A Story by Tracey R

This is a [very] short story/fictional essay. In second person, it is a message to a friend. It is a statement of the need to deny of one reality in order to hold onto another, impossible one.


I had left town for a long time.  I had understood that getting well meant getting away and that meant leaving you too.  I suppose that in the time I had spent with living with my Grandmother, waiting tables, trying to read again, dying my hair until it returned to its original shade of brown " I tried to believe that that you were cleaning up as well.  You couldn’t have imagined how I missed you.  My mind would drift as I watched nightly news, as I tried catching up on what transpired in the world during the five years I was absent from it and getting high with you.  The calm was nearly unbearable.  I still don’t know what kept me from getting on a bus to return to you, what stopped me from trying with every fiber of my being to be fifteen again and wholly convinced that I could feel that free forever.  And so I couldn’t contact you because I was afraid to hear that you’d stopped smoking the stuff and moved on to needles, and because I was sure that the sound of your voice would bring me right back to the beginning. 

When I returned, I hadn’t seen or spoken to you in a year.  And though your face had fogged in my memory, it was clear that you didn’t look right " that you would not be alright.  And it was then that I knew that you were dying, and that there was nothing, absolutely nothing, that I would be able to do to stop it.  I’m not certain why that time was different from all of the others, if it was you that changed, or if it was me.  And it’s possible that some fundamental shift had taken place within me while I was away, some clarity had returned that made your state undeniable.  But still I smiled because you didn’t know it yet, because I wasn’t strong enough to tell you that you were already dead.  

Instead we talked about the usual, about how long it’d been since we’d gotten laid, and about average days, and we recalled that time we got pulled over for doing 90 in a 55 and we had an eighth in the car, and it reeked of the stuff, and all the cops did was say to you, sorry miss, but I’m going to have to give you a ticket for this one.  We talked for hours as you drove your car in no direction at all, and we listened to the same Marshall Mathers LP album that we listened to when we were sixteen years old.  You smelled the same as you always had, like cigarettes and slightly burnt hair, like some perfume that actually made me feel as if I was clothing myself in your old room to be an older, more beautiful, fuller, taller someone that I wasn’t then and that I’m still not even now.  So when you hugged me goodbye and said Love You like love was something you and I would have forever, all I did was say it back and slam the door and crawl to my bedroom to find that image unchanged.  Older, yes, I suppose less awkward rather than more beautiful; fuller, yes, and taller, but unchanged.  And I thought to call you then, to tell you the truth, that yes it seems we’ve taken many chances and cried and laughed equally and learned some about the nature of settling down and the urgency of getting up and moving on, but for some reason none of that has added up to very much more for you.  But I didn’t call, and I wept instead.

There were clear signs in the days that followed, but if you noticed them you wrote them off as a bad day, a bad year.  Your body was breaking down and I guess I assumed you simply didn’t care to discuss the details.  I didn’t let you see that I picked your hair up from the floor when I walked behind you " your sleek, jet black hair that once fell down to your waist, that drove men-twice-your-age wild.  You were always the sexier one, piercing shamrock green eyes, freckles distributed perfectly on your nose and across your cheekbones, a body with some meat on it " a woman’s body is what you had before I even grew breasts.  So I didn’t tell you " I couldn’t tell you " that I noticed your face going gray, that soap no longer took the blackened ash stains out from under the skin on your fingertips, that your fingers had become too thin for the rings you once wore all of the time.

We were laughing until the end.  We sat at the dock with all of the windows down and killed two packs.  You told me about how you were going to get out of this s****y old town just as soon as the money got good.  You said how the ocean is the only place where being high feels right anymore.  A cool breeze came through and you let out a laugh and I joined you.  I didn’t know what was funny but it felt like the right thing to do.  The vibrations in your voice were still deep, still strong, like they were coming from some place far away from all of this " some place I’ve wanted to be since the moment I met you.

You died a week after I returned.  There was nothing left to say.  I could have told you that I loved you, that you were my closest friend, that I’ll never have another one like you.  I should have told you that it could have just as well been me.  And I never told you that I knew you were dying, maybe because my finally seeing it made no difference; maybe it was too late, maybe you started deteriorating the moment I met you but I was young and friendship with someone like you makes a person feel immortal.

for gen & tom


© 2014 Tracey R

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Wow... This is beautifully written and flows nicely, I can fit together the friendship aspect and the addiction aspect put in the story, I can assume that this is true and is your personal experience as well or at least what people who knew drug addicts experiences... You put it together nicely, and if it is your experience then im sorry for your friend.

Posted 4 Years Ago

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I find it hard to get a grasp on either the "I" of the narrator or the "you" of the addict, here. Perhaps there is something more that you could communicate to the reader.

For me, as the child of an addict, I don't feel the emotional connection of an addict to their addiction, or that of the friend to the addict. It all seems to slide past with the inevitability of a snowflake skidding on ice. I am asking: why is this person addicted? Where is their rage at a world that only gives them poison? And, of course, why does the narrator seem to accept all this so stoically?

Posted 5 Years Ago


5 Years Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on May 11, 2013
Last Updated on October 1, 2014
Tags: loss, addiction, friendship, relationship, love, youth, growth, death


Tracey R
Tracey R

New York, NY

Hi. I'm here to reunite with writing after some time. For four years now I have been studying and working in the field of Addiction Psychology. Prior, I wrote fiction and nonfiction in college, mo.. more..


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