This time, last year
you bought it for me.
Now it's scratched and faded
but the joy of the lazy sloth picture remains;
the drink bottle you gifted to me
when mine broke.

This time, this year,
I faced a truth
I'd hoped to ignore.
But you said it so plainly
that there was no way around it.
I'm not too proud to say
that my overthinking and emotions
kept me up that night.

This time, this year,
you weren't at school.
You apologised so genuinely
for not being there
on the day of my birth.
You didn't know the heartbreak
you caused the night before.
I was glad i didn't have to face you

I almost forgot you weren't there
if I'm being honest.
I messaged you the notes
and filled you in on the homework.
I tried to keep to necessity.
No conversations.
Somewhere along the way
I put down the bottle.

I didn't realise at first
that I had misplaced it.
Retracing my steps
I couldn't pinpoint where I'd left it.
At the end of the day, I looked.

My route home took a detour
through the classrooms I had been in.
It was nowhere to be found.
And in my misery, I thought to myself
Perhaps it was for the best.

That night I went to sleep
no longer thinking of you.
No longer crying over what I couldn't have.
And it felt like peace washed over my heart.

You weren't there the next day.
I sent you the notes and filled you in.
I didn't think about the drink bottle.
If it was gone, it was gone
otherwise, it would appear.

The day went by quickly
I didn't think about you.

This time, this year
I was late for school.
I had no status update
on whether you were back or not.
I didn't think to ask.
But I no longer cared so much.
I'd be okay without you.

I opened my locker
as I do every day.
The lazy sloth smiled out at me.
It had been here the whole time,
though I hadn't seen it.

I only noticed,
I realised,
when I no longer needed it;
when my heart let it go.

This time, last year,
it was my most treasured possession.
Now that attachment
has faded
as mine has to you.

I saw you in the corridor,
my friend,
and smiled that you'd returned.
Though my joy was different
to the way it felt last year,
or last week.

My friend,
I thought.
Just 'friend'.

It only took a heartbreak to get here.