I could hear the noise of her pain. A slow wailing sound that rips through the silence. I knew in that moment that she needed me.
“I’m coming.” Was all I said. I drove to her house in a record time and as soon as I saw her face, I saw the hopeless look of someone who had lost her battle. No one even knew there was a war in Ivy’s life, but I always found the right moment to ask how things are. Days before I had sent the casual email asking what’s new and how she was, just to receive an email back saying everything but well. Ivy has been the person who I didn’t need to see or speak to for days, weeks or months, even a year one time; one email brought us back to speed. It wasn’t about strong friendship or connection; it was about strong and meaningful understanding of one another. Tears and dreams shared, countless nights wishing for something or someone out of our reach. We were completely detached from our lives. She is just that person who you want and need to tell you how wrong you are or how strong you are.
It was late, past midnight and the lights were off. She was pacing around the living room. She was broken in pieces and I had to help her put them all back together. She has done the same for me before; we were each other’s glue. Many things in life break us all; we were broken countless times. She shook like a leaf in a wild wind. When I hugged her I could hear her heart beat in the nape of her neck. It was so fast that it made my heart beat faster and faster. The heater was blasting, yet her teeth were chattering. I realised she was in the midst of a panic attack. I had to bring her back to me, to the present moment. I knew it was risky to talk about the past right then, but that was the only way I could make her see that she would be ok; this is just another part of her life that she will grow from.
“Do you remember the cigarette hole on the driver seat in my old car?” I asked hoping that this was the right thing to ask. She looked at me puzzled. Oh crap, I thought, thinking she might get worse. With the slightest movement I saw her nod.
“And you are still here,” I reassured her. Another tear rolled down her face; she didn’t wipe it.
“I drove so fast and my smoke fell between my legs,” I laughed. “Lucky it only burned the seat.” Her shoulders relaxed a bit. I could only talk; there was nothing else to do.
“You will hurt because whatever is out there knows you can take it,” I said, but I wasn’t sure of it myself. She shrugged. Ok, we are getting somewhere, I thought.
“I was there then and I’m here now. I will always be here.” I was tearing up. Stop it Demi, just hold it together, I told myself.
We met 10 years ago, only a year after her arrival to Melbourne, and the minute we spoke, we became friends. At first, we both hesitated to give away our true selves, but it only took couple of times out for coffee and we were inseparable. Countless hours talking on the phone and sending emails. The best of all was driving around without destination, stopping only at Coles to get more cigarettes and chocolate. I needed her and she needed me.
“I never ever called you in the morning, but that day I knew I had to call.” As soon as I said it she looked up for a moment and dropped her head again.
“When I went to see your mum and dad in Macedonia, your mum had this picture of you at six and she kept on saying how you couldn’t wait to go to school and you just wanted to read all day long.” I took a deep breath, knowing that I was getting to her. She sat on the floor with her back resting on the couch, still shaking and looking at her hands.
“I look up to you for so many things. I want to be there when you publish your first book.” I choked on my tears. She shook her head and breathed out as though someone had punched her in the stomach.
“I know it hurts and it won’t go away. We both know you have to fight.” I knew she was stronger than her demons.
He loved her; she married him, then he wanted out. A few days ago on the phone she kept saying that she couldn’t believe what was happening, that it was all a bad dream. People who can’t fully appreciate her always abuse her honesty and naivety. Don’t get the wrong picture, she is all that and she is a lot more. She falls and grieves and she tries, but when she is done, it’s all over. She is not afraid to punch someone in the face and walk away like nothing happened. Ivy has learnt to protect herself, to hit back when hit, to take a stance for others too. She has lived a life of many people. She is the one who I trust the most.
“You are the most positive person I know. Remember when you told me about your gut feelings and the future you predicted for me?” She drew her knees closer and she gave me a side look. I ignored her look and continued.
“Yes, you like predicting. Well it’s my turn now,” I smiled.
“Thing is I’m not good at it,” I laughed. She didn’t react. She was a tough one to break through. I sat there for a bit and I let her get her thoughts together.
“The hole is still in the seat. It’s a reminder of the day I rushed to be by your side and let you know that life is not fair,” I continued talking and I could see that she was slowly calming down. I could say many things, but I choose this because I knew it would hit the right place in her heart. She never wants to come close to that dark place. Depression was once part of her.
“You know it’s time we took things with a strategic view.” I knew she would tell me to piss off, that I sound like her.
“Fuck off Demi, I don’t want to hear myself.” Finally a reaction!
“Don’t make me hurt for you again,” I pleaded. I had vivid images in my head of her in hospital and I had to say something. She stopped shaking and was in deep thought. I saw her eyes flicker around the room. It was like she came out of a trance. She stood up from the floor and went in front of the heater.
“Hey, how about you make me a coffee?” I had to get her moving.
“Sure,” she said and walked to the kitchen.
“Hey Demi,” she said over her shoulder, “I won’t kill myself this time. Dying once was enough.”