My Friend

I remember the stranger. I remember the stranger’s eyes and soft hair. I remember how the stranger never made a sound. I remember their white shirt turning a bright red. I remember it all. I remember the stranger dead in front of me, murdered. Yet, no matter how hard I try, no one else seems to believe I am innocent.

The stranger had often appeared in my life, but, I had never actually talked to the stranger. The police officer did not believe me. It is sort of hard to believe, so I wouldn’t blame him. How could I see someone so often yet know them so little? I don’t know, really. I told the cops all I knew about the stranger.

“I see them every day, yes. I think they work at the same place as me. I always see them there. No, I don’t know their name. Why should I?”

In truth, I knew more about the stranger than I had told. The stranger had always appeared one way or another in my daily endeavours, and I mean beyond simply working at the same firm as I did. The stranger lived in the same apartment building as I did. I don’t know which room exactly, but I do distinctly remember always leaving the parking lot the same time as the stranger’s dark green sedan.

I remember how on occasion I’d see the stranger shopping at the same grocery store across from the apartment. I never said anything to them. I don’t think I should have. We never really looked at each other. The more I think about it, the more I realize the stranger had always appeared in my life. Strange, considering how we never talked.

The stranger did not deserve to die, they had done nothing wrong. I don’t know why someone would kill them. In some ways, I understood the stranger. They were simply someone trying to get along in life. I was a lot like the stranger. Despite never having talked, I feel like I knew the stranger well. It’s as if in all those moments we had noticed each other, we were able to communicate through silence. However, it’s only at moments like this, when I get shoved into a cop car, do I realize how much I wish I had talked to the stranger. What life had they lived? What story did they have to tell me? Would we have become good friends? In all those years we wasted in silence, why did you never say a word to me?

I had heard none attended the stranger’s funeral. I would go, but, I am in jail. For the first time in a long time, because of this stupid prison, I did not see the stranger today. It was very strange to realize that. In a way, the stranger, my only friend, the one person who acknowledged my presence would not be able to see me.

I lost the case. I was convicted of homicide. They believed I killed the stranger. I was given a life sentence. I was to be stripped of everything. How could they do that? I yelled one last time, “You can’t do this to me!” but no one listened. Quickly, I was taken away, forgotten, and replaced by the next defendant. That was it for me.

I remember the stranger’s face. I remember staring at it for the first time, right before they were killed. I remember the smile they made when I finally made eye contact. I remember smiling back. I remember my friend, the stranger.

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