Sunday, June 7

Where Is My Best Friend?

AN AGED FOOL at work – whose humour & demeanour is repulsive, while his infantile attempts at impression are, at least, endearing – came into work with dyed hair; a shade of almost-black, from the speckled grey he had been before. His appearance was humorous, ridiculous, and just as I was tempted to point this out to him, a colleague informed me that his past few days off sick had been due to his youngest daughter self-harming severely (hushed not-so quietly in the office to his friend, the chairman; desperate notes). I considered him sadly, and returned to my tasks at hand. Again & again I looked at his hair and smiled to myself. When we finally made eye contact, he smiled back at me, awaiting my response. ‘What the fuck have you done there, Dark Was The Night?’ Then he e-mailed me a photograph of himself in his much younger days, handsome and monochrome, saying—‘But you would, eh?’ I deleted the e-mail and returned to my work. I wished to relay this amusing news to my best friend, but then it occurred to me that, ah, my best friend was no longer talking to me because she was no longer my best friend.
I am trying not to think too much these days. I do not find it does me any good to think too much. If a thought enters my head, I chase it away from the porch with a stick. I dread leaving work, because then my thoughts are unoccupied.
If one finds themselves in a church on a Sunday morning, they will often have the hymns sung stuck in their heads for the rest of the day, repeating and turning, tattooed, unforgettable in every way; so it is with her. I do not want the hymn spinning over & over in my head. I miss her so much. I miss our friendship, of course. I miss my best friend. Above all of it, I just want my mind & chest back from wherever it is they are hiding. If I start to think about her, I do my best to stop.
‘How are you doing?’
‘Better than yesterday. Every time I start thinking about her, I do my best to stop… It’s awful.’
‘That’ll go in time…’
Where is my best friend? Who do I speak to now? Who to listen to? Who to fling the daily notes of silliness to, and the in-jokes so vast? I start to think about her, I do my best to stop.
An album was playing in the sick room where I lay and get drunk. After half the songs had played I remembered how I had, in the past, associated the music with a particular girl, and how, once, the sound had haunted me, though it now no longer had any effect at all. Worried, I wondered whether all of the songs she & I went through could ever be stripped of their association. The bars strung to moments, a humbug dedicated to lovemaking. I still have not listened to our music, while certain LPs cannot even be looked at.
Eleven years and nothing. Eleven years! so you will forgive me for pining, for mourning, for wearing black and being off-colour myself! A great deal of hope is swept out of me, and time, too. This morning, a Saturday, did I only reach for a coffee cup and see one of her hairs at the back of the cupboard, reaching out for me with its solitary, black finger.
Today I went into town to mope about the streets. One of my favourite cafés is opposite her work, and for a long time I debated whether or not to go there. Fortunately the lady behind the till was, uncharacteristically, disinclined to small talk (usually—‘How are you doing today?’ all personal & lovely), her abruptness greeted with nothing but enthusiasm from me. One can only face out in that café, so I was forced to look at her building with its young people coming & going. Before, that scene had filled me with excitement, but now it was only fear – fear that I would see her, alone or otherwise, and be driven to flee, weeping.
All about, couples rushed here & there, committing crimes of the century.
I observed them enviously. So it was I cast my head down when I walked. If I saw another girl wearing clothes similar to her, I was cast into fits of panic. I walked through the town, head down, avoiding the sights of our past but so unavoidable were they that I stumbled and slipped. Had we only sat there, side-by-side, on a lunchbreak & laughed in the warming spring? It was. Where had it all gone?

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