Written by Varrick Kwang
Art by pixabay


To Lyra, my dear friend,

I’m sorry that I wasn’t a good friend to you. I’m sorry that I was so embroiled in my own issues that I forgot that you, being as human as myself, had your needs, desires, and problems. 

I should have been more responsible for my own issues and not drag you down. 

I wish I never blew up your text box with my emotional baggage of rubbish ranting when you are already swamped with your own life problems.

Because of my desperation for support, I hurt you in the aftermath of my poor mental health. But I am not here to talk about how my need for this and that caused me to dump on you. That’s selfish. I did not have support anywhere else so I turned to you, but you needed support yourself and I was blind to that. 

I’m sorry that I have never given you anything outside of drama in your life.

I’ll erase this document from existence after this. But I promise you, this sentiment will stay the same even now. 

Today, given that things have become the way they are, I only wish you happiness, healing and peace. 

I’m sorry that this could not be longer. I’m sorry that I was the one who diminished your faith in people. In fact, I’m sorry for everything. You only wanted to help, yet I never deserved it.

Goodbye,

Jim

Jim wondered where he went wrong with himself. Why did he have to screw up the only friendship he had? 

Did it start all the way from the first time he started to vent to her about a test. The first time that led to many more times of complaining. After all, no one else would hear him out. His parents were the “just suck it up” kind of people so there was no point in talking to them. There was no point trying to make friends at school either, because everyone was always so into their own business all the time and was always so tired. 

He first met Lyra at a cat shelter, where they happened to be volunteering to clean and play with cats at the same time slot.

He remembered that the cats would always hiss and run away from him. Lyra on the other hand attracted them,. and they  seemed a lot more soothed. They closed their eyes in contentment, purred and then rubbed their chins at her hands when she petted them. 

Jim came over to consult the expert and they started to talk from there. And with Lyra around, the cats started to let Jim pet them as well, perhaps reassured by her. 

“Hey, you’re in Mr Tom’s class right? I’ve seen  you before.”

“I haven’t seen you before.” 

“I’m usually  sitting in the back. And my attendance is kinda..” She awkwardly smiled and said “Crap.” 

Jim chuckled. “What happened?”

“I have to take care of my family sometimes.” 

From there, they became friends, even if they could only chat through text most of the time.

After some time of sending recorded notes, gifs and memes, Jim decided he was comfortable enough to open up to her. She was his only friend at that point.

And then came his eighteenth birthday,

“Great, I’m alone again.” Jim wrote in his texts. He had wanted to ask her whether she was free tonight so he could celebrate with her , but he didn’t want it to be weird. After all, Lyra already had a boyfriend and it would be inappropriate. He purely wanted it to be a simple birthday celebration, but she may see it otherwise. 

Maybe he could ask her and her boyfriend to come celebrate with him as well? But the problem is that he didn’t know her boyfriend so he was unsure whether he could trust that guy. 

His parents were working themselves into wrecks as always, and Lyra said over text that she was too busy that night. 

So he went to a club to soak in the never-ending rave parties, to  catch a whiff of the celebratory mood. If he couldn’t have a personalized party for himself with his loved ones, at least he could have it by blending in the commercial ones that were there.

Yet in the sea of strangers raving to the disco music, a sharper feeling of loneliness came hidden in the digitized tunes.

Why couldn’t his day be special for once? Have a friend sing a nice song for him and give him a slice of cake? That’d be nice. It wasn’t as if he demanded a big grand party- oh no, he’s not “cool” enough for that, apparently. 

So he drank some beer that night, let himself loose on the dance floor. After all, turning legal is something worth celebrating, right? 

Everything else was a blur, but he drank shot after shot and screeched to the tune of the disco beat.

The next day, he woke up to a massive headache and himself lying on the pavement sprawled like an open eagle, a pool of vomit next to him. 

His phone had more than fifty messages. Some from his parents and some from Lyra. 

Jim, did you record the lecture for today? I really need it, Mr Tom said he has an important announcement to make regarding our final project.

Jim wrote back:

Sorry, I didn’t. I was late to class because there was a traffic jam. 

Jim ran to school, to visit Mr Tom and catch up on what he had missed out. 

It’s ok, Jim. I’m not mad at you. She said in her reply. Back then, Jim thought that she was ok with it, but now, he wondered if she was simply trying to brush things under the rug.

But as time went on, he could not stand the loneliness any longer. Days went by when he could not take the sheer cold boredom of loneliness.

He had no one to talk about it, keeping in his heart will only make it burst.  

“I’m lonely, why doesn’t anyone eat with me?” he said, because who else could he talk to other than Lyra? 

Jim, stop being overdramatic. 

You’ll be fine, ok? 

From there on, Lyra replied slower, and her responses were shorter. But Jim did not want to lose his only friend. Who else could he turn to?

I’m sick of your whining. Be responsible for your own issues. 

And just like that, Jim was blocked. For good. His next few messages no longer went through and her profile picture faded to a dead grey. 

The reality of him losing his only friend hit him like a jackhammer to the head. 

What was he going to do without her? 

His parents, always delivering their advicewith stone faces, kept with their “hold pen not hold hand” rhetoric, and it sickened Jim even more. 

After she cut him off, she never turned up to class again, but somehow, Jim heard that she completed the assignment on her own and passed regardless. 

He, on the other hand, had failed and had to retake the module the next semester. In addition to being thrown on a wait-list to school counselling services. For the last two semesters in his academic career, it was a bitter path to fight on for him. Most calls he made to reach out for help, be it for slacking project mates to do their part, or for other people to eat with him during lunch. And he felt like a needy child every time he felt the need to do it- something he grew to hate.

After all the nights he cried alone while his fingers relentlessly typed up reports and tutorials. He graduated as well, though he didn’t see Lyra at the graduation ceremony with him. Did she graduate early? Or did she drop out?

Did she work something out with Mr. Tom? Was he the reason why she stopped coming to school?

But the most important question for Jim was – how is she today? 

He’ll never know. After all, he never bothered to check in on her himself and ask. 

And that was his part of the blame.