Brianna leaned back in the green deck chair, reading the letter she held in her hands. It was a nice letter: full of news, very descriptive, questions were asked about her own life. But the various misspellings of words, and slight rudeness in some cases, made her frown. Alexandra had moved to Saskatchewan two years ago, and, though they still kept in contact, Brianna had watched helplessly as her friend’s grades began to slip, her letters began to talk more and more about boys and less about the photograph she’d entered in a competition. Instead of taking an interest in Brianna’s life, Alexandra now took whatever opportunity she could to shove her words back in her face: Brianna had tried to tell her friend that she got her mom a teapot for Christmas, and had tried to describe how much her mom had enjoyed it, and Alexandra had said in response:
“Yep, cool a teapot…”
Sure. A teapot wasn’t the most ideal, or most interesting topic of conversation. But Alexandra knew how close Brianna was to her mother, and she could’ve shown even a bit of interest, instead of just dismissing it completely. Brianna threw down the letter on her desk, and adjusted the computer keyboard, poising her fingers to type. She looked at what she had so far: a general greeting, a rebuke to a comment Alexandra had made, and…
Brianna leaned forward, putting her head in her hands. Thoughts ran through her head. She thought of how Alexandra’s topics of conversation had gradually began to shift. She thought of how Alexandra had told her she didn’t care anymore whether or not she waited until after marriage for getting into a serious relationship with a guy…and by serious, she meant serious. And this was something she’d been adamant about waiting for, up until a year ago. That was when it had all started to change.
She rubbed her forehead gently, the throbbing worsening. She stood from her chair, and walked into her room, and was greeted with Alexandra looking at her from several directions. The little trophy Alexandra had given her at her little brother’s birthday party, both of her school pictures. Brianna walked over beside her bookcase, and tugged at a little brown briefcase that was wedged in between the bookcase and a pile of boxes. Finally, after several sharp pulls, it came free. She sat down on the foot of her bed, and flicked the latch open. She lifted the lid, careful not to tear the hinge more than it already was, and looked for a moment at the contents.
A couple of ribbons, birthday cards, drawings…and letters. All the letters that she and her best friend had exchanged over the years, all in this little rectangular container. Brianna picked up the first envelope, smiling at the stickers that held the flap closed before lifting it. She pulled out the letter, and read her friend’s purple penmanship. She seemed so happy, so full of life: she was enjoying her new home so much, it seemed. Her letters were filled with talk of the play she was in, the bunny she hoped to get, how her dog was doing. Brianna put it back inside the briefcase, pulling out a second, a third, until she got to the more recent correspondence.
Alexandra was talking about how cute this boy was, how she found out different things about him: it continued, for letter after letter. Sometimes a different boy, but always going back to the first one. As Brianna read her friend flip back and forth between morals, values, ethics, she remembered how she’d vainly tried to suggest to her friend what was happening. Brianna knew she was losing her: she knew they’d changed, she knew that what once was, could no longer be.
She put the envelopes back into the briefcase, and shut it. She grabbed the Discman off her desk, jammed an Avril Lavigne CD into it, and shoved the headset onto her ears. Lying back on the bed, she closed her eyes and listened to the angst-driven songs in her mind. She’d already memorized most of the songs, having become a fan of Avril Lavigne not long before, and soon found her mind wandering to the times that she’d spent with Alexandra.
They’d been involved in Girl Guiding together…always in the same patrol, they’d become fast friends. At camp, they bombarded the leaders with requests to be in the same tent, and, though they were never speaking at the end of camp, several nights were spent talking about the day, and telling ghost stories. Near the end of their years in Girl Guides, Brianna’s parents had separated, and Alexandra had been the only one that Brianna had felt she could tell. Alexandra had offered a listening ear, a kind voice, and a touch of reason that Brianna had needed.
A couple years before the separation, Brianna had been in the hospital for an operation. Alexandra had been one of several friends who had come in and visited: she’d had fun pushing Brianna around the hospital in a wheelchair several times, and the two had had a great time. When they’d had their babysitting course together, they had taken their baby dolls down to the cafeteria to ‘eat lunch’ with them, amidst the other learners who thought they were crazy. So many memories.
There were bad ones too, there was no doubt about that. But at this moment, as a tear fell down her cheek, she remembered only the good. She opened her eyes, just as the last song on the CD came on:
I miss you, miss you so bad
I don't forget you, oh it's so sad
I hope you can hear me
I remember it clearly
The day you slipped away
Was the day I found it won't be the same
Brianna looked up at the ceiling of her room, her fingers clenching the covers on the bed. She loved Alexandra so much, she felt like they were sisters. They’d had squabbles, they’d shared moments, they’d told each other everything. And when Alexandra had started to go to a place where Brianna wasn’t prepared to follow her, a place she knew was wrong, a place she’d been warned against her whole life, she’d tried to stop her at first. When Alexandra had persisted, Brianna had tried to slow her, to show her why what she was doing wasn’t right. She loved her like a sister, and wanted to protect her like a sister. But as her concentration began to fail, as her priorities rearranged, as her friends and family began to realize she wasn’t herself, things began to fall: Brianna’s temper rose more easily, she was more temperamental, things affected her more than they should’ve. And finally, she tried to pinpoint the problem: the one plausible solution that stuck out in her mind, was one of the hardest.
She walked back out to the living room, and sat down at her computer, pushing down on the keys to finish the letter. She said nothing of what she felt in it, nothing of what she was going to do. She printed it, and set it aside to mail later. Then she started an e-mail: an e-mail, though small, that was going to sever the ties with someone she’d trusted and cared for. Alexandra was special to Brianna, very special: but she knew she didn’t hold the same quality in her friend’s life anymore. She was going to a place where Brianna wouldn’t go, but she couldn’t dig in her heels much longer. It was either continue to go along, continue to constantly worry, or just cut it loose: she’d heard it before, that friendships tended to deteriorate over time. She’d hoped that it wouldn’t happen to her, but now she realized how true it was.
Brianna clicked the send button, and wiped away a tear as she did so. When she got the reply the next day, it was very nonchalant, dismissing the email rather easily. She leaned back in the green deck chair, reading the letter she saw on her screen. Instead of looking down at her lap, and crying, she turned off her email, stood from the chair, and walked to the window, looking out. Her head still throbbed slightly, but she was no longer tense; her heart hurt, but it would heal; her eyes blurred, but they would dry. The right thing, though not always the easiest thing, could cause rifts that would heal.