In the End
Ever since I was eight, I knew I could turn to you when no one else was there. And as sappy as this sounds, even as a young child, I thought I was in love with you. That first day you showed up in my second grade classroom, I wanted to be your friend. Even our names were of a similar type. You being named Phoenix, and my parents having audaciously named me Ambrosa. Both odd names that set us apart from the norm of Alice's and Phillip's.
Though no one knew it, when I found out that your family had moved into the old McCurdy house across the street, I was ecstatic, already having a school-girl crush on you. When mom sent me over to deliver a fresh batch of cookies and welcome you to the neighborhood, I was positive I was going to embarrass myself somehow. Thankfully, I managed to keep composed as I handed your mother the warm, plastic wrapped plate, and introduced myself.
Over the next few months, you and I became great friends; not a huge feat as we were the only two kids in elementary school within a five block radius. I enjoyed getting to drag you to the local park, introduce you to the neighbors, and explain why you were never to set foot in the yard of the crazy old witch lady. Our parents thought we were adorable that summer, running around the cul-de-sac like hellions, and adopting the nicknames Phen and Ambie for each other. We thought it was cool.
By the beginning of third grade, we'd become inseparable. It was near apocalyptic when we weren't placed in the same class. With third grade came the new ritual of us staying home on our respective birthdays if they were on a school day. The other would do the birthday person's homework. Since our parents never found out about the second part of this little ritual, they agreed and it lasted into high school.
We became the pranksters of our block despite being the babies of the child populous. Spending weekends hidden in trees and shrubbery, we recruited several of the teens to be our minions. It was one of those escapades that I'd first revealed my liking of you, right after we'd made Mrs. Harding's beehive hairdo look like a scarecrow while she napped on the porch, I gave you on a quick peck on the lips. We got in so much trouble for that prank, but it was totally worth it.
Despite sharing a kiss with you, my first boyfriend was in eighth grade. A boy we both knew well named Devin. I'd asked him, not you, to the Sadie Hawkins dance, and when we walked into the gym, I knew you were jealous, just like I'd figured you'd be. Devin was the chosen heartthrob of both the seventh and eighth grade. His sandy brown hair fell wavy to his shoulders and he was allowed to dress and talk in ways no other boy could, and I was dating him. After he and I were through, many of the girls shunned me because I actually and willingly let the thirteen year old bad boy out of my grasp. I was glad to have my true friends back in my life though.
That summer we did the first of many things in our teens considered childish; we built a club house. We built it back in the woods behind your place, and set it up to hold everything two thirteen year olds could need to be happy. Mainly meaning a large beanbag, snacks, music, and materials for reading and writing. All summer long we spent hours holed away in our wooden box, plotting the havoc we loved to perform.
Freshman year was nine months of change after change. For the first time since second grade, our interests separated. I chose photography whereas your interest turned to football. It seemed that with football you became a heartthrob, but I took solace in knowing that every April thirteenth I'd be doing your homework and Sundays I could always find you singing along to HIM in our clubhouse. Our clubhouse became the glue that held us together as we were sucked into different social circles.
As always, during the summer, we were tight as always, but there was something different about you even then. You seemed sad some days and didn't want to do anything, then the next day you'd be the Phen I'd known since I was eight. Truthfully, it confused me greatly back then, and even now the memory will lose me at times, but like a good friend, I ignored your moodiness.
Now I wonder if our parents worried about us, while you were off at practice, I was taking photographs. And more than once I caught our moms looking at my lone figure sadly. What I wouldn't give to know what they'd be whispering about over glasses of lemonade. The few times I captured those looks on film, I pondered them tirelessly; I believe they feared for our friendship.
Junior year of high school I knew something was wrong. You played football, but didn't go to any parties. You never talked to me about your feelings wither. Mom said it was because you were a boy, but I knew better. If I had talked to you, maybe it wouldn't have happened…
April thirteenth, a day that holds so many memories. The ones like the birthday party when I'd pinned my plastic donkey tail on your butt, and then the bad. Your birthday landed on a Tuesday that year and I had bought you a French silk chocolate bar on my way home. Your mom told me you were in the clubhouse, so armed with chocolate and a ton of homework; I went out to join you.
The scream I let out when I opened the door probably alerted the entire town of a problem. I dropped everything and ran back to my house where our moms were talking, sobbing hysterically. Your dad, who had the day off, went out to investigate. He came back with the things I'd dropped, shaken by the crimson coloured floor and your lifeless body. After they'd taken you away and cleaned the blood the best they could, my dad went and boarded the place up. Both our families moved soon after your funeral.
In the end, I grew stronger from your death. I still keep your picture on my wall. We were my first crush, and every year I light a candle for you on April thirteenth. A blue candle with an engraved phoenix on the side for my precious Phen.