Every Friday after pre-school, Suzy and I sit in the grass out front, ripping up handfuls of the lawn and building grass mansions as Mrs. Hardy watches over us. When Suzy’s mom’s gold Jeep squeals into the parking lot, we simultaneously jump up, grab our matching unicorn backpacks, and hop in the SUV. And every Friday Mrs. Hardy flashes her friendly smile that matches our enthusiasm and waves goodbye as she hollers, “have fun, girls!”
Part of our Friday ritual is stopping at the Shell on the corner of Fifth and Kiel street. Suzy digs through all the cup holders and finds enough change to buy one Laffy Taffy for each of us, matching colors of course. On the drive home we sing our hearts out to our favorite big girl songs on the radio, our tongue and lips dyed blue from the candy. As soon as the Jeep screeches to a halt on the gravel driveway, Suzy and I jump out of the SUV, run through the lawn, into the house and up the staircase.
Halfway up the stairs on the right is my favorite place in the whole entire universe; a little door that opens up to a 6x4 cubby with a slanted ceiling, 5 feet tall at the highest point. The drawings on the cubby door make it clear that this cubby is for Suzy and Natalie, ONLY! We make sure to spend every second in our little hideaway, because Friday afternoon is the only day of the week that my Mom and Dad allow me to come over. And Suzy made up a rule that she isn’t allowed to go into our cubby by herself, except when things get scary in her house. Today, Suzy is the nurse and I get to be the doctor, but every time we play something new. One day we were pilots, because that is what I want to be when I grow up, but Suzy just wants to be a mom and have little babies to take care of.
I inhale sharply as I snap back to reality and realize where I am. No, no, no. I don’t want to be here, I want everything to stop. I want to go back to being 5 years old, back to our cubby, where everything was always all right. I want to see 5 year old Suzy, beautiful, kind, and happy. I want Suzy back.
I sob as the truth hits me. I will never see, hear, or dream with Suzy again. And it’s all my fault. As soon as I turned 15, my parents shipped me off to boarding school to ‘get a better education’ and ‘stay away from those wilder kids’, which included Suzy. At first, we kept in touch, but as all good things tend to do, we fell apart. She followed in her mother’s footsteps and I followed mine. There was a bit of a divide in our town, and her family was “trashy” while mine was “snotty”. I always worked hard to ensure a stable, happy future, but, my god, this is not the future I wanted.
The last time I talked to Suzy was a few years ago. I was home from Whitworth for the summer break and ran into her at the local grocery store. We hugged, made small talk, and promised to reach out this summer. We both knew that wasn’t going to happen. I forget about Suzy after that day, and instead thought about what gift I should get for my two year anniversary. Now I wonder, did Suzy forget about me? Or did she often think about those Fridays we spent together?
I tell myself that if I would have known, I would have helped her, but it’s bullshit. Deep down, I knew. By the 6th grade, I realized why my parents didn’t want me hanging out at Suzy’s. Let’s just say her mother was always developing habits, bad habits. Sleazy men, shitty liquor, etc, etc. And when I left town, her mother was the only person Suzy had.
Suzy’s death is on me. And rightfully so. I throw a handful of dirt on her grave and stumble away. Out of the corner of my eye I see Mrs. Hardy, her face stricken with tears. It was me, I want to shout! I pumped those drugs into beautiful, bright Suzy and left her to die, sprawled out on the staircase.
**Congrats, you made it to the end:) please leave a comment with some constructive criticism! I am new to writing short stories**