I first met him when we were high school freshman. I liked the coltish limbyness of him, his pretend exasperation with the things I said. I knew he liked me too.
A decade later he called me because his mother was dying. He took me to lunch. I wondered if he could tell I still felt the same.
He asked me to visit so I brought a photo of him and me from high school to show his mother, proof I had the right to be there. She smiled from where she lay and said, “You’ve always been a good friend to him.” Even at that moment I wished for more.
I next saw him at the funeral, several hundred people there to honor her life. His brothers and sisters quaking in the pews, the father sitting off to the side by himself, looking like he was filled inside only with air. How those tall brothers carried their mother’s body in its box on their shoulders, stepping carefully, trying not to fold under the weight.
Later, on the train back to the city by myself, I kept thinking about my friend’s funeral suit; the stain on it I saw when he waved me goodbye. I knew we wouldn’t see each other again.
Ronit’s work has appeared in The American Literary Review, Salon, Best New Writing 2015, Proximity, and The Iowa Review (runner up, The 2013 Iowa Review Award for Fiction), among others. She earned her MFA in nonfiction at Pacific University and is currently working on a memoir. More about her and links to her work are at www.ronitfeinglassplank.com.