In this piece, Emma reflects on a friendship from when she was seventeen with a girl suffering from anorexia nervosa after a chance meeting years later in the city center. A fractured friendship full of uncertainty and pain, Emma now considers it one of strength and healing. Looking back at her own mental health at the time and comparing it to now as she sees how far her friend has come, Emma writes from a place of hope; things do get better.
Everyone was so afraid of you.
Comparing wrist sizes when they thought you weren’t looking, speaking briefly for fear of exhaustion. They feared the other, as well, when the elephant in the room was brought faced. The other, who also wore their problems on their sleeve, didn’t shy away from, keep locked up. Oh, Bipolar? Stay away! As if it were contagious, this state of mind. And you, you congratulated her, as if this was something to be achieved — I hated you then, and happily.
I watched you walk against the wind that day, and marveled at how your form never took to a collapsed, defeated shape. How you did not fall to the ground but stood tall and towered, instead. You materialized before me and asked questions that had me snapping back to reality. Away from daydreams of cartoon images of bodies swept up in air, back to bodies steady on earth.
Was I cold? I was. But I had also failed to notice when the rain started. This was not important when compared to the muddy grass I sat in, notebook soaked in hand and unmarked by pen. Water had made my piece for me, dripping from hair and face onto open page. Closer to soul than I could ever consciously create.
I used my go to and answered with a smile, a short breath of laughter, and you sat beside me. I remember breathing in a gasp. I asked how the wind had not carried you off your feet, images surfacing once more.
Your bones, you said, were your strength. You showed them to the world so that they would know what you are made of.
Nothing had ever made more sense, warmth grew out from the silence. You gave me your cardigan anyway, draping it over my shoulders when I reverted back to mind. Your ‘congratulations’ was not given in awe; but rather in admiration and declaration and thinly veiled understanding. My hate was founded on all else.
Vaguely I registered a whisper from you – that you had witnessed my self, that you knew more than I have ever told a living being. I held your face in my hands, then.
Unspoken vows to pick you back up again if the world ever bested you, we sat out our days in breathlessness. Our moods played chase with the seasons, and I watched as the strength of you spread from fleshing out form and into your eyes.
The wind no longer slows your progress; the cold no longer affects.
Rain drops bring memories of a stolen kiss and while you scale your mountains I remain curled in corners with a lack of thought for company. I was always too afraid to know.
I believe you, though.
About getting closer.