Owning Up

Owning Up

A Story by Java Bum

Her voice sounded kind of faded, the way that a phone can distort distance even more. It was a palpable feeling, the faraway drifting that was accentuated by the buzzing of the line breaking. The sound of her voice, though, was a quiet comfort, something that soothed and beckoned despite the distance. It could have been the sound or it could have been the words, but whatever the case may be, I was grateful for it.

“What happened exactly?” she asked. I could hear the oldest of her children getting ready for bed.

“Besides me making a royal a*s of myself, I don’t remember exactly what went on. I just…I cracked…” It was like chewing on a piece of meat, that slow rhythm where you’re forced to taste even if you didn’t want to. “I just cracked. I had basically told her pretty much how I felt and I shouldn’t have. I know I shouldn’t have. But I did. Well, with everything else going on, I just lost it. I said things I didn’t mean to her and now I feel like I’ve just stepped over that line.”

After a moment of silence, she urged me forward. Two words, two syllables; it was enough, I guess. I never stopped toying with my beer bottle.

“I don’t know. I just…it wasn’t the rejection that got to me"or maybe it was. All I really know is that everything kinda bottomed out. I wanted to get away before I made that kinda mistake, but nothin’ doing there.”

She smiled; I could hear it. “Yeah, I know what you mean. You hit the ground and break. What can you do? Just got to pick it up, piece by piece and hope for the best, right?”

“Yeah…Yeah, you’re right. I guess some mistakes never end.”

“No, that’s not true, and you know it. You can make mistakes, and even make the same ones over and over, but the thing is that you have to remember that each new person makes it a new experience.”

She was right, but that knowledge didn’t help the situation any. How could it?

“You know, one of these days I’m going to learn to stop pulling all my punches.”

“Kind of chauvinistic, don’t you think? Talking about women like they’re punching bags instead of people.”

It was one of those things; she didn’t believe it, at least not with me. Or maybe she did but knew that I meant what I actually meant instead of said. I could feel the burning sensation in my chest, that feeling you get when you’re hurting but about to genuinely smile, no matter how small it ended up being.

“Well, we all know the a******s get the girls, right?”

She laughed, quietly"respectfully, I’d like to think. “You are an a*s, but you’re a sweetheart too. Keep that in mind. Nice guys finish last, right?”

“If they finish at all.”

Then she countered: “Better than finishing too soon.”

A sound was forced from my chest like a hiccup, but it was as much of a laugh as I could give, and it eased the pressure I was feeling.

“Don’t shake your head at me.”

Now I smiled. How did she know? I guess mannerisms are easy enough to place when you’ve spent enough time around people.

“At least it didn’t break your heart,” she said to me in a gentle way, though it was a matter-of-fact statement that did what it was supposed to do: point out the obvious.

I caught myself nodding, and then I opened my eyes.

She continued, her voice a raspy quality over the fragmented line, “But losing friends is always tough.”

“We’ve all lost friends before,” I tried. It was weak and I knew it.

“We’re not talking about acquaintances, the people who don’t really mean anything in our lives. We’re talking about the ones who leave us feeling empty.”

Emptiness was something I knew, but that thought died on my lips because, in all honesty, I didn’t want to sound like I was being melodramatic. It wasn’t that I was afraid of coming across as weak because that was something I was used to as well. I’ve always had problems with women in all manner of relationships. I just didn’t want to pity myself because that was the stupidest thing I could do.

“Have you apologized?”

I told her that I had.

“But let me guess, you didn’t try to salvage the friendship.”

“No.” With a deep breath, I braced myself, even though it really wasn’t as dire of a situation as it was all cracked up to be. “I, uh, felt it was better if I let her know that I was wrong and sorry, and leave it open.”

Now she was chiding me, “Pride is a dangerous quality here, you know. If it were up to me, I’d twist your arm and kick your a*s until you made the effort. But at least you’re not burning bridges.”

“There is always that.”

Hadn’t I, though? I felt like I was burning bridges, rising up like a funeral pyre into the sky. All behind me now, right? That was the way of the determined person. The idiotic part was that I was far from a strong man. It was kind of like drifting in the abstract.

“You are not burning bridges. I’ve seen you do that and that’s not what you’re doing here.” She wasn’t necessarily coaxing me as much as giving me a few solid shoves from behind.

It was then that I realized something. I was afraid of losing a friend and I was terrified of making the same grand mistakes that I had made before so many times in my past. “Who’s to say that you have to put up with all that s**t if you were going to stand beside someone? I mean, it’s just stupid to have to fight and make up in order to remain strong by their side…It doesn’t have to be like that.”

“I’m sorry? You kind of lost me.”

I tried and tried to piece it together in my mind, working and rolling the words around in my head until I was able to say something cohesive about the nonsensical babble. “I don’t know. I’m scared of losing someone else and I feel like a jerk. I just don’t see the point behind it. It wasn’t a necessary evil and I stepped so far out of line. I was just thinking that why do we have to be so foolish as to think that this is supposed to be a part of friendship.”

“Ah, I get it now.” I could hear the smile again as she said, “It’s not that. Not specifically anyway. It’s that it takes a lot of bullshit to get to the heart of the matter. People lash out. We say stupid things and, I think, as long as we try to make things right, it stays with people. With the ones we care about.”

“You think she’ll come back?” It took a lot for me to say that, vague hope cracking my voice. Where was that pride now?

“I think…maybe she will. If not, at least you left the opening. Whether it makes it better for her or not, that isn’t the point. You learned from your mistakes and tried to do the right thing when you messed it up. Focusing on you now is probably the best idea, and just let things happen as they come.”

So many mistakes were lingering on the cusp of my mind, ready to be vocalized. I knew that they were my problems to bear.

“Just gotta show a little self-control, right? Thanks for talking.”

“Have a good night.”

“You, too.” I closed my cell and sat there, staring at the corner of my bedroom by the closed door.

Worry was something that I had a tendency to do, even after everyone else had moved on. It wasn’t necessarily like living in the past, but a way of caring even if you had no intentions of showing it. There were no justifications for what was said or done, and there was no right in it even if there were wrongs given. I had a hazy focus set in front of myself now, and I think that that was what would be the filler in this void.

It was a funny kind of stupidity, if truth be told, and for that I’m sorry.

© 2010 Java Bum

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Added on March 18, 2010
Last Updated on March 19, 2010
Tags: story, loss, friendship, indifferent, selfish, selfless


Java Bum
Java Bum

New York, NY

While my writing spreads over a few different genres and categories within them, I like to focus my work here on fiction and nonfiction titles that center on pieces of me as a person. My website will .. more..

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