right away,” Sara concurred.
They were grabbing an afternoon coffee to “sort it out.” Their offices were nearby, which was fortunate, because when when Sarah gchatted Sara at lunch saying how she had emailed Mark (“because whoa how crazy??”) and then Sara had, in Sarah’s words, “freaked out” because she had also emailed Mark, it had become clear they were going to need to strategize. What had they each said? Was it weird they had both sent emails? Neither of them had heard back from him. What did it mean?
In the final analysis, they concluded that their emails had been similar, which was awkward but redeemable, because they both cared about Mark so much. And anyway, the emails had been different enough that, whatever, they each had their own friendships with Mark, which would always be reflected in the way they would act with him, what they would say in times of need, and how they would extend that helping hand.
Now they were finishing their coffee in peace, relieved.
After a quiet moment, Sarah mused, “I just think you should have checked with me before you emailed him. I’ve known Mark six months longer. You met him through me.”
“But he and I have been playing in the soccer league for two seasons now,” Sara pointed out, “I see him every week. The second I got the text I just had to email him. I wasn’t thinking about anything else.”
“Obviously.” Sarah picked up her coffee cup and leaned back in her chair, sipping through pursed lips, surveying her friend.
“I didn’t realize you guys were so close.” Sara stared down toward the plastic coffee lid, fixating on the tiny slit of an opening through which some steam escaped.
“We are. Really close.” Sarah said. “Even if we don’t see each other, like, every week.”
Sara’s phone was face up on the table because her boss was crazy and always needed her to be instantly available. It dinged with a text. From Mark. Sarah put down her coffee cup, leaning forward to get a closer look.
“What did Mark say?” she asked, oozing quizzical calm.
Sara didn’t look up or touch her phone. She read softly. “Hey girl thx for your email. I’m ok. count me out for hot yoga but cant wait for soccer tomorotrow. We need to kick the other teams ass for realz and then I’ll feel better.”
“He doesn’t want to go to hot yoga,” Sarah observed.
“He texted back to my email.” Sara smiled slightly and turned the phone face down.
“He probably sent me a long email reply,” Sarah commented, blasé. “That’s what we do. We send long emails.”
“Well,” said Sara, getting up, putting her phone in her bag and picking up her coffee. “When I see Mark tomorrow, I’ll tell him you say hi.”
thanks Bryan Furnace for the photo, entitled “Faded Glory.”
Rebecca Coale - aka Becky - is a writer, musician and producer. She and childhood best friend Jessica Donalds created Dating & Hookup and founded J&R Creative Media. Becky blogs about love poetry and modern life & womanhood. She lives with her husband, Howard Coale, and their family in Manhattan and Philadelphia.
datingandhookup.com is a website that explores modern romance in the Millennial era – which, let’s be honest, looks nothing like we were taught to expect. We feature essays, advice and social commentary with humor, compassion and brains, and we vow never, ever to publish a piece called “The 10 Best Ways to Satisfy Your Man in Bed”. Do click to submit your work to us. We love you.
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