Those Bells. It was always those bells that made me think of her and of those times when we were free. Free to be whatever we wanted to be. It was GREEN and it had a wonderful tinkling sound. Reminiscent of the sound of Christmas and toy trains.
We were four when we became friends. I was playing in the yard of our preschool. The big boys were bullying me. I had the fanciest shovels, you see. She was always the strong, protective one. She saved me then and countless times after that. Always put me first. More like a big sister than a best friend.
Shelly saved me a seat in the cafeteria in middle school, fought with other kids over my seat in the bus. So brave and so good-hearted she was.
Yes, WAS. My Shelly is no more. We were in high school when she WENT. No, she didn’t leave the country, she didn’t leave me. She could never leave me. We were inseparable, the two of us.
She was there when my parents died. She was there when I couldn’t understand the big words in school. And then quite suddenly, in the midst of our high school prom preparations, Shelly started suffering; slowly and silently. It began with the fainting, then her absence in school. I wouldn’t see her for days and whenever I would try to contact her she would be unavailable.
One day I rode on my bicycle which she taught me to ride, to her house. Her mother opened the door slightly ajar. She looked positively distraught. She didn’t have to say anything. I could see the pain in her appearance. I ran inside towards Shelly’s room. And there she was, my brave Shelly.
Shelly became so weak, so sad and so different. I couldn’t bear it. Watching her fall apart was like looking at a part of me being shred to pieces. I couldn’t bear to see her so fragile.
For eighteen months she struggled. She was barely alive. She passed away on Christmas night. After we opened our gifts, after she gave me those priceless green dumbbells. I could feel it that night, a part of me withering, dying.
And before she passed, she looked at me. I saw her round pale face, those bright violet eyes; those knowing eyes, that same warmth even in death. And in that one look I knew, she being my biggest strength would never leave me.
Those bells, it was always those bells that made me remember Shelly. My sweet, strong, brave Shelly.