Sunday evening, 4.30 pm. We were gathered around the table drinking hot tea . My phone croons for my attention and I answer it with a touch of annoyance. “Yes” typical answer for an unknown number.
There is suddenly less oxygen in the room.
‘JK’ , I can barely get the words out.
‘I need to see you’ says the voice. Clear, warm, I know every note. Haven’t heard it in 4 years, Have I?
‘I’m in town for a few days, I need to see you’
I barely manage to provide the information needed and settle down to wait.
JK, my best friend since… forever. He pulled a disappearing act on us 5 years ago. That was a difficult time for all of us, we’d just lost a friend to cancer and trying to cope. Days felt empty, pointless.. Some of us in denial, some of us mourning, some of us moving on… Me in zero gravity.
JK stopped coming to school, we called / visited him and he refused to meet us. They moved away and we eventually lost touch. He was the shy one, we protected him from bullies, adolescence, his demons… and just like that, he was gone.
The Skoda was freezing, like the block of ice in my chest. I was angry, murderous actually. Sliding into the passenger seat I seethed “Should I put my seat belt on lest you pull your disappearing act again?”
The sunglasses came off… Tommy Hilfiger, I noted, as was the watch. He fixed me with a look that was so unlike our shy little JK. Eyes of a man hardened with pain. His hand worked the gear shift with ease, I thought of the days we tried to get him up on a bicycle, almost caught myself smiling.
The wind whipped through my hair, teasing my earrings, soft, caressing and insistent against my skin. He still hadn’t spoken a word. And I sat in frigid silence with the man who once left a gaping hole in our lives, pondering the ambiguity of relationships.
“Sanuye, will you forgive me?”
“You still call me that”
“I never knew you as anything else”
“I had to go, I had to find myself, I was embarrassed, I just-“
“That’s it… How could I tell you guys?”
“You wouldn’t have told us something we didn’t suspect”
As we sat there, me wiggling my toes in the sand, him looking out into the ocean…. Wanted to reach out and say “We knew it you idiot…You should’ve trusted us”, wanted to hurt him as much as he’d hurt us, to slap some sense into his head.
He chose to lay his head upon my shoulder, like always… He pointed to the red clouds as the sun set… ‘Sanuye’ and smiled.