Wendy Andrews and Drew Hopkins were made for each other. Their parents were best friends who swore that having kids would not keep them from seeing each other, and planned from the start that their children would be best friends, too.
And they were. For the first five years of their lives, Wendy and Drew were inseparable. They played together, they fought over toys together, they learned together, and they grew together.
On the first day of kindergarten, they were escorted, hand in hand, to school by their parents. And while standing in line to go inside, Drew was jostled by someone and accidentally let go of Wendy’s hand. Unfortunately the ill-timed bump also caused Drew to bang into Wendy, and she fell to the ground. If it were not for a brand new group of peers surrounding them, Drew would have tenderly helped Wendy up and kissed her skinned knee. But instead, he looked around uncertainly and did what everyone else was doing: he laughed.
Wendy stomped into their new classroom with tears stinging her eyes. Everything would have been fine by lunch time if they had not been seated on opposite sides of the room, but from where she was, Wendy couldn’t see Drew’s contrite face. He spent the morning wondering if she was okay and hoping he would have a chance to apologize, but by the time he was able to, he didn’t want to. Wendy had told her new best friend Natalie Bell about an unfortunate accident Drew had had at their fourth birthday party, and now everyone in class was laughing at him.
Wendy and Drew’s parents were puzzled by their behavior when they picked them up from school, and even though they got the whole story from the teacher, nothing they could say or do could convince their children to reconcile. It didn’t stop them from trying, not that week or that month or that year, or for the rest of the years they were in school. Wendy and Drew refused to be friendly again. They sat silent through dinner parties, glared at one another over cake at birthday parties, and looked in two different directions during Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations.
Instead, they acknowledged each other through the determination to be the best. Wendy had never been good at spelling, so every gold star Drew got in elementary school was a win for him. Her science skills bested his at every middle school Science Fair, no matter how interesting his erupting volcano was that year. Their high school tennis teams always held boys vs girls scrimmages at the beginning of the year, and there was always quite a bit of unauthorized betting between their teammates as to who would be the winner of the Wendy vs Drew match.
Nothing could stop their parents from launching various attempts to restore their friendship. But it seemed that nothing they tried could repair Wendy and Drew’s broken relationship. No secret presents or forged apology letters supposedly written by their children could bring about a reconciliation. “Drew and I are not friends,” Wendy told her mother. “Stop trying!” Drew, on the other hand, disclosed to his mother that “we may have been friends when we were little, but that’s over now. It’s nice of you to hope, but this is starting to get ridiculous.”
The last straw came when their parents began to pass out graduation party invitations. Drew hadn’t wanted to have a graduation party, and Wendy had been enthusiastically planning to have a joint party with several of her friends at Natalie’s house. But their parents had other ideas; their children were born three weeks apart and had shared every birthday party, so why shouldn’t they share a graduation party? Their families would expect it, they told their annoyed children. Drew agreed to show up and cut a piece of cake for his grandma while wearing his cap and gown, but Wendy told her parents that she was having her party at Natalie’s, her name was going to be on the cake, and she had already helped pay for decorations. “I’m not having the same graduation party as Drew,” she told her father angrily. They grudgingly compromised: Wendy would show up for her grandparents’ sake and then she would be allowed to go to whatever party she wished. She gave way when her parents promised not to take any pictures of the two of them together, though they knew that it would be impossible to make the same promise for their guests (and planning all the while to ask for copies of any shots featuring both Drew and Wendy).
Prom was another obstacle: their parents wanted pictures of them together, standing in front of Drew’s house, just like they had taken on their first day of kindergarten. Drew said he couldn’t because he and his friends were picking up their tuxes right before dinner and going straight to prom afterward. Wendy absolutely refused; she had plans to ride in a gigantic limo with all of her friends and then to meet her boyfriend outside the school right before the dance began. Neither of them would tolerate any attempts to rearrange schedules. “At least we have the graduation party,” Drew’s mom told Wendy’s dad sadly.
That evening Drew’s dad got a text with a picture Drew had taken of himself and one of his friends at dinner. Their bow ties were hidden by plastic bibs meant to keep bits of delicious crab meat from ruining their rented suits. Wendy sent a picture to her mom that Natalie’s mom had snapped: Wendy and six of her friends standing in their formal wear in front of their impressive transportation. “Maybe they’ll see each other at prom and make up,” said Wendy’s dad, not really believing it himself.
Drew and his Crew rolled in to prom amid the cheers of many female underclassmen. Drew enjoyed the adulation, but had never really been interested in dating any of the girls that were supposedly “in love” with him. It wasn’t that he wasn’t interested in girls, it was just that none of those girls were interesting. He spotted Wendy’s group of friends gossiping at a table near the refreshments. They were hard to miss, since they were all dressed in different colors of the same dress: a gauzy, Disney fairy-like affair. The girl in the pink dress was missing, though. He wandered over to get some punch.
“She should just come inside,” Natalie was saying. “It’s not like she isn’t going to have a good time, just because stupid Luke decided not to show up.”
Drew found Wendy trying not to cry on her phone or her dress. She was sitting on the step outside the door she had stomped through on their first day of school. He sat down next to her.
She gasped and glared at him. “What do you want?” she asked scornfully.
“I…” he began. “It was the first day of school and I was nervous and I wanted people to like me. I’m sorry.”
Wendy’s eyes went to the spot on the sidewalk where she had lain in humiliation years ago. “It’s a little late for that now,” she said, carefully wiping tears from her face in an attempt to avoid ruining her makeup.
She flinched when Drew kissed her knee. More tears found their way down her cheeks when he said, “Are you okay, Wendy?”
After staring at one another for a moment, Wendy could no longer hold back her sobbing, and threw her arms around Drew’s shoulders, pouring out all her woes of a cheating boyfriend who had just informed her he couldn’t come to prom because he was going out on a date with someone else.
When Wendy calmed down a bit, Drew helped her up. “Come on,” he said, “I’ll dance with you.”
Twenty minutes later the pair were spotted by the math teacher. “Is that Drew Hopkins slow dancing with Wendy Andrews?” he asked the girls’ tennis coach. “I thought they hated each other!”
“There was definitely no love lost between them,” the coach agreed. “I wonder what happened.”