I tapped my purple Elephante hoof somewhat impatiently on the table as I spoke with my friend, a pretty little red Xweetok named Sophie, waiting for a good opportunity to say what I'd been deliberating over for weeks and had decided to go through with only the night before.
Sophie noticed my impatience. "Waiting for something, Beatrice?" she asked teasingly, raising an eyebrow.
I nearly lied but decided not to. "Yeah."
Sophie's brow furrowed faintly with a touch of worry. Perhaps she was only just realizing that I'd been fairly distant and restless all afternoon. "What?"
"Well... there's something I need to tell you." Now would be as good a time as any, wouldn't it? I had to be going within the hour anyway, and I wanted to get it over with that day.
It was harder to say than I'd expected. It felt like someone had glued the words inside my mouth. They were there, lurking silently on the tip of my tongue, but it was surprisingly difficult to force them into sound.
Sophie waited for me to speak, seeming apprehensive.
"I don't want to be friends anymore." I spoke quickly, just trying to get all of the words out, but there was no emotion in my voice.
A look of shock crossed her face. "W-what? Why not?"
I sighed. "I don't feel like explaining. I just don't."
"Seriously? Out of nowhere you're saying you don't want to be friends anymore and you aren't going to explain at all? Really?"
"Wow." The word was like an intake of breath, and her eyes briefly betrayed some emotion that I couldn't read before it was gone again. She stared at me for a moment, while I stared back evenly.
"Would you please try to give me some sort of reason, Beatrice? That's hardly fair at all. What happened?" Her voice broke a little on the last word.
I felt a twinge of guilt and shame, and conceded. "Fine," I said, sighing again. "Nothing happened. I never really wanted to be your friend to start with, but I was lonely. And now I'm just getting tired of caring about all this. I just don't want to bother anymore."
Silence followed my words. Tears began to fall down Sophie's face, despite her evident attempts to stop them.
"You're selfish," she said finally, her voice choked with her sudden tears but angry too.
"Yes. But I'm not the only one here who is," I replied blankly.
"You think I'm selfish?" Sophie asked in a hurt voice. She was clearly trying to hide her emotions as I was, but it wasn't something she was good at.
"I think you're a lot of things. I wouldn't start asking questions like that if I were you."
Sophie blinked a couple of times. I watched guiltily but with an expression as indifferent as ever as pain and anger flashed across her features.
"Is there anything else you want to say?" I asked, glancing at the steadily ticking watch on my wrist as I spoke.
"Wait a second," she said harshly. She was quite obviously mad at me now, not at all trying to hide it. Good. Make it easier. "What do you even think I am?"
"A lot of things. That's what I said, isn't it?"
Sophie pressed her lips together in annoyance. "I'm asking what those things are and you know that perfectly well."
"Right." I frowned impatiently. "Well, since you're so interested in knowing, I guess I can tell you. I wasn't going to because I didn't want to hurt your feelings." Here she snorted, but I ignored her and continued, "Just give me a second to remember the list." I looked over at a painting to my right without really seeing it as I herded all the hurtful words together in my mind.
Then I spoke to her bitter face. "A liar, mainly. But also arrogant. Hypocritical. Clingy. Sometimes annoying." I paused for thought. "Hmm... I think that was it, or at least it's all I can remember for now."
"That's a nice little list. You spend a lot of time thinking about that kind of thing, then?" She had abandoned pain now and was clearly building up a bit of a fury.
"Oh no. I don't have to consciously consider these things, I just happen to notice them all the time." I smirked at her a little, then felt another pang of guilt and decided to add, "I'm sor - "
"You know what?" she said, her voice rising as she cut me off. "Just get out." Now she stood up. "GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!"
I stood up too and backed away. Sophie took a few steps in my direction. "GET OUT!" Her fists were clenched at her sides and it was obvious that it was taking quite a lot of restraint not to literally push me in the direction of the door.
I started to head for the exit on my own, with her red-faced and close at my heels. Once I stepped out the door I turned and opened my mouth, feeling that I should say one last thing at this final parting, perhaps a kinder goodbye, but she wouldn't allow it. "I don't want to hear a single word more from that filthy mouth of yours. And don't you dare ever contact me again in any way." She paused for only a split-second and then snarled a final sentence through her teeth. "I can't believe I've wasted so much time on you."
And with that, the door was slammed in my face. Through the open windows I could hear her begin to sob as soon as the door had closed.
I just stood there for a moment, a bit shocked.
I was reminding myself that this was what I had wanted. I had purposely chosen to end this friendship. I had wanted out; I had gotten out.
So why did it hurt so much?
I had expected to feel a certain freedom after severing the friendship that had been feeling somewhat suffocating. But all I felt was an aching loss.
I began to walk home, my expression still composed while a painful hole began to grow somewhere in my middle.
Never again. I would never talk to Sophie ever again. I'd liked the idea of it before, but now that it was reality, now that it was sinking in... it hurt.
Memories of our friendship began to race uninvited through my mind. Short nights spent awake in laughter. Secrets shared and promises made. Sorrows confessed followed by comforting words. Silly jokes and entertaining stories.
STOP. Quit that right now, I thought scathingly, interrupting the flood to attempt to redirect my thoughts to the reasons I'd not wanted to be her friend anymore.
Countless sleepless nights full of anger or tears or both. A growing resentment. Wishes that we'd never met. Fear that the friendship wouldn't last. Annoyance that I even cared.
I'd reached my door, and began to search my pocket for the key. I knew I was a selfish coward and a bad friend. That didn't bother me. So what did?
I turned the key in the lock and pushed open the door as my vision began to blur from unshed tears and my heart ached unpleasantly. I relocked the large, green-painted door behind myself while a single thought kept replaying bitterly, almost mockingly, in my mind.
Alone. Just like you wanted. Just like you wanted.