13 Apr

Can I be close to you, uh uh? Can I be close to you, uh?  She said that the sun used to give her a prickly sensation, but that the rain also kept her from going out in her shenanigans as well. 

She had the aura of a lost sheep and the strength of an exotic warrior at the same time. She had a wide nose, but with prominent cheekbones as well. Her face looked a bit chubby, but she had been very skinny as well.

 She had been a lot of things, but to me she had been another version of myself covered in a better body. 

I told her she could become a model once, and that same day, she applied to a modeling agency on Instagram. She used to look at me square in the eye, most of the time on a video call, through the grainy video of her cheap phone. 

I could feel her eyes on me rather than seeing them, but she would tell me that whatever ideas about life I had, we could explore them. 

Her favorite song was "Bloom" by the Paper Kites. She said she loved the bittersweet sound of the guitar. She said it reminded her of how her life had gotten better when we met. She said she wanted to be close to me all the time. She said I reminded her of the great things she had ever lived through. But where is she now? Ruth, my chubby-faced but skinny-shaped friend, My best friend. 

The loss of a friend hurts a lot. At first, it's like you are suffocating. Like someone is squeezing life out of you. Then after some time it feels like a thorn that is stuck in your index finger. Any way you try to move your finger, you will still feel it. 

It had been a Friday afternoon when the sun was scorching outside, and I was just getting off work. I can’t lie that I was missing Ruth, who was more of an annoying presence instead of a wave of fresh air most of the time. 

She pissed me off 70% of the time, and I loved her for it. She would tease me about my hourglass body. She would lament how guys never gave her second glances when we were together at bars. It was a Friday and I had no date, so I could tolerate her vexes for an hour later that night. 

I called her phone, and it rang several times before she picked up. 

Hey, girl! " I said in my cheery voice despite my cheery voice and the loud groans of the engines of the cars on the road.

"Hi there." She said I felt sadness in her voice. When I said she was me in a better body, that was true. 

I could always read her mood and implications. There is, of course, a fake sad voice she used when she wanted me to buy her a brochette at the bar later that night and her real sad voice that freaked me out. And this time, it was her real one. 

"What’s up? You sound a little bit under the weather. Is everything good with you? " I asked, trying to keep my worry down. 

"Yeah, all is good." Sniff. 

She had been crying. I could tell. That screamed trouble. I knew that she had been seeing a therapist lately for a couple of months, but it was not enough to keep her issues at bay all the time. I had always tried all I could to help her. 

Except that my friend wasn’t that cooperative all the time. She could sometimes be a pain – a pain that I appreciated having in my butt. 

"You know that you can’t lie to me, right?" I retorted in my sternest voice. It was a code between the two of us. Neither of us liked pity, so we had promised each other not to sound pitiful, not even at the worst of the worst.

 "Yeah, I know." She mumbled. 

I could hear that she was so deep inside of her head. I knew all the tricks that her mind played on her. It tricked her into thinking that she was the worst person on earth.

"Ruth, could you please tell me what happened to my person? You can’t-" She hung up on me. This was exactly the second time she had hung up on me in the eight years we had known each other. I called again and again and she did not pick up. The last time she hung up on me, her roommate had found her veins cut and her bed almost caught fire from the cigarettes that she had been smoking at that time. 

It was just a year of our friendship. That time, I stayed at her place. I had been too scared to even take her to the hospital or try to call the police. I did not want my friend to be used as an icon for suicide in adults. 

We spent that night knitting a sock; she was teasing me about how I did not know how to crochet anything at my age. This Friday was not going at all well as I thought. I stood on the sidewalk and raised my hand, waiting for any bike that could pass by. 

I put on my sunglasses to keep the sun and tears away. I was the crybaby while Ruth was the cornerstone. It was around ten minutes when I saw the Moto Guy. 

I took the bike in a rush, without bothering to put on the bandana on my hair. I was saying frantic prayers to God to keep her safe for me at any cost. I was repenting for both of our sins. Mine and hers at once. 

By the time I got to her door in her new ghetto, I was sweating like a pig. I have always been the curvier but also physically complicated one. While my periods were irregular, hers were regular and on point. She never missed hers, while I sometimes missed mine. She had taken me to a gynecologist once when she was thinking that I had gotten pregnant by my ex, whom she hated.

 I had a spare key to her house, of course, which I had gotten in nasty ways, but I didn’t trust Ruth to handle her life alone. I felt like I was her personal caretaker, hired by the gods. I knocked several times, but there was no luck. Then I tried to open the door with my own key. 

I felt worried by the things that were neatly placed in her small space. No bottles or cans around the living room. When I went to the small kitchen, every dish was washed, something so unlike Ruth. There always had to be a cup or plate she forgot. I checked the room, all the while calling her name. 

And there she was, asleep.

 I called once, twice, and yelled at the third time. No response. Tears were now rolling down my cheeks. My person couldn’t be dead. We often joked about it. She said that I could only afford to call her during her lifetime because she didn’t know what people did after they died. 

I removed the covers meticulously. If she was merely asleep and I woke her up, I would have to buy all the beers for the weekend. She had told me that she loved sleeping next to me and loved cuddling me. 

There was a bottle of Happy Leaf—her favorite liquor, a syringe, her phone with my face and her favorite song, Bloom, playing, and one knit sock and yarn. 

This was her end. I could see it. I couldn’t accept it though. I remembered how the house was just closed, with not a key inside. 

Cleverly, she had removed the key. She had known that I would come for her. I called her relatives. Ruth, my dearest, had had no family, at least no steady family in her teenage years. She had moved out of her aunt’s house when she was sixteen, right after high school.

The entire situation of getting her to the hospital for autopsy and funeral was quiet. Ruth despised the fake friends she said she had. No one from her work at the sales company was at the funeral. 

Only me, my family, and her few relatives. She had once told me that she thought that a white funeral looked classy, so that was what we all wore, even though I had to go and buy her cousins something classy because they looked like hippies. 

I was blessed with a loving family. While I grieved for my dearest Ruth, they gave me space. I never posted about it—though some did post about it. I did not want anyone to dissect my friend’s life just because she could not hear or rebuke their bad manners anymore. 

For almost a year, I only woke up early in the morning before the sun rose, just to listen to her favorite song. Can I be close to you? All the time, I dreamt about her, the sunshine, and the ridiculous pants she had with Kirikou scribbled on the butt. 

When the sun didn’t come out, I could only think of how my beloved Ruth was doing on the other side. I thought she would be so cold because she was so skinny. She had always relied on me for heat. I often made rosemary tea at her place since she hated coffee and its smell. 

She had said she loved me more than anything in her life. She had said I was her world. I had said she was mine. It is a pity that mine soared higher than hers. It's a shame I can't get any closer to her than in my blessed dreams and hallucinations any longer. 

I miss her and I miss who I was with her. We made each other better. That is when you look at it from our perspective. Can I be close to you? 

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