I had a friend, once.
In high school, Jecht was the rock that kept me from drifting downstream, never to be seen again. He was, at first, my only friend, my only ally against the crushing waves of opposition I faced. He offered me kindness when everywhere else I turned I received scorn, or worse, indifference.
I loved him from those early years, and I looked up to him. He inspired me to be as strong, talented, indeed as handsome as he was. There was nothing he could not do: literally everything he tried he excelled at (as far as I knew). In all the things I prided myself on, he bested me with little effort, and it both tore me apart and filled me with admiration. Such adventures we had together, exploring the limits of our human capacities, executing Operation Spiky Pineapple, jumping off balconies and waking up in the early hours of the morning, tanto in hand. He introduced me to more friends (by proximity, I suppose), and I felt nourished and included in ways I hadn’t experienced in years.
After high school we drifted apart. He wasn’t on social media as far as I knew, and eventually he stopped replying to my occasional calls and messages. I was worried at first, and then I realised he had probably changed numbers and forgotten to tell me.
One night when I was at a party (one of the only ones I’ve ever attended), I heard he had just arrived. In spite of myself, I was nervous he had been avoiding me and procrastinated seeking him out. By the time I’d plucked up the courage to speak to him, he had left. I have a fleeting memory of him walking away without turning to look at me.
Some time later, I happened upon him while ordering dinner: he was the waiter! When he saw and recognised me, we smiled and laughed and talked like times gone by. We taught me new things about The Legend of Zelda, my great love, and I became self-conscious of the way my unruly hair was, and how daggy my outfit appeared. I felt like I was fourteen, and he was a man, and I was greatly pleased that I had been mistaken about our friendship and that we were just as close as ever. He gave me his number (his old number! He’d never changed it!) and I walked home elated. I texted him that night and waited for a response.
A response never came. Months passed, and in desperation, I asked one of his friends how he was. It turns out his mother, whom I was very close to, had fallen very ill and he had not seen fit to tell me. I messaged his girlfriend on facebook asking for his new number, and she told me he didn’t want to speak to me at the moment. I racked my brain for a reason for this, if I had offended, neglected or upset him somehow, and could produce no possibilities. A year later, I messaged her again and asked if I had done anything wrong, and her silence was just as confirming as his.
I never did find out why Jecht stopped talking to me, though I’ve dreamed of him several times. I recall dreaming that I went to his house, his old house where so many memories were made, and seeing him and his brothers and being greeted like family again. I woke up with tears in my eyes when I realised it wasn’t real.
Last night I dreamed I saw him again, and I told him everything I’ve written here. He was angry, in the dream, but willing to explain why he had been avoiding me. He started telling me a complex metaphor that I didn’t understand before we were pressed to move, and the situation required us to stop talking. By the end of the dream, he hadn’t been able to tell me his reasons, though he had told me he was willing to give our friendship another chance. I thanked him for the opportunity, and woke up feeling… sad.
Jecht was one of the defining people of my life, there for me at a time when I was vulnerable, and there to inspire me at a time when my identity was impressionable. I wish I could stop dreaming about him, to let him go lovingly so that he stops wounding my heart with what could have been.
They are just dreams.