A Friend

by Michelle Whatever

I remember when I first met you. There you were. You were crying uncontrollably. It was your first day of kindergarten and you were scared shitless. Then you told me the white crescents on my fingernails were called ‘moons’ and grew/shrank based on how much milk one drank. I knew we were friends from that moment.

You and I hung out a little bit.

The third grade we had the same shitty teacher who hated us. Your friends were my friends. My friends were your friends. We began to hang out more and more. We sat next to each other in class.

My parents hated you. They told nine-year old me things like ‘one day that kid will die of a drug overdose. His body will be destroyed there won’t be anything left. All that will be left is a tiny piece of him, like a smudge of an experiment gone wrong.’

I had a dark childhood.

Fourth grade I spoke three times. I spent most of my time inside my own head and watched you fold origami cranes. My only memory of the whole year was a response to a kid mentioning how their sister was attacked by a chipmunk in Disneyworld. I asked ‘Was it Chip or Dale?’ which everybody found really funny.

By the fifth grade I started my ‘get creative one year, die the next one’ period where one year I’d get it together, the next I’d drop off. The fifth grade we became closer friends despite our different classes. I was a total jerk that year.

People began to flirt with me. I felt happy and angry all the time.

Middle school was rough. I had decent grades. We shoplifted from the local supermarket together. Both of us began sort of drifting away from what was wholesome. Eventually the supermarket installed a security camera. It sucked.
The end of Middle School I grew further apart geographically speaking. My parents sent me to a private school for ‘academic’ and ‘disciplinary’ reasons. We hung out after school. I called you a bunch of times during the weekends, asking to hang out.

You stopped calling me back.

College happened. We went to different schools. Over the summers we re-connected. I remember you invited me to a party at your house. I got extremely stoned and jumped on the trampoline. Eventually my mother called extremely upset at being given the wrong information about where I was. Years later they didn’t trust you. She screamed at me for signing up for the wrong classes for college. When I returned home she just yelled at me a lot. She knew I was probably on drugs, but she couldn’t outright say it. Instead, she expressed disappointment at a high volume.

A weird thing happened during college. You dropped out. You got committed. I didn’t hear from you for years. Whenever I heard your name it dealt with drug use or sketchy behavior. Ex-girlfriends hated you, stalked you. I never had anyone interested in me by then. So I gave up getting in touch with you and worked in an office for a few years.

Several years later I prepared to move on and quit my job. One of my friends bumped into you at a party and we re-connected, years later. They called, excited to re-introduce us, old friends. We hung out again but your mind was totally fried. I pretended not to notice.

I figured it was just nice to see you again.

This Christmas I sat in the back of a casual acquaintance’s car. He was playing some Northern California drug music, Pretty Lights or some shit. I asked if you would be at the party. We were all going. He causally said ‘No, he’s in rehab for Heroin addiction’.

He was going to say more but I kept repeating ‘in rehab for Heroin addiction’ for about ten minutes which worried him. He didn’t say anything during the rest of the ride as I watched the suburbs pass me by. At the party I laughed a lot at anything to try and forget what he told me.

But I didn’t forget.

When I reconnected with you I thought ‘Maybe you’ll get it together, go back to college, and become an engineer like you wanted.’

Now I know that’s probably never going to happen.

 I don’t want my parents to be right. I don’t want to lose such a close friend, a friend so close we practically share the same voice, same deep pitch, same general apathy, political beliefs, etc.

I just want you back my friend. Come back.

Michelle Whatever doesn’t need your approval. She already has it.

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