We were close friends with the world to gain. Parties, weekends, and friends were just a few of the pleasantries we shared. As teenagers, we lived like peas in a pod, but more like a mismatched pairing fused into a whole, eclectic being. We never passed judgment on each other when we met to share the stories of our young lives and the excitement that built around school, relationships, and the debauchery we could indulge in, as innocent as we were. I listened carefully when she told me about her relationship with older men. She was concerned when I told her about the fights and trouble I would get into but no matter the worries or hardships, we always ended the night laughing, hugging, and parting ways happy to have seen each other.
As we grew older and moved on with our lives, I stopped seeing her as much as I wanted to. I heard rumors about her well-being, as I am sure she heard about mine. She lived in the corner of my mind, holding a small but firm space within my life and memories of brighter and more care free times. We eventually lost touch for a few years and I began to stop wondering about her and our times together as friends. Sometimes, I thought I saw her from the corner of my eye but when I looked closer, it would always be a stranger.
A few days ago, I was riding the bus home from work when a car pulled up next to my window seat at a stop light. It was a small, rickety vehicle with little holding it together. A young girl sat in the front seat. Her silhouette appeared identical to my old friend, and for a brief moment I thought it was her so I knocked on the bus window to catch her attention. When I noticed a small stream blood on her forearm, I stopped knocking. I couldn’t see her face but I thought she was hurt so I kept looking to see what I could. We were separated by the glass, my world to hers. As the large arm of a man reached over to shift the car into gear, the girl brandished a needle, poking it into her arm. I gasped in shock at the sight of her seated stoned cold the passenger seat. Before the car took off, she came into view. She was beautiful and pale as she looked up from her lap. Her eyes were cold to the sunlight and she looked straight down the road into oblivion. It wasn’t the girl I had known.