"I’m home now. Can I call you later?"
"Absolutely. Take care sweets."
"You too. I’ll talk to you later, okay?"
"You’ve got yourself a deal sister."
I would never tell my friend this but I called to check in on him. How many bottles of Heineken stood between him and unconsciousness was something I didn't know. He told me he had gotten off of work early, skipped supper and started drinking. I had a party to go to that night. When I was done talking to my friend I knew I could no longer attend the party another friend of mine was hosting. The conversation started with me asking him about his day. At first he was reluctant to tell me anything. Eventually my friend told me that if life was a bank he wanted to cash out. That night his voice was tired, he told me he was smoking again. I know he drives through acid trips, the last time he was driving he had taken a muscle relaxer to relieve some of his pain. Every time I talk to him I wonder; why is this man doing this to himself? He has so much to live for. So many gifts that other people admire. People try and emulate him. I want to show him how other people see him but he never sees himself the way others do.
My friend wants something life can't give him. I can't cheer him up by talking to him. I can't fix things in his life. All I can do is listen. If I tell him he should stop abusing prescription drugs he'll tell me that I don't understand his needs. Every day I have pain that doesn't go away. I live with it, sleep with it, eat with it. It interferes with my everyday life and my ability to get things done. My friend doesn't understand that. We understand each other though. When he told me we should get together I told him I'd buy him dinner and a drink. He told me he'd make me supper and we could cry together. I want to hold him like he's my child. I want to kiss his forehead and make all the bad things in his life go far, far away. I want him to stop running from things and start opening up to people. It was encouraging when he told me that he had set some goals for himself. He told me he was going to be in a different place soon. I heard him say that his journey was coming to an end. Life was slowing down at the same time he was speeding up.
There's a bridge that the two of us like. It's our hangout place. We climb up to the top, in the summer people we watch people fishing off the bridge. When I called my friend he was already at the top of the bridge. I heard a faint noise. It sounded like glass breaking but I knew it couldn't be that because he had told me he was in his apartment. I remember him telling me he was getting ready for bed. But the wind was blowing across his phone. The breeze made me cold. I was sitting inside my car, I had parked in the driveway but I wasn't moving because I could no longer hear the voice of my friend. I backed out of my driveway, instinctively I drove to the bridge. It was a black and starless night. The outline of the bridge had a small bump up on top. Down below the lake was flat and calm.
My headlights flashed as I pulled into the parking lot. The wind was blowing, I pulled my jacket closer. My scarf wasn't much protection against the wind. Climbing up the train bridge takes time. It's not an easy climb. Traffic passes anonymously beneath you, the higher you go the scarier it is to look down. I'm not afraid of heights and I'm not afraid to die either. Life is not an easy choice to make. My friend knows that. He tells me that he would never do anything stupid but I know him. I know that he talks to me because I take him seriously. Deep down he wants to hear that people care. He needs love, he wants people to care about him. Drugs are his way to escape from things. Drugs and alcohol blur the edges for him. Life is clear to me. A clear choice everyone has to accept or deny. It was windy at the top of the bridge.
My friend smiled as he tossed another bottle off the edge. Together we watched it hit the water. Compared to most women I have a powerful arm. I threw another bottle into the lake. It was so cold up on top the bridge. All we wanted was to be warm. We were sitting next to each other when he stood up. His hand reached for mine. I held onto his fingers tightly, afraid that he would let go. My friend is a lot taller than I am. I knew that if he jumped I wouldn't be able to stop him. Worse I might be dragged along with him. There are a lot of things I don't like about my life but I'm not like my friend. I have reasons to live. He thinks of reasons to stop fighting. I wanted to tell my friend how cool I thought he was. Words of love had already been spoken. There wasn't anything else I could say to him. We were both crying when I dropped his hand and stepped away from him. My friend and I are now in two different places. He has his world and I have mine but today I profoundly thankful that we are still on this earth together.
P.S. The world is warm and likes having us in it.