“Good luck, Garraty.” I sighed.
“Get the fuck out of here!” I heard myself shouting through the wooden front door, “Just leave for fuck sake!”
“Will you please open the door?” she insisted calmly.
“So far what are your forecasts about it?”
“Based on recent experience…”
“I don’t have anything to do with you anymore. You are dead, gone…non-existent to me! An abstract, distant idea of how stupid I can actually be!”
“We need to talk!”
“This usually means that you need to talk, but I am not in my normal mood, meaning that I do not want to have any sort of self-destructing, timewasting, pointless conversation with psychopaths. Bye!” I could hear her back, sliding down on the other side of the door. She sat silently in front of my door for a while. I sat down on the inside. My hands were shivering.
“See, I told him! You love me even when you hate me. Even now you are not able to just get in your room and turn on the TV, knowing that I am going to wait here alone, in this dark corridor…It feels like I am in the decorated scene based on the final lyrics of Hotel California.”
I smiled. “You can check out anytime you like…”
“But I can never leave.” Now she smiled. I did not see it. I did not hear it. I was her friend for so long that I simply knew it.
“What have you told that shitty bastard?” I asked with annoyance.
“Well, I said it in the form of a parable. Not sure if he got it.”
“Sure he didn’t!”
“I told him that even in fifty years, in the darkest hour of our personal desperation, when our kids had left us in the worst, the cheapest possible nursing home…If someone calls us in the court of justice and asks us under oath: ”Who is your best friend in the world?” We would always name each other...I told him that there are things that most people would never understand. He would never. Even if we do not speak for a lifetime…if we do not see our faces for million years…”Her voice was trembling. She made a long pause, and then proceeded:
“I knew when I wrote you that last letter…I was sure you would try to help me. I am so very thankful for…”
“Yeah, that is what you are for the last …How many? Three hundred and twenty years. You are grateful. Why that state of yours has no symptoms? It is like a phantom leg. Only you can feel it. And nobody sees it.”
“What do you want me to do? What it is? I never quite knew. Should I feel constant guilt, or maybe some sense of owing you anything good that happened in my life?”
“Oh, Daisy…Oh, dear. You will never understand, will you? Your gratefulness should have only be expressed by not trying to destroy yourself repeatedly. Because it was “yourself”, who I wanted to be happy, confident and full. This is what I secretly expected for my constant and diverse attempts to save you.”
“But I never wanted to …”
“Fuck things up?”
I heard nervous swallowing
“See, this now is the bottom. My personal bottom. I journey through the desert of the mind with no hope, I found low. I drift along the ocean. Dead lifeboats in the sun. And come undone…”
Pause in which I choose not to answer, “Funny thing,” she kept on talking, “we are like Pyramus and Thisbe. If we make a hole in the door, we can talk through it…Remember the worst adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream?”
“The glamorous debut and grandiose failure of my directorial career, I blame the actors for this”
“You didn’t have enough people; we could hardly remember the rhymed lines of one character, what’s left for two or more.”
“I didn’t have enough friends! I still consider the unstable mental state of the participants, was the main problem in the given situation. If I remember it correctly you were standing backstage half dressed in pink taffeta, and the other half in a torn sweater, with a mustache, literary hitting your head in the wall, not being able to decide whose turn was, from your two Alter egos, to get on the stage.”
“Yeah. My usual problem”,
“Imbecility?”- I laughed
“No, deciding, “she sounded sad, „who I really want to be at a certain moment. You wrote me a poem a long time ago in which you’ve said that you’d never give up on me no matter who I choose to be”
“What a perfect example of selective memory. I did not know back then that there are more things on Heaven and Earth besides singer, sociologist and web designer. There was more than I dreamed of in my philosophy- drug user, an abuse victim and the latest update –a thief.”
“Well…you never know?””
“Oh, actually you do…At least, most people do know. When someone has betrayed your trust more than ten times, you do not need to hire a specialist on risk assessment. It is generally not anyone else’s problem but yours. You, and by you, I mean ME are a dumb ass.”
“You are honestly the smartest person I know. Moreover, I know it since we were kids. At the time when normal third-grade children played with balls or cards, you have built your own restaurant on a tree, in your grannies yard. It was made God knows how you were seventy centimeters high back then. I remember that you have successfully persuaded Lily to be a waiter; even more- you made her believe that is the greatest profession. You have come up with a seven pages menu.”
“I offered you a job back then.”
“You were ready to make me the chef, but the menu seemed too long. I have been too stunned by the whole concept. You were having some adults ideas materialized so clear in your game process. I didn’t really want to participate, but to watch what would happen next.”
“Yeah, but then you didn’t take all the money from cash desk to run-away with.”
“Maybe because I wasn’t that unhappily pregnant then”
“Best excuse ever. Congrats, you did just beat your own record.”
“I brought you the money back.”
“Just on time, when I have no more antidepressant. Shopping is my last chance.”
She smiled. I knew.
“Tell me, did you take it from him?”
After short contemplation:
“No. Not literally.”
“I don’t really want to know what does this means. He’s going to beat the shit out of you when you go back, right?”
“I won’t go back”
“Oh, yes you will. You have this thing called Stockholm syndrome when the victim bonds and attaches to the abuser”
“See, I told you! The smartest person I know.”
“It was not your fault that your dad was a Wino. Same way you cannot blame me for the family history that I did not have.”
“Do not go there! I showed you in the best possible way what it was like to have a family, but you seemed to have missed it in your typically negligent manner.”
“No, I have not missed it. I know you tried for me. I actually became the person I am because of you.”
“Should that be a compliment?”
“It's up to you to decide...I did my best...This is it having in mind the starting point I was given.”
“You cannot use this as an excuse forever. Your mother should not be your optimal pattern of getting away with your bullshit. Snap out of it. We all have a sob story to tell.”
“Time wounds all the heals as we fade out of view.”
“Will you please stop answering with song lyrics, for fuck sake?”
“I become a better version of what I could be because of you, trust me on this. I was trying to be good enough for your friendship.”
“No, Daisy. You were not. I am trying to be good enough for your friendship. But I am not succeeding. You understand this word as I do, yet you are not showing any kind of respect toward my constant attempts to save you. Which to me makes things obvious. We have the same general perception for ‘anything that really matters’ and honestly you are barely pretending to be my friend. Half your life you were throwing efforts to impress people who never see you. Not because you’re not special enough, but because they had no sensory to appreciate you. You simply choose people, who tend to use you, hurt you, underestimate you and do not have a clear idea of what is valuable in you. My situation is even sadder because I do realize all these things and I am making the same mistake with you. You were never fighting for my friendship. I was fighting for you. Remember?”
“You and your imagination. You create the perfect images of the people you love. Some sort of insurance policy with your self-signature, a necessary document for the kind act of deciding to love them. They have to do what you expect from them otherwise you were wrong for giving them a chance, at the beginning. We both know that being wrong is not of your strongest sides. So you push and push and push them to the point of breaking. Expecting from them not to disappoint you. Which can often be an incredible amount of tension, sometimes even impossible for them to cope with? Your moral values- strong…unbreakable…
You have read too many books…You’ve understood wrong and right too literally. People are not like your favorite characters, they will not become whoever you want them to be, no matter how hard you demand it.
You are too categorical and stiff in your convictions. It is not fair! If someone shows weakness, you smashed him with your well-developed philosophy. Based on some other unfamiliar people’s experience, which you have only read about. But we haven’t all read the same books…
Some of us…we make mistakes that we have to live with later on. And you...You make this impossible. You break the contract considering that people are not holding hard enough on your friendship, but you are wrong. It’s just people, Annie.”
“I was sure that you are going to come up with that. But I won’t let it into the house because it’s burning my pretty little heart.”
“Song lyrics- the best coping mechanism.”
“You know what I think is killing me…I believe that you have assumed you played me. You got what you came for, and then you went back to that shitty bastard.”
“Let me tell you something. A big secret. There is nothing to save in this world. You live until you die that is it. I went back because I was lonely.”
“You know in life we get some rules to follow, at least some of us. There are some huge things considered by some a matter of honor. Not like in a war movie but…”
“I understand what you mean by it, no need to explain.”
I was sure that she was looking down on her hands at this moment.
“I know what honor is.”, she said.
“Strong statement. I feel like I am having a conversation with a small kid. Repeatedly throughout our lives, throughout all of these precious moments proving your friendship. It is the same damn thing. I am preaching you, and you are sitting silently across from me looking down at your hands, like you’ve never seen them before. And you always agree and then you always fail.”
“I fail!?” She sounded angry, “What do I fail at? Being the person, you expect me to be. The perfect image that you created in your fascinatingly imaginative head? This has nothing to do with me. You have always either underestimated me or exaggerated my qualities. Never a balance, never objectivity. I think it was easier for you to accept me according to your mood. Was it? Low self-esteem today ‘Let us see if Daisy will stand some critic.’ feeling better tomorrow ‘I won’t be too hard with my friend, she's trying.’”
“Now, you’re not fair. I never did a thing to hurt you”
“Oh, yeah, me or anyone else ‘cause you're Mother Teresa!”
“You are trying too hard to be good. It's like trying too hard to be special…If you’re making an effort it is not your natural state.”
“Shut the fuck up!” I was devastated,” How much easier it is to be at your natural state all the time…making the less difficult choice time after time…Let's hope there would be some crazy bitch that will walk next to me and help me every single time when I get in trouble.”
“I never thought I was such a burden to you.”
“Well, of course, you didn’t. Because to put yourself in someone else's shoes is another unnatural state to you…Unfamiliar. If something does not bother your selfish ass, you do not pay attention.”
“Don’t talk to me like I was never there for you.”
“Oh…my bad. I have a simple smart life; I am not spending half a year hiding from my parents in my friend's basement. With no money, no ambition, or idea what’s next. Excuse me for not giving you opportunities to get my lazy ass out of troubles. Sorry for not leaving University because I couldn’t concentrate to study for the exams…I am sorry I never had a sublime interest in drugs. Neither have I…”
“I told you, I don’t take anything anymore.”
“Well, I admit it would have added some suspense to the criminal abortion that I’ve arranged for you.”
“You insisted on me doing it. I was ready to keep the child.”
“For fuck sake you are twenty-something years old, uneducated, with no profession, living at the apartment of your abusive crazy boyfriend…What kind of childhood other than “ruined” could you provide for a hypothetical kid? You want to create another us?”
“I was going to accept the responsibility.”
“You're fucking kidding me. Based on experience-this isn’t a sentence which meaning, you do understand. The word responsibility is not a thing in your dictionary. In the context of your situation, it meant a financially, emotionally and psychologically stable medium. None of this could happen with you and Phillip. None!”
“He told me he would take care and he would never hurt us. He always wanted a family. His previous girlfriend also had an abortion. He talked about it with such genuine pain.”
“Lies are a funny thing. They slip through your fingertips because they never happened to you. You bought it! He made his charitable actions look dramatic, gave you his loving words of support. Et voilà. You find yourself caught up in the emotions he stirs, you saw over his head the halo of charisma.”
Pause. “Your life was about to be destroyed so many times that I do not remember what it was like at first. Was it that bad really?”
“Once you wrote this story about two friends walking in the woods. They were incredibly unhappy, devastated by sadness I would say. It was sort of a “The long walk” reference but in a short story mode.”
“These two were too gentle, too impressionable. Almost too intellectual. The problems they were having with their lives and their surroundings would to some people sound stupid but to others irreparable. The amount of sadness that stroke me from this story came from a little sacred gesture. You always include some sort of it. They walked by a small river. As Chekhov once advised for the gun, you used it properly. One of them, I guess whose turn was in the dialog, took off one of his shoes and asked the other to whisper all the unbearable pain to it.”
“Weird as usual.”
“Yeah. Weird. Then they threw it in the river, the shoe I mean.”
“They did? I think I kind of stole this from an ancient eastern legend. In old times people went in the mountain cut a hole in a tree and whisper their secret there, then filled the hole with mud.”
“No.” She laughed.
“I did it. It was a real thing. I threw my shoe in the river and walked home jumping on one leg. It is a true story. We laughed all the way to the city. A long way. The long walk. You were holding me on one side…and I was jumping around to some point, then I just decided to walk barefoot.”
“I don’t remember it. My memory of this was probably deleted by…”
“Some other things.”
“You can say so, yeah”
“It was me. I was all of that. I am not just one thing…I…” She sighed, “I am sorry.”
I did not answer. She obviously stood up because her voice came from far away.
“It was a pleasure. Thank you for picking me up so many times, McVries.”
Her footsteps slowly faded.
Please, read this:
This was Merilin Ivanova’s graduation short story, published here exactly as submitted.