A Story About Friends

It was early in the morning. Looking at his reflection in the mirror Barclay sighed. While it was true that he certainly wasn’t hideous, he definitely was no Robert Downy Jr. He wasn’t especially tall, nor was he particularly muscular, or good looking. Just average. His black mohawk was messy and unkempt as you would expect from someone who has a mohawk and doesn’t own any kind of hair product besides shampoo and conditioner.

Heading out the door of his apartment  Barclay grabbed his keys and headed for his car. Then he paused, perhaps he would ride the motorcycle today. After all the weather was nice, and he wasn’t planning on giving any rides today. He swapped out his keys, grabbed his helmet, and headed out the door.

Barclay smiled to himself.  He was on his way downtown to have lunch with one of his best friends. Today was going to be a good day, one of the best. There was nothing particularly special about today, but anytime he got to see Naina, it was a good day.

In terms of appearance Naina was your regular supermodel. She had fantastic skin, and a perfectly symmetrical face, with a slender nose and a laugh that could turn the worst of days into the best of days. Slender and cut, Barclay secretly suspected that the only reason she wasn’t a model was because she was just a touch on the short side for a model. Or maybe because she just didn’t want to be. Barclay however thought that she was the perfect height.

But her physical appearance wasn’t why Barclay liked hanging out with Naina. Naina was the understanding type, the type that Barclay trusted with all his secrets, the one who could always make Barclay feel better no matter how bad things were. Naina could convince Barclay that things would be okay, that he was okay, even during the darkest of hours. And though Naina was (what Barclay would consider to be) clearly a superior being, she liked being around Barclay too. And that made her fun to be around. Though she’d never admit it, that girl was something special. Barclay told Naina everything and Naina trusted Barclay with the same. And he loved it, and  her. Probably any regular bystanders would have thought that they were an item, but Barclay knew better. Naina had already turned him down a couple times, so Barclay knew they weren’t really a pair (though he would often wish they were,) but they weren’t just regular friends either. It was, in fact, very complicated.

Over lunch Naina and Barclay talked. Even though it was the same old chit-chat as always, Barclay never got bored of it, and neither, apparently, did Naina.

“Climb Everest with me!” Naina said excitedly. She’d been asking him on and off for years.

Barclay thought about it for a moment, “Sure,” he said finally, he had been toying with the idea for some time now.

“Sound happy about it!” Naina pleaded.

Barclay smiled and tapped his watch with his index finger, and Naina looked at her phone, “I guess it’s go time, I’m going to be late for class,” she said frowning.

“Don’t go,” Barclay said jokingly, “stay a while and play!”

“I can’t.” Naina said matter-of-factly “Quiz. But I’m not sure if I can make it on time…”

“I would take you,” Barclay said “but…..” his eyes drifted to his single helmet “ah, but you’re going to be late then….”

Naina frowned.

“I’ll take you,” Barclay said with some finality “I’ll be careful. You trust me right?” He said pushing his helmet into Naina’s arms.

Naina’s eyes widened and she shook her head and pushed the helmet back, “You wear it,” she said.

Barclay sighed. He never could argue with Naina, though he did occasionally try.

“You’re going to be late,” he said, “don’t argue, just put it on.”

You don’t argue then.” Naina said.

Barclay sighed and pulled the helmet over his head “Okay, I’ll be extra careful” he said.

But it wasn’t long after they got onto the highway that Barclay realized something was wrong. The bike was unstable and would speed up on it’s own accord.  Barclay gently squeezed the breaks, but it showed no signs of slowing down. Barclay frowned.

“Hey Naina,” Barclay said “I have a complaint.”

“What?”

“We talk online a lot right? Facebook, GChat, Texts or whatever.”

“Yeah?”

“You’ve told me a lot of times that you love me, but I’ve never heard you say it in person.”

“Yeah?” Naina said, rolling her eyes.

“I want to hear you say it.” Barclay said.

“Ugh. Fine. I love you.” Naina said, sighing slightly.

“And Naina, this helmet is kind of bugging me, I can’t really see well. Can you take it off for me really fast?” Barclay said nonchalantly.

Naina frowned but complied with Barclay’s request “what do you want me to do with it?” she asked.

“I don’t know, just like…. wear it for a while or something.” Barclay said dismissively. Reluctantly Naina pulled the helmet over her head.

A little further down the road Barclay looks over his shoulder at Naina, “Hey sorry, I have another complaint.” he said.

Naina nodded.

“How come  you never hug me?” Barclay said “You do to some of your other friends.”

Naina rolled her eyes again.

“I demand a hug,” Barclay said a little more forcefully.

Naina put her hand on his shoulder and frowned as if to say “what’s wrong?”

Barclay shook his head “Nothing,” he said shaking his head “I just want a hug.”

Naina rolled her eyes again, but she leaned in and put her hands around his chest. Barclay sat up a little straighter and inhaled a deep breath. Raising his head towards the sky he closed his eyes for a moment, taking in everything one last time. He could feel Naina’s heart beating against his back, her hands on his chest, her helmeted head pressing against the back of his. The wind blowing past him. He drew another deep breath. When he opened his eyes again the bike was moving very fast down the road. Trees, cars, everything, just blurred past the two of them in a swirl of color.

“Naina I’m sorry,” he said quietly “I think you’ll probably have to find someone else to climb Everest with you.”

Barclay took the off ramp, and swerved the motorcycle into a building. Everything went to black.

.:*The Next Day*:.

Naina opened her eyes, everything hurt. She shifted her weight and a beeping sounds started somewhere. A nurse came rushing in.

“Sorry, the nurse said apologetically, they didn’t do a great job with that IV, so it’s going to beep a bit.”

“What happened?” Naina said, her throat dry and voice raspy.

“According to the police report, the bike malfunctioned. Couldn’t stop.” the nurse replied briskly. She flipped through the chart “Ah you’re Naina,” she said softly. Naina tilted her head in curiosity.

“That guy on the bike with you, was he your…..” the nurses voice trailed.

Naina shook her head.

“Just friends huh?” the nurse asked.

“Not just any friends,” Naina replied quietly.

The nurse nodded knowingly.

“Is he…… okay?” Naina asked.

“Sorry babe, he was gone before the ambulance got there,” the nurse said shaking her head sadly, she tapped her index finger against the side of her head “no helmet.”

Naina closed her eyes and sighed “Barclay, you idiot,” she whispered “I’m going to miss you.”

“I think he left this for you,” the nurse said gently, pressing a wrinkled peace of paper into her hand “they found it in his wallet.”

The nurse quietly left the room, pulling closed the pale green curtains. Naina held the wrinkled peace of paper to the light. It was hard to read and covered in blood. She didn’t know if it was hers or Barclay’s. Barclay who was now long gone from this place.

To Naina:

I’ll love you forever,

so love me back till the end.

I can’t live without you,

because you’re my friend.

-Barclay

A note to a special friend:

A friend of my uncle’s once asked him, “life is so hard, how is it that you can live life?” My uncle replied “You open your eyes and then close your eyes, and just like that a day has passed. You close your eyes and can’t open your eyes, and just like that, your life has passed.” Life, as it turns out, really is pretty short, and you never know what sorts of twists and turns will happen along the way. And with that being the case, I would hate to look back and think to myself “dammit, I should have let you know that you are important to me.” I don’t want to wonder why I never told you that you showed me a better way to live life. Why I never said “thank you for not giving up on me, even when you should have, even when I already had.” Why I never told you that I love you. So I want you to know that even if I don’t come out and say it to you straight, all these things that I’ve said are true.

And there is something else that will also be true. Regardless of anything that happens (I am eluding to something in particular here,) if you need my help, you can always come to me.  No matter what happens, I will always be here, I will always be your friend. No matter what. This is a promise.

Thank you so much.

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