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I knew you for only four days, but you were my best friend, the soul of my existence. The brother I’d always wished for but never had, the cohort to my mischief, but best companion I could ask for. You were the greatest friend in the world.
For four days.
I’m so sorry. Sorry for you, sorry for me, sorry for your family, sorry for the world. It wasn’t just a matter of your dad losing his job so you’d have to move, although that was a part of it, I guess. But it was more than that.
I know you didn’t like school. You never said anything, but I could tell you disliked how the teachers would look down their nose at you and your South Carolina accent, of which I’d always secretly admired. You never said anything, but I could tell you didn’t like how cold it was up here in Maine. You never said anything, but I knew you missed your friends back in the south. I know you didn’t want anybody to laugh at you, but instead you got the opposite, with everybody ignoring you.
I know I wasn’t much fun. I’m too quiet, too goody-goody for the kinds of adventures somebody like you would want to have. So I thank you for being my friend, though it was only for four days.
I miss you so much. I know you couldn’t help it. It wasn’t your fault at all. And in a way I’m glad for you, not to have to be stuck up here with the sharp-eyed teachers and the northern kids who ignored you, and not to be stuck with your only friend as a timid little girl that nobody else wanted for a friend. But I still miss you.
Both of us were sitting alone, so that’s why the teacher paired us up for the dumb Civil War report. I didn’t know how to fell about it then, you being from the south and all. But it was your good idea to show how both sides feel, not just the south or just the north. I thought that was actually a smart idea. We talked about it. We went to my house after school. We actually had a good time working on schoolwork… who would have thought?
We spent three days like that. Having fun, working on the project, watching TV when we were supposed to be looking stuff up… it was great. On the fourth day were at your house putting the last pieces on the board, and we were almost done.
“That was really fun,” you said. “Wow.”
“Yeah.” I said, articulate as always. “It was really fun…”
We sat there for awhile, your dog snoring in a corner of the room.
“So what do you think of it up here?” I asked, tentatively.
“It’s… better now. Now that I’m used to it.”
“So… are we friends?”
“Why do you even need to ask?”
Those were the last words you said to me. The next morning was a Saturday, and I didn’t see you. But I heard about it. Why did you have to check the mail at that particular moment? It wasn’t your fault that he was drunk, he shouldn’t have been driving. But still, you should have thought to move or wait or something. Why couldn’t you sleep in like every other idiot does on a Saturday?
I couldn’t go to the funeral, because they held that in your old town, so all your aunts and uncles and cousins and everything could be there. In a way I’m glad I didn’t go, because it would have been even sadder. I like to think of you when you were alive, laughing at the TV, wiping the glue off your hands, petting your lazy fat dog who just wanted to sleep. I wanted to keep your memory, and going to the funeral would have wrecked that.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t cry. I did. I cried and I wore a black sweater when I found out. I was really sad.
And all those kids who ignored you? They cried too. They seemed really sad, and some girl even bought flowers for your mom. The teachers made some dumb speech about how you were wonderful, and we’d all miss you greatly, all of that. Nobody moved your desk, as a sort of memorial. Everyone acted like you were their best friend.
I only knew you for four days. But you were the best friend I ever had. You showed me a different perspective… I think you were one of the best things that happened to me. And I think, although nobody said anything, that you were one of the better things that happened to them too.