Cleaning the Closet This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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I am cleaning out my closet when I find a crumpled piece of green paper. I can barely make out what it says. Then I realize how long it has been since I have seen that handwriting. The green note was from her:

Hi – Where are you? Your mom says that you are at another lesson. My mother is such a freak! You won’t believe what she did. Once again she has mortified me in front of my friends. Be happy that you missed it. She has punished me for not informing her and my father of my every move in life. This is the third time this month that I have not been able to go out on a weekend. I am sorry, but that means that we won’t be able to go to the movies tomorrow. If you get around to it, give me a ring, OK? I want to discuss the mall guy. Love, Robin

P.S. Call before the beast (a.k.a. Mom) comes home from work. The phone is off limits too.

Now I remember: she was grounded for going out with someone her parents did not know.

“I think that I am going to go and ask that guy for his phone number. What do you think?”

“Robin, I think that you are nuts.”

“I am going to do it anyway.”

“What are your parents going to say?”

“Parents shmarents. How will they find out?”

She went right up to him and asked for his phone number, and he gave it to her! I would never do such a thing.

When we first met, we disagreed on everything. We were the two most opposite people in the world.

“No, Robin, the name of the book is not Peace and War, it is War and Peace.”

“Who cares? Does it really matter in the long run? Peace and War are practically interchangeable.”

“Sure … just do what you want. You will anyway.”

I cry when I get a B. Robin does not know what crying is.

“Why do you make a little letter ruin your life?”

“I don’t know why, Robin.”

“Exactly.”

I have never been sheltered and my parents are so liberal that they sometimes forget that their last name is not Kennedy. Robin’s parents have not been able to keep the leash on her short enough. I blame them for Robin’s problems. If she had been able to express her feelings to them, she would not have gotten mixed up in a really bad crowd.

“Robin, what possessed you to start smoking?”

“One word: Mommy.”

“What?”


“I do it just to bug her.”
“You are ruining your life.”

“No, she is ruining my life.”

I know that she wanted to get into trouble. She loves the attention that she gets from her parents – whether it’s good or bad. I can’t blame her parents now. It is time to forgive them. That is another difference between us. She is strong and stubborn, but I am forgiving. I hope that she can forgive me. It has been so long since the last time we spoke. I really should visit her. I hope she is happy.

Robin has been my best friend since kindergarten. We met on the town playground and since then we have been kindred spirits.

“Hey, wouldn’t it be fun to make a friendship pact with our blood?”

“You are so crazy, Robin. I’ll do it, but let’s use catsup instead.”

“Sounds good to me.”

We thought that by rubbing the catsup we would have a lock of friendship by blood. I think that our friendship runs deeper than blood, though.

I really should go and visit her. I’ll bring her my new YM. Her mother never lets her buy them. She says they are “trashy.” If it were up to her, Robin would be reading the Bible for fun. What the “beast” does not know won’t hurt her.

I begin to remember the last time we saw each other. Robin was going out with this guy she barely even knew. He was such a sleaze.

“Robin, what are you doing hanging around with him? He is just using you. Can’t you see that?”

“Chris is a great guy. You are just jealous that you can’t have him.”

“Ha Ha Ha … you are so NOT funny. All that I am saying is watch your back with him.”

“And all I am saying is stay out of it if you want to keep a friend. I can take care of myself.”

If she had only listened … No … she never listened to my advice – or anyone’s for that matter.

“I can make my own mistakes without anyone’s help. It is the best way to learn.”

I think that for the first time in her life she was wrong. It is time to face up to her.

I hate cleaning out my closet because I always find stuff that I should throw away but don’t, and the whole process of cleaning becomes truly pointless. The note lands in my pile of memorabilia. It falls alongside a pair of concert tickets, a pile of folded notes that we had written to each other in school, birthday cards, a picture of us together at an amusement park, and a Playbill from a musical show that she was in. It’s really just a pile of junk, but it is all a piece of the friendship between Robin and me. It is a friendship that will never die.

I forget about my closet and grab my sneakers and parka. I don’t bother asking my older brother for a ride because it will turn into twenty questions. Instead, I grab my bicycle and start pedaling. Sweat pours off my face, or is it tears? My face turns red and my body shakes with chills. The sun is out, but the air creates a freezing barrier around my body. Now I know that it is tears that wet my face. I hate myself not for having come sooner.

I stop off at Smith’s farm and pick up a box of Russell Stovers. I will bring them as a peace offering. Robin loves those. She can always finish them off in one sitting. I hold the box in my hand as I hop on the bicycle again. I am almost there now. I am so close that I can almost hear her voice singing along with the radio. I reach the lawn and start walking toward her. She is happy to see me.

It is not her, it is just a piece of cement block. Engraved is Robin – our beloved daughter and friend 1979-1995. I dust off her tombstone, sit on the wet grass, and open the cover of the YM.

“Hi Robin. I hope that you like the chocolates. I picked out all of the coconut, since you are allergic to them. I still remember the day that you ate one, and by accident practically choked to death …”

My throat is so tight that I am struggling to breath. The memories are overwhelming. My tears fog up my eyes, and my head is spinning. I wonder why I came here. Remembering just hurts and never helps.

“I found a note you left me. I remembered that I had not seen you in a while. I did not forget you and never will. You will always be my best friend. I would do anything for just one more day together … wonder what you would tell me if you were here right now.”

“Why do you always resort to the mushy stuff? You are such a cry baby. You are still a classy friend, though. I think that I can forgive you – since you brought the chocolate and all. Now open up that YM and tell me what has been going on in Hollywood.”

“OK …” I brush away my tears. “Robin, guess who’s on the cover of the new YM … Chris O’Donnell! You will not believe what he says about his new movie – you know the one I mean. The one with the girl …”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

iamonecoolradiator said...
Aug. 20, 2011 at 10:22 am
Loved it! I think it's definetly a unique take on a death of a friend....If you ever have anytime please look over my work! x
 
Garnet77 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 20, 2011 at 4:20 am
Amazing story!!! I really love this! :)
 
Magsie said...
Aug. 19, 2011 at 9:10 pm

this was fabulous. absolutely amazing, really, good job. i didn't even guess that robin might have died until you started talking about the sleaze of a guy.

i'd say that some of the dialogue seems a bit unnatural. i assume the two main characters are teenagers, so they would probably say "you're" and not "you are" in everyday conversation. for instance, instead of "I picked out all of the coconut, since you are allergic to them." it sounds more natural for her to say, "I picked out all... (more »)

 
shy-writer said...
Aug. 19, 2011 at 10:39 am
It's really sad but really amazing! Nice job!
 
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