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Fair-Weather Friends MAG
Frigid December is always cold, no matter how many years pass. It's funny, therefore, that we're always surprised it's so cold, yet we always lament when it leaves and summer comes, always want it to come months in advance as time is still patiently plodding on at its own pace. Weather is predictable and seasonal, coming and going, and nothing surprising happens out of place or out of its time frame. A blizzard doesn't come in June and a typhoon doesn't come in February. Weather is reliable, but changeable – the only reliable thing about it is that it changes.
Maroon is my fair-weather friend.
Maroon is nothing like me. She's small, bony, timid, under-confident, and easily upset. She gets lice in her hair and dandruff on her shoulders and keeps horrifying strands of split-end bangs hanging in front of her uneven skin.
We're best friends in one sense of the word – she complains to me about her friends, I listen patiently, and then we both laugh our heads off at random inside jokes. I find it sad, sometimes, that Maroon will only see one side of me – the one she wants to see and that I show everyone else. Maroon might think I'm showing her my real self under my frigid exterior, but human beings are much more complicated than that. I am empty inside – totally drained of emotion.
What is most distressing for me, after all, is the fact that I might have lost myself while I was concentrating on making up faces for different occasions. How could she know the real me? I don't even know me. We're barely more than strangers.
Violet is my fair-weather friend.
Violet is nothing like me. She's tall, thin, brash, crass, impulsive, over-confident, and a lazy give-up-er. She could be the prettiest girl in the class if she tried harder, laughed a little pitchier, kept her hair in place, stopped randomizing the length of her skirt from tea-length to mini, and stopped staying up 'til midnight watching illegal Taiwanese dramas that give her huge bags under her eyes. She's so eccentric it's obvious that boys are scared to approach her.
We're best friends in one sense of the word – she uses me as a fun pastime, poking jokes at me along with all my other fair-weather friends, copying notes she missed while sleeping in class, laughing raucously at my embarrassing quirks. We've known each other for so long – five years, now. But that's going to end soon; graduation is next month.
Violet might think she knows me better than anyone, that she is my one true friend – I admit, I'm tempted to think that sometimes too. But Violet is not my real friend, just like all my other friends aren't real friends. How could they know the real me? The real me is little more than a closet serial murderer, plotting the deaths of the people I hate in my mind, over and over. No one could imagine that I am really like this – me, the girl with slouching posture, the split ends and dandruff, the girl who freezes up every time she has to speak louder than a whisper. But this is me, and I hate myself. No, that's a lie – I'm too afraid to hate myself. To hate oneself is a scary thing. I'm a coward.
I look at her walking beside me, beaming and chattering like a hyper chipmunk. I wonder sometimes what she is thinking – she always has the same mask on, always the same smile, always the same spikes and drops in tension. Everything is so planned with her, so perfectly executed, sometimes I wonder if she doesn't realize it herself – that this isn't the real her. I've seen both her faces, and both those faces aren't her. She is something much more mesmerizing – something darker and magnetic.
“Ah!” I say suddenly, unable to contain myself. “All my friends suck. They're not my real friends. I have no real friends.”
Violet looks at me, totally calm, smiley, and happy. “Yeah, I know what you mean.”
I try not to look shocked at what Maroon just said. It's not that I'm surprised she said it, more that I'm surprised she was brave enough to tread on such delicate, untouched ground. I was under the impression that we would not discuss this, that we had a mutual understanding that there was no need to bring up something that could break us apart. But she brought it up – I'm just here to listen to her complain about her friends, after all.
“I have, I don't know, maybe only two true friends. Seriously sucks,” Maroon says.
I laugh and look away. I am fully aware that she isn't including me among those friends. If she were, she would have said so. But I don't mind. I'm not remotely hurt or sad; actually, I'm just disappointed that I feel no hurt or sadness. I dig around delicately for a ball that I can toss back that won't hurt her feelings or have too much of a deep connotation.
“Me, too. Just a few friends I chat with on e-mail, you know?”
She groans and shakes herself violently and humorously, like she is trying to rid herself of some clingy spirit. “Ah, this sucks! I hate everyone around me!”
I laugh with her while we wait by the train tracks, staring at the cold, cold sky. Maroon is not who she thinks she shows people. True, she's gloomy and an introvert, but that's not all. There is something much darker about her, something frightening and powerful, like the villainous character in a horror series. I can imagine her making voodoo dolls, then burning them and banging them with mallets. I can imagine my own doll at her home, beaten and battered.
So why am I still friends with this girl? I don't know.
I have no idea why I am still friends with Violet. She has the kind of personality I totally despise – fake, pathetic, and a liar. I hate how she keeps up this charade that we are thick as thieves – we both know very well how real this friendship is. But times spent with her are some of the best I can remember. Unlike my other friends, she is always there. She pushes me in directions I would definitely never want to go and embarrasses me, but for some reason I'm certain she does it for my own good. I don't know why, but I could never make a cursed doll for her.
“Yeah, well, but isn't that just life?”
I turn to look at Violet; she's still smiling, trying to trick me into thinking that she's saying this is all a joke. I know she's not – her eyes freeze when she's dead serious, the twinkle instantly vanishing. It's her only weakness as far as I know, and I think she doesn't even realize it.
“I mean, everyone in the world can't be all buddy-buddy, right?” she continues. “That would create such a crazy society. I mean, if you think it's only natural that people have superficial friendships theeeeeen you can be POSITIVE!”
With that, she jumps into the air, trying to catch a phantom snowflake, and I laugh at her, pushing and shoving as I chastise her for her foolishness. We part ways, and when I'm sure I'm out of her line of vision, I stop and close my eyes, feeling dampness on my nose, cold seeping under my thin scarf and up my skirt. I feel so alone, so desperately hampered as a human being.
I will not miss Violet on graduation day. I will cry, but I will not miss her. She is just my dearly beloved fair-weather friend.
I stop in my tracks and look back the way I came. What on earth is wrong with me – what am I missing as a human being? Compassion? Feeling? Desperation? Love? I love Maroon as a friend – a fair-weather one, but I accept that about her. However, I am not under the misconception that I will ever have a real best friend. I think I lack something essential in the area that permits such a thing. I do not expect more from her than she is already giving. I do not expect that she will come running to my deathbed, that she will cry when I cry, that she will meet up with me after graduation 'til we're old and wrinkled, and that we'll never sever these bonds of friendship. I don't expect more of her than I am willing to give.
She is a good friend. Not loyal, courageous, or fiercely dedicated, but a friend – friends are changeable, like the weather. If she betrayed me, I wouldn't be surprised. I wouldn't blame her. I would just smile, sigh, and then move on.
I will not cry for Maroon on graduation day. I will not miss her at all afterward. After all, she is just a fair-weather friend.
Today is graduation day. Everyone is sniveling like idiots, even the guys. I'm crying, too, overwhelmed by collective tides of emotion, feeling like it's my duty to cry or I could never live with myself. She isn't crying – she has her normal, everyday face on, that horrid mask we both choose to wear. There is nothing wrong with the mask. It is ours to wear and take off as we please. It's the consequences, on the other hand, that we have to live with. The day that we complain about the consequences of our charade is the day we don't deserve to wear the mask anymore. At that moment, we must put down our armor and take off the masks in surrender. I don't think that moment will ever come for me. Even if it does, I wouldn't know what to do with myself – a trained killer let loose, unarmed, among normal, harmless sheep. It's not that I've lost myself in the mask, but it has become a part of me. Not wearing a mask, in effect, would be denying who I really am.
We're standing together in the courtyard; my tears are done and I wipe them away with a broad grin, laughing with her like always. We are just another two friends on graduation day, crying and laughing and pulling our last desperate jokes. But there is one difference: we do not make promises to write or e-mail; we don't promise to meet in ten years or visit each other.
It is at this moment that I realize for certain that we both understood the terms of our sham friendship. It gives me a sense of closure, like a weight lifted off my shoulders. The sham continues, of course, but like a dying sprint – an old-fashioned facade, doomed to go out of business soon, running its last lap.
I know now that it was a friendship without expectations, without promises – it was shallow, brief, and mutually beneficial in the cold sense of those words. But it was fun. It was enjoyable. With her I spent some of my best times in school. What do I have to complain about?
I'm hitching a ride home with my mom. I give my fair-weather friend one last good-bye wave – no hugs – and jump into the car, grinning. I sigh in relief as we drive away, slumping down in the seat, pulling my knees up. Then I feel something strange.
I touch my heart, blinking in amazement, and then look toward the school, as if I can see through metal and distance and connect eyes with the person causing this hurt.
I gasp and feel the tears falling uncontrollably down my cheeks. I'm shaking, my head is buzzing, and I'm so confused I'm actually illiterate. My mom laughs and pats me on the head, smiling compassionately.
“There, there – I know it's hard. Don't worry, you'll see each other again.”
No, we won't, I want to tell her, curling up in a ball to escape the tears. We're fair-weather friends, Mom. We'll probably never see each other again.
Through the tears, I smile a little, bitterly but happily, shaking my head in exasperation. I will miss her. I will really, really miss her.
My most important fair-weather friend. F