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I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together again and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new. What is broken is broken– and I’d rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I lived.
Margaret Mitchell


I sit beside my friend.
She asks: How many coffees do you think we’ve had together?
I laugh thinking about the ocean of espresso we’ve imbibed.
She agrees. An ocean. Maybe more.

I sit a little further away from my friend.
She groans.
I say: Only a few more weeks to go. I’m going to miss watching you waddle. She swats at my arm and rubs at the small of her back.

I’m on the phone to my friend.
I’m just a bit um busy today, do you mind?
Sure. She says. But I know why you’re um busy. It’s my shout. It’s me. I’m not taking no for an answer.

I stand near my friend.
She has her hands in a bowl of sausage meat.
Don’t forget the Worcestershire. I say.
I never forget the Worcestershire. She says.
We are a two-man production line.
Lump of meat-mix. Rolled under the palm. Laid on the pastry. Fold, fold, pinch, milk-paint, sesame-sprinkle, prick, cut, cut, cut.
You know. I say. We could buy these for cheaper than we make them.
I know. She says.
But it wouldn’t be one of our kid’s parties without us doing it.

I sit close to my friend.
I listen for a long time. I make good with the tissues.
We compare notes on Fathers.
We agree there are far more ticks in the Cons Column.

I call my friend.
C’mon. I say. It’s my shout.
And,
I’m not taking no for an answer.
I don’t need to see her face. I know she is smiling.

I sit beside my friend.
A customer walks up to our table. I can tell she has something on her mind.
Words gush from the customer’s mouth.
It’s great to see women in business. She says. I’m all for lesbians you know.
The customer nods, her face crinkles into a knowing smile. Then she walks away.
Close your mouth. My friend says. You’ll catch flies.

I sit next to my friend.
Remember the sweetheart cake you made for your boyfriend, when you were eighteen?
I’m puzzled. I don’t remember making a sweetheart cake.
You made it for Valentine’s Day. She says. Chocolate frosting.
Oh yeah. That’s right. How did you remember that?

I float beside my friend.
We watch two old chooks doing the seniors water-aerobics. We’ve nick-named them Helga and Gretchen. I don’t remember why. Maybe because of the elaborate blonde plaits they wear, even in the pool, entwined around their heads, trapped in place with a mismatched assortment of plastic clips and rubber flowers.
Do you think we’ll be doing seniors water-aerobics one day? My friend says.
Of course. I answer. But if I ever wear my hair like that you have permission to hold me under the water. For a very long time.
I swim away.

I sit beside my friend.
The date on her calendar has been circled in black. Anniversary. Not the kind you celebrate.
I don’t need to say anything. Do anything. I’m just there.

I sit next to my friend.
Her daughter is playing with mine in the shallows of the island lagoon. Their small bikini-bottoms break the surface as they duck and dive into the water. Look at me! They shout waving some treasure over their heads. A shell. A piece of seaweed. Colourless broken coral.
Is it time to head back to the ship? I ask. Five more minutes. She says.
We turn our faces to the sun.
She elbows me. Put your hat back on. She says.

I sit face-to-face with my friend.
She has called a meeting. Laid out what she wants.
I don’t have an answer that matches hers.
I say: Remember when you asked me how many coffees I thought we’d had together?
She looks away. Yes, you said an ocean.
For the first time that day we are thinking the same thing.
All that coffee now lies between us. An ocean of it.

I speak to my friend.
Got time for a drink, breakky? She shakes her head. No. Super busy.
I’ve got your favourite. Sourdough-rye-oatbread. I can toast it.
No sale.

I sit opposite my friend.
We are silent, but the air bristles with spiky words. I inhale them. Feel them scratch as I swallow them down. Digesting them.
We’re looking through the same kaleidoscope.
But she looks through one end and I look through the other.

I sit by myself.
Sipping my coffee slowly.
Today it tastes good.
But I can’t say
that it tastes great.

12 Responses to “the breakdown of: friendship”

  1. Neil says:

    Beautiful portrait of a friendship that we can all relate to in so many ways.

  2. ne yo beautiful monster says:

    Awesome post.

  3. Liquidink says:

    Through tears I am typing this….beautiful writing….lovely recollection of memories -beautiful flow of words – very sad ending…

  4. Quadelle says:

    Powerfully and beautifully written, but I would suspect (hope) that you know that.

    The demise of longstanding relationship has ripple effects for long periods afterward. I recently thought a friendship was lost, but a loss of another kind and being in the right place at the right time has led to the friendship being revived. Which, as imperfect as she and I are, is still a good thing.

  5. Bec says:

    A lifetime of memories to be cherised, celebrated and mourned all in one short story. So powerful.
    The emotions you stir in your readers is amazing as we can all relate to the piece in one way or another.
    Thank you for sharing another wonderful piece of writing. Xx

  6. izonu says:

    “As we walk our path of life, we meet people everyday.
    Most are simply met by chance. But, some are sent our way.
    These become special friends whose bond we can’t explain.
    They understand us and share our joy and pain.
    Their friendship contains no boundaries, even when you’re apart.
    Their presence enhances us with warmth and motivation felt in the heart.
    This friendship becomes a passageway, even in grim and pressured times.
    It’s easy to hurt a friend, as words can cut deep lasting an eternity.
    And so, these friends, God sends our way hopefully remain forever but not always.” – Aleksandra Lachut.

    You’re my No: 1 blogger. So much essence. You have the knack of always capturing true feelings and stirring up emotions.

  7. Chris says:

    Beautiful. So relatable. I believe friendships are stronger when and where they’ve been herniated, but I recently felt gutted by a friend’s actions. We’re complicated… we people. Adored this piece. xxoo

  8. Candy says:

    As I am in the throes of drifting quite purposefully away from someone today, this called to me. Very poignant. Thank you.

  9. Hi Carla: Just wanted to let you know that we loved this post and named it this week’s BlogHer Voice of the Week.
    http://www.blogher.com/blogher-voice-week-10-fiction

    Thanks for a beautiful post.

    Elisa,
    On behalf of Elisa, Jory and Lisa

  10. You are such a gifted writer. I found your blog on Blogher and will be back again soon.

  11. izonu says:

    Go Girl