To my Best Friend and a Stranger

I thought I knew you. I did, I think. I think I should've realized our friendship would end. Maybe I did. But I never thought it would explode.

I should've realized ties of blood always outweigh promises whispered to crying friends.

"I'll be here when you need me, just like you've been here for me."

It was written hastily in class, but I can't look at the page anymore.

Where are you now?

But I can't let this take away the memories. I look at you now through new eyes. I see you as a new person. This boy, I will never know. This boy will never see me cry.

This boy is a stranger.

I cannot reconcile these two-- the stranger in my English class with the best friend of my memories.

I can keep the memories clutched to my chest and think of you-- of my best friend-- as a boy that is just gone, perhaps dead if you can avoid the melodrama of the statement. He is a cherished figure.

I will not let the stranger take away my smiles-- my laughter the first night we got McDizzles, you leading me on a crazy trip around town when we should've simply gone across the street. Or when we walked to the state fair-- you in that stupid "I love Canadian Girls" shirt, making me constantly yell that I wasn't Canadian, and prompting you to claim that I was your twin sister-- and we joked that we would get married just for tax benefits and scheduled out just how we would use our married student housing.

I will not let anything take away the simple joy I had in leaning against you—iron collarbone and all--, feeling it was you and I against the world. (Is it simply I against the stranger now?)

I think of the good nights, smile and laughter, but I can't stop the others from flooding in. I think of tears and screams and nights where I couldn't have made it one more instant if you hadn't taken my hand and simply said, "It's okay."

I think of the nights where you cried to me and I tried my very best to be there. To make you understand that I would be there whenever you needed. I wonder if you ever understood just how much I meant that.

The Best Friend was not perfect. Sometimes he wasn't there when I needed him. Sometimes he hurt me. But he always came back. He always chose me against the world. He was mine and I was his.

He was the first person to smile and demand, "No, you're my best friend." There was no wondering if he'd rather be elsewhere. He made me feel steady for just a moment in time.

And now the world rocks unsteadily below me and when I hear the stranger's voice it takes everything in me to not think of the boy I knew. You aren't him, I tell him in my mind, you can't be him.

I can't let you take him away from me.

Because the stranger couldn't have written that note. The stranger can't even look me in the eye, much less tell me that he'll be there to hold me when I cry.

The stranger could never do that because he is the cause of my tears.

Goodbye, Best Friend. Hello, Stranger.

And so this is my message-- perhaps my last--to the one I knew like my own soul and to the one I'll never know.