The first time she asked me, I said no:
I didn’t like Vanilla Ice as much as NKOTB. I didn’t want to sleep in her bed that night. I wasn’t stealing her clothes. I didn’t like her friends. I didn’t care what other people thought about me.
No, she couldn’t borrow my Limited sweater for her senior pictures.
No, I wasn’t going to miss her when I left for college.
No, she didn’t have to send me a card when he broke my heart.
No, I wasn’t going to cry in front of everyone at Granny’s funeral.
No, it wasn’t because I didn’t care. It was because that’s how I functioned.
The first time she asked me, I said no. No, he wasn’t worth crying over. No, he hadn’t called. No, he wasn’t in the hospital anymore. No, his injuries weren’t as bad as hers. No, I didn’t think it was fair either. No, I wouldn’t call him and speak my mind. No, even though she believed him to be, I didn’t think he was worth it. No, I wouldn’t get on a motorcycle with anyone that wasn’t safe. Yes, I promised.
I could see it behind her eyes. The pain, the turmoil, and the struggle to find a shiny piece of hope in the mess that was made. The luxuries once provided at home, stolen by another’s stupidity. Her privacy vanished, her heart broken, and her body battered, she yearned to believe the words spoken to her. Yes, she’d be able to walk again. Yes, she could leave the hospital soon. Yes, she survived something that nobody else could understand. No, I wouldn’t leave to go back to school. Not until she was home and mom had someone to help her. She didn’t need to be at the hospital alone.
Then again, years later, the first time she asked me, I said no. No, it wouldn’t happen again. No, he didn’t mean to hurt me. No, she couldn’t talk to him on my behalf. The second, third, and fourth times my answer was the same. No, he’s not abusive. No, I’m not suffering.
A two letter response was far easier than providing the truth. Glimpses of it, seen through my eyes, were enough to prove that my answer was a lie. The pain, the suffering, and the confusion all running a never-ending, exhausting maze behind my eyes. She found the truth there, and never asked again, knowing that I’d lie to her anyway. She rounded corners, hit dead ends, and turned back around, seeking the path that would lead her to the truth.
She couldn’t find it on her own, so she started asking again.
I said no. No, I wasn’t happy. No, my life wasn’t headed where I wanted it to go. No, I wasn’t going to continue down this path. No, I wouldn’t go back. Yes, I mean it this time. No, I really don’t want to talk about it. Not in detail, anyway.
No, she didn’t have to come clean my house while I laid in bed depressed. No, she didn’t need to come back a week later to be sure I did some laundry. No, I wasn’t helpless. Yes, I was sad. No, I didn’t need her to stay.
Time passed. Our wounds healed. Our friendship grew. My sister became my best friend.
No, I wouldn’t trade her for anyone else in the world.
I love you, Bella.