birthday conversations, part II.

“Are you done explaining?” She asked.

I looked at her and blinked once, twice. The tone of her voice was firm.

“Yes…?” 

“Now it’s my turn to speak. Listen to me first, okay? Listen to me until the end.” 

I nodded quietly, slightly dumbfounded. She sat up straight on the sofa. Then she spoke.

“From what you’ve told me so far, this much I understand: it wasn’t just some silly friendship, the kind we make-and-break, saying things we don’t mean to each other and forget minutes later. Sure you guys were young back then but you genuinely cared about each other. You were real friends to each other – it wasn’t just a high school phase thing, which was why it hurt so much for you when they did that. It didn’t just hurt. It hurt. But your ego-” 

…she was only getting started.

“-your ego, you need to do something about it. Your pride is still doing the talking for you. A long time has passed since what happened yes, but you when spoke about it, the hurt in your voice – you talk about them as the girls they were, the persons they were. In your mind, you’ve grown up and moved on – but those girls, in your reality, they’re still seventeen. They’re still the girls who did what they did to you. That’s not fair.”

“You’ve got to let the past go.”

I held back tears, knowing she’s right but also knowing it’s the hardest thing to do.

She wasn’t done.

“Don’t take what I’m about to say the wrong way. I don’t mean this unkindly, I’m speaking from the viewpoint of an old friend, someone who was there and lived that part of your past – you weren’t that great either. In a way, absolute power [as Head Girl] corrupted you. You weren’t always nice to other people and some of the things you did in the past, how you treated some people – you didn’t always do the right things either.” She paused, probably trying to gage my facial expression to clue in on how I took in her honest opinions about my teenage self. I didn’t break eye contact; she took it as a sign to keep going. “But people move on. Since we left high school, no one’s come forward begrudging you, right?”

“You can’t… what they did was not nice and it didn’t just hurt. It hurt. I understand completely. But listen to me: you need to learn to let the past go. You need to learn to let go of the girls they once were and see them for the individuals they are now.”

She stopped talking. Finally.

I continued to stare at her, dumbfounded. Hurt, confused – everything.

“You know,” I finally spoke up, after long minutes of silence passed between us, “I like to think that when I say that I’ve forgiven them, I really mean that. And in theory I understand a lot of things, I do. Like when I came across a recent photo of them, still so close – I understand they’re real friends to each other. That friendship circle was – is – real for them, you know? They’re real to each other. So much time has passed since then, so many new – better – friends. I understand this, really. But you know…” I let my voice trail off, already foreseeing that she would hate my subsequent statements, “sometimes I have such a hard time accepting that reality, this reality – even though I have my own set of friends now, the kind they are to each other. Sometimes I… still have a hard time accepting that they’re still each other’s rock, that that friendship circle was real – because it came and stayed and solidified at the expense of leaving me behind. Six became seven because none of them stood by seven.”

She sighed, a deep one, and turned to face me again.

“Do you hear yourself right now?”

For a second time that night, both of us were silent.

I thought I heard sounds in the background; my heart, fractured and in tears.

It was one of those damn nights – and it was far from over.

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