A Letter to a Faraway Friend

By Skye B Jenner

Twirling the pen in her delicate fingers, she thought. And thought. And thought. Sometimes it was hard to put emotions into words. The pen twirled. How could she start saying what she’d wanted to say since forever? There are always friendships that end. Sometimes it was her, because she didn’t want the friendship to continue anymore. Sometimes it was them. Sometimes life just creates a gap between two people’s worlds.

Her pink nail polish caught the light as she sighed. An ending friendship was normally a point of change in her life. Nothing to cry over—you remembered the good times and just moved on. But with this one, Emma had been there for the better part of her life. Not having that second person—it was like missing a part of herself. And she still didn’t know why it had gone missing.

The pen twitched towards the accusing blank paper. Better to write what she was feeling than to let it all go in a flaming ball of fury…

Dear Emma,

I don’t know if I’m writing you a goodbye letter, a love letter or a please forgive me letter. I don’t know because, in all honestly, I don’t know what we are anymore. Are we two people who used to be friends, but aren’t anymore? Are we still sisters in all but blood, just taking a bit of a break? Or did I do something seriously wrong that I need to ask your forgiveness for?

I know when we were perfectly great. We were best friends and everything I did involved you. And I know that now nothing involves you. I’m buying a house by the way. We’ve been talking about that for ages. It’s even in the same town as your house! It should have been something that we could both get excited about. But, for some reason I can’t tell you about it. Any of it. I don’t know when it went wrong? Was it something I did? Or something you did? Did we just drift as people do when they grow?

 Did love lettermake her sound like she was in love with Emma? But, they’d always been each other’s ‘Person’. Surely that was understandable. The hours they had spent curled up on the couch watching Friendsor Grey’sAnatomy. Too hung over to move and demanding that they be fed Chinese and Chinese now!

A smile tweaked her lips as she thought of the hundreds of dollars they had blown on Chinese. Who would have thought two slender girls could consume so much food? But that was tradition. They would buy enough Chinese to feed a small family, and eat it until they were crawling across the floor. Too full to consider moving like a real person and still hungry for more. Actually, she was surprised they had never thrown up after one of their takeaway nights…

I sometimes think that maybe it’s my fault. After all, I was so upset when you left me for Melbourne. I know it was something that you had to do, but it still hurt. Things were so hard at home and you felt like my lifeline to sanity. And you left me. All because of some stupid boy. I’ve always wondered why you don’t understand that you deserve to be treated like a princess. Your heart is so good and you are so loving, sweet and kind. Why have you never understood that guys should treat you the same way you treat them?

 I don’t know if I ever told you how much I missed you while you were gone. Should I have? Would that have made you realise that your friendship was important? That it was precious and worth fighting for? It still is, I think. But I don’t know how to fight for something. I don’t even know if it’s entirely lost.

 As the words flowed from her fingertips, the succession of Emma’s boyfriends from the past ten years marched through her head. Arrogance and false masculine superiority in every stride. There was the one who told Emma that her Dad’s threat to leave was because she was a ‘bitch’. Then there was the guy who left her in hospital on Christmas Eve and refused to even pop in. He was too busy cheating on her in town. The younger boy who was great, until he had too much to drink and got arrested. And the last one, to whom she fled across the country to escape—the one that told her she was a ‘slut’ and a ‘whore’, expecting to be a part of her life hours later.

She shook her head at their procession of misery—part of her was so mad that these people could systematically destroy her friend. Take the beauty that Emma offered to the world since they were five years old and shove it down a deep, dark hole. Her lips twisted in frustration and anger as she thought about the other part. The other part of her knew that Emma let them treat her like that. Emma never dated a guy unless she heard of his bad reputation. Unless she truly believed it would never last.

She’d always hated that march of misery. Not only did it mean that she had to spend time with such miserable excuses for men—but, more importantly, she was forced to watch a little light die in her friend for every moment spent in their company. It had always been so difficult to stand by and watch someone she loved destroy herself in such a way. Yet, it was even more difficult trying to discuss this with her. Normally so placid and easy going (almost a door mat at times), Emma was so incredibly defensive about her choices that it was just simpler to not say anything about it at all. Just to ride out the latest choice until it was over. It had made for some very uncomfortable moments and conversations.

I know you thought I was kind of harsh when you came home. But I didn’t want to see you hurt anymore. And I couldn’t be placed in the middle anymore. If you date my boyfriend’s friends and break their hearts, it hurts everyoneinvolved. Not just you. Sometimes I think you forget that. The last boy you hurt so badly, that even two years on, he won’t talk to me. And any girl he dates is never introduced to me. I know it’s not your fault. Still, you are so easy to love. I don’t think you know what an effect you can have on people. And not just the boys. All the girls still ask me how you are and where you are. And I don’t know what to tell them. I want to tell them that you are fantastic. And happy. And dancing wildly in the streets. But you’re not.

It’s been a long time since I thought you were genuinely happy. Where did the girl who needed no one and nothing go? You used to be so full of life. And you never hesitated to tell someone off for stepping out of line. Or maybe that was just the way I saw you. Growing up, you were my hero. You were the kind of person I wanted to be in a few years’ time. But now? Now I worry about you. Are you happy?

You always like to tell me how strong and independent you are. That you don’t need a man in your life to make you happy. That you actually struggle because you are so independent. But, if that’s true, then why have I never seen you single? Do you really think that because I have a boyfriend, I can’t be an independent woman as well? I’m sure you don’t. But every time you tell me how much being withoutsomeone makes you independent, I wonder if you think that I’m some wishy-washy girl that has to have a man.

 She raised her white arms over her head as her back arched and her neck popped. An hour to write a measly seven sentences. And she was still no closer to an answer. Yes, the boy thing was frustrating and had caused a few difficulties. Not just in their friendship, but in other relationships too. Sometimes it felt like it would be so much easier just to put this friendship in the box with all the others. Dusting off the good memories and ignoring all the rest. But there was a voice in the back of her mind. ‘If you can’t fight for this relationship, then when will you fight?’

It would also simplify things with her partner—it was never easy having a best friend that your partner didn’t approve of. Emma would be so hurt if she knew how upset he was with her. But, ever in the middle, they were both important. And he understood that. Even though he got frustrated with her friendship, pleading with her to stop letting herself get damaged and hurt by others. He got that Emma was special. That her friendship, her very existence meant so much to her.

Stalking into the kitchen to brew a cup of green tea, she thought of just why this friendship was so damn important. A good drinking and dancing buddy was fairly easy to find when you wanted one. She actually kept turning people down—too much study and not enough money. So it wasn’t that. It could be that they had shared a childhood. But there were plenty of others she could say that about, and they had never held any interest for her—let alone made her truly upset when they ceased to be part of her life.

The kettle started whistling, steam fogging the windows as the rain dripped off the pane. The melancholy atmosphere was exactly suited to writing a letter to a faraway friend. The aromatic tea warmed her cold fingers and aching heart as she stared at her words. Maybe that last paragraph was a little too harsh. After all, we aren’t all tarred with the same brush. She knew (better than most) that she had her flaws aplenty, so was it just a sign of being a bad friend that she couldn’t accept her friend’s flaws?

You always like to tell me how strong and independent you are. That you don’t need a man in your life to make you happy. That you actually struggle because you are so independent. But, if that’s true, then why have I never seen you single? Do you really think that because I have a boyfriend, I can’t be an independent woman as well? I’m sure you don’t. But every time you tell me how much being withoutsomeone makes you independent, I wonder if you think that I’m some wishy-washy girl that has to have a man.

 I hope that you are happy. I want you to be able to wake up every morning with a smile on your face, and go to sleep with it still on your lips.

 I don’t think I’ll ever know what went wrongbut I know that you feel it too. I know, because you haven’t told me about your ‘withdrawals’. And you haven’t contacted me lately. But then again, I haven’t contacted you either.

 I think we both started changing and, somehow in that changing, we were twisted away from each other. And I want you to know that, even though we aren’t as close as we were, even though I don’t tell you everything that is happening in my life, I still love you. I still want you to be happy. And in my mind, you are, and always will be my friend.

Love you forever and always.

She signed her name with a dramatic flourish, pen flicking into the air with a sense of triumph. She picked up the final, neat copy and reread her writing. No crossing out. No spelling mistakes. And, for this copy anyway, no tear stains across the black ink.

Shaking slightly, she folded the precious words into a pristine white envelope, her address the only mark on its perfection. With a silent prayer, she licked the seal and placed it in her handbag.

The blast of cold, fresh air swept away the last of her emotional cobwebs. The scent of new growth and life wafted in the air, rejuvenating the lyrical tapping of her heels and the swing of her hips. She’d always loved the smell of the earth after a fresh downpour. It erased the smells and marks of the past, and left a feeling of life and potential behind. Inhaling the eucalypt, she let a smile play across her face. The happy beauty of the gesture causing a passer-by to do a second take.

Breathing in the potential of new growth, she slipped a plain white envelope out of her handbag and into the giant red box on the corner. Then, without a second glance, she turned to embrace the future.




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