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Thomas Lowery

Friends Forever

Two Girls by Boris Grigoriev

You measured our lives by the contests. Who knows when it started. Maybe when we were eight and you invited me to your birthday party? I gave you a jump rope, the kind with the plastic handles and flashing lights. You hugged me and thanked me profusely and then whispered in my ear: “you are my best friend.” The next day after school we tested out the jump rope. Who could get to one hundred fastest, or something like that. You beat me plain and simple. Then you invited me upstairs to your room with the phone and the TV and all the snacks. As we grew older, we became inseparable, only demarcated by our bodies and brains. You, tall, thin, tan, silky smooth, fleet of foot, witty, fearless. Me, sort of like that, but less so. The contests were the scaffolding that held us together. Early on your victories were clear cut and just: First one to the stop sign and back. You win. First one to fill the piggy bank. You win. First one to get Jessie Taylor’s autograph. You win. But over time, they grew more nuanced, more mysterious. Like, let’s see who can get their first period first. Let’s see who can kiss Brian first. Yes, I was the better tennis player, but you became captain of the tennis team because you were the better leader. I was a better actress but you got the lead in Romeo & Juliet Senior year because you were prettier. On the other hand, maybe I let you win sometimes to uphold the arrangement. Like when we applied for the same job at Edith’s Diner and I fucked up my interview on purpose. Our friendship was so beautiful yet so delicate, enamel teacups sitting on a string. Fueled by incessant envy and gratitude, I managed to keep it intact. You had everything that I did not, but you still invited me into your world. For someone like me who had nothing, that was everything. And so, I stayed by your side. Your guardian. Your companion. Your solace. Your peace. And you, perpetually feeding off me, that I might sustain you and your precious needs. “You are my best friend too,” I whispered back. “Forever.”

About the writer:
Thomas Lowery is a writer currently living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He grew up in Texas and studied Literature at The University of Dallas. When he’s not writing, you can usually find him reading, walking, or talking with a friend.

Image: Two Girls by Boris Grigoriev (1886-1939). Oil on canvas. 32 1/8 x 32 1/8 inches. By 1939. Public domain.

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