It’s been seven months since I realized that one joke about your girlfriend was enough to end a 5 year long friendship. Who knew that your soulmate who drained you of anything but obsession over her could burrow her way so far in your brain that she could change you from logical to feeble minded before you could say “manipulated.” She took one joke I told her in confidence and turned it into a bottomless pit of mistrust, because somehow I was a threat to her. After you had been convinced I was the one double-dealing I realized she was the only one with cards.
Six months since the last time we would ever attend the same school, because you, my big brother, grew up way too fast, and while I lived in the past you moved out of your mother’s place leaving me lost in a daze, remembering the days we spent laying in grass in parks or pushing eachother on much too small swingsets. Big brother, I wish for her to make you happy, but she made you codependent long before I knew she was relevant. I wish I could have been there to suck out the snake venom she laid in you the day you told me you would kill yourself without her.
Five months since the last time we talked on the phone at midnight, but this time instead of squealing from laughter I was shrieking with pain because your words pierced my lungs so quickly that my body's first response was to cry for help, and when you waterboarded me with the idea that maybe we’ve both changed it took a long time to realise I wasn’t drowning.
Four months since I would saw the Duke campus for the last time, and our late night skype calls no longer kept my roommates awake, not to worry, they had calls of their own. When I fell down in a depression of realization that I got too old to fit into the same swings we used to play on, you had already realized that your childhood was over.
Three months since a phone call changed my life and my own soul mate decided it wasn’t working and I had no one to call to help me clean up the mess I would become, silly me for thinking we were even still friends on Facebook. My virtual reality came crashing down around the one I was already barely existing in and I decided nothing more could be lost from adding you again. You told me beautiful fairy tales about how you missed me and that maybe we could renew what we had.
Two months since I saw you for the first time in forever and the long embrace we had was meticulously calculated by the same person who I had felt calculated the disintegration of our relationship. We had small talk for two minutes before she pulled you away. It took me a while to realize the reason you looked different is because someone had stolen to stars in your eyes to wear around her neck.
One month ago I became the age you were when all of this started, the age when laying in parks became putting in hours to you. I stopped breathing when I realized how close I came to losing myself to my own age the way you lost yourself to yours, because you lost yourself to her, and she lost all your dreams, to replace them with ones she found more suitable. I started to wonder how my big brother became so much like a sad father, but realizing I’d be a bother I never asked you.
Two weeks since I found out that ADHD was just another similar trait we shared, and wondering how on Earth you learned to cope without the dope my doctor now prescribes me, and inside me I find hope to maybe try to speak to you again when I’m not so low on energy and confidence. This draws out until I realize that my last message to you still has “seen september 24” under it because the last time I tried to reach out Halo Reach was more important.
One night since I found courage enough in remembering your cheerleading that I made the decision not to stain my knives with the color red you always hated on me, to think maybe he still cares but he’s too scared to message first. I am trying to lift the curse of mental illness from my mind but your special brand of magic is missing from the concoction.
One year since our late night Skype call got too late so we had to start typing instead of speaking. You told me my friendship was the truest form of salvation, and your deeply rooted christian morals seemed to compare me to some kind of messiah. That I was your anchor and your sail, because I could change to be what you needed most, and we coasted on this idea not knowing five months from now our friendship would stop sailing, and result in a shipwreck that made Titanic look like a feel-good movie. As I sailed farther away from our years together, I anchored myself to the belief we weren’t truly apart.
Ten minutes from now I will build up the nerve to message you, and call you, and read you this poem, so please don’t tell me this was all in vain. As I type my body shakes, less with nervousness than hopelessness, and my only focus is on mending the sail we ripped, and hauling up the anchor so that maybe our friendship doesn’t end with one of us living, and the other one drowning.
A month after writing this I sit wondering if your lack of a phone could have been some sort of salvation. Knowing you could never understand that this poem was not an attack on her, but a stream of consciousness. Those feelings you get late at night when you don’t know if you’re really existing or just having a nightmare. I could never hate anyone who makes your smile so wide and bright, but my intuition has always told me she only makes you smile because she wants another spotlight. What I say, I only say because I care. And I know how much it hurts to hear these things about someone who you think of as a part of you, and that’s why I’ll never read you this poem. I see you maybe once a week now, but no matter how big your smile and how tight your hugs, all I can pay attention to is the bags under your eyes. It’s everything I can do not to count the seconds between each time your muscles twitch, each time you flinch. It all makes me so worried but.. I know what I’d say if I were you, because I used to be. So I smile, I hug tighter, and I tell you how much I miss you. Big brother, I love you, and that will never change. But for the past eight months all I’ve been to you is a torn sail, and a rusty anchor.