As a Friend

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Beads of sweat were forming on my hand as I held the warm phone and listened to the rings one by one. RING… I tried staying calm as I waiting for the answer. RING… I looked down at the phone. Why am I calling? My finger makes its way to the red button on the right. Should I just press end? What was I going to say? RING…

“Hello?” a distant voice on the other end answered sounding busy and tired.

I took my finger off the end button my heart racing I took a breath, “Hey, its Ari.”

There was a pause, a silence that seemed to last hours. Did he hang up? Was he that angry? Were my actions that bad? Would he forgive me?

“Yeah, I know,” he finally answered.

“I was calling to say-” I began, as I paced to the other side of the room and opened the window letting the freezing February air in.

“Well, you don’t have to,” he interrupted quickly, but to me it sounded sharp. I bit my lip anxiously. Did I really hurt him that much?

“Listen, I want to talk,” I persisted, something inside pushing me further. “I feel like I need to.”

Again there was the empty silence. I ran my fingers through my hair, the gel beginning to fall in the front. My breathing was getting heavier. I waited.

“I’m sorry Yehuda!” I quickly added trying to sound gentle but only coming across as violent.

“Sorry isn’t-” he interjected in a harsh voice I had never heard him use before. Was this the same guy who was my best friend in Junior High? Was this the guy who went to High School and slowly let our friendship pull apart stitch by stitch?

“Look, I want to talk it over,” I interrupted, my heart was pounding strongly, making me keep going. I had to answer to the guy whom I had started to forget. I had to apologize to my old friend who had chosen the right path, the school’s pride masmid, while I spent my high school years in the halls and principal’s office. “I know sorry won’t help. It won’t fix anything.”

“Then don’t say it,” he snapped. “I’m busy now.” He sounded as if he didn’t care one bit for what I was about to say. I was getting frustrated myself. Couldn’t he give me a minute? I wanted to work out my mistake so we could continue the way it should be. He sounded heartless as he bluntly ended, “I don’t have the time to talk right now.”

“Dude, I want to talk it out,” I insisted. “We’ve got to work it out!”

“Hello, I really don’t have the time right now,” he almost shouted but with a slight trace of anxiety in his voice. In the background there were rushed voices, calling his name. I heard the uneasiness in his voice as he reluctantly concluded, “I’ll try to call you back later.”

“Can we just talk now?” I asked, my patience failing. I didn’t hear an answer, there was no answer. He had hung up.
I threw my phone down onto my bed, cracking my knuckles and cursing under my breath. I sat down and shoved my hand into my pocket, fishing for the pack of cigarettes I had grown addicted to during the recent turn of events. I clamped the poisonous thing between my teeth, lit it, and breathed in what could potentially kill me. Slowly I let memories float back into my mind.

After spending my parent’s endless money in Eretz Yisroeal during my free, post high school years, while not actually learning, I once again bumped into my old friend. Our lives had grown hopelessly different, and I had never expected talking to Yehuda Cohen again. In a small summer community hidden in the Catskill Mountains there was no way for our paths not cross. Polite “hellos” and friendly handshakes soon became forced nights together. He was going through tough times, his mother being in her last stages of cancer, and often he would confide in me his worries. I thought he was looking for a friend but sometimes I would get a feeling that in his eyes I was merely a guy to talk to.
Meekly he approached me after Maariv, sounding broken and downtrodden, “Have a minute?” he finally spit out. I looked around as if to see whether anything was happening. I nodded, and we moved to the side of the entranceway in the old shul.

“What’s up?” I asked.

He gulped awkwardly, “I know you’ve got a lot going on.” I waited for him to continue. “Look I need your help.”

I shook my head and then asked in a confused tone, “Help?”

“I need help,” his voice was hardly audible. He tried adding something more but I guess words couldn’t explain it. I furrowed my eyebrows.

“Help?” I repeated.

“As a friend…” he croaked pleadingly, his voice breaking with every word.

I couldn’t tell where this was coming from but all at once the bottled up feelings I had kept corked up spilled out. Was it anger? Maybe I was just so tired of hearing these loathsome stories? I just couldn’t hold back words which ih ad never even once thought to interpret.
“Friends?” I asked, not even thinking of the meaning of my words. “Friends? We’re friends? We were friends in seventh grade but that’s over now. You chose to lose touch with me. Why would I help you as a friend?” I glanced at him. “Wait, do you think we’re friends? I thought we were but the last few nights… I don’t know. We’re not friends, that was years ago. We’re not friends now.”

“What…what are you talking about?” he began but I shook my head.

“I don’t call this friends,” I snapped. My final words seemed to finally break the last bit of confidence and strength in him. He looked at me sadly and turned around without adding another word. His footsteps echoed down the path, the crickets softly accompanying him with a gentle melody. He quickly exchanged polite words with whomever he mindlessly passed, as my eyes carved deep into him blind to how harsh I had been and deaf to what I had said.


My mind floated back into reality as I waited for his call, smoking cigarette after cigarette, leaving a lingering odor in the air. I stared at the blank white ceiling thinking how ironic this world is. What are the chances that someone would get cancer after dismissing someone else’s cancer so unsympathetically? Close to zero, I thought. Bitterly I replayed the doctor’s words. Not long, his voice echoed in my mind. You’re in the stages of advanced cancer. It’s not long anymore. Why should it be me? Why should I die now, not leaving one kind action to my name?

The phone began to ring and I looked at the Caller ID. This was the call I had been waiting for.

“Hello,” I uncertainly answered.

“It’s Yehuda,” I heard on the other end. “I’m calling back. Sorry about being so rude, I was really busy.”

I bit my lip nervously again and then swallowed, “I should be saying sorry.” My voice echoed in the silence. I heard traffic on the other end, cars honking loudly, ambulances rushing by, and the sound of busy people. “I want to apologize for what I said… what I did.”

I could hear Yehuda breathing on the other end. There was a pause, “It doesn’t matter anymore” I waited not sure of what to say. He went on, “Her leveya was a month ago.”

It didn’t seem fair, was I too late? “Yehuda,” I asked in a low voice, “Yehuda, you remember that night?” There was a mutter of agreement, “I…I… look I need to say I’m sorry.” I waited a moment collecting my thoughts once more, “What I said… it was just…” my words trialed off into a silence.

“What do you want?” Yehuda softly queried. “You can’t do anything to change it. It’s over.”

“I just want to know you forgive me… I just…” again I couldn’t finish my thought. My head was spinning in confusion. I just waited, hoping he’d simply understand.

“Ari,” he slowly whispered. “Ari, I can’t think straight, I want to say-”

“I’m going through days which are indescribable,” I sadly continued. “You don’t understand what I’m going through.”

“It can’t be worse than my life,” he sarcastically muttered. “Why are you asking now? It won’t help anymore. ” He paused, his voice sounded bitter as he repeated, “Nothing is worse than my life.”

I was trying to hold back the painful truth. I wanted him to forgive me so I could die innocently. Somehow he just didn’t understand. “No, no, no. Yehuda I’m dying.” I paused and let the words sink in, “I was diagnosed a week ago. I…I have cancer too.”

He took another deep breath and then awkwardly tried comforting me, but being male it was impossible.

“I know I had turned you down,” I kept going. “When you needed my help I didn’t even listen though it was so easy. Yehuda, do you forgive me?”

“Ari,” he tried to say soothingly, “Ari, I said I forgave you. Ari… please. Just stop, I forgive you.”

I shook my head, “I said I wasn’t your friend…”

“It was my fault,” he quickly retorted dismissingly.

“I feel like I have no friends anymore. You’re the only friend I want right now.”I confessed. What was I saying? I’d never say this, it felt so demeaning. Something pushed me forward. “Tell me you’ll be there for me when I need you. I know I can’t do it alone. I need your help…” I was struggling for words, “I need your help… as a friend.”

There was deep emotion in his voice as he truthfully answered, “I will, I’ll be there Ari. I’ll be there as long as it takes. I’ll be there as I friend.”

“As a friend,” I murmured over and over under my breath, my voice breaking with every word. He closed his eyes to our mistakes and was there every time I needed him. He was there every time I thought I would breakdown or I just felt tired and worthless. He was there to hold my hand through the last days of my life. He held it till it was cold and lifeless. He held it as a friend.

“As a friend,” he murmured.





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This article has 28 comments. Post your own now!

XtremeSk8er said...
Jun. 14, 2011 at 8:43 pm
hey its nesanel and shoeless we're sharing an account. i like writing so i decided to join. anyway, nice story. much better than the teen pages one. right now im working on a sci fi story and id appreciate feedback. im kind of new at this but i really like writing essays and stuff like that so it cant be too hard?
 
skisoul96 replied...
Jun. 15, 2011 at 10:32 am
thanx n isnt it annoying how they changed it in teen pages? it was so much better my way....ya i can give u sum feedback but 1st u guys needa post ur stuff n r u riting 2gether as in co-authors cuz how is that gonna work? n btw its not as easy as it seems at all! takes time n lots of thought, ya maybe mrs.miasel essays take a few min but tihs stuff is real...dont fool yourself!
 
XtremeSk8er replied...
Jun. 15, 2011 at 6:43 pm
thanx. do u like hard core sci fi? cuz thats wat my fav genre s and is wat im attempting at.
 
skisoul96 replied...
Jun. 15, 2011 at 8:38 pm
not my fav genre(i go more for realistic fiction and stuff like that as you see from what i write..u know the sad meaningful pieces about friendship or messed up life and stuff...)  but i can help out anyway...i got the emial so check it and you'll see what i said. good luck;) 
 
Chani G. said...
Jun. 10, 2011 at 11:22 am

Read the watered-down girls version in Teen Pages! lol Alti

Totally awesome!

 
ceezee said...
Nov. 29, 2010 at 6:47 pm
omg, i cant believe how good this is!!!!! alti, uve got such talent and u dont even know it!!!!! u better get published, and keep up the writing!!!! and u shud totally post some of ur literature that u wrote last yr in mrs. z's class or in the yearbook!!!!!! five stars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! u rock!!!!!!!!!!
 
doubleblacklover replied...
Nov. 29, 2010 at 6:52 pm
thanx, you found the time of day finally?! thats if you're who I think you are... its zalmon right?
 
ceezee replied...
Nov. 29, 2010 at 6:58 pm
lol!!! u guessed it!!!! and now that i officially singed up, ill comment on all ur stuff!!!! :)
 
estybesty said...
Nov. 29, 2010 at 5:03 pm
wow this rocks it should totally get published!!!!
 
tiger said...
Nov. 28, 2010 at 10:43 pm

REALLY REALLY GREAT JOB!!

I'm really impressed, I almost cried! Never knew about this hidden talent of yours!!! keep it up!

 

 
doubleblacklover replied...
Nov. 29, 2010 at 6:50 pm
oh thats a sight, i would have loved to see you cry! you know big, smart you crying over something I wrote?! Thanks though, it really means a lot to me.
 
dancergirl4life said...
Nov. 28, 2010 at 9:44 pm
Wow, I was crying. Why'd you have to let him die???? The writing was soooo good. I'm just waiting for more!
 
shira said...
Nov. 28, 2010 at 8:11 am
omg this is awsome!!!!!ur an amazzziinngg writer!!!!!!
 
rachelli said...
Nov. 27, 2010 at 9:21 pm
wow!!!!!! the story is amazing!! ure an awesome author! keep it up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
deda143 said...
Nov. 27, 2010 at 9:16 pm

omgosh!!

this was amazing! dont ever stop writing u have amazing talent! i cant wait to read more... btw is this alti?? lol

 
peaceluvhappyness! said...
Nov. 27, 2010 at 8:33 pm
this is such a touching story! ur such a gr8 writer! i ws confused at first cuz it wasnt so cleer bt the lesson and the story was just so inspiring
 
racheli said...
Nov. 27, 2010 at 7:35 pm
omg!!!! this is the most inspiring thing ive ever read! i love it...keep it up!!
 
lea@me said...
Nov. 25, 2010 at 7:08 pm
wow! this is amazing!!!u can totally sell this!!!!!:) :)  keep it up!!!
 
oreocookie826 said...
Nov. 25, 2010 at 4:31 pm
ok like seriously i have no words to describe how amazing this is, im completely speechless. You can like sell this no joke!!!!!
 
miriam8787 said...
Nov. 25, 2010 at 12:18 pm
alti, i miss u so much, this is the most meaningful and powerful story! i adore it, its really something special, u did a great great great great job and u used the opposite word of our vocab word inaudible, and u used the catskill mountains. lol, i love it, its amazing.
 
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