Perhaps you had lost your best friend to cancer or a car accident. If you’re luckier, yours had moved to a foreign land for good, in which case you did not really lose him or her, but still you had to say goodbye.
How did you?
Elle will soon have to say goodbye to Billy. Billy may be locked up in prison. How did he manage to get himself in that situation? It is no longer important; well, at least to Elle, it isn’t.
They’ve been best friends for only three years. Unlike many, they did not grow up together. Nor were their moms best friends. They did not go to the same grade school either. For they were born to families so starkly different it was almost ridiculous. But they were grownups when they first met and became best friends without meaning to.
Everybody warned Elle about Billy. To copy lines from the first Bridget Jones movie, Billy was described as someone who “smokes like a chimney and drinks like a fish.” He’s a player and is always broke. His concept of a long-term plan is thinking with whom he’s going to drink next weekend. His life has no direction, they’d say, a bad influence who, they’re certain, would mess up her life. But Elle is not someone you give instructions to. If Billy and Elle have something in common, it is their being stubborn.
You probably never had a best friend like Billy. He’s so delinquent. Instead of going to work, he shows up at your door at 8:00 A.M. to cook sinigang when he finds out you’ve caught the flu. He’s messy. He uses his hankies to wipe vomit off your face and hair after you’ve thrown up in your drunken sleep. And Billy is so cheap. He picks wild flowers and then drops them in your bag on your birthday.
And you’d wonder if they had ever fallen in love with each other. They had, but they were never able to make it work. Billy and Elle were too different and too similar in the wrong aspects. And let’s not forget: Billy is a player, and Elle is not someone you give instructions to.
Smug-faced, people said to Elle, “We told you so.” They were sure the two would turn against each other for good. And again, unlike many, they had managed to be just friends. No, just BEST friends. Together, they’d laugh at how poorly they did as more than that.
Elle would like to believe that this trial would be another thing they’d laugh at together, looking back. Elle would like to think that after the trial, Billy would just be going home. But home to Billy was far away, where he can smoke like a chimney and drink like a fish and still be good enough to call your friend. Billy and Elle will still have to say goodbye. Elle would be happy, if she wouldn’t be losing Billy. At least not to a musty cockroach farm or to the worms six feet under. But she would be happier to be lucky enough just to say goodbye.
So, how do you say goodbye to your best friend? Elle wants to know, because she’s not that good at it.