Caleb spoke first in a low voice. “Zavi, you know you can tell me anything, right? We’re best friends. I love you no matter what.”
Tears formed in Zavien’s eyes, and his hands trembled on the steering wheel as his emotions took over. The tears turned to anguished sobs as Zavien listened to the growing panic in his soul.
Don’t do it. He’s my best friend now, but once he finds out I’m… Ugh, no. I can’t. There’s no way back to safety once I open my mouth.
When he recovered, he took a deep breath and said, “It’s church, it’s just too much with everything else going on right now.” He fabricated a partial lie about the overwhelming stress he felt as his church’s worship leader. Then he concocted a complete lie and told Caleb that if he was caught telling Caleb—a non-church goer—his struggles, his church might kick him out for stepping out from under the authority of the pastor and his parents. Nick Romero, his peer mentor, was the person his church expected him to speak with, not Caleb.
“So, there’s nothing else?” Caleb finally asked, regretting he asked the questions that revealed the disconnect in their close friendship.
Zavien sniffled and shook his head. “No, why? Should there be?”
“I guess not.” Caleb gave his best friend a strange look, but he chose to remain silent and went with the story Zavien spun and didn’t press.
Zavien nodded and felt passing relief.
“Um, you wanna go to the mall with me and get something to eat?” Zavien asked, scrambling to climb out from under the growing weight of the lies pressing upon his chest.
Caleb smiled at Zavien. “Sure. Panda Express has some Kung Pao Chicken with my name on it.”