Michael was sitting on the side of the road on a barren rural highway in his car. It was 1 am and he just left the office buried in mounds of files all needing his attention at the same time. He felt nothing, his body was absent of any sensation, almost void of any sign of life. His breath was so still that he felt like air was not moving in and out of his lungs. Yet his heart beat was pounding so loud he could hear it in the nights silence. He pulled his car off the road surrounded by trees. The only light he could see was the from the night sky where the moon illuminating the black leather seat and the open hand written letter. The numbness of his body and the emotional pain mounted distorting his reality of life, leaving the emptiness of a negative impression on a canvas. He was alone, unloved and lost.
James was Michael’s next store neighbor. James was a bony little red hair boy complete with freckles outlining his checks and eyes. While Michael had thick dark back curly hair with a round pudgy face. They were inseparable throughout grade school. They did everything together, walked to school, were in all the same classes, played the same sports and did homework together every night. Hot summer days and nights were spent on the streets of the city riding bikes, playing kick ball and playing in the park. They were silly successful at the job of being boys.
There was one exception to this now adolescent friendship. They would be up for hours texting into the night. Sometimes all night almost too tired to shut off the alarm sounding it was time for school. They talked about everything. They shared the most intimate detail of their young lives. They talked about girls, sports, seldom homework but dreams for college and travel. This closeness they developed was like none other. It was so close at times it was hard for either of them to fully understand. They would laugh for hours teasing how they must have been twins separated a birth because they were wired identically.
They become roommates in college two different majors yet still inseparable. They filled their time soaking up college life with frat parties, spring break, girls and long road trips to ski in the mountains on weekends. But like all great things college would end, then it was time for the world.
As most young professionals they were drunk with the possibilities of life, power and money. They each spent hours in the office working through files, counting every billable minute. While their companies and apartments were across town, the constant in their lives that remained was hours of talking and texting each night.
In exhaustion from a 14 hour day, Michael reached the last letter on the pile. He stared at it with confusion trying to recognize the familiar handwriting on the enveloped. As he opened it tears streamed down his face. He felt a burning sensation on the surface of his skin as he felt his face flush with heat. His heart ached as his stomach turned inside out. He folded the envelope stuffing it in his briefcase then headed to the parking garage.
Michael was in pain like no other torment he had ever felt as he sat empty feeling lifeless on the roadside. He could not wrap his head around James disappearing, no drinks at the bar, no all night discussion or hours of texting. James was gone from his life. He felt as though a part of him was severed, torn off his soul. He felt isolated from existence alone in the reality of the moment. He crumpled up the letter from James then tossed it out the window and turned the car back into the bright lights of the state highway toward home.