What Is Between Us
I appreciate your friendship, but I hate what is between us. We associate just a few times each year - brief, structured meetings where months of misplaced moments are stuffed into thirty minute sessions. Circumstances force me to drive to you, but that is not a complaint. The visits are always worth the travel time.
Phone conversations are erratic, dictated by your current lifestyle. Shrill rings arrive at odd times, but I never decline dialogue, even when my finances are depleted and your collect calls raid my wallet. Sometimes you rekindle the nostalgia of paper and pen in this age of electronic mail. Those letters merely pacify pain; deciphering handwriting is sloppy work and everyone would rather have you near family and friends.
You never go out anymore. I hide undertones of guilt while experiencing fun at group gatherings. I should have been more candid when the opportunity existed. I could have steered you around the potholes of youth, or at least shown you the consequences of faulty decisions.
I admire your endurance, but I detest how you must live right now. Tucked in the underbelly of humanity, always on guard. Often I try to imitate your strength and perseverance. We hold similar outlooks, but our thoughts reside in conflicting poles.
What else divides us? Eighty kilometers of highway, followed by a country mile of gravel roads. City air choked with pollution and rural atmospheres scented with manure. Metal fencing plus concrete walls.
To me, you are a counselor who accidentally supplies sensible advice, a point guard with a wicked crossover dribble, someone who encouraged me to get my first job, and the one person I trust in this world besides my mother. To me, you remain a close friend.
To society, however, you are inmate number 176294, celebrating eight to ten birthdays in a medium-security penitentiary, maybe fewer if you discover the good behavior that youve avoided most of your life.
I despise prison walls and barbed wire fences, the infinite space separating neighborhood from cellblock, the roads winding between home and hell, the abuse you substitute for survival, the time you spend sealed in a living tomb, and that we can no longer talk to each other like buddies who grew up sneaking into pool halls and pretending to be cousins.
Like I said, I appreciate your friendship, but I hate what is between us.
About the author: Adrian S. Potter writes both poetry and short fiction. He was awarded first prize in the 2007 Saturday Writers One-Page Poem Contest and the 2006 Červená Barva Press Fiction Chapbook Prize. Previous publication credits include Talking Stick, Cherry Bleeds, Main Channel Voices, Blue Earth Review and Poesia. His short fiction chapbook, Survival Notes, is available through Červená Barva Press. Additional propaganda about Adrian and his writing can be found at his website.