My Best Friend


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1. Andrea Floragher

 

So I do counseling.  I realized that what I was best at was dealing with kids like myself; kids with problems at home who have a hard time communicating with their parents, or other adults.  A lot of them are spoiled brats, but some of them really just need someone to talk to…someone that understands.  And that’s where I come in.

There’s this one kid, his name is Mikey, hell, he reminds me of my brother, Alex.  Alex was the nicest person you could ever meet.  He passed away when I was in middle school because it was “his time to go”…because those were “God’s plans for him”…bunch of bullshit.  Anyway, little Mikey takes the most out of me, so on days that I see him, I get out of work and go to this coffee shop to relax a little.  There’s something about this spot that just calms me down.  I think it’s the view of Central Park.  I’ve always liked Central Park.

Well, I thought I’d be productive today, so I brought with me a box full of papers from when I was in school that my mom had kept in the attic until now.  And for some reason, she thought I would want them…a thoughtful yet unnecessary gesture.  So before dumping its contents, I thought I’d get a kick in reading some of the stuff I had written in elementary school.

Somewhere near the top of the pile was a poem I had written in fifth grade.  I remember that we had to present it in front of the class.

My Best Friend by James Caulmead

My best friend has known me for six years.  Her name is Andrea Floragher.  She was my first friend when I moved to this town.  She lives next door to me, and we like to play tag after school.  Her shoes are purple because that’s her favorite color.  Her favorite season is spring because of all the dandelions in her backyard.  She hates it when people call her Andy, and one day she wants to have a pet cow.  My best friend is Andrea because we know each other better than anyone else could ever wish.

 

Wow, Andrea Floragher.  I haven’t thought about her in forever.  I can still remember her cheeks turning pink when I read her the poem at recess.  The kids in my class gave me hell after that for being best friends with a girl.  They bothered me about it until high school, but by then, Andrea and I were doing our own separate things.  I joined the wrestling and baseball team, while she joined the marching band and took all these honors classes.

Back then, I was going through a lot.  I still hadn’t gotten over my brother’s death, my parents were going through a divorce, and then my mother got cancer.  I mean, plenty of people out there go through these things, but at that moment…when it’s happening to you…you just feel like the whole world is against you.  And it sucks.  But anyway, on those days when I couldn’t take it anymore, I’d call Andrea, and we would sit on her porch steps and just talk.  We’d talk about school, about food, about how much football sucks…about anything except my problems...or her problems.  There was one time, when she couldn’t stop crying because Miles Macalhoun dumped her on her birthday, and I said, “Andy, he’s too stupid for you anyway,” and she said, “Thanks.”  But that was the only time our porch talks ever included our problems.  

Maybe I was the stupid one…for never making a move.  What the hell was I waiting for?

After we graduated, we completely lost touch.  She went to a nearby college to study biology, or neuroscience, or something.  I had always been attracted to the city life, so I moved to Manhattan, and then, after enough nagging from my mom, decided to get a degree in psychology.  

I should have never let her go like that though.  Not once did I ever call her after I moved away...not even to wish her a happy birthday.  I mean, was I expecting to find someone as good as her here in the city?  Yea right.

 

But anyway, I’m sitting here drinking my usual, with a pile of papers on my lap.  I don’t even know why I’m still looking through this junk…it has better use in the garbage.  And then, someone entered the coffee shop…and I couldn’t believe my eyes.

It was Andrea Floragher.  Seriously!  Andrea Floragher!  I hadn’t seen her in years, but she hadn’t changed a bit.  God, did she look beautiful.  I watched her order a drink, sit down, and then take out a blue book with black and white clouds on the cover.  She looked so delicate as she paced the coffee shop for an empty seat.

Soon after, I walk over to her, hoping she’d still recognize me.  As I get closer, I started to feel more and more nervous.  “Excuse me ma’am, is this seat taken?”

 “Oh no.  Go right a-” She stopped the moment our eyes met.

“Hi Andy.”

“James?  Is that you?”

“Did my dashing good looks not give it away?”  She giggled at that.  Boy, the moment I heard her laugh, it all came back to me.  And right there, I knew, I couldn’t ever let this girl go again.  I had fallen in love the way hopeless characters in cliché books do; slowly, and then all at once.  I didn’t realize how much I missed her until then.

“I’ve missed you a lot, James.  Please, sit down.”

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