Maybe we got lost in translation
Maybe I asked for too much
And maybe this thing was a masterpiece until you tore it all up
– Taylor Swift
It’s been 323 days since I told you to give up on me.
It’s been 323 days since I told you to give up on me, and I just looked through all of our pictures. I looked closely at each of them; 7 years’ worth of them. There weren’t many at the beginning, when we were too young to have cameras, and there weren’t any at the end, when we were all too mature to care whether or not our facebook feed makes us seem popular. But there were plenty in the middle, and my eyes feasted on them, remembering youth, and being happy, and being part of you. It’s like opening Christmas presents from Santa by the fire in my PJs. It’s like visiting the beach with my family and building sand castles just to watch the tide wash them away. It’s like being with you was simple and easy and perfect.
It’s been 323 days, and I just read your entire twitter feed. I don’t follow you anymore. You don’t follow me either. You removed me 315 days ago. When you did, it took me a few days to notice. Then I removed you too. I hadn’t wanted to do it first, you see. I thought that would make you realize that I still cared about you. I wanted you to think that I really was ignoring your messages, and each one of them really didn’t hit me like a physical blow to the stomach. I wanted you to think that you weren’t all I could talk about, that I didn’t spend my nights googling sociopath and wondering whether you really were crazy or if I was overreacting.
It’s been 323 days, and I can still remember what it felt like to be one of yours. It felt like I belonged somewhere, and I never had to question it. It felt like I didn’t have to think or feel or care because we did all of those things as a group. We started high school as a group, walking to school in our fresh-pressed uniforms, hands shaking, feverishly comparing schedules over and over as if they’d changed in our hands. We finished high school as a group too. We took pictures together before prom, and you managed to make me smile even though I’d let my heart get broken. You promised to dance with me once, but they didn’t play enough slow songs. I didn’t really mind. We spent the entire night together, anyway, long past everyone else got bored and gave up on having any fun. Sometimes I thought we were the best of them, you and I. But I think you made each one of us feel that way at some point.
It’s been 3,271 days since we met, officially. You were my first friend who was a boy. I was 12, and awkward, and didn’t really want you around, to be honest. I didn’t know how to talk to you. I showed my discomfort in the usual way, by being mean to keep you at a distance. It wasn’t until much, much later that I realized I’d had a crush on you. I don’t suppose that helped. But we got it to work, because you were desperate for friends, and I had a knack for picking up sad people because I felt too bad to say no.
Was that an act too? Was all that a master plan, to lure us all into your web, and poison us for years so that we’d stay paralyzed there? Or did you break later in life?
The recess days were important, but not as much as the first time we got together outside of school. That night, for the first time, we all got that feeling. The feeling that we were part of something, finally. All of us loners and outcasts finally had strength in numbers, finally had a taste of togetherness that we would cling to for years following, and finally had someone to call the shots for us. It was addictive. I don’t remember when it started to get out of control. All I know is that I didn’t realize it until I was out. Thinking about it now, our first act as a group was to exclude someone. I guess I should have known then that it was dangerous, but I’d never felt power before, and it was as addictive as you were.
Even now, I look back on that group with rose-coloured glasses. We created something magical together. We had more fun than we’d ever had. We were more honest than we’d ever been. And unlike everyone else around us, it seemed, we had a family we could fall back on. I don’t know if people were jealous of us, untouchable as we were, but I do know that they should have been. Not many people, nerd or popular, can get through high school in a suit of armour like we did.
We were safe, we were protected. And we wouldn’t give it up for anything, because we saw what happened to the people who did. You didn’t let them stick around long, did you? The ones who outsourced for happiness, the ones who dared to make better friends than you, were out in the cold before they could even start begging. And the worst part, the scary part, is that we all thought you were doing the right thing. I still can’t remember why. It’s like waking up from a vivid dream and recounting the details, and realizing that they only made sense in that dream-world.
You will make a great evil dictator someday. I have half a mind to warn the masses.
Oh, but I was special (we all thought we were). I never went on the chopping block. There was a tight spot when I had a new boyfriend and we had this idea that we could, I don’t know, spend time together without you? You didn’t take it well. But like the good friend I was, I made the right choice: You. He and I talked, and decided we were better off in the group than out of it, and if the price of that was having to lie and sneak around just to have ten minutes alone, so be it. It was better than facing the world alone. After that, I think, you trusted me. You trusted me enough to be your right hand sometimes, when the other girls let their guard down, although I did have to fight tooth and nail to get the job. I wonder why the guys never fought for it, when all of the girls put their heart and soul and sanity into the fight. Maybe you only hire women for that position.
Talking about casualties, how is she? Still breathing? Still completely nuts? You lied about her psychotic and abusive tendencies until it became truth. She’s unbearable now, you completely snapped her. I had to cut her off, because she got too vicious. I felt bad, but I could almost feel you in my life again, through her, and I had to go cold turkey. But I’m sure you heard about that. You’re all she has now, again, but that’s the way you always wanted it. Wasn’t that the reason you talked us all into hating her the first time? So that she’d have you, and no one else? So that she’d be so depressed and alone in high school that she’d come crawling to you willingly, battered and bleeding from her short stretch without you, as soon as you fed her that story about all of us forcing you two apart? I feel sick thinking about it, and it’s been 1,700 days at least.
It’s day 324, and today, again, I thought about contacting you. I thought about going back in time to when I still thought you were my friend. Back to when I hadn’t watched lie after lie unravel to reveal the broken victims of your past. Back when I hadn’t finally broke your trust and you hadn’t put me back on the chopping block, and back when I would never have considered getting up and walking away from you without looking back, without begging. Back when I never imagined that you would beg instead, and I would close your messages without responding, feeling your weight on me even still.
Because I still feel it, you know. I still have conversations with you in my mind. I still imagine what I’d say to you to get closure, to impart some fraction of what you did to me over all those years.
Back when he and I broke up, I told myself that the day I went without my mind wandering to him would be the day I was over him. That day came and went. I didn’t notice it, and that was what made it real.
When will it come for you?
And I’ve got the words,
I’ve got the words so sharp
They’d have to drive you to the hospital just to stop the bleeding. I’m tired of you needing us to be friends,
Let me go, so I don’t slip and say something like,
They only person who lets me down more than God,
– Shane Koyczan
Most of my stories are made up. This one is not.
Written for the Weekly Challenge.