By Linda M. Crate
PROMPT — If only ...
I know that there's no use in looking back because the past cannot be changed. I know that the future is undecided as of yet, and the only moment I truly have is the present. But who hasn't looked back in the past, and thought if only?
I am sorry that I wounded you. I didn't want to hurt you. I wasn't brave enough to confront my feelings or process them, and in my confusion I ended up wounding someone I never wanted to.
You are someone that I will never forget.
My gran once said, "She was a character." But I think that's why I loved you so much. You were so unlike anyone else I had ever met before, so full of depths and paradoxes that it was like a breath of fresh air because I rarely have met people that feel as deeply as I do.
I never meant to fall in love with you, but I did. I didn't know how to confront the issue, though. I knew you saw me as a sister, but I saw you as something differently entirely. Unrequited love hurts, but I would've endured it if only I could have somehow salvaged our friendship.
I feel horrible for hurting you. You didn't deserve that. I lashed out in my anger over a misunderstanding instead of just communicating with you. I wish my apology could've been enough, but I know that sometimes apologies like love on their own are not enough.
I'm sorry for everything I wounded in you.
Thank you for teaching me that my scars make me beautiful and for believing in my dreams. Thank you for taking me to Dracula's Ball and coaxing me out of my protective shell for a bit so I could taste bits of the world I was too shy to explore. Thank you for teaching me that sometimes forever is entirely too short, and that sometimes we just have to accept that we're ghosts to people who are still living. Thank you for all the experiences and the memories and even if they are bittersweet now, I will always treasure them.
You will always be important to me, for what it's worth, if that even matters to you.
If only I could've put my pride and anger aside and simply communicated with you about our misunderstanding rather than feeling as if I no longer mattered to you. Because had I stilled my anger I may have realized that you were never trying to hurt me.
I'm sorry for everything I took away from us. I wonder sometimes what adventures we might be embarking on now if we still were a part of one another's lives.
I actually dyed my hair red since you knew me, and I really liked it. I miss it, honestly, and might dye it red again sometime soon.
You pop up in my memories sometimes on Facebook, and I smile at the pictures because it makes me think of walks we shared on campus and Al's going away party and impromptu trips to the Erie Mall. I think of Rocky Horror Picture Show and Kate Bush and Repo! The Genetic Opera. I think of The Producers, your little pink car, and the Ren Fair.
I hope you're doing well now and that you're achieving your dreams. I am going towards mine and I hope that I am getting closer every day. We'll see.
I know that sometimes I am optimistic to the point of foolishness, but I had a dream once that we were friends again and I think to myself if only that dream could be a reality. I am not saying life would be better, but it would certainly be different and sometimes different is good. Often times I have felt drawn to the different and to the strange and to the unexpected.
Who wants the ordinary and the predictable and the normal? I have always wanted a grand adventure in the big, wide somewhere. I guess that's never changed even if there's a lot about me that has.
I know we're not the same people as we were many moons ago, but I still think if only we were friends. I can only imagine how many things we might've taught one another.
So I guess this is goodbye, old friend. Goodbye and I will always miss you. I will always wish you well. Farewell.
Linda M. Crate's works have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies, both online and in print. She is the author of eleven published chapbooks, four full-lengths, and three micro-chaps. She also has a novella titled, Mates (Alien Buddha Publishing, 2022). Linda writes from Meadville, PA.