Raph al Guul
This is the story of me and my best friend. It is not a very sad story, really, but one that makes me very sad.
My friend and I were not related, not by blood. But we grew up together in the same family. I do not remember the time when she was born specifically, although I know that it must have been around the time I was four or five. I should probably have been looking out for her back then, be like a caring older brother. But I was a mischievous toddler and used to be rather mean to her. Tellingly, I do indeed remember some of those instances. The worst of them must have been the time me and my younger sister shoved her down the stairs just to see how she’d react. She couldn’t possibly have fought back at the time and fell victim to our merciless and cruel curiosity.
Even though my friend had never done anything to me and was already beautiful back then, we were not friends in the beginning. She was just another one of these creatures around me that I couldn’t understand or communicate with properly because I was still in the process of finding and understanding self-awareness. But I think having a common history is the most reliable foundation for friendship and I was lucky that, against all odds, I happened to know her since the very time I can remember.
A few years passed and growing physically and spiritually we began to gain conscience of the bond that we had just through a shared upbringing. I began to feel a strong sense of affection towards the graceful lady she turned into. She always used to be very quiet; in fact, there were times when we feared she might have gone mute. Despite this general tendency, however, she had deep passion within her, and when that passion surfaced she could be a raging storm that swept us away in awful fury. It was surprisingly frequent that some of us would carry away some minor injuries from such outbursts. I wonder if it was the fact that I had memory of my own hurtful behavior towards her, or just my general affection for her that kept me from being alienated by these consequences. Over time, everybody else came to think of her as a cranky, easily provoked weirdo.
It was then that we bonded most. With her being such a quiet soul this did not happen by means of many words on her part. In fact, I always knew that as often as I might express how I felt about her, she would never explicitly answer to any of it. It was in her eyes, though, and she was not keeping it a secret. She simply did not use words. She did not have any, nor did she need them. But when I soon began leaving home on a frequent basis, she spent every waking hour with me whenever I came back. She even stayed overnight every now and then and slept by my side. Over the course of only a few years, a sense of mutual, complete understanding emerged between the two of us. She was my best friend and the most important thing I could think of was for her to be well and happy. And she was.
I may have been naïve or simply inattentive to realize, however, that my friend was burdened by something far beyond our control. I had never met her father, but as a kid I had known her mother who died in a car accident a few years after my friend had been born. It seemed like the family of orphans had been cursed as all of my friend’s sisters had died under very similar circumstances; her only brother, after a year of struggling against a mysterious illness that doctors could not identify or treat, died very young and my friend was left as the only surviving member of her family. I did never quite understand how lucky we were that we had been given this much time and I don’t know if I could ever be able to adequately express my appreciation for it. But whatever time we had, hers was measured in much less tangible units than mine: “cat years”.
After one year of knowing her, she had already reached adulthood while I was still an infant, and by the time we had established our deep-reaching connection, she was an old lady. And although she made it longer than any of her known family members and never got involved in any traffic accident, it never dawned on me that time was running low until the day she startled me to death; lying in my arm while I was doing some paperwork, she suddenly jumped up and started twitching uncontrollably. It was as if she had been possessed by a nefarious spirit. I was shocked, but more than that I was scared as I jumped up myself, staring helplessly at my incessantly wincing friend.
She calmed down that night, seemingly feeling a bit better, and we managed to bring her to a doctor, but the man said it was her age and there was nothing he could do. The day after these awful events she spent lying in my room on my bed, exhausted and defeated. I saw in her eyes that she no longer wanted to carry on; she did not want to be helped, she wanted to be released. With tears in my eyes I sat down next to her, caressing the beautiful creature, knowing that this was the last goodbye. There were no words. We did not have any, nor did we need them. I don’t know how long I sat there; it might have been minutes or hours – who knows? And what is a minute to a cat, anyway? All I know is that one of those minutes was her final one.
It has been many years since then and when I go back in time to remember these events, the most prevalent thought is that of how much I miss her. A quiet, but passionate friend with whom I had shared the most important moments of my life. She may not have been human but – against all better judgment – I knew that she had more wisdom, empathy, and love than any human being I could ever meet. It is a shame that I am the only one who will ever know. Because to anyone else she is just a part of a story about a friendship. A story that may not be particularly sad, but one that I will forever remember and carry with me because it makes me particularly sad.
In memory of Madrisli