The Strongest Bond

November 13, 2010
We were an odd pair. Erik did not want me as a friend; I didn’t want him as a boyfriend. We tried both relationships.

At the beginning of our freshmen year of high school, we were introduced through our classes. We became close friends and were soon nearly inseparable. By the time summer arrived, we both agreed that we had changed, both mentally and physically, and wanted to be more than friends.

As summer progressed, we entered a wonderful relationship, however short lived it was. Most relationships ended the way ours did; a new boy moved in across the street from me and little by little, I developed feelings for him. Kyle was a handsome boy, athletic, suave, and cool. He surprised me by taking an interest in me.

When I ended things with Erik, he did not take it too well. It seemed he would have a hard time moving on, and it the strong emotions he experience only deepened when he found out Kyle was going to take me to Homecoming.

Erik began to miss school frequently, and I started to worry. If he had been present at school, it was rare that I passed him in the hallways. I didn’t see him off campus either. When I went, finally, to talk to his parents—whom I had gotten to know well over the course of Erik and my friendship—they informed me that certain evenings he would go out and not come home for days on end. In subsequent months, I found that Erik had begun to hand out with the students, if they could really be considered such, which were usually hopped up on one drug or the next.

I usually spent a day a week visiting with Erik’s mother, mostly hoping that I would by chance see him. Two months passed to no avail. At last, I heard a new shred of news. Though it wasn’t exactly the best news I had ever received, I was somewhat relieved. Erik had been caught with his ‘friends’ drinking by two policemen. When they had tried to take the youths into the station, they had fled. When Erik was taken off, he had interrupted the flow of traffic, causing a fatal accident between an SUV and a semi. He was being charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Erik’s parents let me go with them to see their son at the county jail while he awaited his trial. After they had a few moments alone with him, they left us together. After a moment of an awkward stare-down, Erik turned away.

“Erik,” I began uncertainly. I didn’t know what to say. What could I say?

He looked back at me, a furious glare on his face. “Why are you here, Christa?”

Though I had been at a solemn loss for words, Erik’s snappy comment rubbed me the wrong way. “Why am I here?” I demanded. “Try asking yourself that question.”

“Look, Christa,” Erik said, slightly less maliciously this time. “I don’t want a lecture.”

“Maybe that’s just what you need,” I said, my tone still as harsh. “I don’t really see my closest friend, Erik. I want him back.”

“Don’t give me any of that crap,” Erik shot at me. “We both know that what we had is over, all right?”

“Only because you want it to be,” I snapped waspishly. “Erik, I can’t make you change your mind about getting drugged up all the time, or breaking the law, and spending all your time in prison, but I can tell you that when you finally decide it’s a mistake, I’m not going to be there for you.”

“I don’t want you to be there, Christa,” Erik said, his voice rising. “I don’t care.”

Fighting back frustrated and grievous tears, I said, “Change is inevitable Erik. Your can’t fight it. I do wish things would—”

“If you had wished things would have stayed the same,” Erik said in a grave tone, “you wouldn’t have done this to me.”

“This?” I demanded, tears slipping now. “You did this to yourself. Good luck, Erik. Goodbye.”

I turned and walked away, knowing deep down that it would be the last time I saw my friend.

After Erik’s trial, I learned from his parents that he was to spend a year in a juvenile correctional facility for a year, and then be on probation.

One evening, a year later, I was sitting home on a Friday night. Kyle was at an away basketball game, and I hadn’t felt like begging a ride from a school friend. My parents had gone to see a new action flick at the theater. Just as I plopped onto the couch with a book, the doorbell rang.

Grumbling to myself, I walked down the hall and opened the door, feeling the chilled winter air creep inside. I looked up and staggered back a pace from shock. Before me was Erik. After a moment of awkward silence, he said sheepishly, “May I come in?”

I nodded and stepped aside. After another moment of silence, I saw wryly, “How was juvy?”

“It sucked,” he said dryly. After a second’s hesitation, he went on, “I came to apologize. I was stupid. You were right, and that’s what got me through the past year. Yeah, I know, right? I lived for remembering you yelling at me.” He grinned for a moment, and then sobered. “It was just so hard to see you and—and Kyle. Especially when I still loved you so much.”

Not being able to contain myself, I cried, “Oh, Erik!” and ran to him, throwing my arms around his neck. For a moment, he was stiff. Then, he locked his arms around me.

“You said change was inevitable,” he mumbled. “But I’ll always love you. Even if it’s only as a friend.”

So we picked up our old friendship right where we had left off. We went through rough times, but we managed. Together, as friends who had been tested and had overcome the inevitable by way of the strongest bond—friendship.

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