You had ended up staying in the nurse’s office for the majority of the day, getting out only a few minutes before the end of the school day. A part of you was glad that you spent the day in there, since it gave you an excuse to skip most of your classes and an opportunity to gain a few extra hours of sleep. Another thing you were glad about was that Gilbert left the office shortly after the both of you had come to the agreement that you were only going to treat each other as acquaintances. You hoped that this meant he was no longer going to be pestering you and trying to get your attention because he wanted to be friends with you. You hoped that after this, he would really stop annoying you as much as he had before, maybe even leave you alone altogether. Because honestly, you would've been totally happy if he was completely out of your life and you never had to see or deal with him again.
At first, Gilbert wanted to stay with you in the infirmary until you were allowed to leave, but you quickly rejected the offer and forced him to go, saying that he had classes that he needed to attend unlike you. It served as a better reason that would've convinced him to leave rather than simply telling him that you didn’t want his presence beside you anymore. The only bad thing about staying in the infirmary for a whole school day was that there were many moments where you often got bored out of your head, but somehow you found a way to manage it. The nurse also told you that she had sent a phone call home to your parents to inform them about what happened to you at school, so you already knew that you were going to have to face talking to them about it when you got home.
When the school day ended and you were finally released from the infirmary, the first thing you did after you gathered your stuff together and stepped out of the building was check to see if you would've been able to spot Gilbert among the several groups of kids that were around the front of the building. To your confusion and slight disappointment, you weren’t able to see him anywhere, not with any of the groups of boys he hung out with or some place by himself.
Oddly enough, you felt a tiny bit of sadness grow inside you as you finally gave up on looking for him and instead decided to go home. You wondered why you were feeling disappointed by the fact that you didn’t get to see Gilbert after school. Besides, usually you would've been overjoyed because wouldn’t have been there to torment you, but that was back when he was still bullying you. Now he had absolutely no intention of ever causing you pain. In fact, it seemed like he wanted to do all he could to prevent you from ever feeling physically hurt again, and even when you were, he would take all his strength to make sure you were better. Somehow, the fact that he was working so hard to try and make things easy for you physically was something you found flattering, but once you remembered how severely he had caused you pain before, those feelings disappeared.
Sure, Gilbert had asked for your forgiveness so many times after your attempted suicide, but you weren’t ready to forgive him and you wondered if you ever will be. After how much he bullied you, you doubted that you were able to forgive him for all the hell he had put into your life for the past three years. But since it seemed like he was genuinely sorry for what he did and he was now trying hard to protect you, wouldn’t it have made sense if you just accepted that he had changed and forgave him?
With all these confusing thoughts starting to fill your mind, you decided to take a break from focusing your attention on Gilbert and instead chose to think about something else, like how you were going to make up the classes and exams you missed because of your stay in the infirmary.
It was fairly cloudy when the school day ended, and by the time you got home, it was raining and you were significantly soaked. You cursed your unawareness of the weather forecasts as you headed up the stairs and to your room, where you would've changed into clean, dry clothes.
By the time you were finished, you sat on the edge of your bed and stared out the window, watching the rain fall and thinking about what you were going to do now. You realized that you no longer felt the need to cry into your pillow every single day when you came home, and now that your emotions seemed to be more or less stable, you were at a loss of what you wanted to do.
You drifted your gaze over to the nightstand placed next to the bed and focused on the picture frame placed on top of it that contained the photo of your and your childhood friend in the sandbox. Feeling your throat already start to tighten with emotion, you reached out, grasped the frame, and brought it over in front of you. You looked at your younger self and noticed how happy you looked. A big smile was plastered to your face as you held a toy pail in one little hand and a toy shovel in the other. Next to you sat your friend, who carried a slightly grumpy look on his face.
With a smile, you remembered how he never really liked it when someone took pictures of him, which probably explained why he didn’t seem to look as happy as you were in the photo. But if I can remember that, why can't I remember his name? You figured that someone who was that close to you during your childhood was worth remembering, especially their names, but with all the stress and trauma that went on in your high school years, your memory faded enough that you weren’t able to remember.
You wondered whether or not he thought about you often. You wondered if he remembered your name, if he saved any pictures of the both of you, if he made any new friends throughout the time that you two had been separated. Considering the age the both of you were at, you wondered whether or not he had a girlfriend.
Where are you now? You removed your gaze from the photo and looked out the window, listening to the sound of the rain fall. Do you remember me? Do you even want to see me again? You missed him. You knew how important he was to you, even if you two hadn’t seen each other for about a decade, and more than anything at the moment, you wanted to see him. You wanted to tell him about all the troubles you’ve been through in your life. You wanted to tell him about Gilbert, and how much he had bullied you. You knew that if he knew about your problems, he would've done all he could to cheer you up, just like how he used to when the both of you were small.
Just like...how Gilbert wants to try all he could to make sure I don’t get hurt anymore...
You sighed as you lay down on the bed, still clutching the picture tightly in your arms. You lifted it up so that you were able to look at it once more. Back then, you seemed so happy, so full of energy, so free of worries...the exact opposite of what you were now. Back then, you knew that whenever you were feeling upset or depressed, you could've gone to your best friend and you trusted him to help cheer you up. But now you had nobody to go to, and you trusted no one.
I want to see you again...You weren’t even aware of the fact that tears were falling from your eyes until you felt sudden moisture on the top of your shirt. I want us to meet again so badly...I want to see how much you’ve grown, how much you’ve changed...I want you to see how much I changed...I want you to know how much I missed you, how much I still miss you...as if I left you only yesterday...
At the sound of her name, the little girl turned around and spotted her best friend, walking towards her at a somewhat slow pace and carrying a look of sadness on his face.
“What's wrong?” she asked, running up to him and pausing when she was only a few feet away from him. He stopped and lifted his gaze so that it was able to meet hers, the depression evident in his making her even more concerned and worried than she already was. “Did you need to tell me something?”
The boy remained silent for a few moments, looking at you uncertainly, before he dropped his gaze down to the ground and began to fiddle with his fingers. “W-Well...since you’re moving away in a week...I-I want you to know that since we won't be seeing each other anymore, I still want you to make new friends.”
The girl’s eyes widened slightly before she felt her throat tighten and a saddened expression come across her face. “B-But I...I don’t want to make new friends!” At that, the boy lifted his gaze up and looked at her in confusion. Tears fell down her cheeks as she continued with a trembling voice and clenched fists. “You are my only best friend and will always be my only best friend. I don’t want to make friends and I don’t want to be friends with anybody else but you.”
“But...” The boy remained silent for a few moments before he continued. “If you don’t make any friends, you’ll be lonely.” He walked closer towards the girl and grasped her clenched hands, looking at her with pleading eyes. “_____, after you move and meet new people, I want you to make friends. I don’t want you to be lonely. I want you to happy, even if I won't be there with you anymore.”
The girl drew in a trembling gasp as tears continued to fall freely from her eyes. “I-I can never be happy if I'm not with you. You’re...You’re my one and only best friend. Nobody else I meet will ever be the same as you...”
“I know,” the boy said. “But that doesn’t mean nobody you meet will ever be able to make you happy. _____, I want you to find at least one person who would want to be friends with you. They might not be exactly like me, but they can still make you happy. You might find somebody who would work hard to protect you, keep you safe, and comfort you when you’re upset like I did.”
“No I won't!” the girl sobbed, releasing the boy’s grip from her and covering her face with both hands. “I-I’ll never be able to find someone like that...”
“Yes you will,” the boy argued, reaching out and wrapping his arms around her. “You will, I promise. And when you do, you’ll know you’ve found someone who you can trust and who can be your friend. Do this for me, _____. Please?”
The girl continued to sob in his arms for a few more moments before she finally pulled away from him and looked up to meet his gaze. “O-Okay...I promise.”
The boy smiled. “Thank you.”