First Friend

long distance fiction



Dear Zachary,


Sorry I haven’t written in a while, it’s been a busy few months. The move went well, but I do regret choosing Times Square. Every time we visited, it felt like that’s where all of New York life came together. It’s now clear to me that there’s actually too much life in Times Square. Whenever I tell people where my apartment is, they either think I’m joking or immediately know I’m new and have no clue what I’m doing.

Making friends has been about what I expected. It’s hard to meet anyone or convince people to hangout. It seems like everyone I talk to has lived here their whole lives. My neighbor is named Rhiannon. She stops by every now and then, and sometimes we get a drink together. That’s pretty rare though; everything is really expensive and we’re both really poor. Rhiannon’s nice though. She’s in her mid-thirties. She and her husband separated and since he owned their house, she was the one who left. I don’t think we’ll ever be best friends, but I can’t complain.

Sorry to hear about you and Lindsey. I know you really loved her. Two years feels like a long time, but at least you guys didn’t go longer. You’re still young enough to jump right back into the single-scene. Or, you can take some time for yourself. You have a ton of options now, which must be exciting.

Paul tells me you guys actually broke up a few months ago, and you just didn’t tell anyone about it. I hate to bring it up, but I feel like it’s important. You have to start talking to people again. You’ve always punished yourself for everything bad that’s happened to you, but you’re at the point in your life where you can’t drop everything you’re doing and at every tragedy.

Maybe if you forgive yourself, you won’t be so alone.

I won’t keep berating you with my pseudo-motherly advice, but I just felt like it was important.

To answer why I left, I’m not really sure. At risk of sounding corny, I felt like a ship in the ocean. A storm had come, and the waves were tearing a part the ship. In the distance, the beam of a lighthouse led me ashore, but the light kept getting dimmer. If I kept following the light, it would eventually extinguish, and the ship would crash into rocks and beach. I had to make the decision to find a new lighthouse, one that wouldn’t bring my ship down. One that would lead me home. It might take a long time to find, but at least there was hope again.

But that’s pretty cheesy.

Zachary, I never wanted to make you feel left behind. I know if we were kids, I’d be there for you right now, you’d never read this letter, I’d never write it. I’m sorry you’re hurt. I am so, so, so sorry. No one’s advice will help, I know that. But, if I was to say one thing to try to help, it would be this. Think of the string of Polaroids on your wall. Every photo is unique, and each contributes to the story as a whole. If even one was taken out, the collection wouldn’t be complete. Even if you hated that photo, there’s a hole now.

Even with that terrible photo mixed in, the story is complete, and somehow even more beautiful with it there.

I miss you and love you.


Your First Friend,




photograph by Aaron Burden


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