I’m trying to remember the time when we drew a picture together in sixth grade. the details are escaping me right now, but I do know that by the end of it, somehow we became best friends. just like that our school bus rides became times when we listened to music together. I remember you’d pick a song and then I’d listen and then I’d pick a song and then you’d change it and then we’d listen to your song and then I’d pick a song and you never liked the songs that I picked. I started to wonder if you really liked me for who I was or if I was just there to be a companion, but I stayed anyway. I was too afraid to be alone. maybe you were too?
and I guess by the time we got to high school, after three years of doing this, I fell into the routine of listening to your songs and leaning my head against the window. that was when you started to hit me. that was when you called me "feminine" and "metrosexual." you didn’t like that I had better grades than you, so you took every opportunity to bring me down to your level. I didn’t notice. I just laughed like a fool because I didn’t want to be alone. I thought that this was what a friend was -- the one who might bring you down but who was always there. sometimes you needed a good punch in the arm to bring yourself back into reality.
but I kept leaning my head against the window, watching everything outside blur by as the school bus creaked with each bump it hit along the road. I kept my head down and smiled. how nice it was to have a friend. to have someone to talk to, someone that would give me the right criticism, someone that set me straight. he defined me, he decided who I was, and I never even noticed my head hitting the window with each bump as I began to fall asleep.
but I remember when I woke up. when I realized the trap that I set for myself as I extended my hand towards you, asking for help. it was sophomore year of high school, I wanted a friend who could break the thoughts rushing through my head. a friend who could stop the static and open my eyes to the truth.
"you're an asshole caleb, fuck you."
I remember sitting one seat away from you the next day on the bus because I couldn’t bear being far. but I didn’t want to be near. I remember queueing up the same songs that you listened to on my phone because it was all I had. I remember taking a deep breath and looking outside. I wished that I could’ve done better. maybe it was me. maybe I didn’t do enough.
I remember rubbing my arm as I consciously thought about the bruise that was once there just a week ago. now bare skin, I’d forgotten what it felt like to not ache.
I remember holding back. blocking you on social media, not reading texts, with each day I fled farther back into the bus. I wanted to scream, but had no voice to shout. I sat alone, listening to the songs that you gave me, holding onto a shard of friendship as my heart festered with regret. I should've ended this a long time ago.
but high school days pass and soon they’re long forgotten. soon they bury themselves under the memories of college, and it’s like the trauma never happened. it’s as if I lacked trust because of a personality flaw. as if I was born indecisive. as if I was an asshole from day one, a nobody.
I’m the kid you go to for homework help -- only to laugh at later ‘cause A stands for Asian and B stands for Beating. I’m the metrosexual feminine boy who likes the color pink and cries easily. I’m the asshole who deserved to be kicked to the curb when all I did was keep my head down.
like mercury every day you changed, feeling one way and then another. your toxicity burrowing into my skin. and not a single satellite orbits around you.
but I want to thank you.
because when an apple rots, a seed grows from the remains, feeling the sun and reaching up towards the sky.
when a meteor crashed into the Earth it created the Moon.