Friendship Sad Fiction

“It took you long enough to show up.”

Karis rocked back and forth on the swing in the elementary school playground, the long chains creaking softly in the twilight. “I don’t know why I’m here.”

Reina’s light body descended into the swing next to Karis. “We agreed that we’d meet here in the end. I’ve been waiting for you.”

 “It’s your fault. You didn’t tell me.” Karis stared into the trees beyond the playground swaying in a cool autumn breeze. “Why did I have to find your obituary online?”

“You’ve worked so hard to build a life. I didn’t want to drag you down when you finally had a breakthrough. You deserve joy.”

“I could have been there for you. Don’t give me a line about the fact that I moved out of town, either. That distance wasn’t an issue until a couple of years ago.”

“You’re my best friend, Karis, but the distance did become an issue. Life called us in different directions.”

“You ghosted me when you got the cancer diagnosis because you thought you were protecting me?” Karis snorted. “That’s a thin excuse for the fact that you liked other people better and didn’t want me around.”

Reina rose from the swing. “What do you want? An apology? I’m sorry that I didn’t crash into your life with my tragedy right when you finally found joy in your life.”

Karis looked away. “You thought I couldn’t handle it.”

“I think you’re asking questions that don’t have answers,” Reina lowered back into the swing beside Karis. “I didn’t tell many people about the cancer.”

“And things happen fast with cancer, and you and your family never got a chance to tell your oldest friend that you were dying, and I’ve heard it all,” Karis said.

“I know.”

“I had been trying to get in contact with you the entire time you were sick, and you never replied. Why didn’t you tell me that you didn’t want me bothering you?”

“It wasn’t that,” Reina said.

Karis stopped pacing and stared at Reina for the first time. “Then what was it?”

Reina looked away. “I can’t tell you.”

“You can’t, or you won’t?”

“There isn’t a difference,” Reina said. “There are things the living can’t understand.”

Karis pushed her hair out of her face. “I thought we were best friends.”

“We are.”

“Are we?” Karis turned back to Reina. “If you could do it all over, would you?”

“I would never return to life.”

“I mean, would you have handled it differently? Would you have told me?”

Reina looked at Karis, her form glowing. “No. What I did had a purpose even if it can’t be fully understood in this world. The consequences of telling you would been worse than the reality that came to pass.”

“Then we aren’t best friends, and probably never were.”

“That’s too simplistic,” Reina said.

Karis pointed at Reina. “I was always there for you, but you wouldn’t allow me to do that for you. I don’t know if you were jealous or what, but a best friend doesn’t forget who's always there for them. They are a friend and they let you be a friend. The truth is that you didn’t want me around, and you know what? That’s fine.” Karis grabbed the swing and gave it a push, crashing the chains together. “I shouldn’t have come here. Why honor an agreement for somebody who doesn’t care? Clearly, I thought more of you than you thought of me, and I have no choice but to accept it.”

“Karis –“

Karis waved a hand in the air and walked away. “Go back through whatever interdimensional portal you came through. You moved on without me before you even died, and now it’s time for me to do the same.” She disappeared in the darkness. A moment later, an engine across the parking lot roared to life, fading into the sounds of the night.

“I told you this was a bad idea,” a voice said as light took the shape of a woman in a white dress beside Reina.

“I made an agreement with Karis to meet in this place after the first of us passed,” she touched one of the rattling swings. “We promised on these swings that whoever went first would let the other know we’re alright.”

“You’re lucky you were allowed to keep that agreement. Times to touch the mortal world are rare. Why use one for this? It doesn’t sound like she cares anymore.”

“She does.” Reina smiled. “She wouldn’t have come if she didn’t.”

 “You agreed to come to this place to assuage her grief, but that has no boundaries. It is an issue for the living. Leave her alone and let the living help her.”

Reina shook her head. “I couldn’t.”

“Why not? You have absolution, Reina. You have repented for and been forgiven for all wrongs in your life. Now you have passed on to eternal peace. Why did you insist on keeping a promise, only to be scorned? She will understand when her time comes. You can’t change that.”

Reina looked up. “She needed it so she could start healing.”

Their light sat silently in the darkness that had descended over the playground. The swings slowed their clacking, falling still in the cool night air.

“Life on their side of the veil is not that simple,” the woman said. “They don’t let go. Their limited perspective means it will take time, more than you have to visit this mortal plain. You’ve kept your promise. Now accept your absolution and peace.”

“Karis took the first step to unlock the grief she’s been holding for too long. She is free, now.” Reina touched the chain to one of the swings. “She just needed a push in the right direction.”

The woman’s light stretched toward Reina’s form. “Then your job in this world is done. Come back home.”

Reina’s light dissolved up the chains and into the breeze blowing through the night.

October 18, 2023 23:50

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