Written by Varrick Kwang
Art by John-Mark Smith


Dear Jim,

It has been almost two years since my last message to you. 

I hope you are doing well. I’m sorry that I left you when you were in a bad place, but I needed space,

I’m sorry I could not give you the support that you needed back then, but you were a drunken mess, and on top of that, you brought too much drama. You took up too much of my headspace by whining about every minor inconvenience, and sending tons of long ranting messages at night, sometimes at 2 or 3 am. 

I had to tend to my mother back then. She was my main focus. Taking care of both her, after her surgery, and my sister, who I’ve mentioned has special needs, was very hard on some days.

Then, there was my boyfriend, who complained that I wasn’t spending enough time with him. I cannot tell you how guilty I felt when I had to cater to you instead of the guy I was actually dating. Now, we’re getting married next year. I love him like no other and I know he feels the same.

But still, good luck, and goodbye, Jim.

Lyra.

She owed him nothing. In fact, she wouldn’t even send it out. No, this was for her own closure. 

She knew that she did the right thing, logically, when she left Jim. But no matter what, there was a small part of her that could not simply throw their friendship away. Even if she had already cut him off, they were still friends at one point of time. Those were emotions for you—messy and illogical.

While she had found better jobs and better friends, sometimes she could not help but wonder if Jim had also done the same. 

But she would be an idiot to want him back. 

It was a funny feeling that bugged her for a long while. So she decided to process these messy feelings at last by writing it out, as her therapist had suggested many times. 

Her phone’s message notification chimed. The thought of Jim texting her again crossed her mind.

The first time Jim texted her, it was about a test he had failed and he was clearly feeling down about it. 

But then, it became about every small thing.

“Why is the weather so hot today? I can’t go out and what am I gonna do? Am I gonna vegetate at home till I die?” Why can’t he simply turn on the air-con?

“Why is it that some people can shit outside the toilet bowl without flushing OMG I hate it.” Then use another cubicle?

“Why is it that people like to infringe on my personal freedom? Isn’t it enough that I wasted my childhood in primary school all the way to college today for them!” What does he want to do?

Memories of him spamming her phone with incessant texts like those, having to deal with Jim’s melodrama came back to her all at once. 

“I’ll find a way.” He had repeatedly promised. At the end of the day, he would keep asking for virtual hugs while complaining about virtually the same thing that he said will work about.

It was like watching one of those cliche horror movies where you scream at the screen wanting to tell the characters not to do something stupid but they do it anyway for the sake of drama.

Not this again, she told herself. No way.

That couldn’t be possible, she already blocked him and he had not made any attempts to contact her again after she ignored his emails for the fifth time.

People around her liked to tell her she was “the warmest person they ever knew.” But Lyra could never accept these compliments, and she knew Jim would not bear testament to that either.

Especially not after she decided to block Jim at last.

Lyra still could not quite fathom how things become like that? 

From the day that she and Jim met at the cat shelter, he was a little shy and awkward around the cats, sure- but he was very friendly. 

And came his eighteenth birthday, which was a big thing to him. Fifth of October, she remembered.

Because that was also the same day where her mother had severe gastric pain and could not do anything at all. So she had to stay for her mother. To clean, to cook and to prepare medicine. 

Fortunately, Walton was there to help her tend to her mother- he chatted with her like a mother and she chatted with him like her son.

Seeing Walton made her guilty for not spending more time with him- the man she was actually dating. School took up enough of her time, her mother, her other friends and…now Jim. 

She never told Walton about her friendship with Jim, after all, she would hate for Walton to get the wrong idea. 

The next day however, she remembered that important briefing that their lecturer had said to give in class the next day. Jim must be there! His attendance was always perfect. 

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.

Lyra paced frantically in her seat, 

“Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god…” 

Jim wrote back after an hour:

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

Her heart was struck by a harpoon bolt. Mr Tom’s class was the most important one for her to score in- because this was the one class she was struggling with the most. And here was Jim saying that he wasn’t there to help her gather information. 

Why? Why didn’t Jim turn up that day? Doesn’t he understand that she needs his help too? Mr Tom wasn’t the kind of lecturer that cared to repeat his instructions again so it will be hard for her to catch up on what she had missed.

Jim shot her a text message an hour later: I’ll catch Mr Tom later and ask him what can we do?

And even if Jim sent her the notes later, she knew that what-she-got was a summarized, watered-down version- without most of the important little details. 

It’s ok, Jim. I’m not mad at you. She sent. But she was. How could he? How could Jim have been so selfish? In that class they only had each other, not like he doesn’t understand that.

What was he even doing that day? Celebrating his birthday until he was willing to endanger their assignment? Was he that needy?

A few days later, Jim was whining again: same old damn thing about how lonely he is. 

“I’m lonely, why doesn’t anyone eat with me? I want to cry.” 

“Jim, stop being overdramatic. You’ll be fine, ok?” Lyra could no longer find it in herself to write long comforting texts to him by that point.  There is no way Jim could keep mulling over “why I have no friends?” , how about he swap places with her? Take care of her sickly mother, and tend to all the chores. 

A few months of enduring complaints later, she finally decided to tell him to stop bothering her. 

“Today was sick and tiring, same old crap again. Why am I so stuck?” Was the very last message Jim had sent her. 

A cold and decisive sentence was all she wanted to give him. 

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

She hit the block button and never looked back. 

After blocking Jim, she wrote to her lecturers about her situation at home- about her ailing mother and how she was sorry for missing classes. It wasn’t until a year ago that she, along with some savings she had pulled with Walton and her other friends were able to finally ward her mother at a care home.

After a long two years of struggling, she finally graduated and then she went for the interview at that tech company…

Ring.

Her phone chimed. 

For an instant there she thought it was Jim again, bringing his melodrama once more.

She tried to shake the old memories away before pulling out her phone and checking her notifications

Fortunately, the message came from Walton, her current fiance.

“Dear, let’s go for dinner tonight.” 

She heaved a sigh of relief. Walton, unlike Jim, had no melodrama. Walton cared about her and helped tend to her mother whereas Jim rarely even asked about her. Most of all, Walton loved her. 

But there was a part of herself that wondered, if Walton ever fell down a dark path like Jim did, will she cut and run like she did with Jim? 

She shook her head to shake off this wild idea. Revisiting the past was never a good thing. She took the little letter and crushed it, casting it into the trash can. 

Today, she had Walton by her side, a recovered and healthy mother, and a well-paying job. 

It was all she needed for a good life. No unnecessary drama. 

At this point of time, Lyra only wished Jim well from a distance.