We sat in a room with three snow white walls around us and a large chalk paint wall that we were leaning up against. Our shoes were strewn about the room and we sat barefoot on the cold hardwood floor. The silence between us was suffocating me but I kept it there in order to avoid the awkward conversations that would result of being together for the first time in years. The last time I saw him I was seventeen and he was thirty. Now we've both aged. I've grown from a naive teenage girl to a competent, mature twenty four year old woman. He's gone from a youthful man to an emotionally drained hollow shell.
We met when I was sixteen and a junior in high school and he was one of my teachers that year. The instant I met him I knew that I would like him. I would often go to him for help or advice. Then we discovered something that we both adored with all our hearts. Writing. We were both never experts on expressing our thoughts and emotions through speech. We both felt that our emotions were too complex to be put into simple speech. We were also too shy and awkward to feel comfortable saying how we were feeling to anyone. I couldn't talk about my feelings to anyone, not even my parents. He never spoke about his emotions to his wife in the entire time that they were married simply because he could never figure out how. We would speak to each other through writing, not through speech. I knew everything about him and he knew everything about me. He knew of my constant anxiety, my depressed thoughts, my hatred for myself, and even my suicidal thoughts and attempts. I knew of his dissatisfaction with his life, his constant boredom, his desire to run away from it all, and his anxiety about trying to be a responsible father and husband while also having a naturally free spirit. He's read every single piece I've ever wrote no matter how personal it may have been and I gladly did the same for him.
High school came and went and I went off to university. When I told him I was majoring in journalism, he was overjoyed and always helped me with any assignment I had. We were closer in my freshman year of college than ever before. He would call me nearly every day to make sure I was alright and we would talk for hours on the weekends about our lives and whatever creative endeavours we had embarked on that week. I talked to him more during freshman year than I did with my mother. It was all going so well until the year was almost over. In late April, I got a call from him late at night. He was crying hysterically and I could barely understand a word he was saying. When I was able to piece his speech together, my heart sank down to the bottom of my chest. Him and his wife were getting a divorce. He hadn't been telling me, but him and his wife had been fighting back and forth about him spending too much time in his head and how he doesn't desire a normal family life. His wife wanted the divorce so their children wouldn't have to be around a man that can't seem to ever be satisfied with life. My thoughts were running wild. I thought I had been the cause of their split. She didn't want him being friends with a girl much younger than him. He insisted that I was never the cause of their divorce and that it had been inevitable for a long time, but I still have doubts to this day. After he told me about the divorce, he cut off communication with me which only added to my suspicion about me directly causing their divorce. I called him every day for four months and sent him countless messages. My entire summer between freshman and sophomore year was spent trying to get him to speak a word to me. Finally, I gave up on him responding and I was a complete disaster after that.
I remember lying in bed for days. Even though I was in bed all day, I never slept. I would just lay in the bed and stare at the ceiling for hours. Dark circles formed under my forest green eyes and my slightly tan skin became pale as porcelain. I gave up on my personal grooming and let my short pixie cut grow into a wavy river of chestnut brown hair that reached my waist. I wouldn't change clothes and I wore the same pair of pajamas for weeks. I refused to leave the house at any time and I never left my room no matter what or who was calling me. I would just sit in the dark all alone in my sadness. I stopped eating normally and became extremely underweight. My habits became such a problem that I had to go to the hospital to receive care for malnutrition and dehydration after I had several fainting spells due to not eating or drinking much. I was forced to go therapy for my depressed state of mind. In that time, I stopped writing. If I even thought about writing, hot rivers of tears would stream down my face almost immediately. It only brought my pain and suffering to write about anything even things that made me smile. As much as I wished I could return to my former writing loving self, I had to avoid anything that would make me depressed in order to recover. I didn't write for a year to avoid thoughts of him and our friendship and his disappearance.
Years went by like sand through a sieve. I was able to pull myself through my final three years of university much to my surprise. My final year of university is when I began to take up writing again. My therapy had helped me somewhat return to the state of mind of a normal human being and I thought I was ready. The first thing I wrote about after two years was, out of all things, an adorable black kitten with big green eyes chasing a little butterfly. It made realise how much I missed writing. I graduated with my major in journalism and managed to get a job with a major news organization in a large city near my hometown. I changed my appearance completely in an attempt to look older. I cut my hair into a shaggy bob and started maintaining my beauty more than I had in the past. Even with all the change, I still looked like a teenager.
I moved back in with my parents in that dingy town, but it slowly became my home once again. One day after I got off work, I made a stop in a small coffee shop that was on my way home. As I was waiting for my green tea chai, I scanned the shop out of pure curiosity. I looked at all the faces buried into laptops or schoolbooks until I saw a face that caught my eye. A man sitting at a table by a large window staring out of it with empty, lost eyes. Him. The boiling rage, the crushing sadness, the overwhelming joy, the heartracing excitement, and the numbing nervousness all returned in the span of three seconds. I hastely grabbed my drink and was briefly tempted to run out the door at the speed of sound. My brain wanted to flee, but my heart wanted to stay. With my whole body shaking, I put one foot in front of the other and slowly walked over to him. My hands were snaking so much that I nearly dropped my drink. My knees felt as if they were going to give out right from under me. I just breathed in and out. In and out constantly.
When I got to his table, he averted his eyes from the window and saw me. His faced changed from being filled with sorrow to filled with surprise. He looked so much different than before. His pitch black hair that was usually neatly groomed was now shaggy and messy and in his face. His clean shaven face was now covered in a black beard. He now wore black framed glasses. Instead of a permanent smile, he was now always frowning. He didn't wear nice dress shirts anymore. He wore flannel and old jeans like he was back in his teens. He didn't look like the person I knew before. He looked like a complete stranger. He gestured to the seat across from him and I slowly sat down. He complimented me on my hair and my sophisticated business clothes and asked my questions that I would be asked by relatives at Thanksgiving. How's your job? Are you with anyone right now? How was school for you? I felt myself slipping into sadness again. My hope of our friendship going back to the way it was was dashed. We're too distant and too much time has passed for that to be possible. I told him I was living with my parents for now and I found out that he was living in a house he had inherited from his aunt last year just outside of town. It was large white house by a huge lake with more rooms than he could fill with furniture. He asked if I wanted to come back to his home to catch up on things. I hesitated for a moment, but I eventually said yes.
I followed him to the house in my car and was stunned by the beauty. The lake was sparkling in the late afternoon summer sun. The wind danced through the vines on the patch of large old willow trees in the front of the house. The house was filled with old furniture that he had inherited. White couches and chairs with curved legs and glass coffee tables with beautiful metallic patterns painted on the glass, and a large black piano that was covered in dust on top of white carpet covered by intricate rugs. His tabby cat was the only one who lived with him in the elegant house. He lead me up the stairs to a large empty room. All the walls were snow white except for the back wall covered in chalk paint. On the left wall, there were four very large windows that went from the floor to the ceiling and they were covered by thin white linen curtains that were embroidered with peach roses. The only objects in the room was a large box filled with chalk in the lower right corner of the room. We tooks off our shoes and threw them in random places on the cold hardwood floor. We lean up against the chalk paint wall and the silence sets in. We sit in silence for what seems like a millenium.
He stood up to pull the curtains back to let the sun in. The yellow sunlight twisted around our forms and our dark shadows stretched along the floor. He stood there and stared at me with empty chartreuse eyes.
"You look so much older." He said after much time had passed.
"I have to look older if I want to be taken seriously in my line of work." I say as I rolled my eyes.
His brow furrowed and his face became confused.
"But that's not you. You're still that kid I met seven years ago." He said, annoyed.
"How the fuck would you know?" I yelled loudly. "You disappear for five fucking years and you don't even bother to respond to me after I call and text you every damn day. Don't act like you know who the fuck I am when you left me behind for half a decade!"
"I know I left you all alone and I'm sorry for that. I needed time to get through the divorce."
"You could've fucking told me! I would've understood and gave you the time you needed. Did you think I was too immature to do that for you, asshole?"
"That's not the fucking point! I know I left you alone and I know I hurt you in more ways than I can imagine but that doesn't change the fact that I know everything about you and you know everything about me. We will always know who we are no matter how fucked up we may get along the way." He cried.
Tears were streaming down both our faces. I clenched my fists. How the hell could he say that? Does he not remember that he left me all alone and I wasted away to nothing? But then I remembered all the fun we had when we were best friends. How we would write together and share everything about ourselves with each other. How we would talk for hours. How we came to be as close as brother and sister. Should I really let my bitterness destroy all of those memories? I lifted my tearstained face and look him straight in the eye.
"Not forgiving you would be something I would've done as a teenager," I choked out, "But I'm a grown woman now and I'm am able to find the strength and the maturity to forgive you."
He ran over and wrapped his arms around me. He hugged me like he hadn't hugged anyone in years. I'm surprised by his sudden embrace since he's never really hugged me before. Maybe after going through a messy divorce and living a silent house where every noise you make echoes throughout the empty halls, a hug from the girl he thought of as his little sister is what he needed all along. I looked up at him and I begin to laugh. He started to laugh with me and our quiet, breathy laughs began to echo in the empty room.
"Hey, do you like to draw?" He asked with a quiet, choky voice.
"Um, yeah. I like to but I most just draw flowers and people." I said, rubbing the back of my head.
"That's perfect!" He exclaimed.
He ran over to the box of chalk and he handed me a stick of white chalk.
"Do you want to draw with me?" He asked politely.
I nod and we began to create a picture of random lines. Our lines began to form a long stem and leaves and tiny thorns along the stem. I climbed on his shoulders to finish the top of the drawing. I created petals that form a spiral in the center. I asked for a piece of yellow chalk and I used it to color in the petals. I climbed down from his shoulders when I was finished. We backed up from the wall to admire our work. Reaching from floor ceiling was a enormous soft yellow rose. We smiled at each other and we each signed our names at the bottom of the wall. I look out the window and see that the sun was beginning to set. I ran out of the room and he followed in haste. I ran out of the front door and stood underneath one of the willows in the front yard. He caught up with me and stood next to me.
"Why did you run away in such a hurry?" He asked.
" I wanted to see the sunset from a prettier spot."
We sit crosslegged on the soft green grass. The light vines of the willows danced around us in the quiet breeze and they brushed up against our skin. The water in the lake sparkled in the evening light and light pink clouds slowly passed by in the vibrant orange and pink sky. His tabby cat comes up to us and sits in my lap. I slowly pet his tiny head as I lean up again the willow's trunk. I could sit here forever and just watch the sky, the lake, and the willow trees. He nudges me slightly.
"Isn't it beautiful? This was the only thing that could keep me sane during the divorce. Now that you're back, I have two things to keep me sane." He said.
"You always had me. You just thought that you needed to isolate yourself when what you really needed was someone to help you through everything. You were so stupid."
He laughed softly.
"You're right. I am pretty stupid. aren't I? I can't have a normal life. I get bored too easily."
"You just have a freedom loving nature. I do too. That's why we managed to click."
"You can live here if you want"
"Live here?" I splutter, "I can't move in with you."
"Why not? It would be just like living with your brother. I could use some help on paying bills anyways. Paying for this house with a teacher's salary and inheritance is a nightmare."
"You're such a shithead." I muttered.
"Hey, don't knock it till you try it."
"You are thirty six years old and you're like a shitty seventeen year old bo-"
"Come on," he cut me off, "We could draw on the chalk wall and we could clear out more rooms to make more art rooms and we could write togeth-"
"Fine, fine! I'll move in with you if you promise to shut the fuck up."
He smiled like a Cheshire cat and we began to make plans to move all my stuff into the large white house. I missed being together much more than I ever realized before. It was like we were entering a peaceful era after our own cold war. After years of silence and emptiness between us, we have entered a time of happiness filled with infinite ideas of creativity. We became as close as siblings because of our love for expression and we reunited because of that same passion. Passion drives everything. Passion has created every work of art, every major political movement, every innovation for humanity, every form of love there could ever be. Passion is not something to be shamed and declared as sin. Passion saved our bond. Passion brought us back together after five years. Passion created us and passion will always keep our bond strong. As long as we have passion, we will never ever break. We will be free like wild horses and we will be free together as brother and sister.