Letter to an old friend

This fiction piece was an assignment for Uni that I may have enjoyed writing a little too much. Names have been changed to protect me, mostly.

Melinda, Melinda, Melinda

I have no idea how you’ve been these past months, nay years, since I’ve seen or heard from you. I don’t wish you ill health but, if I’m to be honest, and it seems that you were – unabashedly – I just don’t care how you’ve been. I don’t miss you. My life is no less rich without you in it. If anything, it is simpler, less complicated.

This is generally the spot where I would give you a précis of the state of my life at this point but I won’t because I’ll never send this to you and therefore you will never read it.

Epistolic protocols attended to, let’s get to the heart of the matter. When Shane first spoke of you, then introduced us, I was hopeful that we would get along well. Friendships have their own unique organic timeline and these things can’t be rushed, no matter how eager he was for us to bond. As it happened, we survived the demise of your and Shane’s relationship. I’ve divorced a husband and I know these things can be tough, and people drop off along the way.

I think we would have become closer over time, had I not begin to feel your tentacles reach out into my very core. Frequently turning you down for a coffee catch-up was as much about me wanting some time for myself as it was me not feeling up to dealing with your stuff. You are the kind of person who always seems to have some drama in their life.

I recognise that you carry residual social anxiety from being attacked one evening walking home. I’m grateful that I’ve never had to deal with something like that. I’m not going to tell you to get over it because I don’t know how I would feel in your shoes. I will say, though, that life goes on. Jobs still need to attended to earn money to buy food and pay rent. The food package that I brought over to you so you would have something to eat was a way of me reaching out to you. It may not have been what you were used to but it is my way. Two people rarely see anything the same way.

You said that I hurt you with my nonchalance. I was keeping you at arm’s length because I found you draining. The first time you rang crying down the line saying you felt like ending it all, it shocked me. I thought ‘Don’t you have anyone that you’re close to? Am I really the person you choose to call before topping yourself?’ Hours on the phone as I listened to you drag out every aspect of your life, pining for a lost relationship that you chose to step out of. My hands would go numb while my stomach rumbled as I sat there listening, the hours ticking on. The first time, you managed to talk me out of driving over to your place, explaining that the phone conversation had helped. I am grateful for that. I didn’t want you to succeed at suicide.

The second time though, I had figured out that you were never serious about killing yourself. You were just seeking connection. Recently having moved here, you lacked a core group to fall back. Being a freelance writer lacking work didn’t help either. Your anxiety sky-rocketed as you remained in your unit, too broke to go out. When I read your social media post about your bike being stolen, I understood that was a difficult time for you but all I could think was ‘It’s never going to turn up.’ They never do. Bikes are stolen every single day in the inner city and the bottom line is they just don’t turn up. I didn’t say that though because you didn’t want to hear it. I said ‘good luck’ because it was easier than telling you the facts. I admit that I took the cop out route.

From a positive perspective, Shane always told me that he thought you came into the polyamorous lifestyle with a very open and grounded attitude. You knew that he had multiple partners, including me. I was happy to get to know you as one of his met-amours. The constellations of partners and friends in polyamory is complex and friendship is not always assured. We tried. It’s okay that we failed. In the last few months, I didn’t notice that you had cooled towards me as I was busy myself juggling a new relationship, a parent with ill health and teenage daughters. I should thank you though, you’ve taught me that it’s okay to draw boundaries with people and that it’s okay to let people go.

I thought we had more of a friendship than that. Amanda, I really did.

We didn’t. And by the way, only real estate agents and telemarketers call me Amanda. My friends call me Mandy.

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