Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Comfort of Friends

She sat with me in the white bathroom, holding my hair while I upchucked in the once-pristine commode. When there was nothing left to hold, she rubbed small circles between my shoulder blades. At the wig shop, she held up a red bob.

“Spunky,” she said. “And sexy.”

She drove me to radiation, to acupuncture and support group. She brewed herbal concoctions that smelled of twigs and dirt. She brought casseroles and cookies, and later, applesauce and other soft sick-foods. She painted yellow happy faces on my toe nails, upside-down so my piggies smiled up at me during infusions.

After I survived the treatment, I weighed the possibility of reconstruction. She came with me for the fitting. I cried at the scars cratering my chest, mourning how my husband once caressed the soft fullness of my breasts, kissed my rosebud nipples. She squeezed my hand the way only a best friend could reassure.

“He loves all of you, not just your body parts.” She held up a C-cup mastectomy bra, a full size bigger than what I’d lost. “So let’s go, Dolly,” she said, and we both laughed.

Turns out she brought more than food for comfort. Now my husband begs me to take him back, but I don’t return his phone calls, or hers. Nights I climb the stairs to the empty bedroom, rubbing the stubble growing newly black on my head, the prosthesis stashed deep in his underwear drawer.


Inspired by the 52-250 Flash a Year Challenge theme: the brutality of friends. Inspired also by true circumstances, thankfully not my own. Be careful who you trust with your heart.

Peace, Linda


  1. Oh my goodness, Linda! The way you do these sharp changes in wind direction is incredible. With so few words I understood everything (I think). Brilliant.


  2. So true, so heartless, so well presented.

  3. Oh, man, that's just cruel.

    Well done, Linda.

    [heh, the captcha is "subman"... appropriate for this husband, no?]

  4. Wow, that was quite brutal. Sad story, for sure, but a good one.

  5. so glad this isn't your story.

    I can't stand women like that. how can a friend betray another? I keep an eye on all my friends. I'm afraid to trust.

  6. Wow. Had to read the end twice, it caught me so off guard. It's evil that women can do that to each other, but it happens everyday. Beautiful writing.

  7. A captcha of 'dicit'. All its missing is a 'k' to be perfect.

    What an ugly twist. Fitting, sinister, nasty. Judging by the end, it seems no one got what they desired. Except perhaps her friend.

    A very raw story.

  8. What an unfortunately true story.

    You portrayed this so well.

  9. Such an impact. Wow.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  10. Like Danielle I read the last paragraph twice, so blown over that I wasn't sure what I was reading. At first I thought the friend had made a pass at the main character, that being the "more than just food" that provided comfort.
    Then I got it.
    All I can say is, "BITCH!"
    And that man, what a dick.
    Why is it some people always let you down at your very worst moments?
    Lovely writing, Linda. Now I want someone to paint upside down happy faces on my piggies.
    (I'd wash them first, I promise)

  11. A beautifully told story with a kick to the gut ending.

    With friends like that . . .

  12. I didn't feel the end as a kick in the gut. I'm more confused as to why this friend would do that. She's a sweetheart for five paragraphs, then implied to be a cheater in the last. What's the motivation to do something that could hurt someone so badly, when she seems to so clearly like that person?

  13. KILLER piece, Linda. Man... so powerful. Wasn't expecting THAT

  14. The smiley face toenails made me ache for a friend like that. Then ...came the ending. People are complicated, life is messy. This was a good portrait of just how messy it can get.

    Nicely done.

  15. This is so beautifully written through pain, heartache, hope and then pain again. Still, I can sense some hope still there.

  16. Wow, so well written, Linda. That betrayal fell on us like a hammer.

  17. Dear all, thank ou for reading and taking the time to comment. Love all the crazy word vers folks got -- serendipity? or karma?

    Cathy, love how emotionally you reacted.

    John, you know, I don't get it either. This story is compressed in time, details amplified, but the premise is true. As Karen says, life is messy. Indeed. Peace...

  18. Wow. As someone who is a cancer caregiver I was so moved by the first part of the story, but by the second half...well talk about a punch to the gut. This is an amazing story. You really know how to grab someone's emotions and just go with it. Such a sad and tragic story, but so very true. Anyone who believes that having cancer or any kind of major illness will bring out the best in the people around them is in a for a very rude awakening. I have learned that big time myself.

  19. Sadly, this happens all too often. I had some friends, a couple, who took in the wife's friend to give her some comfort, only it turned out the husband gave more comfort than he should have. Misery not only loves company, sometimes it breeds it.

    I like how you painted the whole picture with this. By giving us the good, you also gave us the brutality of the betrayal.

    Good stuff.

  20. Oh! That ending was just crushing. Really well done.

  21. It started off touching, that she had such a wonderfully supportive friend... it was like a stab in the back at the end.
    Kari @ The Best Place By The Fire

  22. powerful..... sad and yet... there's still the life going on at the end and strength.

  23. Harsh, but rael. Raelity is jst not a pretty plce and never a fairy tale unless its Grimm (of cuorse). Love ths, girl.

  24. How awful to learn of such terrible things when you're at one of the lowest points in your life.

    Thank God you found out though! That could've gone on for many years right under your nose. I am in the middle of a divorce, as we speak, because my wife chose to lie, cheat and be harshly coldhearted. She proclaimed nothing as being wrong for months, but the truth fell into my lap, as it were, and now I'm left with a shattered heart. Plus, she was my best friend. But still I'm glad I figured everything out. Why waste your life with someone whom cares nothing for you... nor your love for them.

    I pray that you realized that your life is far from over. Embrace each new day, thanking God for His love and mercy. He still has plans for your life that's why you weren't called home just yet.

    be blessed,

  25. Chock full of ever-changing emotion in so few words. This may be the saddest of yours I've ever read. Brilliantly told.

    John, it's true, friends more often than not, act like "real friends" when they're anything but. I've been there and I know that pain. It hurts.