This can't be....
I'm such an idiot! Why hadn’t I noticed this earlier?
I don’t know whether I should be happy and relieved or depressed and terrified...
Once she finds out, she’s probably going to kill me...!
You sat on the edge of your bed, staring down at the photo of you and your best friend with exhausted, worn out eyes. It was already well into the evening, you still had not eaten dinner, and all afternoon you had done nothing but sit on your bed and contemplate over everything that had happened in school that day.
One thing was clear: You were never brining any precious things to school with you ever again.
But everything else...you found confusing and somewhat disturbing. The fact that you were once again bullied by a group of boys and one of them almost burn your most beloved childhood photo sent emotional triggers inside you that almost made you want to break down in tears.
You thought back to what one of the boys said, about how the child in the photo looked like Gilbert.
Well, he does kinda look like him...you thought, staring down at the boy with a frown. He seems to have the hair and everything...but it can't be him!
If that boy really was Gilbert, then surely, when you walked up to him and offered to be his friend, he would not have started bullying you. The fact that he had caused you so much pain throughout the past three years and treated you in a way that was simply indescribable instantly made you reject the possibility of your childhood friend being him. We were so close...If it really was Gilbert, he would've recognized me right away in freshman year.
You found the faint possibility of Gilbert being your childhood friend so disturbing that you decided to stop thinking about it altogether and instead decided to turn your attention to something else.
You thought about the moment when you were harassed by those boys, and how Gilbert had promised to protect you from getting hurt by others yet he didn’t step in to save you this time.
Well, he didn’t seem to be around when you were getting bullied, but the fact that it didn’t take long for you to run into him after you retreated from those boys told you otherwise. This just proved that it wasn't right of you to start trusting him, because you still didn’t know whether or not he would've lived up to his promise, no matter how hard he seemed to try.
You once again looked down at the photo of your childhood friend and thought about how you were going to find a way to remember his name or find out any more information about him that might've led to you possibly seeing him again. By this point, it seemed like you were out of options, and you were unable to come up with any ideas that might've been successful in helping you find him.
I guess I never really will get the chance to see him again...you thought sadly, tears once again threatening to form in your eyes as you set the picture down next to you on the bed. All was quiet in the room, and you listened to the faint sounds of your parents as they came home from work and began to set up for dinner.
Suddenly, an idea popped into your head that instantly caused a smile to form on your face. Your parents remembered your close interactions with your childhood friend, so maybe if you asked them, they would've been able to tell you his name, phone number, and anything else you might've needed that would've allowed you to contact him!
Feeling a burst of excitement surge through your body, you grabbed the photo and hastily made your way downstairs to the kitchen, where you found your mom standing in front of the counter and preparing food.
“Hi, Mom,” you said as you entered the room, holding the photo behind your back.
“Hello, _____,” she said, looking up at you with a smile. “How are you?”
“I'm fine,” you replied. “Listen, I have a question to ask you...”
She turned around so that her full body was facing you. “Yes?”
Hesitantly, you took a few steps forward, pausing when you were only a few feet away from her. Well, here goes nothing. You took a deep breath before you looked up at her and lifted the picture in front of her. “This boy,” you said, pointing to him in the photo. “Do you remember his name?”
Your mother gently took the photo out of your hands and examined it for a few moments before she looked up at you and smiled. “His name was Gilbert Beilschmidt.”
At that instant, you could've sworn that your entire world froze and you felt all the air escape your lungs. “G-Gilbert...Beilschmidt?”
Your mother nodded, unaware of your sudden state of shock. “To be honest, I'm a bit surprised you don’t remember his name. I remember how close the two of you were, and how you almost always used to spend time together.” She let out a tiny chuckle. “I was upset when I found out your father got a job in another town and had to move because I knew you would've been heartbroken to have to leave him. And heartbroken you were. After that, I've never seen you as happy and energetic as when you were still friends with Gilbert. You kept on crying and begging for us to move back to our original home so you could've gotten to see him again. It nearly broke my heart to see you so upset, but there was nothing I could've done. If you’d like to try to speak with him, there’s a possibility you might find him over the internet, maybe on Facebook or something.”
“No thanks,” you whispered, staring down at the floor with a blank gaze. “That’s not necessary.”
“Are you sure?” your mom asked. “If you’d like to try to get in touch with him, you can—”
“No,” you replied numbly, your entire body frozen and unable to move. “I don’t need to. Thanks for telling me, mom.”
“No problem,” she said casually, handing you back the photo and turning back to the counter, where she resumed preparing food.
You continued to stand there in utter silence, absently clutching the photo in one hand, before you turned around and slowly, quietly walked out of the kitchen and made your way upstairs with that same blank expression on your face. Finally, you entered your room, closed the door behind you, walked over to your bed, and sat on it, your mother’s words still processing in your head.
Gilbert was your childhood friend. The person who had been bullying you so ruthlessly for three years up until the point where you tried killing yourself is actually the best friend who you cherished and treasured so much during your childhood.
“Gilbert!” the little girl cried, running up to her best friend and throwing her arms around him. A few yards away from her were her parents, packing a few of their stuff from home away into their car. Most of the things from their home had already been driven over to their new one, and all that was left was to take the other leftover stuff, pack it into the car, and leave the town. While they were gathering everything together, their 7 year old daughter, _____, had been visited by her best friend, Gilbert, and was saying her last goodbyes.
“Gilbert...” she murmured, tears flowing from her eyes as she tightened her arms around him. “I-I don’t want to leave you...”
“I don’t want to leave you either,” he said softly, returning the hug and resting his chin on her shoulder. “_____, I'm going to miss you so much...”
“Not as much as I’ll miss you,” she sobbed, burying her face in his shirt. “I tried telling my mommy and daddy how much I don’t wanna move but...they won't listen to me....”
Gilbert let out a sigh and massaged her back gently, listening to the pitiful, helpless sounds of her cries. Finally, after a few more moments, he pulled away from her despite her protests. “_____, you're very strong, I don’t want you to cry.”
“I'm not strong!” she gasped, burying her face in her hands. “I'm going to miss you so, so much. I'm going to miss how we always used to eat lunch together at school. I'm going to miss the promises we used to keep. I'm going to miss having playdates with you. I'm going to miss going to the park with you and playing at our favorite spots. I'm going to miss how you always used to talk to me during recess where we found places where we could've been alone. I'm going to miss—”
“I'm going to miss all of that, too,” Gilbert said, and when _____ looked up, she was able to see that tears were falling down his face as well. “Don’t think that you’ll miss me more than I’ll miss you. No matter how far apart we are, we’ll still be together all the time, okay?”
She sniffed and wiped her nose with the back of her hand. “O-Okay....”
“_____!” her parents called, and when she turned her head around, she was able to spot her mother motioning her with her hand for her to get into the car.
_____ sighed before she turned back to Gilbert. “I’ll never forget anything about you. You’ll always be the greatest friend I’ve ever had in my entire life.”
Gilbert reached out and grasped both of her hands tightly in his. “I know we’ll meet each other again someday. And when we do, we’ll throw a party!”
The girl giggled before a saddened expression once again made its way to her face. “I'm going to miss you, Gil.”
“I’m going to miss you too,” he sighed, releasing his grip on her hands. “Don’t forget about me, okay?”
“I won't!” she cried, turning around and walking to her parents while still looking back at him. “I’ll never forget about you, Gilbert!”
Their gazes continued to lock with each other’s even as _____ unwillingly climbed into the backseat of the car and stared out of the window. The only time that they were officially separated was when the car started driving and drove away from the spot where Gilbert continued to stand just enough so that she was no longer able to make out his body. That was when she buried her face in her hands and cried more intensively than she ever thought possible.
You weren’t aware of when tears were falling from your eyes until the flashback ended and you were able to feel a sudden wetness stain your cheeks. You continued to stare down at the floor with a blank expression on your face, still holding the photo tightly in your trembling hands.
All this time, for three whole years, your childhood friend had been right in front of your eyes, and you didn’t even know it. He was the main cause of most of your problems during high school, and you didn’t even know it. You had wished over and over that you would've gotten to see your childhood friend again without knowing that you were seeing him over and over at school. You didn’t know whether you should've been happy or furious.
Suddenly, you thought back to earlier during the school day when you bumped into Gilbert and he had accidentally seen the picture of the both of you that you brought along with you. After he saw that, his face carried a look of pure horror, and an emotion that you finally recognized as one of recollection, one that made him remember the memories of his past childhood.
Did he know the person in that photo was him? Did he know we were best friends?
But if he did, what was the reason that he bullied you? Why would he go so low as to torment his best friend? Unless he didn’t really know it was you...It was nearly a decade since the both of you had last seen each other anyway, so maybe by then you were just a...forgotten memory?
You slowly closed your eyes, your body still free of any real emotions, as you thought back to the moment in freshman year when you saw Gilbert sitting by himself at lunch. If you had known that he was your childhood friend, instead of introducing yourself and offering to be friends, you would have said something completely different.
“Hi...you look kind of familiar! Do you remember me? I’m your childhood best friend, _____! I can't believe I'm really seeing you again after all these years....”
But then, another thought entered your mind that made your numbness go away. When you were younger, Gilbert had promised you that when he grew up, he never, ever would've bullied anybody. After you told him about the girl who committed suicide, he vowed that he would never hurt somebody up until the point where they would want to kill themselves for as long as he lived.
And he broke that promise. He broke that promise by bullying the girl who had asked him to keep it.
A low growl escaped your throat and you stood up, still holding the picture tightly in your hands. Still keeping your eyes closed, you listened to the sound of tearing as you ripped the picture of you and Gilbert playing in the sandbox in two.
Then in four. Then in eight. Then in sixteen. Then in thirty two.
You kept on ripping the picture until only small little pieces were left, and you opened your eyes and watched them flutter to the ground. A low, deathly chuckle escaped you and a smirk made its way to your face before you blindly grabbed the nearest object that was available to you and forcefully threw it against the wall.
“Why!?” you screamed, clenching your fists as tears rushed from your eyes like waterfalls. “Why did you do this to me!? After everything we’ve been through, why did you have to bully me? Why did you have to be so mean to me? If I looked even a little bit familiar to you, why didn’t you ask me if I was who you assumed me to be? I hate you!”
You fell to your knees and punched the floor with your fists, not caring about the blood that was starting to emerge from them. “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, I hate you! I hate everything you did to me! I wish I never met you in the first place! I wish we were never childhood friends! I wish I never had to put up with you in my life!”
Your body an emotional mess, you let out a gasp as you collapsed onto the floor, covering your face with your hands as you sobbed into them. You continued to lie like that for a few minutes until your tears stopped and you were able to compose yourself. Taking deep breaths, you got up into a sitting position and stared down at the floor.
I wonder if he knows I'm his childhood friend....
A tiny smile made its way to your face. Tomorrow you were going to see Gilbert, and you were going to tell him exactly what you thought of him.