Age 13
This one was your fault, as you know. She always referred to you as her best friend, although you never considered her yours. After a while, you found her vulnerability and eagerness to please exhausting. “You like me too much,” you’d tell her laughingly in front of everyone, trying to see how much open cruelty you could display before she would retaliate. Even afterwards, long after you’d stopped speaking to her in the hallways, you’d catch a glimpse her thin white face in the halls and walk faster, breathless at how much you hated her, and for no reason, no real reason at all.

Age 16
The speed at which the two of you went from inseparable to enemies was dazzling. Not neutral, never neutral. You glommed onto each other the week she moved to town and walked, drove, planned each hour of your days as a single unit. She was a totem, a rosary. Having her nearby was calming in a way nothing else was. When the change came, you never knew what went wrong, never knew what you said or did or left undone that tipped the balance. You still don’t. You don’t even have a reasonable guess. In the middle of what seemed to you a completely ordinary exchange, you touched her on the arm and she snatched it back, looking horrified. “What is the matter with you,” she asked, and you didn’t know what to say. “You know you’re crazy, right? Everyone thinks you’re crazy. They think I’m crazy for staying friends with you.”

Her ability to gather supporters to her side made you think in retrospect that she had planned things. No one spoke to you for an entire semester, a fact that astonishes you to remember. No one at all.

Age 21
It happened while you were traveling together, days before you were scheduled to come back. The trip she had wanted to go on in the first place, you thought to yourself. She, who had planned it so exactingly, so excitedly, hated everything from the minute you arrived. She hated the crowds, she hated the transportation system, she hated walking, she hated the food. Every minor inconvenience was a major affront and also somehow your fault. You could not please her; nothing could please her. By the seventh day of the trip, neither of you was speaking to the other, not even to ask what was wrong. Six months after you returned, she started dating one of your exes. She claimed not to have known the two of you had ever dated, a lie so barefaced and unexpected you didn’t have the nerve to pursue it.

Age 29
It was, at only a year, perhaps too young a friendship to mourn as deeply as you did, and so for a long time after you felt embarrassed for crying just at the mention of her name. She still lives down the street from you. You still remember the bewildering torrent of insults you hurled at each other the last night you spoke. You still won’t apologize, and neither will she.

Age 34
After you miscarried (twenty-eight weeks, airport bathroom), she asked for the stroller she’d given you at the baby shower back. “Since you won’t be needing it,” she said brightly over the phone, “and it looks like I’ll using it in a few months.” You stared at the receiver, then rolled clumsily back over in bed and went to sleep.

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]