It was my birthday. A day not unlike the birthdays that I'd have in the last few years. It was just another day, nothing anything special about it other than a number being added to my age. I'd get a present or two, or a card with a bill slipped into it. No cake or balloons.

There was one small difference that year, though. In the mail I received something from a very close friend of mine. He lives far from here, you see. Quite far. And so it became a very special day.

He sent me nothing spectacular, really. Just a wrist watch - a very simple one, which was a good thing. I'd always liked simplicity. It's a very raw sense of beauty. I've never worn watches or any other type of jewelry much, though. They were uncomfortable and there seemed no way to avoid knocking them against something. And I never did want to get one of those awful tan lines on my wrist, but I made an exception this time. He had sent it to me and wearing it created a sense of closeness, and he and I were close. I shared things with him I wouldn't share with anyone else. I like to think he did the same. When I was lonely, it was he I turned to. Through happiness or sorrow, he was always there. I liked to think he understood me like no other and he taught me immeasurable things, helped me become who I am in so many ways. It was one of those relationships you don't come across frequently in life. Even finding one person that important to you is unusual, I think. I loved him.

I tried to keep good care of that simple watch, not letting it scratch or scrape. I'd examine it often, making sure it didn't begin to look too worn or that the time was set correctly. Every night when I'd take it off, I'd set it on the dresser beside my bed and fall asleep to the quiet ticking.

You forget sometimes, though. Things in my life became more complicated and busy. Sometimes I'd forget to even wear it. Some friends of mine were messing around one night, sitting next to this fountain outside talking about how silent the usually busy streets were. No cars and few people. One of the girls sprawled out in the middle of the street, laughing at how she could now say she had done so on the busiest street in the city. I followed her lead, throwing my arms out to my sides as I lay down. And that's how it happened. The glass of my watch hit against the hard ground, a small circular crack now marred it.

Friends sometimes grow apart, especially those that are so far away. Time goes on and you make other friends. And so many things are changing and you're still becoming a person. We didn't talk as much and when we did it wasn't like before. He'd tell me about his life and I about mine, but they now seemed utterly seperate from one another. It's sometimes difficult to have long distance friendships, when you can't share a warm hug or gentle touch or even those comfortable silences.

Months later, I found my watch, tucked away in a spice cabinet. I must have left it laying around and forgotten. Part of it's band was ripped and falling apart. During the last months I'd let sister's borrow it, left it wherever I could. At night the ticking began to bother me, I'd throw it across the room. But I promised myself I'd get both the band and old crack fixed or replaced. I had started to miss the thing.

He and I still talked when we both could. Not like we used to or not nearly as much. When we did talk it was more like acquaintences than friends. I couldn't understand how I was letting it slip away. I could lose one of the most important things to me.

Many months after, I was going through some boxes and drawers of mine. And I found this watch there. I never did keep that promise of fixing it. It lay there lifeless, worn and cracked. But now it didn't tick or move, the hands frozen. I had forgotten about it and so it stopped. It was one of those rare moments in life when you think the tears are endless and will never cease, your cheeks sting from the tears and your stomach hurts.

I tried that day to get a hold of him. The next day, and the next. It had been so long. Eventually, when I did find him, it was strange and different. He wasn't that same friend anymore, the person I used to stay up all night with and talk to about everything and anything. We were strangers now. The distance between us was more than just oceans. I let our friendship fade and become nothing. It cracked, became worn and beaten, then finally died. Probably the most precious thing I'd ever lose in this life.

I still have that old watch, though. Through many moves it's been with me. I stare at it for long moments sometimes, thinking that if I just watch it long and hard enough, I just might catch the hands moving again.

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