–based on the form of Joann Beard’s essay “Maybe it Happened”
It could have been the way I was told that we would be friends because we had the same taste in music. It could have been because we were in the same history class and were put together for a group project. It could have been our mutual dislike for war films or our matching affinity for sweet peppers on the pizza we shared while we reluctantly watched them. It could have been my fascination with the doorbell that hung on the wall outside of your bedroom or the posters of pop stars that hung on the walls within. It could have been our complementary personalities. It could have been because it was simply our choice. It could have been a lot of things.
Because of whatever reason you want to believe, we became friends. Because of our friendship, we grew close. Because I trusted you and because you trusted me, our friendship was solidified. Because we shared secrets about the boys we kissed and when you caught your little brother with a cigarette, but you didn’t want anyone else to know. Because we made jokes about Louie, your car that was two years older than you, that we always feared would break down as we went cruising down the highway, getting passed by huge 18-wheelers and laughing about all the drivers that honked at us. Because you immediately drove Louie to my house just to sit with me when I told you that my dad’s cancer came back. Because I held your hand while you cried after that boy broke your heart. Because of more reasons than I could have counted. Because my life was better with you in it than it had been before, because you were the person I wanted to spend my time with, because I had assumed that we were perfectly in sync, I didn’t stop to consider what would happen if (when) you no longer felt the same. Because we were a unit, because you were my best friend.
I never saw it coming. I never saw the signs. I never saw the slow-growing separation that starting building between us until I could no longer see you in the distance. I never saw you choosing to make plans with your other friends, the ones you met at work. I never saw the woman you went to the Stevie Nicks concert with or the girl with three-year-old son that you bought presents for when we took a weekend trip to the beach. I never saw those people, you never introduced us. I never saw a reason that made you choose them over me. I never saw you actually choosing them until the next day when the perfectly posed group photos popped up all over social media. I never saw you changing your mind, and I never saw you deciding that I was the lesser of your options.
The way I waited was pathetic, sitting alone every weekend or asking for extra hours at work because I no longer had a friend to hang out with. The way I reached out to a familiar hand only to find it clasping onto another. The way I avoided my daily scroll through Instagram because of the sting I felt when I saw the photos of you with your new friends doing the things we used to do together. The way I started shopping for the perfect birthday gift for you five months in advance only to remember your gift to me, a thoughtless $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble because you knew I “like books” and figured that I could pick out something I really wanted without having to worry about returning it. The way I wanted to tell you that would have loved anything you picked out because you were so special to me. The way I didn’t realize you had been moving forward while I was stuck in reverse. The way I felt must have never occurred to you.
You left slowly. You left in bits and pieces, part by part. You left one step at a time. You left no trail, nothing to follow. You left half of a set of matching shot glasses to exist without its partner. You left a tube of peach lip gloss and three bobby pins. You left me wondering what I could have done, what huge foul I had committed to be left this way. You left without giving me a chance to try to remedy the situation that I was clearly unaware of, to try to salvage the most valuable connection I thought I had ever made with someone. You left without warning, without a sound, without ringing that doorbell you kept attached to the wall outside of your childhood bedroom to let me in on the secret that our friendship was ending. You left without saying goodbye. You left without really leaving at all. You left but you’re still here, like a habit I never actually wanted to quit.
There should be a way to remedy the emptiness that I’m feeling. There should be a reason. It could have been because I never saw the way you left.
Taylor Melhorn graduated with an English major in December 2016. Her work has previously been published in The Burg. She plans to go to graduate school to pursue editing or creative writing.