Letter to a Friend

28 Feb

 by Claire Trainor

Dear _____,

            Even the sight of your name makes me want to cry. I miss you more than you know. It’s not easy to lose the person you’ve known since you were born. Everywhere I go, I think of you. This town was ours, buzzing with other people, insignificant in the paths of our lives. We were like the pink bubble gum that got stuck in your hair that steaming winter day; wound together so tightly it hurt to separate, and there would always be a piece of you in me, a piece of me in you. I remember those long childhood days, our bare feet skipping softly over the overwatered golf course that you lived on. Walking down the streets downtown, I see the place where we walked when the wind was so heavy it picked us up off our feet. When I take the dog out for a walk, she gets excited when we walk past your house. I tell her we can’t go in there, that you won’t be there to give her a treat. I like to think she understands. Some days, I stand outside those big bay windows that opened up into your high ceilinged, petal pink bedroom and look at the place where we spent so much time. I wonder if your medicine cabinet still holds my toothbrush, the one that I bought because I was at your house so often, I needed to have one there. I wonder if your worn sheets still hold the secrets that we told when our minds were dreary, if they’ve been washed since that Christmas when we lost parts of our innocence. Your bed is made perfectly; you would have hated that. It was all your mother’s doing. Sometimes, from outside your house, I can see your brother walking around. He’s put on some weight, not enough, but he’s not as skin and bone skinny as he was before. Your dog sits by the front door looking out; I think he misses you. I’ve seen your parents a few times. They’ve stopped coming over to my house for dinner though—I think it hurts them to see me, a girl just two months younger than their own daughter, safe and at home. Everyone misses you, sweet girl. People ask how I’m doing, and I just want to scream to leave me alone, to not try and get into my head. One night, lying on thin mattresses, sweltering in New Jersey summer heat, you whispered ‘I was reading that book that you gave me. Heart on my sleeve. And I decided that you wear your heart on your sleeve. But the weird thing is that there are so many passages in your heart that no one is really sure who you are for real. They try to navigate through, and you either put up walls to stop them, or, most commonly, they get scared and they run out as fast as they can. I promise that if you let me in, I won’t run away. But you have to let me all the way in’. You’re the only person I would have ever let explore those passages of who I was. You’re the only person I trusted enough not to rip my heart out.

            And now, it’s too late. You’re gone. I wish I would have let you in. Led you gently down the halls, painted with the blood of my body. I wish I had let you see my questioning, the thoughts that I couldn’t seem to shake out of my head. I wish I would have told you about the time she took my hand, led me down the hall, and let her lips graze mine. I wish I could have told you about those sleepless nights, without fear of being judged. I know now that you never would have judged me. How could you? You were my best friend. One summer, we had been playing in the park near our house, and we had cut the balls of our feet. We pushed the bloody skin together until we were sure that each other’s blood was in our veins, laughing at our lack of balance, clutching each other tightly to remain up right, and then we had collapse on the grass below.

        You told me everything. One night, lying on my squeaky canopy, buried beneath the quilted comforter I bought for $39.67 at the Dependable Cleaners unclaimed clothing sale, the one you loved so much, you let it spill out. You thought I was asleep—it was after and speech and debate meet at my school’s annual ‘Birthday Bash Black Light Dance’, and I was tired. I wasn’t asleep. I want you to know that I heard you. I heard about your pregnancy, that party you went to that you didn’t want to. I heard about your failing tests, the grades dropping. You not knowing what to do. I heard about your parents kicking you out if they were to learn of what you had done. You poured it out. You kissed me on the cheek when you were done talking, whispered ‘good night’ to the silent room, but I guess you were crying too hard to realize that there were tears seeping out of my own eyes.

            If I had woken up that night, would you still be here? Would you have not gotten on that Greyhound bus destined for somewhere far away from me? Could I have saved you? I would have gone with you. I would have raised your twins with you. Shopped for maternity clothes when the time came. I would have pushed their strollers and stayed up with you through crying nights. I would have let you live with me—a queen sized bed was plenty big for two fifteen year old girls. I had room for a crib. My desk could go; I’d replace it with a changing table in a heartbeat, if it meant you staying. I would have helped you, taken care of you. I still will, just please some back.

            I was reading something the other day, it said that human nature is to put yourself first. Well, I believe that love is what happens when you’d put someone else before yourself without any hesitation. Well, I love you. I’d take away all your pain if it meant you could be happy. I love you and miss you so much it hurts. I lie awake at night and wonder where you are. If you’re warm. If you’re hungry. I wonder about you. Who you’ve become. It’s been 7 months and 15 days since you left. It’s spring, your favorite season. I wear a yellow ribbon in my hair every day because it was your favorite color, it’s the part of you I keep with me. I hid the photo albums from myself, because there are too many pictures of you from childhood.

            I could write this letter forever, but the most important thing that I want to say is that I just want you to come home. I need you, like I always have.




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