Roman and Jennifer met in fourth grade. Jennifer had just moved to Hillsdale and it was her first day of school. It was recess and a few kids were picking on the new girl. Roman saw this walked over to the group. He gently grabbed Jennifer's arm and pulled her away from the other kids. He said, "Leave her alone. Go pick on someone else." Jennifer then looked at her rescuer's face and back to the hand on her arm. Roman did the same, removed his hand, and he blushed a little. "Oh sorry! Those kids are just mean." Roman said. Jennifer thought his hand felt wonderful on her arm and was sad he let go, and now she had to speak. "Thank you. My name is Jennifer." My name is Roman." He said proudly. Jennifer retorted, "That's a funny name!" Roman said defensively, "I like my name." She retracted, "No. I meant it's neat. Thanks for helping me Roman." Then she ran away.
Roman and Jennifer played a lot together after that. He always stuck up for her when kids would tease her. She was the new girl, she was smart, and she never seemed to let the kid's taunts bother her. However, Roman could not stand it and would always stand up for her. Jennifer secretly liked this and loved it when Roman protected her. The two would walk to school in the mornings and home again in the afternoon. They talked about all kinds of things. They loved to play ball, they made up adventure games, and they rode their bikes all over town. Jennifer never understood why Roman would get sad when she had to go home. He always asked her to play for 10 more minutes. "Don't you have to get home for dinner, Roman?" She would ask. He would always say, "Not yet. It's still early." It really wasn't. It was always after dark and all the other kids were at home. One day, Jennifer found out why.
It was a Saturday afternoon and Jennifer had not seen Roman all day. She rode her bike to his house. The front door was open and she peered in through the screen door. The house was a mess. She heard arguing. She heard stuff being broken. Then she saw a huge man come from another room. He was staggering and yelling. He saw Jennifer. He yelled, "Get out of you stupid kid!" Then she saw Roman stick his head out of his room. She yelled, "Roman!" He saw her and made a dash for the door. His father tried to grab him but just fell down in the process. He began to cuss violently at Roman. Roman ignored it and rushed out the door. He told Jennifer, "C'mon let's go." She was stunned. "What's wrong with your dad?" She asked. Roman snapped back, "I don't want to talk about it. Let's go." So they went. She didn't say anymore about it to Roman. She knew why he didn't like to be at home though.
The two remained very good friends through middle school and into high school. They told each other everything. Except, how they felt about each other. They would talk on the phone for hours about whom they liked for each other. If one of them was going out with another person, they would sit and listen to the other talk all about it. Never talking about the jealousy the other one had. They were both terribly frightened of losing the friendship they had built. They both needed that more than anything else. Every night when they hung up their phones, each would say to themselves, "You know I love you. Come be with me." However, neither of them had the courage to say it aloud.
Towards the end of high school, Roman began hanging out with a different crowd...the party crowd. Jennifer did not like to see her best friend do this. His grades suffered and he was losing interest in everything but partying. The two still talked nearly every night, but it was different. Roman was different. Long ago, Jennifer had realized Roman's father was an alcoholic. She worried about him. She was afraid to say too much because she didn't want to drive him away. Late one night, Jennifer got a call from Roman. He was not making any sense. She asked what was wrong. He said nothing. She asked if he was drunk. He said, "So what if I am?" Jennifer said, "I would prefer it if you didn't call me drunk." Roman got rude with her for the first time in their friendship. He started to berate her. Jennifer hung up and cried for hours. Roman felt terrible and drank himself to oblivion.
The next morning Roman awoke with a splitting headache and even worse remorse. He vaguely remembered yelling at Jennifer. He nearly got sick thinking about it. He got in his car and rushed to her house. She opened the door and said coldly, "What do you want?" He said, "I am so sorry Jennifer. I didn't mean anything I said. I was drunk." She snapped back, "So that makes it all OK then? The person you trust most in the world calls you names and yells at you for no reason, but it's all OK because he was drunk? That's not how it works Roman." Roman didn't know what to say. He had screwed up and had really hurt his best friend instead of protecting her. He apologized again and tried to give her a hug. She pushed him away and told him to leave. She didn't want him to see her crying. Roman left.
Later that day, Jennifer had cried herself out and thought about the situation. She knew Roman was sorry and that he felt terrible. She decided to get over it and give him a call. When he answered she said, "Hey jerk!" Then she laughed. Roman replied, "Hey Jennifer. I'm so glad you called me. I've wanted to call you all day. Have you forgiven me?" She said, "I guess, but let's not do it again." He agreed. She invited him over to watch a movie. He told her he had already made plans to go to a party, but asked if she wanted to go. She said no because that just wasn't her scene. She asked again, "Are you sure you just don't want to come over here?" Roman thought and said, "I'll go to the party for just a bit then I'll come by about ten. OK?" Reluctantly Jennifer said, "OK. I'll see you then."
Ten o'clock came and went and no Roman. Jennifer began to worry. Finally, at eleven o'clock, her phone rings. It was Roman. He was drinking again. He told her he had drank too much to drive and that he was just staying. She was mad. She said, "Roman, do you want to end up like your dad." He was hurt by this but did not get mad. He just said, "Jennifer these people are my friends we are just having a good time." She said, "They are not your friends just because they get drunk with you. Do you call them late at night and tell them the things you tell me? Do you trust them like you trust me? I think you need to look again at who you call your friend." With that she hung up. She was hurt and mad. She knew Roman didn't need to be there. She got in her car and drove over to the party. She barged into the house and down to the basement where the party was. The other people made snide comments as she looked for Roman. She didn't care she was there to help her best friend. She found him talking to a couple of girls and another guy. She walked over, put her hand on his forearm, and pulled him her direction. He thought of that day on the playground so long ago. Jennifer was protecting him this time. One of the girls said, "Hey Roman, I think your mom's here to get you." Jennifer scowled at her and then said to Roman, "You promised me a movie tonight." He said, "I know. Let's go." Roman turned back to the other girl, "Don't ever talk to her like that again." With that they left.
They got in Jennifer's car. Before she could start it, Roman grabber her hand and said, "Jennifer, there is something I have never told you. I've wanted to, but I never could figure out how." She stopped him and said, "I know. I love you too. Now, come be with me."