The three syllables echoed in my empty house as I whispered them to myself.
The fact that I was alone in my house made them true.
While I had been running around Columbus the past weekend, CJ had been running around a ballroom competition. Sarah had been there too.
I saw exactly one sign, and that's when the bad feeling began to manifest itself in the pit of my stomach:
"I don't know how she'd take it if I told her I was hanging out with you," CJ said on a Thursday afternoon when he ended his phone call with Sarah as we walked from the union back to his house.
"Yeah," I muttered, looking down and flicking away a stray brown leaf with the toe of my navy converse.
Friday morning, I met CJ back at the union, with bagels and cream cheese for the both of us. He had asked me to go with him to his counselor appointment. and after breakfast, we went upstairs and I waited with him until his named was called and waited for him to get back. We went downstairs for fries and frosty's at Wendy's after and CJ said he was still processing everything.
That evening, CJ invited himself over for dinner, but he had only been at my house for about ten minutes when he stepped out to take a call from Sarah. He was gone for 45 minutes, and when he got back we had dinner, and CJ only hung around a few minutes longer. This was extremely unlike CJ to just leave like that, and also extremely unlike CJ to not text me for the rest of the night. That bad feeling that I had felt bite me the day before returned in full force. My stomach was clenched, and it wasn't from the intense ab workouts I had been doing all week in preparation for my novice rhythm dress. Hanging out with my friends that night, I felt the absence of CJ by my side. The empty seat next to me on the couch seemed pronounced: was I loosing my best friend? Was I loosing my best friend again?
Tonight I invited CJ over to hang out. CJ said "maybe" and I found myself all alone. Whenever my phone buzzed, I kept hoping his name was going to show up on the screen, and each time I found myself disappointed.
CJ's silence felt oddly familiar: it felt like the summer. Now that Sarah was back in the picture, I could practically predict how this was going to go: In his current time of emotional vulnerability, CJ would go back to what he was comfortable with, and Sarah would gladly step in. CJ, being the nice guy he thinks he is, wouldn't tell her I was still hanging around, he would make her feel like she was the only girl in the picture to make her feel better. Which would leave me out, again.
I had lost CJ as a friend once, and I thought it was the strength of our friendship that brought us together again. By the knots in my stomach, I knew I was loosing him again.