But Are We Friends?

“How sad is it,” Diana said, smoke emerging from her mouth in a great, dragon-like puff, “that I slept with him because I wanted to be his friend?”

Jay, who was listening to music in one ear, was only half paying attention. Stevie Wonder was crooning at him on one side and Diana was whining from the other, and his eyes were looking at the twelve stars that he could see in the sky above him. “You know what’s really sad?” he said.

“Yeah, that I slept with someone so that they would acknowledge my existence and be friends with me.”

“No. Well, yeah, that too. Gimme a cig.” Jay waited till he had one in his mouth and, while lighting it, continued through a half-closed mouth. “No, what’s really sad is that we look up at the stars, and we can see a few tonight, and we’re like oh wow, look at all the stars! And there are like twenty, if that, and we think that’s a lot. Out in the desert – that’s where stars really happen.”

“Dude, are you stoned?” Diana looked at him, irritable, and noticed that he had one earbud still stuck in his ear. “You’re not even listening! Damn, I thought we were going to have some girl time.”

“I’m not a girl.”

“I know, but you have conversations that aren’t about monster trucks.”

“No one talks about monster trucks anymore.”


The two college dropouts lapsed into silence on top of the old orange car. Jay was still lying on the cold metal, one arm tucked behind his head. Diana was sitting cross-legged next to him, her knees close enough to brush the edge of his jacket. The sound of traffic from the highway kept them company, along with the chilly wind.

“So are you friends now?”

“Huh? What?” Diana had been gazing at the lights of the faraway cars and letting her eyes go out of focus, turning her vision into a strange image of blurred yellow lines on a backdrop of black stillness.

“You and this person you slept with. Are you friends now?” Jay heard the deep tones of Leonard Cohen describing to him the way love felt, and he allowed himself to glance at Diana. Sometimes it was dangerous for him to do that. It would make him feel too much. But Leonard’s voice fortified him enough to do that, at least.

“I have no freaking clue. That’s why I’m so upset.”

“Ask, then.”

“What? I should just ask if we’re friends?”

“Yeah, sure, why not? Just say – we slept together, yeah. But are we friends?”

“I guess. But, I mean, with you and me neither one of us had to ask that, right? We just knew we were still friends. Cause we’d been friends before.”

“Mhm. But we’re different.”

“Yeah, we are.” Diana smiled vaguely and nudged her hand against Jay’s shoulder in a comradely kind of way. He stopped himself from flinching against such a casual touch, and took another long draw on his cigarette.


2 thoughts on “But Are We Friends?

  1. Erin M says:

    Wow. I like this so much, Ilana! It reads very real and honest and intimate, and I love the tone and the characters, and of course the details and observations that you’re always so amazing at.

    (And I apologize, since that was about the most horribly structured sentence in the history of ever. O_o)

    Basically: Really, really like this piece. =]

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