The day my best friend left
I held my tears in pretty well.
We walked to her dad’s office at church
and I breathed in the spicy scent of his pipe smoke
for the very last time. He drove me home like usual
and dropped me off in the setting sun.
If I had spoken the levee would have burst
so she and I just hugged and let go of fingers one by one
through the open car window.
Then I collapsed into the darkness of my bed
and slept for fourteen hours straight.
Mommy took me to work with her the rest of the week,
allowing me to sleep on the couch in the break room.
When I woke an unbearable weight
descended upon my chest.
Even the beauty of the fall colors outside the window
struck me down. I slept and slept and slept
to escape the pain
to escape the darkness
to escape any feeling at all.
The next Monday, Mommy watched me tremble
as I dressed for school, fearful
like a kindergartener on her first day.
I wondered, “How will I face school without her,
the only one who really understands me?”
Mommy reminded me that Jesus suffered
the loss of his friends too,
when he needed them the most.
When she dropped me off I asked Jesus to take my hand
and walk beside me through my day.
I pretended to close my fingers around his palm
inside my coat pocket where no one could see.
But the weight of schoolwork, the pressure to perform,
and the constant social drain wore me down by 3:00 p.m.
I avoided the noisy chaos of the bus
and the pitying offers of rides from classmates
and walked home instead.
I breathed in the quiet air
until I crossed paths
with eastbound junior high kids
who hurled wicked insults at my face.
As their laughter cackled
I remained silent
but their slingshots left deep marks.
Finally I reached the door
then covered my wounds
with an entire package
of cool, creamy chocolate pudding.
Afterward I laid in silence, contemplating
thoughts like: If heaven is free from pain and suffering,
why not just go now?
The deep dark place where I’ve stuffed everything
leaving a mess everywhere.
Her departure somehow blew the locks off
and I can’t push the darkness back down.
I don’t have the energy to find the light
so I slip back into the dark
oblivion of sleep
and shut everything out.