I’m sitting in Krysta’s basement on this huge L shaped couch. We’d been taking photo booth pictures on her plastic Macbook. Pictures with filters like the one when you leave the frame and the screen fills in with a background of underwater or of a moving rollercoaster and you carefully inch back into the frame so as not to disturb the background.
Krysta has gone to the kitchen to make us Tyson chicken nuggets, even thought it's only 10 in the morning.
A message pops up on Krysta’s Facebook page. We’re in high school and you still have to title each Facebook message like the subject of an email. The message is titled ‘Shhh don’t tell Anna.’
Krysta and I are Freshman in high school. Her life fascinates me. I walk the block from my house to hers and in such a short distance everything changes. Krysta’s house is small and cluttered with mismatched furniture and dusty picture frames. She lives with her Grammy and Grampy, who are always around but never in the way. Our friendship is sporadic. Krysta calls me since I don’t have a cellphone that can text. She calls regularly with a plan for what we need to do that day. Like painting the wall in her bedroom dark red that drips down the walls like blood. Or doing each other's makeup to look like broken dolls or vampires or dead prostitutes. Krysta has a fascination with the taboo, the scary. I don’t really, but I do have a fascination with the freedom Krysta’s home allows.
At my house everything matches and I have to keep my room very clean. At my house, my mother says, ‘you’re 13 year old girl, there’s no need for you to be wearing that much makeup.’ At my house, my mother says, ‘you can’t make Tyson chicken nuggets at 10 am.’ At my house, my mother, father, younger brothers, and sister were always around and involved. At Krysta’s we can explore any world we want without being interrupted or told no.
Krysta often takes pictures of herself in costumes and scary make up. She edits them on Photoshop, making her skin glow or putting text over her face—things like ‘Fear the Light’ or ‘Rest in Peace.’ She posts the photos to Facebook and boys comment that she looks good or that they like her body. It feels old, grown up, to be friends with someone who has boys messaging her. I’ve never had a friendship before where I don’t feel like a little kid.
My body is small; I don’t have boobs yet and still have baby fat. Krysta has padded bras and hips. She puts eyeliner on me and dresses me up like her doll—picking outfits for me from her costume collection. We take pictures together and she posts them to Facebook. Boys comment about her body but not mine. When she takes my picture she gives me directions like, ‘look more dead,’ ‘look more sad,’ or ‘think about a boy you want to fuck.’
I’d never thought about a boy I want to fuck. I’d thought about kissing a boy, but not enough to know what it might feel like. Krysta had. She’d kissed a bunch of boys. Gross boys. Ones I’d seen at school and our theater camp. She didn’t talk about it all the time, because it made me uncomfortable, but I knew she’d given blowjobs. A bunch of blowjobs. There, in the basement, where her grandparents never went.
Krysta’s grandparents told me, all the time, how welcome I was. Her Grammy said she thought I was a good influence on Krysta, a better friend to her than most people have been. I knew Krysta was depressed, but didn’t really understand what that meant. I knew she didn’t get as good of grades as I did, but I didn’t really know just how bad they were.
When I look back over our old Facebook messages, it’s wild how quickly things seemed to move with the boys that Krysta liked. One day she’d be telling me she had a crush on someone and a few days later she’d tell me that now she hated them. She’d send me long messages, asking me to print them and deliver them to the boy she was talking to. The messages are confusing with contradictions in how she’s feeling like, ‘Don’t worry, I’m completely over you, but if you asked me to be your girlfriends again I would be the happiest person in the world’ and huge emotional statements like, ‘when you didn’t message me back I died inside.’ It seemed important to be helping her take care of her issues, so I print and deliver all her messages for her without asking question.
A year into our friendship my body starts to change. I get hips, boobs, my face thins out. I start wearing my hair down at the suggestion of a boy Krysta is dating who tells me it makes me look cute.
One night I message her, ‘do you ever want something so bad it makes you sad to think it’ll never happen?’ I had a crush, the first crush of my life, on a boy named Jake. We knew each other from a theater class I took on the weekends. Krysta liked that he seemed innocent. ‘That’s good for you,’ she wrote, ‘then he won’t pressure you to have sex right away.’
Krysta tells me that she invited Jake over to hang out with her. Her plan is to ask him, during the hangout, what he thinks of me. If he has a crush on me.
I’d think about holding his hand, walking around the mall with him, people in our theater class finding out we were dating. I told my mom, I told my other friends at school.
The hangout between Krysta and Jake came and went and that night I didn’t hear anything from her. At 10 in the morning I walk the block from my house to hers. I let myself in, as instructed to do whenever I was over by her grandparents. Krysta is in the basement, laying on the big L shaped couch. She had in contact lenses that make her eyes bright purple. She tells me, while applying makeup, that she and Jake never got to talking about me, that they had played scrabble and watched a horror movie in the basement and that it just never came up. Krysta gestures me over and I sit below her like a doll as she braids my hair and applies dark black eye liner. We take photo booth pictures.
In these pictures, I look silly. I look young. I look out of place in the makeup and costumes that lays awkward on my body. “Don’t worry,” Krysta tells me, “we’ll post these to Facebook and Jake will see how hot you are.”
Krysta goes upstairs to make us Tyson chicken nuggets. Leaving me sitting alone. A message pops up on Krysta’s Facebook page. A message from Jake. The title of the message in bold, reading, ‘Shhh don’t tell Anna.’
I remember it going something like this, ‘Hey Krysta, I feel really weird about what happened last night, like we shouldn’t have done it. Anyway, please don’t tell Anna. I really don’t want her to find out.’
I must have sat there in the basement after. Maybe reread the message or tried to make sense of what it meant. I didn’t leave, I don’t know why I didn’t, but I sat there. In the basement. And waited for Krysta to come back with our food.
I don’t say anything about the message to her. After we eat, I change back into my t-shirt and walked the block back to my house. Walking back, I undo the braids and rub the black eyeliner and tears from my face with my T shirt.
In my room, I open my laptop to Facebook. A new message from Krysta reads, “since we both have so much guy troubles, we should both decide 2 take a break from men, and get married to each other on Facebook.”
I came to find out, through friends of friends confiding in long Facebook messages, that Krysta had given Jake a blowjob in her basement that night. Jake eventually told me too in a Facebook message titled, “I love you, can you ever forgive me?” Krysta sent me dozens of apology messages and they’re all still there. Saved on my Facebook forever or until I delete the account. It came to light, later, that Krysta had done this before, with other friends' crushes, other guys that some friend of hers had liked.
And it’s hard to think back on because after I stopped being Krysta’s friend, her life, from what I could see on Facebook, took a dark turn. Statuses about depression, going to the hospital. Extreme weight fluctuations. Apology notes, that she’d tag all her old friends in, explaining how she’d fucked it all up and how she was begging for us to forgive her. I’d reread the messages she sent over and over, thinking if I could forgive her, or if she’d even really changed. Knowing how many times she’d done the same thing to other friends, it was hard to think she had. Her messages of desperation would pop up into my mind all the time and I’d wish I could forgive her. But sometimes taking care of yourself means letting go of taking care of someone else.
About the author...
Anna Rose Wolfe is an writer / performer. Anna is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago, where she earned a BA in Acting and a minor in Gender Studies. She performs regularly with The LIVINGroom, a solo performance ensemble. Anna has been featured in venues and fests around Chicago, such as Life Line Theater’s Fillet of Solo Festival, Greenhouse Theatre Center’s Solo Celebration, Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins Festival, National Cool Shorts, Flat Iron Comedy, Greenhouse Theatre Center's SoloPerformance Lab, The Plagiarists Salon, and The Election Monologues.
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