Not Even Your Mother

by: Allie Burke

How curious the authority of pain’s fleeting grip, and those unique souls that inspire us to win at life…

The swirling fan above my head casts shadows on the ceiling as its blades whoosh by. It is the middle of the night, but I can’t seem to get this house dark enough anymore. The fan, along with the air, is always on. I vape too much and if the smoke alarm goes off, it’s impossible to make it stop. I once took the battery out and it kept on wailing. It’s a fucking sorcerer of warning when the scent of red vines becomes too much. As if the candy flavored liquid will mean my demise. It probably will, someday.

The last time the fan was off – I couldn’t imagine why, with the two of us vaping in my studio – Alex pointed out how dirty it was.

“You need to clean your fan,” he said.

Earlier today, when I was making the bed, my clumsy ass knocked the blades with the comforter. Dust flew everywhere and one of the cats went after it, but of course. It was pretty disgusting. Cats have no shame. You should clean that before he comes back, I thought to myself. I could have done it then, I guess. That’s what my mom would have done. But I’m not my mom, and I’m not a tweaker. Well, I’m not my mom. In general.

I’m scrolling through texts, still half drunk on that cheap beer I drank earlier. I probably shouldn’t have driven, but whatever. I made it home and I’m not one to revel in inconsequential pasts. At least not anymore.

Mikael, on the other hand, is definitely drinking some good shit tonight. He’s never been so honest with me, in all the years I’ve known him. He’s either fed up with the bullshit, or I’ve never experienced this level of drunkenness from him before. A thought I quickly dismiss, since I’ve picked him up off the sidewalk more than once.

He said he was sorry. Mikael doesn’t say sorry. In eight years I’ve never heard the word part his lips. Actually, that’s a lie. He’s apologized twice. Both times for being way too fucking drunk. But both times it was followed by an LOL, so I didn’t exactly take him very seriously.

I took it easy on Mikael. Since the day I met the man who would become the best friend, who knew you like no one else – not even your mother (especially not mine) – I took it easy on him. I really was the badass everyone thought I was, on the exterior, and there was no way in hell that any human being in the world would ever speak to me, would ever treat me, like Mikael did every damn time I saw him. He was a shitty friend. He always had been. He ignored me when I called, told me I was weird and stubborn. And I never heard from him unless he needed something. I wrote him once to tell him he was an asshole, but he told me he wasn’t going to read it. He wouldn’t even pay attention to you calling him an asshole. That’s how much of an asshole he was.

But I took it easy on him. If you asked me about Mikael, I would tell you that he was my best friend in the universe. That I loved him to death. That was true. That was true because his brain didn’t work like the rest of ours did, and that made him great. Anyone who had the pleasure of coming in contact with Mikael Bondarev was lucky. Chances were that they were suddenly more inspired to win at life than they were in the five minutes before they met him.

Amongst chances, an apology was never one of them. I once gave Mikael a birthday card I made with a butterfly on the front. An extra pair of wings for the freest man on the planet, I had written inside. That was him. Free men didn’t say they were sorry.

But here he was, apologizing for being shitty at two o’clock on a Saturday morning. I’ve always been there for him, he said, even though he was terrible to me at every interval. I deserved better friends he said. He said he was sorry that he is always distant, and never there for me when I need him, and that he was toxic, and that he is sorry. He is so fucking sorry, and all I can think about is how much I’ve learned from him. How I’d probably be dead without his holistic, hippie bullshit. How at least fifty percent of the laughs my chest has vibrated with in the last three years would not have even existed without him. It’s funny, sort of. How we can be so angry with the world in that moment when pain strikes, and then hardly remember how it feels until it strikes again. Or maybe that’s just me; I don’t know. Humans are the strangest creatures of them all.

“It’s okay, B. I’ll always be here for you.”

“I know.”

The swirling fan hypnotizes me again. I try to remember this moment because I know it will never, ever happen again. Tomorrow, Mikael will go back to being an asshole, and all will be right in my upside down world.

I’m not sure how many moments pass before my phone buzzes beside me, startling me awake. It’s Alex.

“Hey, baby.”


He asks me what life is all about, and I laugh. I don’t know shit about life. Obviously.

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