Memoir: "An Open Letter to My First Best Friend" by Fransivan Mackenzie

I stopped by your old house today. That little apartment by Najat St. looks the same as

the last time you were there. The walls are strewn with Christmas lights and I could make out a

tree's shadow through the window. There’s still a retail store in front of it. The porch is occupied

by a man scribbling eloquent letters into the December air with smoke.

I wonder who lives there now. Even more, I wonder if there's a teenager there who has a

best friend she met from Tutoring Sessions. I want to know if there are versions of us that reside

in what used to be your home, and somehow, at least for a year, mine too.

You were my first best friend. You owned the first pair of ears to which I whispered dirty

jokes to while giggling. You're the one whom I told all my crushes to. You were my favorite

person back then. I believed I was yours, too.

That was my greatest mistake. I expected people to have the same heart as mine. I

thought that the way I saw them was the way they saw me too. And you proved me wrong.

The summer we were together was electric with the sun sizzling the pavements, country-

pop music playing in the background, exams that we never failed to fail, seafoam-green nail

polishes, lopsided hotcakes, and iced tea. It was also the summer I thought beauty lived in the

back of my throat, but I never told you that.

I still remember the afternoon we spent strolling in my neighborhood. It was ten blocks

away from yours, and we would trudge the streets sharing our secrets while the city breeze

carried them away. In school, I was alienated. But in this town, with you, I felt cared for. I didn't

feel so different from others. My world was so small with my loneliness so spacious. It was a

miracle to have at least someone I could count on.

What I didn't realize was, I put you in a pedestal I shouldn't have. While I knew you

loved me, it wasn't as much as I loved you. It begs the question I can't quite find the answer to: is

there any way to quantify love other than measure the hole it leaves you when the person is


This is my version of the truth on how you left me: I was in the last year of High School

juggling paperworks, competitions, and personal dilemma. When the haze was over and I wanted

my best friend around, I knocked on the door and was greeted by the news that you moved away.

It was a strange woman with her eyes morphed into question marks, telling me that the person I

was looking for was gone.

When the truth dawned on me, I was overwhelmed by an indescribable pain. I told you

everything that went on with my life. You cried on my shoulders when a boy tore your heart

apart. And when you had been planning to flee this town where nothing ever happened, you

just packed up your bags and took the exit. You didn't even bother to give me a call. You just

cut me off.

It didn't break my heart, as you would have thought. It left a chill in my spine that stayed

there even months later. When someone empties a seat beside you, cold air rushes in. That's how

it felt, as if there was an icy spot within the frame that held me where you used to be.

Despite the way we parted, I am grateful for everything we had. The December we

celebrated together, my grandmother died, and you made me pancakes in your kitchen. You were

the only one who initiated a conversation with me in that class. When I lost weight, you lent me

better clothes to fit my frame. You introduced me to new music. With you, I discovered the

beauty of long walks under the open sky. Thank you for every story, every laugh, every tear, and

every meal we shared. I would hold on to them the way you never did to me.

Lastly, I am sorry for the image of you I painted in my head. Even though unbeknownst

to you, I somehow gave you the responsibility to share the weight of the cross I was carrying. I'm

sorry if I loved the idea of you more than you yourself. I realize now that it was wrong of me to

cage you in an identity you never were. I'm sure you loved me because I felt it to the core; but

when you left me, I doubted that love. You had faith in me, but I failed to return that trust.

You were my person, but I wasn't yours. It's not your fault at all but I'm sorry for ever

thinking it was. While your arms weren't my home, they were such a great place to stay.

If you ever visit our town, please stop by my house. I'll take your coat and make you iced

tea and play you a song. We don't have to make it like the old times, you know. When I've

stalked you on Facebook a while back, you don't squinch your eyes the same when you're

smiling. You have changed, indeed. I have, too. We are all supposed to, aren’t we?

Fransivan MacKenzie is a nineteen-year-old independent storyteller born and raised in the Philippines. She is the self-published author of Out of the Woods, a chapbook of poetry and prose. Her works also appeared in Transition Magazine, The Racket, Jaden Magazine, CP Quarterly Review and elsewhere. She is currently taking her degree in Counseling Psychology at Philippine Normal University - Manila. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter (@fransivanlights), and Instagram (@fransivanmackenzie).