AUTHOR'S NOTE: I was and still am a great worshipper of FSM (Forgotten Sheet Music), and nothing I write could or will compare to that story. I just couldn't handle the fact that such a wonderful story was gone from fictionpress, but I'm dealing. This is my grieving process—writing my very own version of the Andrew saga. This time, we zero in on his side project—Jack's Mannequin and "Kill the Messenger". The ending makes it feel somewhat unfinished, but it will go on...it would be too easy to leave it there. Please review if you get the chance or find it in your heart.

DEDICATION: To Andrew. I hope you make a full recovery. To Ashley. Without FSM, this wouldn't have been possible. To Chris. She makes me want to write.

WHAT'S THIS PIECE ABOUT? Well, it started as a short story collection, but it sort of morphed into it's own little story. I've realized that the collection would be too difficult, so I'll settle for this as a one-shot or maybe even a story. I don't know. All I know is that this is the only thing I've been able to write with sincere emotion and happiness in a long time.


S

Oh my God, this hurts like hell.

We were the best of friends from toddlers who used to sit in our front yards, making mud pies after a downpour until we hit puberty, noticed the opposite sex, and started to date. Every word of that sentence was the truth. The moment we turned thirteen, everything changed.

And, it was no longer 'cool' to have a best friend who was a girl—a tomboy at that. And, it was no longer 'cool' to hang out with a girl that was almost too much of a guy. And, it was no longer 'cool' to have a best friend who was straight-laced and attended church services no longer. And, it was no longer 'cool' to hang out with a girl that would rather form a garage band over wearing make up and kissing boys.

So we broke apart. At first, it was slowly, almost unnoticeable. Then we started to talk less than a week until that week turned into a month and that month turned into a year. And after it became a year, we just didn't talk at all. After school rituals were buried deep within memories that were distant. Our friendship was gone. Gone.

Oh God, it was gone.

I had that dream again where I was lost for good in outer space.

And I was hopelessly lost without her, without her inspiring proverbs that would spark a lifetime of imagination and inspiration. I never told her that she was the reason I wanted to play the piano. It was as delicate and fragile as her. She could never know, and I could never tell her.

So, tell me, doctor,
How to shake a waking nightmare,
That is only worse when I'm sleeping.

Every moment, from the time I'd close my eyes until the time I'd fall into a restless sleep, I'd have that same nightmare. I would be floating in outer space, trapped. She was the Earth and I was the Moon. She was full of so much life. And, as for me, I was just cold and gray—just like the fucking moon. She loved to be in crowds, happy, with her groups of friends. I just liked to be alone. Just me.

If she had been anyone else, I wouldn't have cared. I didn't want to care. But I did.

I wondered if her friends were treating her the way that I did.

I wondered if they knew that her favorite color was chocolate brown. It wasn't because she loved chocolate. She hated chocolate. She loved my eyes, though. And that's why, from the age of four, she proclaimed her favorite color chocolate brown—because of my eyes.

I wondered if she thought about me as often as I did of her.

I wondered if it would have mattered at all.

Kill the messenger

'Why can't you just get over yourself?' she screamed in a scratchy voice. 'I'm tired. Tired.' She sighed, almost as if it hurt to talk to me. I wanted to scream back that it was only I. It was only Andrew, her best friend. It wasn't supposed to mean this little. It was supposed to be a great life revelation.

'I…' I paused. 'I want to just know why.'

I swear it's not me.
It's just someone I used to know.

It started to rain—just a drizzle. I hated the rain. It was a symbol of pain and loss and mourning.

'Why? Why? Why? Why?' she repeated.

Her eyes couldn't even look into mine. I wondered when and how and why things changed. Why did they have to change?

'Why?' I echoed.

I sounded like a broken record. And that was my life. Broken. Just and only broken.

'Why do you always send the messenger?' she whispered back, softly and awkwardly.

It was typical of her. She answered questions with questions all the time. It was her flaw, and it told me that she was so very vulnerable at that moment. I didn't know why I still remembered so much about her, but as different as she was, she was still the same. People can change, but they can't change what's already natural.

'It's me. Just me. There's nobody else but me. There's never been anybody else but me.'

And get to church 'cause you're a good girl.
And I never told you that.
And all I need from you could be the thing,
Could be the thing that leaves us both up here, forever.

'I, I have to go, Andrew, ' she added hastily.

'Wait.'

She stopped in mid step, and slowly turned around. Her eyes were level with mine, and I knew she was giving me that one chance—only one chance. And I had to make the best. I had to squeeze over ten years of lost friendship into a few, short, fragmented sentences.

'Chocolate brown. Mud pies. Rain dances. Earth, the Moon.'

'You can't ignite our past,' she spoke, thoughtfully. 'I can't let you do that to me.'

'I, I suppose I expected more.'

I shrugged, but underneath the mask I felt nothing but heartache and disappointment. A part of me was hoping we could forget about the lost time.

'Why can't we start over? Why?'

She sighed and shook her head.

'Oh Andrew. There are just some things you're better off not knowing.'

I needed her vow of friendship. I took one step closer towards the point of no return. I was sacrificing anything that used to mean something to me, and it was all for her. Didn't that mean anything? We spent years of ignoring each other and pretending as if our friendship was a mistake or even childish. When you're young, you want to be friends with everyone. Having fun was the only thing that really mattered. Money, dating, and reputations didn't even exist then. And, as childish as it might have been, I wanted to hang on to our childhood—when life was simple and void of complications.

'But,' I started carefully, 'don't you ever wonder what things would be like if we were still friends?'

Talking to her was awkward. Things were different. She was indifferent, now. My words didn't wound her pride because she didn't miss me as much as I missed her.

I'm gonna send a little rain your way.

She shook her head and wiped loose strands of hair away from her sweaty face. 'You can't really think much of something you've never really had.'

The way she said it sounded as if she had rehearsed this a million times in her head—like she was planning for the perfect opportunity to exercise her flawless, safe thoughts. And it didn't matter if we weren't friends anymore. I still knew more about her than anyone else in the world.

This wasn't her.

'I don't believe you. It's a charade. It has to be.'

I shook my head pathetically. It was hard accepting that no matter what I chose to say and how right or wrong it was—she would still fall back on a comfortable response that was free of attached strings.

'Denial will destroy you.'

She spoke with such a razor sharp edge. I knew that they were her words. It sounded just like something that would come out of her mouth when she was sick and tired of talking and wasting her time. And it almost sounded as if she was speaking from experience.

'Oh, but it already has. It has so badly. Can't you tell?' I closed my eyes for a brief moment, enjoying the feeling of complete freedom.

'I'm gonna be late to church, Drew. Maybe we can talk later?'

My heart hardened at how personalized she was trying to make her words. They sounded fake and forced. Why couldn't she see? I thought so much about her. She was everything to me. And in one word she ruined it—stung my ego. Out of everybody that was my friends, she was the only one who knew just how much I detested nicknames. It never suited me—Drew. I didn't want to be known as a verb. I wanted to be known as Andrew, her old best and only friend.

'I'm not sure that's entirely possible.'

She sighed loudly, almost as if she wanted me to hear it.

'You can't say I never tried.' She shrugged. 'Because I've been the only one trying. Friendship isn't one-sided. It takes two to make one really work.'

'And it only takes one to throw it all away.'

I'm gonna send a little rain.

Splash.

I looked up into the sky, watching as the clouds turned a dark shade of blue. It soon covered the sun until there was barely any light. Then my eyes fell back on her. I must've looked so forlorn because she awkwardly shifted from one foot to another.

Splash.

I didn't want for the rain to get heavier, but it did anyway.

'I…I don't know what you want me to say,' she spoke quietly.

'Say you're sorry. Say we can be friends again. Say anything.'

'I can't,' her voice cracked. 'I just can't.'

And before I could even get a word in edge wise, she was already halfway down the street. Dejected, I fell to my knees, watching as she disappeared. It was only after I realized how truly gone she was that I started to cry.

Present.

It's not so easy caving in.
I walked by your apartment, twice,
Today while you were gone at work.

If I had been a stronger person, things would have been different.

Chances were, I wouldn't be so desperate to need her friendship.

If it were any one else, I probably wouldn't have cared half as much as I did.

She was the girl that centered my world and kept the gravity in check. She was the adorable little girl who kissed my knees when I got a boo-boo and said, "It's all better now." She was the girl that brought out my worst, but cancelled it out by bringing out my best. She was the girl I couldn't forget.

Some say that five years of friendship is nothing. But in those five years, her friendship was everything to me. I was the immature little boy who paraded in the backyard with his batman and superman underwear. I was the annoying boy who teased her when she played with her Barbie's. I was the boy who said I looked better in only underwear than she did.

It was through our competition of each other that our friendship blossomed, but it was also our competition that had torn us apart. How ironic, huh?

And I bet she wouldn't know that I always find myself walking past to her apartment, hoping to catch a glimpse of her. Sometimes it's as few as one time and sometimes it's as many as ten.

And all the colors got so dim.
It's not as cold out here.

It didn't matter that it was winter.

It didn't matter if it was twenty below or above.

She was the part of my heart that was missing and aching. If she didn't come back into my life, I'd forever be incomplete. Being incomplete was unbearable. I couldn't give up.

It didn't matter if she gave up on me.

I could forgive her over and over and over again.

And that's why when I saw her walking towards her front porch—I ran like a cross-country runner, jumping over any obstacles that got in my way.

"Stella!" I yelled.

She was wearing a long, white coat that hugged to her curves just right. Her hair was pulled back into a loose ponytail. And my heart couldn't do anything but race. No matter how plain and average she tried to be, it was impossible to hide natural beauty.

I watched as she spun around. And there went my heart.

"It's me…" I trailed off.

It had been a lousy addition to the one-sided conversation. After so many years, I'd be surprised if Stella even remembered my name. I was probably so long gone from her thoughts that she probably forgot me altogether. Even if she didn't care, a part of me believed it wouldn't matter. Right?

"Who is it?" Her voice was soft.

My heart continued to pound once our eyes met. She'd get one good look at my chocolate brown eyes, and then every emotion, every memory would come back flooding to her. I didn't even consider the possibility that I was unrecognizable. Because, the truth was, I still looked exactly the same as I did ten years ago.

"You remember," I confirmed for her.

Stella was just staring.

She didn't speak. She didn't cry. She didn't even come running into my arms.

I couldn't tell her that I was disappointed. It was silly. I was just holding onto this stupid notion that I was the best friend she'd never forget. When she'd talk to her friends, her stories would start with me—the boy who paved the way to make her the woman she was today. Okay. Maybe it's slightly arrogant to assume that, but this was Stella. She was predictable, safe, and comforting.

Neither of us could break eye contact, and I wasn't sure if that was good or bad or somewhere in between.

"It's been so long, hasn't it?"

I forced my voice to remain calm. It was so shaky and obvious. Why did it have to point out how nervous I was feeling?

And that's when it happened. She blinked. Then she blinked quickly once more. By the time she blinked once more, a tear escaped from her eyes. I watched, in the semi-darkness, as it cascaded down her cheek. The stain it left behind was just another reminder of what a failure our friendship had been.

It reminded me that I was the one broken in the first place.

Broken.

So broken and alone.