static and noise

This never happened.

I don't think I've ever told this to anyone. I guess that will be pretty obvious soon enough. Even now, trying to write about it, I want to get it over with as quickly as possible, rushing over the backstory, providing a bare bones outline of events.

It's about the time I very deliberately betrayed a friend's trust. She'd told me a story--I won't repeat it here, but it's probably still out there somewhere if you know where to look--in confidence, but I want you to understand, this wasn't a "let me tell you a secret" type of thing. We were the sort of friends where she would never have even considered that I might betray her on this one. It was a very intimate and personal story about death, and it's not like it made her look bad, but--and here I am making excuses again. The point is she told me this story in private, and she expected it to remain between us. A story she'd never told anyone else.

I don't know why that story is the one I chose, and I'm not sure I matters which one. We'd had something of a falling out--she called me out on some of my bullshit and I was in the wrong mood for it. There were some other things, I guess--little things, cracks in our friendship that had been growing for a while, but it took me years to admit that it was anything but this stupid argument. I don't even remember the actual thing she said that set me off. What I do remember, with perfect clarity, is shouting at her empty house long after she had left in her car. I remember shaking with rage, crying hot tears. I remember wanting revenge.

So, I wrote her story. No exaggerations or attempts to make her look bad--this wasn't about people thinking she was a bad person. I wanted to destroy her privacy. I wanted people to see this story and write her and call her and ask her about it--I wanted them to know those private moments, where she watched someone die. I wanted her to know that took something sacred and I left it naked and exposed. I wrote it and I saw to it that it was published in her name.

I published it in the lit mag of which my sister was the editor--another betrayal that I had to deal with. It was never widely read, but it attracted notice within our social circles. So she received a trickle of interest. At first she assumed it was a mistake, that someone with a similar name had written something. Then she began to doubt. By the time she had a copy of her own, it was too late, damage done.

I never asked her how she felt about the sudden exposure, of course, but she made it clear that she got the message. I'd never seen her so furious. It was far less satisfying than I had imagined it. Even then I was already having trouble remembering what I had hoped to accomplish--mostly, I think I just wanted her to hurt. But it seemed empty now.

In an ideal world this would end with an apology and forgiveness, but this is not an ideal world. I felt like apologizing was disingenuous--not because I wasn't sorry, but because apologies were not sufficient. I had very deliberately crossed a line. The idea of being forgiven, of being trusted again, was unbearable. So, in what could have been the ultimate act of revenge were she not being so damn sincere about it, she went and forgave me.

Even as I tried to stay, to make it work, because this was someone I couldn't afford to lose--especially not now--I could see the end approaching. One night I deleted her from all my contact lists. I stopped responding to her phone calls and instant messages. I excised her entirely from my life.

The worst part of it was how right it felt, how easily I could just switch off a human relationship. The very next day I found some pictures of us together and I felt nothing at all. Instead of any sense of loss, I felt like I'd discovered something important. I guess it's always been in my nature to run.

1 comment:

Kizolk said...

It made me think of Ted Bundy. His girlfriend was his absolute dream girl, she dumped him because of his lack of ambition, extreeeeeeemely butthurt, years later he managed to make her fall deeply in love with him again, they lived happily together for some time, he left her suddenly even though the relationship seemed perfectly healthy so far, she kept calling him but he wouldn't answer. One day, he did; she asked him what was happening, crying, to which he replied "what are you talking about?" and hung up. I know he's famous for another kind of deeds, but this seemed like the epitome of psychological violence to me.

Anyway, very nice :) Of those I read, I don't think I've ever thought "that's crap", but I particularly like this one.