On Falling Out of Love With a Friend

You tell yourself that she betrayed you first. But, on long summer nights when the heat is cruel or on short winter nights when the cold is even less charitable, you admit that you shattered it all before her. Your honor was the broken mirror that foreshadowed bad luck. Or at least it might've been.

Sometimes you go back and forth until your exhausted mind pushes your body back to sleep. The truth is, you both ended up in shards that couldn't be pieced back together. There never again would be one whole, only a million sharp edges to prick your heart.

Once, your friendship had been a palace of mirrors, every face reflecting the sun, rain and snow. There were storms, but your friendship shone on. You had built this palace together, out of impossibilities and imagination and the kind of inexplicable longing that makes opposites attract.

While she raged on at college parties, you watched like a widow brooding in the corner. When the bathroom was locked shut and she had no place to puke, you valiantly grabbed an empty PBR box and shielded her from the crowd as she emptied her gut. And after she wiped the last smear of vomit from her face, you went to her apartment and lied in each other's arms on her futon, stroking each other's hair like you suddenly both had found pet ponies.

"Thank you for rescuing me," she said.

You replied, "Promise me you won't drink so much next time?" But you thought, There but for the grace of God go I.

When she cut class and later called for notes, you snubbed her. You had stopped asking where she had been because you began hating her habit.

When she slept with men she didn't like, you rolled your eyes at her stories. You had stopped telling her she deserved love, she deserved pleasure. Then you mentioned how lucky you were to have a good boyfriend.

You chipped the palace with self-righteousness and condescension.

She responded by egging you on, saying you had grown old before your time, mocking your self-discipline. Because you were the girl who drove everyone to McDonald's at 3 a.m. after the party was over. Because you were the sober one. Always.

As the months wore on, you watched your palace fog up, splinter, and sport moss before it finally exploded. The shards soon became tiny specks of dust so pointy they could slice a finger. Then your friendship rode the wind.

Whatever happened to your secret language? The looks only the two of you could understand? The way, after the alcohol wore off and before the sun rose, she really talked and you really listened?

Pride happened. And with that kind of stubbornness, even a place of diamonds eventually would fall.

But, sometimes, when you lament that friendships are harder to forge after graduation, you tell yourself, "At least we loved each other once."