Kourtney and Nini met when they were eight years old, neither could tell you the exact moment they became friends, it was almost like a magnetic force pulled them towards each other. One minute they didn’t know the other existed and the next they couldn’t live without each other. They held hands when they would walk home from school, Kourtney would braid Nini’s hair and Nini would tickle Kourtney’s sides when she wasn’t looking. They were inseparable.
A thing Kourtney found through being Nini’s friend was that she didn’t come alone. Wherever Nina Salazar-Roberts went, Richard Bowen followed. Nini and Ricky were a package deal, having known each other since kindergarten. They shared their own secret language with each other, being able to communicate through their eyes and facial expressions. Kourtney liked that her and Ricky bounced off each other well, they were both playful enough that they could send jabs back and forth to each other without getting upset. It shocked her that she didn’t mind having him around at all.
And everywhere Ricky went, Big Red would follow. Kourtney immediately liked Red, he was soft-spoken, sweet and wouldn’t hurt a fly. She thinks they complimented each other well. Sometimes she could get too in her head and insecure about things that probably didn’t matter, and Red mellowed her out and reassured her every time.
And soon enough, one became two became three became four.
The four of them did everything together, sleepovers, picnics, and supported each other through everything. Red and Ricky would always drag Nini and Kourtney to the skatepark to watch them (even when all the girls did was complain that it was boring, they enjoyed seeing their boys anyway), Nini always needed their support when she’d audition for musical productions (even if she was just playing a tree in the end) and Kourtney always forced the boys to let her practice her makeup skills on them (even though they whined and moaned, they’d do anything for her and she knew it).
Kourtney wasn’t sure if her best friends were just oblivious, or if she was just too observant for her own good. But she was the first one to notice when things started to change. She knew when they were thirteen years old that Red was in love with Ricky, a part of her thought that maybe he always had been. She could see the way his eyes instinctively followed Ricky whenever he’d walk into a room, the way they’d light up when he smiled. And she saw the way the sparkle in his eyes would dim when Ricky wrapped his arms around Nini, playfully pinching her sides to make her laugh.
The day she knew she was right was the day Ricky lashed out about Nini getting cuddly with some boy that lived down the street. He ranted and ranted at Kourtney and Red for twenty minutes before storming away, not wanting to admit that he was jealous. The moment he was out of sight she heard Red’s shaky intake of breath, and noticed the tears pooling in his eyes. And in that moment all she could do was reach out, grab a hold of his hand and squeeze as hard as she could.
Kourtney didn’t want things to change anymore than they already had. But they did.
By Freshman year of High School, the dynamic within the group had shifted. Kourtney and Nini still spent every possible moment they could together, similar with Red and Ricky, but something was different between the four of them. And that was the fact that Red was in love with Ricky, who was subsequently in love with Nini, who was oblivious to her own crush on Ricky and Kourtney was left to observe all the cracks starting to form within the group of people she loved so much.
Kourtney was alone at the skatepark with Ricky the night he finally admitted to his feelings for Nini. He rested his head on Kourtney’s shoulder and rubbed his hand across his face, staring at the stars like he was looking for answers. Kourtney loved Ricky, and she loved Nini, and she loved Red. They were her family. So Kourtney told Ricky to tell Nini how he felt, because all she wanted was for them to be happy. Even if she was indirectly breaking Red’s heart in the process.
When Nini and Ricky became a couple, she was happy for them. Really, she was. But she couldn’t help but feel slightly left behind in the process. Girl nights with Nini had become “talking about Ricky nights” and although she adored Ricky, a part of her would always love Nini that little bit more. She missed her best friend more than she thought imaginable.
Movie nights with the four of them slowly turned into Ricky and Nini’s date nights, with just a sprinkling of time with the four of them in between. So Red and Kourtney leaned on each other when they felt like their best friends were slowly fading from them. Neither of them wanted to confront Ricky and Nini about the way they felt, because they were just so incredibly happy, and it warmed their bodies from their hearts down to their toes to see the two people they cared about more than anyone feeling that way.
But, even though Ricky and Nini were a couple, it was still the four of them against the world, just like they always said it would be.
It was eleven pm on a Friday night when Nini called Kourtney in tears, barely able to get any words out, each breath she took sounding like a fight. And it was eleven fifteen pm when Kourtney was in Nini’s bedroom, cradling her and rocking back and forth, wiping all her tears away and telling her how much she loved her. As much as Kourtney observed her friends and was wary about the changes within their little group, this was something she never saw coming. And she knew, in that moment that nothing would be the same between them again.
When Kourtney was in the safe space of her own bedroom that night, she sobbed and sobbed. She knew that she would choose Nini every time, no matter what, she was her best friend and she would walk through fire for her. But that didn’t make losing Ricky and Red any easier.
They had minimal contact throughout summer, Red would still text sometimes and Kourtney would hover over Ricky’s name in her contacts when she was bored. But she never replied and she never called.
Nini lost part of herself when her and Ricky split up and Kourtney knew it. All her confidence was shattered and broken, it hurt her to think that maybe Ricky felt the same. She decided that being hostile towards the two boys would be easier to deal with the loss of their friendship than letting her emotions be on show. She chose Nini and she knew Nini would choose her too. It’s just the way their friendship had always been.
Kourtney would do anything for Nini, but she couldn’t help but feel like she lost a part of herself too.