Contest #40 shortlist ⭐️

14 comments

Submitted on 05/07/2020

Categories: General


#1. You had the worst personal hygiene and cleaning habits of anyone I’ve ever met. You rarely showered, I never once saw you brush your teeth, and you thought spraying air freshener on your shirts made them “clean” again. Do you remember the day I snuck into your apartment and spent four hours cleaning it top-to-bottom, doing all your laundry, and throwing away the moldy food in your fridge? I told you I was trying to do something thoughtful for a friend, but, truthfully, I only did it to make myself more comfortable - the smell was starting to make me sick. 

It didn’t really compare to your smell, though. The day I did your laundry, I thought I was going to puke. I didn’t want to touch your clothes. They were stiff with sweat and had stains I didn’t want to identify and reeked of you. When you asked to borrow my favorite dress to wear on your date with the delivery boy who brought you pizza four nights a week, I went to the mall and bought you a new one. I was scared I’d have to throw mine away when you gave it back. It was expensive, but I didn’t care. I just wanted you to leave your apartment for once. The night of, I stopped by to help you put on your makeup and remind you to brush your teeth, and I found you in bed, wearing the same clothes I'd seen you in for the last week. You didn’t go - you didn’t even try. You found a new pizza place, instead.


#2. You were always “sick.” At first, I believed you. I blamed it on your lifestyle, of course, but I still wanted to take care of you. I cooked you so many meals and delivered them, even though you lived across town. I put together little baskets of medicine and Kleenex and your favorite movies to cheer you up. I sent you articles about home remedies for your constant colds and sinus infections and stomach viruses and the chronic pain you said you felt. When nothing helped, I started to worry you might have something much worse. I stayed up all night in a panic reading articles about terminal illnesses that matched your symptoms. I begged you to go to the doctor - I even offered to drive you there - but you refused. I thought you were just stubborn or maybe afraid, so I convinced one of the nurses from the clinic to do a home-visit. You slammed the door in her face, and you finally told me the truth: you were never sick. You just wanted someone to coddle you like a child. You wanted an excuse to stay in bed. You wanted someone to worry about you because it made you feel special.


#3. You lied, constantly. You told me you were an orphan, despite the fact that your parents were alive and well and lived an hour away. You told me you grew up in abusive foster homes, but I’ve seen the pictures - you had a beautiful childhood, filled with birthday parties and backyard swimming pools and Christmas mornings. Those scars on your arms weren’t from the near-death car accident you said you were involved in - they were from your first suicide attempt. The one where you sliced your wrists in the bathtub, and your mother found you just in time. The pill bottles in your cabinet - the ones you told me held expired antibiotics that you had forgotten to throw away - were your prescriptions. You were supposed to be taking them every day, but you never touched them. The month you asked me to help you pay your rent and utilities, I was glad to help. You told me you had been wrongfully terminated after confronting your boss about his “unwanted sexual advances,” but that never happened. They fired you because you stopped showing up, and I paid your bills.


#4. You stopped asking me about my day. Actually, you stopped asking me anything at all. We only ever talked about you. Did you know my grandmother died last month? No. Did you know I have a boyfriend? No. Did you know I was worried about my mother because she was waiting on important test results from her doctor? No. You didn’t ask because you didn’t care. I, on the other hand, never stopped asking you questions, and I never stopped listening. Even on the days you complained for hours. Even when you told the same stories over and over. Even when I knew you were just talking to hear yourself talk because you liked the sound of your own voice that goddamn much.


#5. You were mean and bitter to everyone, especially me. I told myself I would be just as jaded and angry as you were if I never took a bath or left the bed, but that didn’t make it hurt any less. You looked for ways to make me miserable. I sat in that cockroach infested apartment with you, night after night, just so you would have a punching bag. The one time I convinced you to come to the bar with me and my friends, you mocked them. You said they were “beneath” you and only someone with “an astonishingly low IQ” would find them entertaining. I ran to the bathroom crying, and they huddled around me, openly wondering how I could be friends with someone so hateful. The next day, I felt like I needed to explain to them that you weren’t always this way. I brought our pictures from college - the ones where you still knew how to smile - and it was like looking at a completely different person. The girl in those pictures never stopped laughing. She loved to go on adventures in the middle of the night. She held back my hair when I puked from drinking too much. She cared about me. Then, she disappeared and, for whatever reason, she left you in her place.


#6. You couldn’t let anyone love you, and you couldn’t love anyone. You had no problem accepting the tokens of my love - the birthday presents, the home-cooked meals, the money I gave you when you needed it - but you kept me at arm’s length. I was supposed to listen to your depressing monologues, but I couldn’t comment on them. I was allowed to do things for you, but I wasn’t allowed to ask for appreciation. Being your friend was a thankless job that wore me down to the bone. I had to walk away. Loving you was going to kill me, and you weren’t worth dying for. 


#7. You left without saying good-bye, and you didn’t take any of your memories with you. I may have walked out of your life, but I said good-bye. Just before I blocked your number, I sent you a text explaining that I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t sit in that disgusting apartment and pretend everything was okay. I couldn’t keep waiting for you to magically get better. I couldn’t watch you rot. I told you how much I loved you and how much I hated myself for not being able to help you. I told you I left my spare key under your doormat so you would always have a place to go to if you needed it. Then, I said good-bye.

 But, you didn’t. You know how I found out? I went to your apartment a week after I sent you that text to bring you some groceries because I was worried about you, and your parents were cleaning out your things - the parents I never knew existed. Your landlord found you when he came by to collect your rent money, but it was too late. You ate a handful of those stupid pills you couldn’t be bothered to take any other day, crawled into bed, and died in a pool of your own piss and shit and vomit. Your parents were so confused. The last time they saw you, you were fine. You were happy about moving into your new apartment, and you were telling them about all the pretty furniture you bought to fill it up. Since you didn’t even bother to leave a note, I had to explain everything. I had to tell them I watched you dessicate. When they asked why I didn’t reach out to them the moment I noticed you were slipping, I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t bring myself to tell them the horrible stories you told me. They loved you and you couldn’t accept it, so you erased them and replaced their memories with monsters. 

You never even touched my key - it was still under the mat. You could’ve gotten off that goddamn couch and driven twenty minutes to see me instead of dying alone in your pig sty, but you were determined to let your dark cloud swallow you whole. You didn’t even put up a fight. 

The worst part is, you didn’t take anything with you. I remember everything - every second of the time we shared. You’re gone, but you’re still here. I can’t get away from you. The moments play in the back of my head like a movie, and I can’t turn it off. All I can do is watch you fall apart and turn into that horrible, ugly person over and over again. It’s sick. Given the choice, I would turn you into a stranger. I would run a fine-toothed comb over every fold and crevice in my brain until all traces of you were gone. I would wrap my car around a light pole right now if it meant never seeing your face in my dreams again. I’ve tried to make peace with your ghost, but I can’t because I’m not mourning you - I’m actively hating you.

 Do you know how guilty I feel? I shouldn’t. I broke my back trying to carry you over your demons. I gave you everything I had. I loved you. I would’ve done anything for you, but you wouldn’t let me. Instead, I had to watch the sadness ravage you. Watch it spread like cancer through everything I loved about you. You gave me a front-row seat to your self-destruction, and when I finally walked out of the theater because it was too hard to watch, you tore down the screen. I never got to see you get better. 

I tell myself if I hadn't walked away, you would still be here. But, I don’t know if that’s a good thing. I don’t think you ever planned to get help. I think you would’ve sat on that couch, festering and molding until your skin fell off in ribbons and the cushions swallowed your bones, as long as I kept coming over. You killed yourself because dying slowly wasn’t worth the hassle if there was no one around to watch it happen. You killed yourself because you lost your audience. 

I’m glad you’re gone. Now, I never have to set foot in that god awful apartment. I never have to wash your smell out of my clothes. I never have to listen to another one of your lazy, self-defeating speeches in the middle of the night. I can use the time I spent caring and worrying about you to indulge myself. Without your monstrous presence, I have space for other people. Better people. People who will reciprocate my affections instead of hoarding them.

Most of all, I’m glad you’re gone because all I ever wanted was for you to find happiness. While I hope that’s what you have now, I can’t spend anymore time loving you. I choose to hate you because hating you is the only way I can cope with losing someone I loved so intensely. If I don’t hate you, I’m afraid I’ll miss you too much, and I’ll find a way to join you. So, good riddance. I’m really glad you’re gone.


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14 comments

Peace Nakiyemba
23:47 May 14, 2020

'You gave me a front-row seat to your self-destruction, and when I finally walked out of the theater because it was too hard to watch, you tore down the screen.' This is my favourite line. I like your descriptions.

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Najwa Zandlo
00:58 May 15, 2020

Thank you so much! 💜

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A.r. Eakle
14:44 May 08, 2020

What a roller coaster! I can’t help but feel a personal tone in this story. It’s so intense and heated, and the emotion is more like a love letter than a short story. I’m glad this one didn’t end with a typical happy ending.

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Najwa Zandlo
01:00 May 15, 2020

Definitely some personal tones! I just wanted to channel some of my more angsty feelings regarding friendship.

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Ginny Ivy
01:49 May 07, 2020

Wow! I couldn’t stop reading from the moment I started. Your style of writing is so captivating. What a powerful story.

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Grace M'mbone
18:32 Jun 28, 2020

"So good riddance. I am really glad you're gone." I could understand the persona all through. I love the flow. I love the plot. I just love the entire story. You keep your readers engaged and I love that too. Brilliant.

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Richard Khamani
21:07 Jun 05, 2020

This is magnificent.

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Sadia Faisal
15:39 May 25, 2020

nice story, please like my story if you like it and follow me

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Joey Carroll
05:58 May 21, 2020

This story seems to come to life as a personal experience. I could smell the stench and feel the crustiness of the situation. The battles and lengths the narrator went through in order to navigate the friendship are evident.

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20:41 May 13, 2020

Such an emotionally empowering story with immensely beautiful descriptions! Such a great read! Sincerely, A.

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Najwa Zandlo
00:59 May 15, 2020

Thank you! It was definitely one of the harder stories I’ve written!

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12:52 May 15, 2020

Well it was really enjoyable! Yours truely, A

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Lara Macgregor
22:20 May 10, 2020

Wow, this story is filled to the brim with powerful emotions.

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Khadija S.
00:41 May 07, 2020

This is to very well written, but ago very sad.

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