Best Friends

"…then tell us about your first best friend. The first best friend you remember."

My house is thick with sunshine, coffee, and muffins
I sit complacently in my room reviewing a year of learning
Downstairs, seven women engage in introductory conversation

I go down to refill my mug

"I never saw her much after high school. "

Who was my first best friend? I think.
Dannah, from Kindergarten
I don’t remember her last name

I sit on the stairs and lean against the wall so I can hear them

Miss Gibson explained to the entire class while we sat on the rug
The reason Dannah didn’t have to run the mile was because she had cancer

No one knew what that meant
Like the flu, maybe
We seethed with envy as we trotted down the field
Lucky, I thought

"We started dating together. She’s still a good friend."

I still don’t know if we were best friends, and then she got cancer
or if she got cancer, and then I decided she was my best friend

I have no memories of her again until first grade
For her seventh birthday, we got her a life-size doll
She was in the hospital, but I never visited her

I wanted that doll for myself

"She still introduced me as her best friend, even after all those years."

One day my mom called me into the living room, eyes swollen and pink
It annoyed me when my mom cried

She haltingly told me Dannah was dead
She waited for a reaction that I have no recollection of

"My mom was still in college when I was born, and the administrator had a
daughter born within 10 days of me. We were friends for the rest of our lives.”

I went to the funeral with my mom
I thought I would get to see her, but her tiny coffin was left closed
Her family talked, then a minister
We sang hymns I didn’t know

"I see her grandmother a lot, so I keep up with her that way."

I saw my sister’s friend in the row across from me
She was sobbing, so I cried, too
I didn’t mean it

We left early and didn’t go to the grave site
Good, I was hungry

That following year we built a memorial garden outside of the library
I sat in the shadows on her cold bench and finally missed her

"My hair was much darker then."