Our little group has always been
And always will until the end…

—Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

Zach the Boyfriend grabbed my phone. He found Will, the lead singer of my band, in my contacts pretty quickly.

RUBY: Will. I am secretly in love with you.
WILL: Hott ;)

Zach the Boyfriend laughed and showed me. He typed:

RUBY: You know it bb ;D

See, this is what good friends are allowed to do: be platonic enough that it’s funny to joke about not being so. And that was fine, and all was well. And we forgot about the little conversation, and most likely, so did Will. Like normal friends.

Will is a great person. He is talented and sweet, and he was kind enough to invite me to play with what would later become Llama Sanchez when he barely knew me. He’s also quiet, serious, and sensitive, something we should have taken into consideration before what came next.

Later that night, a group of us got together, but Will was busy so he couldn’t make it. Someone had the brilliant idea to extend the earlier conversation with Will from Zach the Boyfriend’s cell phone. Everyone chimed in with what to say.

ZACH: I heard you are in cahoots with my girlfriend.
WILL: I have no idea what you’re talking about
ZACH: I think you know exactly what I’m talking about. I thought we were friends.
WILL: I am not in cahoots with Ruby. What do you mean?
ZACH: I saw those texts you guys were sending today.
WILL: Shit, man, that was totally a joke. I didn’t think that would be taken seriously. I’m sorry.

Will calls Zach. Zach: “Why are you calling me?! I never want to talk to you again.”

And then:

SAM: Zach and Ruby just broke up…
WILL: oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck

It was a prank, right? It was funny. It was all good and we’d tell Will it was a joke as soon as it got too serious.

But then we took it further. And further. Other people texted Will about “the situation.” Will panicked. We had convinced him that he had singlehandedly torn apart a relationship and several friendships.

Finally, Sam called him and told him the truth, after everyone was starting to feel bad. “This was all a joke?” Will asked in disbelief, and then hung up.

That’s when the guilt really hit me—my friend had been loyal and nice to me from day one, and I took part in screwing with his emotions for fun. I don’t remember ever feeling so horrible. You have no idea how much my friends mean to me. They’re among the first real friends I’ve ever had.

I called him immediately. So did Zach the Boyfriend, but Will didn’t pick up. I sent him a novel of a text about how sorry I was, and how much his friendship means to me. It was ignored.

SAM: Will, I can’t believe you fell for that, this will go down in history!

When everyone had left the room to go write a musical about Ben’s haircut, Zach the Boyfriend and I stayed behind. Will hadn’t answered anyone’s calls or texts for two hours.

“I feel terrible,” I said.

“Don’t feel sad,” Zach said. “Sad is a waste of time. Being sad is stupid when you can be happy.”

“I guess so,” I said. “But I miss Will. I bet he hates us now.”

“I hope not. Will’s the man.”

Zach the Boyfriend squeezed my hand. I wished I could be as confident about this as he was, but I wasn’t.

I didn’t sleep that night. I had a great friendship and I blew it. I had done something bad to someone who had not wronged me at all. Will had every right to hate everyone involved in this stupid prank. I wished he would reply, though. I wished I knew he wasn’t sad.

The next morning, my phone buzzed.

WILL: Don’t worry about it.

It was a response to my novel of apologies. A huge weight was lifted and the sun exploded and I could breathe! I went right over to Sam’s house, where Will had spent the night, and apologized in person and gave him a hug (I hate hugs in general, but I owed him that at the very least). We went back to his house for band practice.

Being mean sucks. I don’t intend to do that again. ♦