Walking and Talking

Prompt: Does your best friend know you?

My best friend lives in Arizona. She is a ballroom dancer. Her birthday used to be the passcode for my ATM card. Last time, we talked, she confessed to having an affair and said she had given her husband an ultimatum and he had given her one in return. She wanted him to get a job; he wanted her to have a baby. I wasn’t invited to her wedding. She eloped three months after meeting a man twice her age, unemployed, and sent me photos from the courthouse after. The precarious state of their relationship a few years into marriage didn’t surprise me.

My best friend and I watched a movie together our freshman year of college. Walking and Talking with Catherine Keener and Anne Heche. I loved the movie because I loved all the movies. She got distracted halfway through. But afterward, she said the friends in it were a lot like us, like how we might be five years from then. She would be Laura and I Amelia. And then I knew, she thought she was the beautiful one, the one who would have all the good-looking men in love with her and would get married first. And I was the anxious friend who would always feel like she was losing. I knew then that she thought she would leave me behind.

My best friend and I both went to the Claremont Colleges, her at the math and science school and me at the liberal arts college next door. But her college boyfriend didn’t like me and she chose him. She didn’t like my college boyfriend, either. I learned later no one liked him. Maybe not even me, really. I feel apart my sophomore year, not because of a breakup, but something deeper, darker that I couldn’t put into words. And she was not there to watch it even though she sat in a dorm room a 10-minute walk away.

My best friend only started talking to me again a year after she graduated when she and her boyfriend broke up. She spent her unemployed days sending me instant messages while I worked a job to save up for grad school. She’d finished already, graduated from Stanford with a master’s, but instead of getting a job she counted cards and got kicked out of casinos in Reno. She used me as entertainment all day long. Until she found another boyfriend.

My best friend is half Thai and half white. I am half Mexican and half white. We both have dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, full eyebrows, brown skin. I have pictures of us in our 20s at a nightclub and think we almost look like sisters. But all the times we were together—from middle school through the last time I saw her—she always made me feel like she was the pretty one, the wanted one, the smarter one. And me, I was the hanger-oner who wouldn’t let her live her life.

My best friend, I realized the last time we talked, sucks all the energy out of a relationship, that she brings drama into my stable life that I don’t want, that I was the only one keeping the friendship from fizzling out. When I got engaged, I did not share the news with her. I did not send a save the date to my wedding. She has never met my husband or my son.

My best friend unfriended me on Facebook somewhere between now and 11 years ago, and I didn’t even notice when it happened.

Melissa Flores Anderson is a Latinx Californian and an award-winning journalist. Her creative work has been published by Punk Noir Magazine, Maudlin House and The Write LaunchVariant Lit nominated her CNF piece “Six Gun Fights” for Best of the Net. Work is forthcoming in Daily Drunk Magazine. She served as a co-guest editor of Roi Fainéant Press’ first special issue, HEAT (6.26.22) and is now a reader/editor. Follow her on Twitter @melissacuisine or IG @theirishmonths. Read more at melissafloresandersonwrites.com.