Several years ago, when 13 Reasons Why released on Netflix, I entered a contest on Wattpad. The author of 13 Reasons Why, Jay Asher, chose his favorite ten entries to feature on Wattpad. While I didn't win the big publication prize, my entry was one of his top ten!
The contest required that we write about someone who influenced us either positively or negatively, in 1000 words or fewer. Here is my entry for you to read! Some of you know the actual story behind the piece, some won't. The story is about a well-loved friend who taught me a lot about life before losing his own. Without further ado, here is What I Should Have Said!
The last time I saw you, you were sitting on the counter at a local sandwich shop swinging your legs back and forth with a frown on your face, entirely lost in your boredom. You were just like I had remembered, and it made me giggle. When you heard my laugh, your head snapped in my direction. Your eyes lit up when they met mine, the same way they used to all those years ago. You were my salvation in high school, though I don’t think you ever knew. I was the reserved one, and you were the wild child. I was always cautious, and you skateboarded your way into every mess imaginable. I walked a straight path, but you constantly jumped in front of me, forcing me to choose another direction.
You were always there, and if I close my eyes, I can still see the grin on your face and the twinkle in your eyes. I knew what that grin and that twinkle meant. You were a schemer, a troublemaker, a distraction of the best kind. And happy. You were always joyful, so no one knew the pain you hid behind that smile.
You showed me what it meant to live my life without regret, but you’ll never know that you are my biggest regret. You’re the thing I wish I could change, the outcome that still haunts me. We drifted apart, and I didn’t know why. You pushed me away, and though I tried, you never let me back in. When your brother passed me in the hall, he would smile a sad smile and nod his head. He knew, but he wouldn’t tell me why. High school ended, and life went on. We crossed paths from time to time, catching up with the events of our lives, but you never told me why. You never told me why you pushed me away.
If I had known that day would be the last time I’d ever see you, I would have called the number you gave me. But I didn’t because I thought there would be more time. Life was hectic, and I was busy. But you were always on my mind, just a phone call away—a phone call I never made. If I had, I would have known your mother died. I would have known you were spiraling in addiction. I would have known how much you needed an old friend to tell you it was going to be okay.
You understood me in a way no one else ever did. You showed me how wonderful I am. You taught me that I deserved to have fun and to live like it could all end tomorrow. I loved you, but I never told you. These are the words I say to your headstone, desperate that you might hear them from where you are. I always thought you were the brightest star in the sky, and now I suppose you truly are.