subject line: happy birthday. December 23, 2018 by Hannah Brencher The wrong side of “friends” and “something else.” The date is in my phone calendar, set to repeat each year through 2100. Three years ago today we baked a lopsided cake together. (Only you would insist on baking your own birthday cake.) I accidentally bought half-and-half instead of heavy cream and the frosting turned out too thin and the layers didn’t quite stay in the right spot no matter how hard we tried. Two years ago we Skyped into the morning. You yawned and looked at the clock and we both laughed at how we had lost track of the hours. Last year I called you during that hour between your biology lab and my anthropology lecture on Mondays, and we laughed about that cake and marveled at the fact that it still tasted good in spite of everything we’d messed up.This year, nothing has changed for you or for us, but everything has changed for me. Frankly, I’m hesitant—no, I’m afraid to call you. I’m afraid that in the minutes and hours that pass between us (because our phone calls have never been short), it might finally slip out. After over three years of friendship—countless Wednesday morning coffee runs, baking attempts that have turned out much better than that first cake, sorting through old records in thrift shops, hushed conversations in my car late at night, my head on your shoulder and your arms around me that time the heater was broken, those shared looks that for a brief moment might have said everything.