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Teens & Young Adult Sad Friendship

"Well a filler chapter would work best here," Zefaia said, leaning over the well-worn wooden table. She pointed at one of my many messy lines of writing. "After all the drama from the last chapter, it makes sense to have something to wrap it up. Kinda like a mini resolution, yeah?"


I nodded even as my mind swirled. "A filler..." I murmured, biting the inside of my cheek. A long, exasperated sigh escaped me. "Why didn't I think of that?"


Zefaia laughed as I dramatically slammed my head into my notebook, and she said, "You just needed a new perspective, is all."


"It's just in my blood to try and make everything so much. I always forget about breaks." I turned towards her, my chin sliding along crisp paper silently.


"Did you want to talk about it?"


I frowned. "What do you mean?"


Zefaia sighed, flipping her large wreath of curly hair over to one side, the yellow light of a lamp kissing the free side as she did. She said, concern etching her words, "That sounded as if it might've been related to something a little more personal than just writing. So did you want to talk about it?"


My stomach sank a little. There were many words I wanted to say, but to lay it on Zefaia after all she had done...


"Um...I guess?" I finally replied. Trust goes both ways, I reminded myself. I needed to trust her just as much as she trusted me with her worries. I could do this.


Zefaia gave me a long look, waiting for me to continue patiently. The words clustered around awkwardly, until, finally, they fell out.


"I guess I just have to fill everything to the fullest for everyone even if it leaves me with nothing sometimes - and it's worse because I know I do this but I can never...do anything about it."


Zefaia nodded, leaning over the table. She took one of my hands comfortingly. "Taking a break is a good thing, and so is pushing yourself to do your best. There is nothing wrong with that.


"It's finding the in-between that is a struggle. One we all deal with - whether we acknowledge it or not."


I bit the inside of my cheek. "I guess...I just feel like I need to give everyone everything all the time and make sure they are happy. I don't like conflict or anyone to be sad or hurt or alone; it just makes me feel even worse," I said, staring hard a piece of paper that I didn't really see.


Zefaia smiled in a way that brightened the cracking glass in my chest - smiled in a way that made everything right in the world. "I can tell that you do that," she said, followed by a small huff of laughter. "But taking a break is fine. Taking a break is good."


Taking a break is fine; taking a break is good. But taking a break...


"But what if someone needs me? Or they do something bad while I'm away? Or if something - I don't know - bad happens to them and I'm not there and they need me? And I want to be needed and help and make a change." Something wrenched in my chest as I said it, if only to tell myself how true it was. How...painful it was to want something so complicated.


Zefaia took the pencil and paper I'd been using and began scribbling on it - something she tended to do while she thought through things for a second. I merely watched an eye, another eye, a nose, then a mouth appear silently before she finally said, "The world keeps on spinning even if you take a break, Ali."


I sighed, watching her add hair, a neck, a pair of strong shoulders. "It's not going to end because of you missing one thing and taking time for yourself," Zefaia continued. "How are people supposed to rely on you if you're not at your fullest?"


She finally looked up as I frowned. "I just don't want anyone to be sad or alone or hurt without me there. It wouldn't be fair."


"I understand that, but you can't help them if you are also alone and sad and hurt." She put her pencil down, catching my eye before I could glance at whatever she'd drawn.


"I guess you're right..." I said hesitantly, picking through her words and trying to understand them. It made sense - what she said. How could I help people if I was always in the same mindset? I wouldn't be able to help; I'd just agree with them.


But before I could stop myself, I whispered, my voice rasping, "What's the purpose?" I glanced up. "Why do I feel this way?"


Zefaia blinked. "What way?"


"Like...like I can't give myself good things? A break is good for me, and I understand that. But why does some part of me not let myself have it?" I sighed and hid my face behind my hands, blinking rapidly to avoid the sudden burning in my eyes. I didn't want to cry. I shouldn't cry.


I heard Zefaia shift in her seat as she assessed me. "Well, it's a common thing for people to do that - and is associated with the sense that they don't deserve it."


The words ricocheted through me.


It cracked and shattered and rebounded and echoed; it was the words I didn't want to acknowledge. I don't deserve it.


"Is it because I was hurt?" I whispered. "Is it because I was tainted?"


The way Zefaia's face fell...it was exactly what I always wanted to avoid. It was the reason she was the only one who knew I'd been through some shit, that I'd been given away and taken away and split apart just to figure out why I was sad. It was the reason, I knew, that I didn't deserve anything because I did that to her - gave her that sadness and concern. Because I...I had been far too broken to have any use for good things.


"You were the one who was hurt, not the one doing the hurting," Zefaia said softly. Her hand squeezed mine. "It doesn't make you any less worthwhile to be a little broken inside, to be hurt and hurting. You are still a human being, and you still deserve the basic respect that all humans should hold with each other."


My chest cracked, and suddenly I was sobbing and heaving for breath - because those were the words I always wanted to hear but never believed I would. I am not any less worthwhile.


"I want to be okay with everything," I sobbed pitifully, not even trying to hide my tears anymore. The dam had broken, and I couldn't hold it back anymore. "I want to move on - from everything. And be okay with being with people and be okay with being broken and having respect. I just...don't."


"You should get used to it, Ali, because it's going to be there everyday until it comes to pass; until you find a way to be okay with it even if you're not sure you deserve it," Zefaia said sympathetically.


"I guess, but-" I choked on a breath until I was sniffling and wiping away tears furiously, my eyes feeling swollen. Zefaia kept brushing her thumb over the back of my hand to soothe me from across the table, giving me time to think and just feel for a second.


"I don't know if I can get there," I finally said softly, voice reed thin from my sobs. My breath still shook a little bit. "Would you mind...helping me?" I almost couldn't look up. It was the biggest hand I'd ever reached up to anybody; it was too much pressure, too much of a responsibility for Zefaia-


"Of course. Of course, of course, of course, of course," she said, gently tapping our joined hands against the table in emphasis. She gave me a sad, lop-sided smile. "Think of it as a hobby - to find out how to be okay with this broken world we live in, and be okay with the good in it that you're still given. I'll take up the hobby with you; it really is my favorite hobby ever," she added, trying for a humorous tone.


I laughed a little, the sound almost grating on my ears. But it felt nice; it felt loose and more heartfelt than any before. For the first time in awhile...I felt good.


"Thanks, Zefaia. I don't know what I would do without you." I wiped my eyes one more time before holding her one hand in both of mine. "I don't know what I'd do without you. I'm glad I have you."


Zefaia's lips quivered for a second before she beckoned me to her side of the table. She pulled me into a bone-crushing hug.


And, from that day onward, I practiced a new hobby.


The hobby of life.


(Edit: I just realized that I didn't necessarily start the story with the main character being talked into a new hobby, but rather a gentle slope into the suggestion of the hobby?? I don't know; make of it what you will)

January 24, 2021 03:33

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