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That October

I still think about it every fall. With every leaf that falls down and gently hits the ground, one memory fades. With every year that goes by, I forget the details that, I swear, I thought, I would remember forever. But it just vanishes like it never happened and I only remember it when I see a miserable leaf on the ground or on the grimy window of my car.

Photo: Nikita Andreev / Unsplash

At what time in our lives can we say that we are truly happy? I’d say it’s early childhood. Every human is born with only good in them, but as we grow and meet other people, listen to their opinions and try to see the world through their eyes, we change. Maybe we don’t see it at first, but as time goes by, every one of us can tell that we have a collection of coins hidden deeply in our soul. Let’s just say that those coins represent every bad thing that was done to us. We’ve been collecting them since the first time we became aware that we’d been hurt. They don’t bother us, they just sit there quietly as they grow so much that they spread all the way to our veins. Just like that, our minds and bodies are full of evil, brought into us by the dark coins that people have been throwing at us all this time. So we’re full of them and we’re sick of them and then we decide to throw some of them ourselves. We want to kick the evil out of our souls, so we hurt other people just like they had hurt us. Suddenly, the whole world starts acting like that and that’s where the problem is. White coins are spending their last atoms of strength trying to fill our hearts with some good, but it’s too late because we’ve already let another guest in - envy - and we can’t find balance. This is the story about my long-lost friend, K. I also don’t want to mention my full name, because I’m simply not worth it.

We used to play every day in my yard, underneath the tree that we called “The big tree”. I let myself think of him only when fall starts; I think I owe him so much more than that, but at least I want him to know that I have never forgotten what happened that fall, that damn fall. If only it never happened. I was so full of misery those days that I wanted to sleep through the whole period and wake up in winter. But I couldn’t. Just like I couldn’t save him when I had the chance. K and I were friends for twelve years. He was like an older brother that I never actually had, like an angel flying around me and caringly watching over me. My parents never liked him because he was black, but I didn’t mind. Until I grew up…we grew up. When I was just a little girl, running around the yard with my “black” friend was everything to me. I liked him because he was different. Not because of his skin color, but because of his soul. I was grateful for having a friend like him. But then, both of his parents died very young and he was all alone. He only had me and my family that was never going to accept him. He was supposed to be sent back to Mali, where he was from. That’s a place in Africa where nobody should ever live. I wanted him to stay with us and I begged my parents to let that happen, but they wouldn’t. They manipulated me into rejecting his offer and threw those black coins into my soul. And just like that, I was full of envy, hate and disappointment. I just waited for some little sign to show me that he wasn’t good enough for me, that he didn’t deserve to stay with us, to share a room with me, to eat the same food that I did, to even breathe the same air. And then it happened, October 21st. We were going to school and I was already sick of him talking about his life, like he was the only one who was suffering. A group of guys and girls were standing in front of us. They said a sentence that changed my life and changed my way of thinking, and it was: “Why is a pretty and classy girl like you, B, hanging out with a poor, black kid? Can’t you see you deserve a better friend? Come sit with us, he should be sent to whatever lame country he came from.”

That was the sign. I could easily go with them and let him go and then it wouldn’t be so hard for me not to let him stay at my place. He’s not worth it, I was telling myself while I was walking towards them and joining their table. K was all alone, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and walked away. Something was telling me that I was never going to see him again, that I should run after him and tell him I was sorry. But I didn’t. I watched him leave and did nothing. It looked like everything was slipping away from me in in seconds. When I got home, my parents were so proud of their little daughter who finally saw how much she was worth. They said: “He’s not like you, when you were little you didn’t understand. But now you do, and we’re happy for it.” Black coins were filling my heart and I felt nothing but power that I shouldn’t have felt and the evil that was rushing through my veins. His house was next to mine so when I went to sleep I was still hoping to see him waving at me and sending me a goodnight kiss. But he wasn’t there, the light was off and it felt like the house was dead inside. Anyone could tell that there was no life in there.

I haven’t heard from him since October 21st. The years passed by, I kept getting older and meaner. I wasn’t able to recognize myself. The person that I turned into was awful, even my parents were worried. But they were the main reason that I was this person. One rainy day, I was opening the gate when a leaf fell down on my arm. My dad was saying he was sorry and was on his knees, covered in mud, begging me to forgive him. I didn’t know what was going on, but tears were just started falling down my cheeks by themselves. ‘’B, I’m so sorry. K is dead. He lived in a small house without power or water, and he just….he’s not here with us anymore’’. I stepped aside. I was holding one leaf and crying my eyes out. Then I started thinking what would have happened if I had stopped him from going away that day. I would’ve hugged him and never let him go. I would’ve told my parents they could go to hell because I wasn’t going to leave my only real friend. I could’ve stood beside him when he needed me the most, but I didn’t. And now, I’m 35. They say those are the best years of your life. Well, not for me. I’ve collected millions of dark coins and have thrown away the white ones. I left them on his grave, to let him know that there was some good in me and that all I wanted to do was share that good with him.

#prose #friendship #regret #racism #creativewriting

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