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Creative Nonfiction Friendship

You have brown eyes. You throw your head back when you laugh, covering your mouth to hide the insecurities but by now it’s just a habit–you’re used to me being around and never thinking of you as anything less than completely and breathlessly stunning. In this moment your room is dark except for the flickering street light coming through your window to highlight your skin. I can’t remember what I said to make you laugh, but we’re adding onto it, I can just barely see the pink tint to your skin and the tears in your eyes. You show all your teeth when you smile. I can see that smile—your real smile—when you pause to type something into the FaceTime chatbox.

You love peaches. If you could live anywhere in the world it would be Georgia because you love them so much. You’re making peach tea, the whole room is light this time. The white fabric of your shirt sways as you move about the kitchen and you hum today’s favorite song. I’m watching you through the screen—we don’t talk, because right now we don’t need to. We have each other’s company in the soft, gentle moments like these. You walk to put the stirring spoon in the sink and when you look back at me our eyes meet for a moment and I can’t help but smile. You’re so pretty.

Your hands are always cold. It’s been so long since I’ve seen you in person, now I can hold you and brush your hair from your eyes. While holding your hand I can feel the ring you always wear and the edge of your jacket sleeve bouncing with our every step. It’s still warm out but you always wear a jacket and I know why. In the quiet moments I trace the scars lining your arms, though I whisper it’s okay I’m thinking that I will never let anything bad happen to you. I promise I will always be there. No one's going to hurt you.

Your voice is very soft. Through a screen you always spoke lightly, now you are more confident. But now is our time, despite the people bustling around us in the little hallway. I’m anxious around you, but gently you lift my head and I see the bit of gold in your eyes before you tell me I’m very pretty. Maybe this world isn’t so bad after all?

You like underrated songs. The song comes out a bit glitched through the screen. I want to be in your room with you, dancing just as you are. This is your favorite song today—I have never heard it but I scroll through the lyrics to find out why you like it. You love to sing but are very shy about it. You have sung for me once before–a song you made yourself. It was beautiful just as you are. I think of what it would have been like if I had never talked to you that one day, we would never be here in this moment, and that world I was glad I wasn’t part of.

You have dark curls and bangs you don’t like. You tell me stories of your childhood on special occasions, and I love to listen. Today is Sunday, you are getting ready for church and telling me how you don’t like your bangs–your mother wanted them when you were little and since then you don’t like how you look without them either. You don’t like the way you look with makeup. Mascara is for special occasions. So you spend your time putting your hair up and I ask if I may do your hair the next time I see you. Yeah, if you’d like to.

You are very protective. You hide this very well but I notice when you walk between me and the guy tagging along with us, when he moves so do you. I notice it when you take me to the bathroom to wash the awful words I’ve marked on my arms in the same way I’ll bandage your marked-up skin—you’ve never liked blood. You protect me against my anxieties, a soft reassurance. You can call me whenever, it’s no bother.

You love to help people. I know because I can’t find you anywhere, not in the usual places where we’ll meet. I wait anxiously, the buzz of students drowns out the farther I get into my head. But it’s no worry, because you went along with someone else without hesitation simply because they asked. You’ve done this before, I don’t mind. I accept the treat you’ve brought back for me.

You don’t actually like your phone. It’s a show for the others, a bit of a habit almost, for you to scroll mindlessly through social media to avoid unwanted presence of others. You will look up with a gleam in your eyes only to a familiar voice, often if not always someone asking a favor knowing you will not decline.

You love secrets. Keeping to yourself has always been your ideal, and neither of us have minded this. I say sorry a lot. You wish to keep to yourself, to avoid conflict, so you will always tell me it’s fine. I notice you’ve been getting quieter. I haven’t seen you in awhile. That’s okay, I’ll gladly fill the silence to hear in your texts the mindless nod that means you’re still listening.

You believe that people come and go. Making my way down the hall I see you passing. Time slows as I stare—you do not look at me. There you are, the first time I’ve seen you since the last time you ignored me, months ago by now. You smile, your eyes fixed on the boy beside you, and the girl beside him—your new friends, or maybe your boyfriend, but either way they are my replacements.

This isn’t what I’m thinking about as I stare.

I hope that they bring you happiness—even more than I did. I hope the anxiety curling inside you stays away as you’re around them. I hope you don’t feel the need to accept every chance at a favor to feel valued. I hope they are the people you can forget your insecurities and traumas around. I hope they can love you in all the ways I cannot.

And maybe, maybe in another life those people will be me.

May 03, 2023 23:23

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17:20 Oct 25, 2023

Gosh. Found this and really love it. This is so real. And relatable. I love this: You don’t actually like your phone. It’s a show for the others, a bit of a habit almost, for you to scroll mindlessly through social media to avoid unwanted presence of others. You will look up with a gleam in your eyes only to a familiar voice, often if not always someone asking a favor knowing you will not decline. Incredible insight into a real personality. Thanks for sharing this!

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