Friend Zone

Sometimes You Know When You’ve Been Friend Zoned…

Summer, Year 5
Ellie is 26, Daniel is 39 and Jack is 40

Ellie was out walking in Willow Creek. It was a gorgeous summers day and everywhere looked bright and clean and cheerful. She bumped into Daniel, who was out on a run.
“What are you doing here?” She asked as she hugged her friend.
“I needed to get out of the city,” he replied. “Willow Creek’s so beautiful and it’s my favourite place to run.” He grinned. “And I’m meeting with Jack and the others for some rehearsals at the theatre later.”
Ellie laughed. “That would explain it.”
“Listen, it was great seeing you the other night.” Daniel said suddenly. “You looked amazing in that dress.”
“Oh!” Ellie blushed. “Erm, thank you!”
“I’ve got to run but Jack and I are having lunch at Eden later; why don’t you join us? Say around 1 o’clock?”
“Maybe I will,” she replied, suddenly a little shy. “I have a speech in the city at twelve-thirty so I’ll see you then.”
Feeling a bit shell-shocked, Ellie watched as Daniel jogged on past her. It wasn’t a date; not with Jack there. So what had that been about? She was certain Daniel was still dating Cristina.

Around noon she arrived in the city for her speech. It didn’t gain quite the momentum she’d been hoping for but it was an improvement on the empty audiences she’d been dealing with of late. She wished there was a better way of promoting her charity but there wasn’t much she could do with a limited budget.
Sighing wearily, she at least had lunch to look forward to. The podium for her speech was right outside Eden and she glanced at the door every so often as she waited for Daniel and Jack to arrive.

“She’s a good speaker,” Jack commented. He and Daniel were sitting outside the restaurant, waiting for their table and listening to the tail end of Ellie’s speech.
“She is,” Daniel agreed. “It’s a shame; she doesn’t get half the credit she deserves for the work she puts into that charity. She’s always up here making speeches or in town campaigning.”
“Maybe Willow Creek isn’t the best place for her?” Jack wondered aloud. “I mean, it’s so quiet there. Maybe she’d be better off somewhere else.”
Daniel nodded thoughtfully. Ellie was one of his best friends and he hated to see her unhappy.

“Great speech!” Jack said later as Ellie approached their table.
“Oh you heard it?” Ellie laughed. “Pity the audience response wasn’t as positive.”
“Jack and I were talking earlier,” Daniel started. “Is Willow Creek really working for you? Living there, I mean.”
Ellie shrugged. “Not really. When Hollie and Ethan moved away, it’s been really quiet there. My campaigning has died down a lot.”
“Ever thought of moving?” Jack asked.
“Not that it’s really our business,” Daniel jumped in quickly. “We just were thinking of you.”
She smiled. “I appreciate that. To be honest, I have been thinking about it. Andrea and Jared moved to Evergreen Harbour a while ago and it’s definitely in need of some help. I’ve even been looking at flats there.” She bit her lip. “It sounds like it might be better for me.”
Nodding, Jack sat back. “Sounds ideal. What’s the worst that could happen?”
Ellie smiled and thanked the guys. The thought of moving had been on her mind for a while and this conversation had finally given me the push to do something about it.

After leaving the restaurant, she caught the train to Evergreen Harbour. She wanted another little look around the town before making a decision. Andrea and Jared lived in Conifer Station and the flat Ellie had looked at was in the same area. Looking around, she could see what Andrea meant. The town could definitely use some help; Port Promise in particular looked very polluted.
It was time for a change.

And so within a few weeks, the move was settled. She’d moved into a small flat in Conifer Station and was ready to make a start with improving the local area. She was determined to put World United on the map.
Her first morning in the new town, she went out for a run to get a feel of the place. The streets were quiet and she was pleased to noted the wind turbines and solar panels surrounding most of the houses. Andrea had told her that there’d been some policies introduced in the area for more eco-friendly energy and that was an excellent start.

The shop was doing well too. Word had started to get out and Ellie was delighted to see more customers pouring in with great regularity. It helped that Jack had recently advertised the shop on a video blog he was doing on positivity and that had brought a lot more customers in. Things were beginning to turn around, albeit slowly, for the charity.
It was just a pity Ellie felt she couldn’t accomplish that in her personal life.

To her pleasant surprise, Daniel invited her out to the Arts Quarter in the city a few days later and they had a kickabout in the street. Her feelings about Daniel were complicated. They’d been friends for three years; ever since Ellie had become convinced that Rebecca was in love with him. Daniel had been the one to help her get the charity shop opened; he’d gone with her to scout locations and helped her secure the necessary funding. When things had been going badly with Gerald, Dan had always been there to cheer her up. They’d even had a sneaky hookup at the old karaoke bar in the city two years ago, before he’d met Cristina. They had a three year friendship behind them where they supported each other.
She was attracted to him and she was reasonably certain that much was mutual. She knew he was in love with Cristina but her friendship was obviously important to him.

Unfortunately, Ellie had a feeling that was all she was ever going to be; a friend.
As they watched the fireworks from the Humour and Hijinks festival, Ellie had the distinct impression she’d been well and truly friend-zoned.

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