I Took the Bait
Short story about the loss of a friendship
When I close my eyes, I can see the infinite black curtain taking place behind my eyelid. The circus of moving lights and dancing shadows starts promptly. I choreograph their motion to create forms and silhouettes. I let my mind play with my fluid black and white performance artists. I let my imagination engrave my consciousness.
Here she appears, wearing black, as usual. Her never-ending hair is untied, spreading her perfume all over the classroom. You look tired. I open my eyes, as if I’d just perceived her presence. I’m not sure tired is the right word. I would say confused and faded.
She always sits right next to me. We’re good friends, really. We enjoy the same things, we study together, we go to bars together. I’d always been a lone wolf at school, but she came to me one day and said she wanted to do some work with me. And we were a great school team, we’d never ever betrayed each other by working with another classmate from this day on. We’d choose all our classes unitedly. Having a friend like her was all I ever wanted.
I was enjoying life at its fullest: I studied hard, got good grades, made some friends, partied with my classmates, studied again and slept the rest of it.
It was oddly satisfying, almost supernatural, to have access to this human being who is like me, with whom I spent most of my time. It was kind of scary to acknowledge that she existed and that, somehow, we were connected in our path. I enjoyed it while it lasted, because, honestly, I knew something would fall off and I’ll be, once again, alone.
I just didn’t expect it to go the way it went.
I was at the university as a young adult, newly independent, living in my apartment with my boyfriend at that time. I didn’t figure out yet what was wrong with me, but something was delusional and off-key with myself. I was confused and scared, I didn’t quite understand myself and my boyfriend was unsuspecting my inner struggle.
Like I said, everything was going tremendously. I was near perfect every step of the way. I remember being sad and anxious and I didn’t comprehend why somebody like me, with the life I had, would want to turn everything up. Why deceive everybody?
Why can’t I do it like everybody else? I’d never been so accomplished in my life nor did I have the chance to experience the success like I had then.
So, like every weekday, I went to my classes, and I learned a bunch of things about literature and linguistics. I filled my brain with notions and concepts, while she was suddenly gone. She just stopped coming to class, she didn’t answer my text messages, she went off the grid, totally. Without a word, she was gone, she dropped school, she left town. I’d never had a chance to say goodbye. She mysteriously left me there, alone, with no friends to do work with, with no one to talk to.
And I still don’t understand. I’ve heard rumors, which implicates me as being in love with her and I can’t say it wasn’t true, but I’m not sure I’m the reason why she left. I think sometimes we do things we regret, and I regretted that she was gone. I felt inanimate and I finally dropped school too. I thought long and hard why we would be best friends one day and the next day she was gone without leaving a trace.
I asked myself so many times what I did wrong, the day before. Have I said something? Am I the reason she left? I didn’t picture her as the type to even consider rumors. She left me in the dark and, still, I’m struggling to find friendships as meaningful as ours.
I think friendship breakups are as challenging as love breakups. Maybe even more challenging when it’s ending unexpected, deprived of final words. It’s harder when no words can be found, and language fails you. Language failed me then and will fail me now.