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But on the walk to Tanner’s house, I change my mind.

Tonight is as good a night as any.

I call Tanner, but there is no answer. I send him a text, but he doesn’t respond. When I get closer to his house I notice the light is on in the pool house. I smile. Maybe he fell asleep studying. I am planning how I could crawl into his bed and snuggle up next to him when I hear a voice.

An angry voice.

“What the fuck did I tell you about going to her?” Tanner asks. I’ve never heard him raise his voice, and at first I don’t think it’s him. Creeping over to the side of the house, I crouch down by the corner of the window and peer up. Sure enough, the voice is Tanner’s. He is pacing back and forth in front of his bed, his fists clenched at his sides.

“You said not to,” says a female voice. I recognize that voice right away, even though it is a mere shell of what it used to be.


Pushing up onto the tips of my toes I see her sitting on the corner of Tanner’s bed with her head in her hands. She looks even worse than she did when she came to see me the week before.

What is she doing at Tanners?

“If you need something, you come to me. But no, you went to her, and I had to hear all about how torn up she is because you turned into a fucking junkie and she can’t save you. You know how much I give a shit about you being a junkie? Zero. I give zero fucking shits. But what I do care about is Ray being upset and making me wait another three fucking years to get my fucking dick wet.”

“It’s not like you’ve been celibate, asshole,” Nikki says, looking up at him through a gap in her greasy bangs.

“No, I’ve had to settle for fucking your nasty ass!” Tanner shouts, rounding the bed to stand in front of her.

“What do you have for me?” Nikki asks, her hands visibly shaking.

Tanner raises his hand and with a whooshing sound in the air, his hand lands on Nikki’s cheek forcing her to fall back on the bed. “Are you even fucking listening to me?” he seethes.

I have no idea who I am looking at. This isn’t the Tanner I know, and he is smacking around a Nikki who I don’t know either.

Who the hell are these people, and where are my friends?

Nikki groans but doesn’t say a word. “If you do anything to prevent me from being balls deep in Ray Saturday night I’m cutting you the fuck off. Do you hear me?” Tanner crawls up onto the bed and pushes Nikki down, straddling her shoulders. He pulls a small baggie out of his shirt pocket and waves it in the air. Nikki springs to life when she sees it like she was just given an adrenaline shot. She tries to grab it out of his hands but Tanner pulls it out of reach. “After,” he says, putting the baggie back into his pocket.

Tanner leans forward and rests his hands on his headboard as Nikki undoes his belt. I don’t want to watch anymore. It’s like a horror movie. But I can’t peel my eyes away. But when Nikki pulls Tanner’s dick out of his pants and wraps her mouth around it my stomach rolls. I turn to the side and heave into the grass. “What the fuck was that?” Tanner asks. Nikki pulls off of him, but he grabs the back of her head and starts thrusting into her throat. Her eyes water and she gags every time he pushes in. “Did I tell you to fucking stop?”

Silent tears stream down my face as I witness two people who bear no resemblance to the kids I grew up with—the girl I wanted to be my sister, the boy I wanted to marry someday—destroy everything I thought I knew about them. About our friendship.

It was all lies.

All of it.

“This isn’t fucking working,” Tanner says, pulling out of Nikki’s throat and flipping her around, while grabbing something out of his back pocket. “Let’s see if that snatch of yours has been completely ruined by now, or if it still feels as tight as it did when you were twelve.”

Holy shit.

My entire life is a lie.

This monster is the father of my child.

I can’t breathe. My stomach rolls again. Nikki lifts the scrap of fabric that barely covers her ass up to her waist and reveals that she isn’t wearing any panties. Tanner rolls on a condom, grabs her hips roughly, and pushes himself inside her. Nikki cries out and fists the sheets in her hands. “I’m going to teach you a fucking lesson, slut. You need your fix?, You come here and you’re gonna suck my fucking cock for it, take it in the ass like you are now, but you’ll get what you want, and I’ll get what my future wife thinks she can deny me.”

That’s it. That is all I could take. Bile rises in my throat. I turn to leave but I am suddenly dizzy. I fall onto my knees, my hands landing on the side of the house with a thud. I listen for any commotion, or a sign that they might have heard me, but I don’t hear anything. I stand again and struggle to put one foot in front of the other. Each step is a harrowing adventure. The three blocks home seem like an impossible desert crossing. I’ve only made it a few steps when a voice from behind startles me.

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