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Bye, Best Friend

Our friendship was red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, but now it’s grey, slowly morphing into darkness.

This a short story about a the stage of a friendship when it can't be resurrected, when one is left in pain and the other one is left relieved.

“Here’s your cappuccino.” Balancing both of the red polka-dot printed cup with their matching saucers, I walk over to the sofa placing them both on the rustic, chestnut-coloured coffee table in front of us. As Audrey reaches over to grab hers, I notice her eyes lingering on the photo of us in the school play when we played Thing One and Thing Two, with our red turtleneck and bright blue hair. I’d only auditioned as I knew how much it would mean to her if I did and then by a chance encounter, I happened to not only get a lead, but a role that was incomplete without hers. Call it coincidence or fate, but somehow the director must have heard her prayers and granted me more magical powers on stage that I possessed.

“I will pick up the hook, you will see something new. Two things and I call them Thing One and Thing Two. These things will not bite you, they want to have fun.” I say aloud, my smile travelling from my face to Audrey’s. I watch her place her mug on the coffee table in front of her, before running a hair through her short hair. She’d recently cut it in order to resemble that of Audrey’s Hepburn’s when she portrayed Princess Ann in a Roman Holiday, as she was performing in a theatrical production of the same name. She’s looking at me in a way that she’s never looked at me before. Her eyes want to speak but her mouth has no words. I watch her try to speak, but all that I hear is the exhale from her lips. What’s going on? I look down at the russet coloured ellipses that the beverage has stained my cup, like a figure skater had left on the ice whilst performing their exquisite routine.

“Did you know that there are approximately eight hundred compounds produced in the coffee roasting procedure but not all of them result in the same response in our noses’ olfactory membranes, which is why to some people coffee smells like chocolate, nail polish remover, petrol or quite fruity,” I say to break the silence, hoping for an eye roll or the shake of my head at my useless trivia. But nothing. Her lips stay shut but her eyes are aglow.

“Have you seen Bruno?” I try a new tactic, even though I knew very well that Bruno was lying asleep against the front door, his tail most likely moving side to side even in his dream state.

“I can’t do this anymore Val.” I need to catch my cup before it slips out of my reach and hugs the carpet.

“What do you mean?”

“This. Us. It’s not working… I-I can’t deal with your problems when I have too much to deal with myself.” As her shoulders lower I watch a breath of relief flood her body, like she’s been holding this in for so long that it has caused a chaotic storm in her mind; that being my friend has been a permanent scab on her translucent flesh.

“I think we can safely say that these past few weeks we haven’t been there for each other as much as we could and I guess, real life is partly to blame… being an adult and all that.” She stops fiddling with her hands and looks up at me. Her blue eyes are now silent and her lips are full of words, words that make me wish that her tongue hadn’t remembered how to speak.

“Okay. I understand.” But I don’t. And I don’t think I ever will. Why can’t she see, that by her side there was always me?

“Thank you for understanding.” The Lion dodges Audrey’s hand as it reaches over to squeeze mine.

I never use the term best friend freely and when you ponder about it, announcing that an individual in your life is more significant than all of your other acquaintances is a privilege and incredible notion. It entails that between you and someone else there is commitment, trust, mutual growth; someone to navigate through life’s ever-changing landscape with you. It involves two distinct people that mould their lives together to support one another; to listen to each other’s concerns, secrets and fears, holding each other’s hands in times of hardship and making each other laugh when we feel like crying. It doesn’t feel like a chore, it feels like a sweet release.

 In this moment, I realise that that’s what Audrey and I were, ever since we met in our grade one classroom, when her hair was long enough to be put in two braids and I was wearing a flowery headband to keep my fine hair away from my face. Then though high school and now, two university students pursing their dreams. As she lets go of my hand, I can see that in this moment, she has had the same realisation as me. Our friendship was red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, but now it’s grey, slowly morphing into darkness.

“I have work in ten minutes, so I should head off.” She puts her cutlery in the sink, grabbing her keys from the bench. “Thank-you for the coffee.”

I follow her to the door where Bruno is lying. 

“Bye Bruno." She reaches down to pat him and he licks her hand, almost as if he doesn’t want her to go either.

“Bruno, come here,” I click my fingers beside me and he vehemently gets up and moves beside me.

“Bye Val,” Her blue eyes find me for a final moment before she closes the front door behind her. I sit down next to Bruno, and pull him close to me as we both listen to the sound of tyres leaving the driveway and coursing through the street, like we both want her to come back.

Thank you for coming into my life when I needed you. Thank you for helping me fight my battles. Thank you for loving me in moments when I didn’t love myself. Thank you for being there. Thank you for being my best friend. 

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