Popular Max

“Forever. Since we were little kids, I mean.”

He nodded, thoughfully.

“So I guess you understand each other pretty well,” he said, in the same soft, thoughtful tone.

Something about that made me frown, and when I spoke again it was almost defensively. “Yes. Yes we do understand each other, very well. He understands me better than anyone else does.”

He nodded again, then looked up at me. “Alright, Jo. But does he get it?”

Despite myself, I was curious in what he meant, and it must have showed.

“I mean, yeah, he understands you but does he understand what you go through? He’s Max, isn’t he? Popular Max. Does he understand what it’s like to be quiet sometimes, to be shy?”

People had been calling my shy since before I could talk, it was in my nature. But it had always sounded kind of bad. Jake just said it matter-of-factly.

And he spoke the truth, too. Yeah, Max was my best friend, and he always would be. But no, he had never been shy, he had always been Max.

I shook my head slowly.

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