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Exercise Wednesday: Broken Friendships

February 22, 2012

As the sands pile up in anyone’s hour glass, they’ll inevitably look back on things that could have been better–that should have been more than the wound up being. Regrets. Anyone who regrets nothing is either lying or deluded. Regrets are the results of the things you should have known–and maybe did know–didn’t follow through on. To bastardize Branch Rickey, they are the residue of poor design.

You can tell at least as much about someone’s reaction to poor decisions, as you can from their good decisions. Any honest, forthright look back at life has to include some consideration of the relationships that crumbled by known, imagined, or invisible slights.

Today’s writing exercise is to consider one of these types of relationships for one of your characters. Although it could be something your protagonist caused, it doesn’t have to be. It can be something the former friend caused. Or something that came from circumstance, or even something that doesn’t make sense, even though years have passed.

So write a scene depicting your character’s reaction to a broken friendship.

Time limit: 25 minutes


One Comment
  1. Chris Hamilton permalink
    February 22, 2012 6:12 am

    I wouldn’t have come to your funeral. I might have stood back a ways and watched, from behind a tree or something, like I’ve seen in a dozen different TV shows. But I wouldn’t have been part of it.

    And yet now, as I stare down at your name, I regret that. I regret not taking the first step, not chancing it. Not being the bigger person.

    I figured I’d make it worse if I said anything–that I’d done something to cause this rift, though for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what it was. We just…stopped. Stopped going to ballgames. Stopped running together. Stopped…connecting. I never knew why. Always figured that eventually something would happen to change things.

    I never thought something would be a 1987 Honda without brakes t-boning you while you were on the way home from work. In a different state.

    I never had a brother, until you. I never had someone to drink beer with, watch ballgames, talk about things that didn’t matter as a cover for the things that did. I never had someone I could connect with without having to say a word.

    Guys don’t talk about this stuff, usually because it makes us feel self-conscious. Sometimes, rarely, you find someone with whom you don’t talk because nothing has to be said.

    Your wife called me after it happened. I didn’t know you’d married her. Last time we talked, you said you were going to break up with her. I wanted to know what happened, but she was short about it, told me just the facts with as much tact and delicacy as I should have expected. There were no answers there. And there are no answers here.

    Just a simple 24-inch by 18-inch bronze rectangle, shiny and new. Ironic that something related to death can be shiny and new. You wouldn’t have seen that. You didn’t think that way.

    It’s been four years already. Doesn’t seem like it can be that long, and yet it seems like another life. I’m not the same guy I was the last time we…connected. I imagine you changed, too.

    You’re not there, of course. The thing that made you, you, vanished from existence when your driver’s-side door collapsed into your body. They said you felt no pain. I Googled the accident, read the papers online. I talked to the cop who found you. I figured I owed you that much, even if we weren’t really talking.

    Maybe you’re in heaven. Or hell. Or no where. Or maybe you aren’t you, but a different thing–a fusion of your goodness and light with the goodness and light of others. Or maybe it doesn’t matter for now.

    Wherever you are, you can’t hear me now, can’t see me. Probably don’t know that I’m here.

    It’s the least I can do. I didn’t do it before, so I ought to do it now. Despite our differences, I know that you’d get around to visiting me if the roles were switched.

    Whatever it was, it couldn’t have been as important as the connection that broke. Nothing is as important as the connection, I’m finding.

    And nothing is as haunting as a connection that withers away without an attempt to make it stay. Maybe you didn’t need that connection, but I did.

    I think you did, too.

    Wendy died, too. Last month. Look her up, if you would. Tell her she’s pretty like you used to do. She’d like that. Whatever the problem, it was with me, not her.

    Geez, 587 miles and all I have to say is this.

    You’re worth the trip.

    I look down at the rectangle. I almost brought a six-pack to leave with you. Decided not to. Just figured being here was enough.

    And it was.

    Thanks, friend. Even now. Friend.

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