This story is by Gage Graf and was part of our 2018 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Writing can be amazing. If done properly, it can bring the reader into a new world with realistic and compelling characters. There is a downside to it though, it takes a large amount of time and is mostly done in private. This can cause an intense isolationism that sometimes damper one’s spirit. I’m sad to say that I am one of those people, and because of that, I was too close to becoming something I fear: alone.
When I started writing, I had multiple friends that were willing to help. Each one contributed in their own way, which I accepted with open arms. Even though I didn’t have a thought out plan, a balanced cast of characters, or a basic plot; none of that mattered. I had fun with every paragraph.
A year passed and my family decided it would be best for us to move, leaving nearly all my friends behind. I entered a new school, but, being the quiet and nervous kid that I am, it took a while before I talked to anyone. Eventually, someone was kind enough to introduce themselves to me: Lesslie. Time went on and our friendship grew, along with our willingness to put up with each other. As the summer rolled by, I started to wish that we had something… more.
The following year arrived, but my courage had yet to reveal itself. Out of all the relationships I had previously, I was never the one to ask. I just accepted whoever came up, which in hindsight was not the best way to go. Instead of talking to her about how I felt, I put it aside and enjoyed the laughs we had as friends.
Halfway into the school year, everyone was getting ready for an upcoming dance. I thought that to be my chance to ask Lesslie to go with me. That night, I got a call from one of my other friends, telling me that someone else already asked her, and that she said yes. I tried to keep my composure for the remainder of the call, but it was all an act.
Things got even worse as time went on. She told me that, in a few weeks, she would be moving to Washington state, and that the only reason that she was in a relationship at all, was because the guy wanted to make her happy. Later down the line, it turned out that he was cheating on Lesslie, and that only managed to both enrage and confuse her. At that point, I didn’t want to push my own feelings onto her.
It was her last day, and, because of that, she didn’t go to school. I didn’t pay too much attention to any of the courses, instead, I regretted everything I didn’t do to get closer to her. As I got home, she texted me that she has yet to leave and was wondering if I could come over one last time. Moving as quickly as the law would allow it, I sped over and made it just in time to see an RV pull in. They were loading both that and their car to the brim with belongings. Lesslie walked up, carrying a My Little Pony pillow, and asked if I could help, to which I agreed with a heavy heart.
Somehow, we made it an enjoyable experience, with the occasional joke here and there and a little goofing off in between heavy loads, but we were both aware of what was to come. An hour passed and she said “I’ll miss you” every few minutes, which didn’t help me focus on lifting a bed. Right when we finished with the majority of the work, my mother asked for me to return home. Lesslie and I sat down and took a break, said our goodbyes and hugged each other as many times as we could before I had to leave. As I drove off I glanced at the mirror, watching her wave until I turned the corner.
A few months passed and, thankfully, we managed to keep up near daily messages between each other, but during that time, I barely added a single page to my story. The only thing that kept me back was myself. After a session of writing, I would read over what I did and examine how it flowed with the previous work. I deleted it quickly after, thinking that whatever I wrote at the time wasn’t worth the space it took up. I soon put it aside, thinking my skills as a writer were mediocre and left them to collect dust.
I was slowly feeling empty inside. All the fun I once had before was gone, replaced with a thin mask that anyone could see through if they looked close enough. I began getting angry more and more often, lashing out at others for what they thought was something small, but now that I look back, I was angry at myself.
Before I knew it, I was seperating myself from others, trying not to let them know what I was going through, while simultaneously attempting to figure out for myself what was wrong. I have a loving family, close friends, a nice house with enough stability to keep it that way, so why was I down?
The separations kept getting worse. As it went on, people began noticing, asking how I was doing or if I was ok. That only sped up the process. I didn’t want them to be concerned. They had their own problems, and I didn’t want to be one of them.
It was late one night and I held my phone in my hands, trembling. That was the night that I decided to end my friendships until I found myself again. I went into my message app, clicked on a familiar face, and sent a message that hurt with every word, “Have a good life. Achieve whatever dream you have, become the best you you can be… Don’t let me drag you down. You deserve someone better to call a friend. Goodnight.”
My body felt empty, hollow at the realization at what I did. I had just cut off one of the people that I didn’t want involved. Before long, I would have had to do the same thing with everyone else in my life, but not even a minute later, that same person responded, concerned. All the more reason to seperate. I didn’t want anyone to worry for me and get caught up in my problems, so I made an attempt to end the conversation, laid down, and hoped that was the end of it.
Until I saw the next reply, “You’re not dragging me down! And so what if you haven’t looked at your book for 2 weeks! Sometimes you need a break. If you ever feel down then you can just text me. And don’t feel like you will be a bother or be wasting my time because you are always worth talking to. You’re one of my closest friends ever. I wouldn’t ask for anything more than to be friends with you. I know you can’t see it, but I smile whenever I get a text from you. Being able to talk to you is one of the highlights of my day. Or you’ll be the reason my bad days gets better. I know my words probably mean nothing right now… but, you mean a lot to me. So don’t you DARE say you don’t have a purpose or that you don’t want to drag me down. You may not know your purpose yet, but you have one.” ~Lesslie
I pulled the covers over my head and did something that I didn’t do in years: cried. Whatever emotional baggage I felt faded away as I read the message over and over again. Once I was done, a smile grew on my face, not because someone cared for me, but because she cared for me.
Months had passed and whatever damage took place was healed up, Lesslie and I got closer than before, I started opening up to people who would listen, and everything seemed to be even better than before it all started. The only problem was, that I felt guilty for how I acted and what I almost did. Even though everyone forgave me, I didn’t forgive myself. All the anger I used to lash out at them, and yet it’s as if nothing had happened. I needed a way to set things right, at least, for myself. So I did what I do best, wrote a story, but nothing fictional or anything that seemed unreal, I wrote down something that came from the heart, something that would lift whatever weight I felt off my shoulders, something… for Lesslie. If I were to meet her again, I only wish that I could repay her for what she did for me.