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Friendship Sad Drama

Amanda’s face lit up at the sight of a tattered green Peugeot rumbling it’s way down her street. Through the windscreen she could see her best friend’s smile that matched her own. Doranne pulled up at the curbside and barely had the handbrake on before she flung the door open and raced over to Amanda. They wrapped each other up in a tight hug, threatening to never let go.

“I can’t believe I finally get to see you in person again!” Doranne squealed.

“Tell me about it! I had to go a whole year without squishing this face!” Amanda playfully pinched Doranne’s cheek between her chunky thumb and forefinger.

“I can’t wait to tell you all about it,” Doranne said as she grabbed Amanda’s hand and pulled her towards her house. Amanda tightened her grip on Doranne’s hand and stayed put.

“Um, why don’t we go straight to the coffee shop? That would be better right? Else we’ll just get distracted and they’ll close… you know I need my caffeine hit!” Amanda laughed nervously. Confusion washed over Doranne’s face.

“I was really hoping to at least use your bathroom? You know I’m fussy about public ones.”

“Oh, I hear this coffee shop runs a tight ship and keeps their bathroom spick and span. It’s better than even your own one at home! Let’s go,” She looped her arm through Doranne’s and tried to drag her away. This time, Doranne stood her ground.

“Just let me use your toilet, Mandy. Please?” Amanda stared at Doranne, unblinking and unmoving.

“Fine.” Amanda relented. She yanked her house keys out of her pocket and strode towards her house.

“Thank you!” Doranne said, struggling to keep up.

Amanda put her key in the lock and looked to Doranne before turning it, as if to double check Doranne was serious. Doranne looked back at her, creasing her eyebrows together and silently wishing her to open the door. With a sigh, Amanda turned the key and let the door swing open. Doranne marched on in with the confidence only a best friend could have. When she realised there was no longer an easy pathway into the house she came to an abrupt stop. Piles and piles of papers, books, plastic storage boxes as well as a large variety of nick knacks were stacked and scattered all around. There was a small square of empty space immediately in front of the door but every other inch of space had been smothered by… stuff. The air inside was musty and stagnant. The opening of the door had unsettled what looked like months worth of dust, gusts of air sending it into mini tornadoes across the mess. The dust found its way down Doranne’s throat and into her chest, tickling her all the way down. She turned to look at her friend, to ask for an explanation, but Amanda had her back to the door, head looking down to the ground.

“Amanda? What is all of this?” Doranne asked, in between coughs.

“Oh, you know…” Amanda started, still staring at the floor, “just some things I’ve… collected.”

“Right…” Doranne replied, refocusing her attention on maneuvering through the cluttered house. A skinny, weaving pathway emerged. Doranne started to pick her way through as she thought back to the previous year. The house was unrecognisable… it used to be pristine with it’s tasteful decoration and everything in its place. The house had been light, airy and open. Now it was dark, dusty and cramped.

Once Doranne had climbed the stairs with the precision of a cat, she decided to have a quick peek at the other rooms. The landing had more of the same - piles and piles of clutter. In the guest bedroom, the oak wardrobe tried poking its head up above the sea of stuff but was clearly struggling to keep its head above water as it drowned beneath strewn clothes, carrier bags, unfolded maps and hundreds of books. Doranne wasn’t sure if the bed was still in here… there was no way of telling. Under a sheet of tarpaulin, Doranne spotted a familiar pattern. As she brought it up to the surface she could see it more clearly - a box wrapped in pink and yellow striped paper. Stuck on top was a note in her handwriting:

Another little treat for you, from Morocco this time. Enjoy! Miss you, D x

Her stomach knotted at the thought of her carefully chosen present being thrown into a pile to join the rest of the junk. As Doranne let this feeling wash over her, she spotted another familiar pattern. And another. She pawed through the pile and found five unopened gifts she had sent from her travels. The knot in her stomach grew bigger. She opened her tote bag on her shoulder and rammed the gifts inside. She feels she’s seen enough and takes herself off to the bathroom.

Amanda spent twenty minutes waiting for her friend to use the bathroom. I should have pushed harder for her to use the bathroom in the coffee shop, she thought to herself. Her insides clenched at the sight of her friend clamouring over her stuff.

As Doranne climbed over the last pile before the front door, she looked up and offered a small smile.

“To the coffee shop?” She asked.

“Yes, let’s go,” Amanda said resolutely. “Oh, I, uh, need my purse. I think it’s around here somewhere…” She quickly rummaged through the two nearest piles and plucked out a small leather purse with a brown dog embroidered on the front. It was one of those purses that would look high end but was secretly dirt cheap. However, dirt cheap was how this one looked as it was worn, abused and forgotten. She searched for notes, coins, and any hint of money amongst the leathery folds. Her gaze intensified whenever she came up empty.

“It’s my treat!” Doranne burst out, “After all, I left you for a life of glamorous travel,” she laughed hesitantly. Amanda looked her up and down, eyes narrowed.

“Thank you, and so you should!” she said, trying to join in on the joke.

***

Doranne drank in the heavenly scents of freshly brewed coffee and baked sweets as they entered the coffee shop. As it was early afternoon, the lunchtime rush was filtering out and making room in those comfy booths that everyone loves to get. They joined the queue and decided what to order.

“Oh, I love this mug. Look at it!” Amanda dug her elbow into Doranne’s ribs and pointed to a novelty mug in the shape of a sheep’s head. “Would you mind getting it for me and I’ll pay you back?”

“Oh sure, you have plenty of cupboard space that needs filling.” Doranne commented.

“What does that mean?”

“Oh, uh, well…” Doranne searched for the right words, “We all have too many mugs, right? I mean, where would you even put it?” Doranne turned away slightly. “And anyway, it’ll probably just go into the pile where you threw all my other gifts,” she muttered under her breath.

“What?!” Amanda stared at her friend slack-mouthed. Several customers looked over in surprise. Doranne scrunched up her face in regret. Damn Mandy’s bat-like hearing, she thought.

“What happened, huh? You always treated your home so well. You kept it clean and tidy and everything had its place,” Doranne turned and grabbed the gifts from her tote bag, “You haven’t opened a single gift I sent you either! Do you really believe they belong in the crap piles- that I belong in the crap piles?” Doranne was almost shouting.

“Wow,” was all Amanda could say. She looked her friend of twenty years up and down, then walked away.

“Amanda, wait!” Doranne called after her. But Amanda was already halfway to the door. Her chest was tightening, the walls were closing in, tears clouding her vision. She had to get away.

Amanda yanked open the door and was power walking away from the coffee shop, down the cobbled street towards the edges of town. She had no idea where she was going but her feet guided her down an old, forgotten route.

Her stomach was roiling as she thought over the conversation in her head. How could Doranne think that? How could she think she deserved to be in the ‘crap piles’?? Her fists clenched and unclenched as she marched up a steep hill. Huffing and puffing, she reached the top. Her breath was whipped away from her by the violent winds. Her clothes were thrown about against her skin, and then pulled away from her as if desperate to be ripped off her. Through a squint, Amanda could make out a bench that was nestled into the hillside below her. Her heart swelled as she realised where she was. She stood there, on top of this great hill, trying to catch her breath. It caught on the heavy lump that sat in her throat. After what felt like an eternity, her feet started to pull her towards the bench. Her stomach had sunk to the bottoms of her feet, as if trying to stop them moving forward. She rounded the bench and stood before it. The hillside sheltered her from the battering winds and provided a strange sense of quiet.

The bench was simple in its form: wooden, slatted and sunk into concrete. It had aged since she last saw it. It presented a plaque that had been tarnished by time. A sob caught in her throat as she read the familiar but forgotten words:

My dear Harold,

Goodbyes are not forever,

Goodbyes are not the end.

They simply mean I’ll miss you,

Until we meet again.

Hand covering her mouth, desperately trying to stifle the sobs that wracked her chest, she collapsed onto the bench.

“I’m so sorry, Harold,” she cried into the hillside, “I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to come and visit.” Hot tears streamed down her cheeks. Her heart ached like it was trying to split itself in two.

“I thought I might find you here,” Amanda was startled by her voice, both disappointed and thankful to see Doranne standing before her. Doranne sat on the opposite side of the bench, leaving space between them. 

“The house feels too empty without him…” Amanda started, cut off but another flood of tears. “And then you went off exploring all of these amazing places… I couldn’t focus at work… so I got fired… I felt… I just felt…”

“Alone?”

“Left behind!” Amanda sniffed. Doranne placed a hand on Amanda’s knee. “I haven’t been able to hold another job since. I’ve spent all my money trying to fill the house with… anything. Everything. Things that remind me of him. You.” Amanda took a deep breath. “But I can’t live like this… I know I can’t. But I can’t go back to an empty house either. So, I’m stuck…” she met Doranne’s eyes with a silent desperation.

“Amanda, I’m home now,” Doranne said with a soothing voice. “You’re not alone. This can be our project, if you’ll let me help? We can do it bit by bit. We won’t get rid of everything but we can make it more comfortable. How does that sound?”

“A little better… I guess,” Amanda smiled slightly.

August 25, 2021 20:42

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6 comments

Zelda C. Thorne
17:56 Sep 08, 2022

Hi Sam, this was lovely. My favourite part was when Amanda walks off and gets to the bench. I really felt her emotions there. Touching story. Grief does make us do things like that. Bit horrible of her best friend to go off travelling at such a time! Easy reading, your writing has a nice flow to it. One critique: I did get confused here and there when you jumped from being in Amanda's head to being in Doranne's, but that's a stylistic choice. I try to keep to one POV for a scene and do a scene break if I want to switch. But you do you. I ...

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Sam Reeves
18:09 Sep 08, 2022

Thank you! Completely understand your critique there and I appreciate you mentioning this. I've been writing on and off so I'm a bit rusty but will note this for future! Good to know you felt some of the emotions in the story and glad you enjoyed! Thanks for the comment 😊

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Tommie Michele
00:08 Oct 14, 2021

This is a sweet story! That theme of being alone that you touched on is very relatable and super applicable today, what with Covid and all. I like the open ending--hopeful endings are my favorite--and reconnection is one of my favorite things to see in stories like this. This was an enjoyable and heartwarming read. If I had one suggestion, it would be this:

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Tommie Michele
00:10 Oct 14, 2021

Sorry, I accidentally pressed enter and sent the comment early :) my one line-edit suggestion would be "she feels she's seen enough and takes herself off to the bathroom." It's in present tense, but the rest of your story is in past. Nice work, Sam! --Tommie Michele (sorry about the double comment, I don't know what happened).

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Sam Reeves
05:32 Oct 15, 2021

That's a good catch, thank you! I always forget to check for tense Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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Tommie Michele
06:21 Oct 15, 2021

No problem! Tense is a pain in the boots, for sure—I write primarily in present and still find myself slipping into past sometimes. I can’t wait to read more of your stories!

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