I just wanted to say I was sorry.
I know. I know. Bad timing. But hear me out.
I don’t know what set it off: this repentance, but over the last few years I had felt the urge to find everyone that I had tormented throughout high school and apologize. It wasn’t due to some religious epiphany: I’ve never been particularly religious. Not like you and your sister. Hell, the only reason I ever attended church was because I was trying to get at her. I was crushing hard, man. But she wouldn’t look at me twice. I hear she’s married now: to some mechanic in town. I hope she’s happy. I really do.
Well, I found most of them. A lot of them had moved out of the city, hell, a lot of them had moved clear out of state. Can’t say I blame them. There’s not a whole lot to do here for the ambitious: I never was that ambitious, not like you. You had big dreams. All I wanted to do was make it through high school and eventually find a job somewhere. You. You however wanted to do great things. You wanted to be the greatest artist of our time. I remember you told our teacher that one day during English class. Remember? That assignment where we had to make an essay of what we wanted to do with our lives? I can’t believe Ms. Currow made us read those in front of the class, man. Talk about cruel.
I remember leading the jeering taunts of the class as you listed off your dreams, and I remember taking your sketch book from you after class and tearing out the pages in front of your face. I don’t think I saw you draw again after that.
You wanted to be a writer, too. A scientist. A sculptor. You wanted to do a hundred other things. You wanted to do everything, be everyone. Your ambition was blinding, man. And I took every opportunity I could to break you down. Over and over again I would break you down, and over and over again you would stand back up and endure. You never threw a punch at me, though I know you came close a few times. And I don’t blame you. Man, you were stronger than me.
You see, it was never about you. No. It was always about me. Always about my insecurities. I was too afraid to be human. Too afraid that my, ‘friends,’ would subject me to the same torment that I subjected others too. I learned later that they had the same fears from me. I was angered by your ambition, angered by the fact that you seemed to have genuine friends who you didn’t fear would push you away the moment you let slip some insecurity. I saw you crying a few times after I had done something: threw your backpack into the girl’s bathroom trashcan, tripped you, or some of the other bad stuff I did. And I made fun of you for that. But man, was I jealous. You had friends. You had fun. You had dreams, and all I had was my fear and my cruelty.
You were the last on my list because I wanted to apologize to you the most: I wanted to say how sorry I was and was hoping that we could start anew, no matter how hard that could be. I had always wanted to be your friend, man.
I’m sorry I didn’t tell you back then.
I had thought you’d be the hardest to find, and boy, was I right. I had to ask your parents: they lived in that same old place on Potter’s Street. You know the one, of course. I used to live next to you guys in kindergarten. We were friends way, way back then I don’t know if you remembered that. I did. I always did. I knocked on your door, and your mother answered. She seemed to age rapidly: she was the same age as my mother, but she looked much, much older.
I asked if I could speak to you, and if she knew where I would be able to find you. She said she did and wrote down a plot number…I went right away
I never got to say I was sorry.
It took a while to find it among so many: it wasn’t extravagant, but it had your senior picture on the front. You were smiling. You were smiling big, man. I wish you could have continued doing that, man. There was a bit of dust on your name. I wiped it off for you.
2006, huh? One year after we graduated.