I Had A Friend

Disclaimer: the following is a piece of writing. It does not reflect the author’s life in any way. The characters in this piece of writing do not exist. If you are concerned about the author’s well-being, please read through all her recent posts talking about how much she loves her life, and feels happy and satisfied. Just had to clarify before people got concerned.

 

A couple years ago, I met somebody who changed my life. I can barely write her name, because it hurts so much.
Jill.
She wasn’t a teacher, a mentor, or a coach. She was just a friend.
And I miss her. Because, for the short time I knew her, I could finally say that
I had a friend.

I’d never had friends, and Jill was special somehow.
Unique.
I met her in English class the first day of my eighth grade year. She was at the desk in the very back of the classroom
eating eraser shavings.
There were no other desks left, because I’d come in a minute late.
So I was forced to sit with her.
The first thing Jill asked me – a peculiar thing – was
“Do you have a best friend?”
I was taken aback.
There were plenty of acquaintances in my life, of course. But no best friend.
I was shy and reserved, not wanting to open up about myself, so I lied and told her that
yeah
I had a friend.

Every day in class, as our crotchety old teacher rambled on about who knows what
me and Jill sat next to each other, awkwardly.
Jill and I, I should say.
It was English class.
She drew fantastic pictures, truly lifelike, as if her sketchbook was a mirror to her mind.
And of course, she always ate the eraser shavings.
I wanted to ask her why, or how she drew so well. I had so many questions,
but I was too shy.
Jill noticed.
She did the talking,
and it began with
“I had a friend…”

“…who taught me everything I know about art.”
Jill talked to me about her childhood soulmate, a fictional character.
Apparently she learned to draw by listening to what the character told her
in a book.
I thought she was crazy, but intriguing. It took me until the end of the year to tell her anything about myself, deep down.
I told her that I was lonely.
I don’t know why I told Jill, of all people. Maybe it was because I was tired of having nobody.
Being friendless.
Jill looked up from her drawings and looked at me inquisitively.
I started to cry, and as I did
so did she.
No words were needed. I just wanted to be heard.
Jill heard.
And just like that
I had a friend.

We became inseparable, hanging out all the time.
Jill was so incredibly peculiar.
She pulled grass from the ground and put it in her hair, pretending to be the Incredible Hulk.
She couldn’t sing to save her life, but she did anyway
to everybody. Strangers in grocery stores, even.
Christmas songs in May, beach tunes in January. Everything she did was with the intent of idiosyncrasy
and amusement. She entertained me.
Captivated me.
I never even had to say much – I just took it all in. For years.
I wasn’t alone anymore.
I had a friend.

Sometime in my senior year, things changed. I still don’t know why.
Jill became angry. She threw things. Screamed at people.
Cried for no apparent reason.
One time, she called me at four in the morning, babbling on about how
she only wanted to be loved.
I told her I loved her.
She called again the next week. Then the week after that. Not always at four in the morning.
Sometimes at eleven at night.
Sometimes right after school,
and always with the same question.
“Does anybody even love me?”
I told her I loved her.
Time and time again.
Jill stopped being so gregarious and agreeable. All she wanted to discuss was
her own loneliness. Her own pain. Her own sorrow.
Her own, her own, her own.
The girl who had once taken everything off my shoulders, supported me, showed me her drawings
gave me light and weightlessness
now bore down upon me, endlessly.
I remember sitting on my bed one evening, alone, wondering if we were friends anymore.
She didn’t act like it. We never had fun. I never received love from her.
But I was shy and lonely, and I didn’t want to distance myself from her – no matter how much she drained every ounce of life from me.
I didn’t have a friend anymore; I had a daughter
to care for.
But I lied to myself,
told myself that
I had a friend.

In May, one dreamy evening, my phone rang
It was Jill.
I answered, annoyed.
I was tired of her calls.
“Shut up and leave me alone for once!” I snapped.
But it wasn’t Jill.
It was Jill’s mother, telling me that
Jill was dead.
I went slack-jawed, breathless, white.
“How?”
She was found locked in her bathroom, hanging from the shower curtain rod.
Her own doing.
I hung up and curled up on my bed,
and I began to sob
uncontrollably.
Because I hadn’t been good enough for her. A mother. A sister.
A friend.
Or so I thought. It was all my fault, I told myself. What was the last thing I’d said to her? I couldn’t recall.
Everything we’d ever done together, every memory we’d shared
just stuck in my mind like pins.
For the first time in four years, yet again, I was alone.
Jill was alone, too, in a coffin, wrapped up in a silly blue dress she never would have worn.
Nothing more than a corpse and a stone that read,
“Jill, a unique light to all.”
A bouquet of flowers, and
some eraser shavings.
Jill, my wonderful friend Jill, was dead. Forever.
I couldn’t tell anyone, “I have a friend.”
There was no present-tense.
Not anymore.
I have a friend
I have
I had.
I had a friend.

 

 

 

 

 

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