A Tribute to Issy by Anastasia Momoth

They would find us on the steps that led to the IT room. No one went there so it was always me and you. No, You and I. Our heads would be bent over a weathered black book, we would be laughing. Each time you laughed, you’d reach out and smack me on the shoulder. Because I had said something so terribly funny, because I had predicted your future wrong, because it made us feel connected.

We talked about the boys you would kiss, the places you would go, how I would be there always because you needed me. Our world consisted of your world. Yours. Never mine.

“I’ll sing and you’ll write” was our motto. You were the star, the one on stage; being funny, being cool, being sensational. I was always in the audience. Clapping, clapping, clapping.

What took me so long to stop?

I wrote your story so I suppose it was my fault. I wrote what you wanted to read and you were happy, so I was happy. I clung so hard to us that a big part of me no longer existed when I was around you. Think about it now, it was so scary. There was something so life threatening about our relationship.

You weren’t just my friend, you were my fate friend. We blamed the universe for playing tricks on us- tying our lives together until we were one big knot, until we weren’t allowed to let go.

Even when we fought-us yelling and shouting and saying things we felt we didn’t mean but actually did- we would come back to it. We would crawl back to the red line and start again.

You stopped crawling first.

“You guys are too different”, everyone else said, “What’s the point of your friendship.”

But we dismissed it, telling ourselves it was because they were jealous. We felt their eyes burning into the backs of our skulls, as we strutted down the school halls. When we whispered secrets into each others ears only to pull back laughing dramatically, they glared.

They’re sad ‘cause they don’t have what we have, that’s what we thought. At least that’s what I thought. Thought? Did I even think?

Was I so blinded by the combination of your supposed awesomeness and my supposed awesomeness that I just didn’t know?

And then I did know but by then I couldn’t breathe or I had forgotten how to breathe.

I saw myself banging on the window of the physics room, eyes widened in fear. The two friends that found me, they thought I had just been crying.

I wish I had just been crying.

I was bent over from the waist. And I was screaming, they told me they didn’t think I’d ever stop.

So where were you when I thought I would die, when I finally realized that I had a problem. Some kind of mental malfunction. And that mental malfunction was you.

I remember seeing you the very next day, but you silently passed me by. So I cornered you with shaking hands because I hated confrontation. Because even though physically I was a giant, inside I was as small as a mustard seed.

“I had a panic attack.” I said quietly

And then I waited, for the feeling of horror to take over your face. For you to give me a nudge like I gave you when you had cried in class for the first time, for us  to suddenly make eye contact then burst out laughing, because I had been too sensitive and you had been too rash.

But instead you replied:

“Yeah well, I’ve had a panic attack before.”

A year later you still call me, you still text me. But I know now that all your ‘how are yous’  translate to ‘let’s talk about me’s. You’re so eager to tell me about your boyfriend, about moving to New York, about the thrill that comes with finally getting what you want.

Still I wonder each day, why me? Why am I the one you call first? Why am I the one you want to laugh with and gossip to even now that you’re thousands of miles away?

The wishful part of me thinks that maybe you value our friendship. That your dreams and my dreams can once again move as one. But that’s a lie.

You just can’t help clinging on to our old habits, can you? You don’t want to be the lead, you need to be the lead, with me as the sound person. Not even a backup dancer. A sound person.

So for old time’s sake let’s pretend that we’re still up on the stairs that leads to to IT room laughing for no reason. Your eyes would be shining as you gushed about the spotlight. Shall we pretend that the spotlight is male? Knowing that it has never mattered who the guy was as long as he worshipped your voice, here and now I give him to you freely. Inhale whatever it is that sticks to his skin, his hair, his leather jacket. Commit him to memory. Be excited, be mesmerized, be honest. He’s all you’ve ever wanted.

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