Chapter 8:


"Nekofurenzu" (Feline Friends)

Natalie told me what she said later. At the time, I didn’t share her enthusiasm that I could move on so quickly. I didn’t even try; because the truth of the matter was, I worried about her. I knew I’d done all I could to be the best friend I could be, I just hated to leave feeling like I’d accomplished nothing, whether it was with a female friend or not.
As I woke up the next day, I gave Mewsy a quick breakfast, ate my own speedily, then gave a unenthused ‘goodbye’ before starting another day at work. I honestly felt, as I answered calls and returned emails, that I’d just lost a big part of my life. It was just me and Mewsy for a year, all alone in the city. I did so well with that, that when Natalie entered my life, even for a moment, it was so hard to have her leave.
It did make me wonder, though, if perhaps I’d been wrong all this time about meeting other people. Maybe meeting new people and making friends wasn’t the answer, at least for now. I wasn’t able to wonder about it too much since I heard a PA call come in. My boss had set up a PA system to go to everyone’s headphones so we didn’t have to decipher callers and overhead messages. The message was for me. It was very unemotional and bland, like a computer’s automated voice.
“Matthew Jacobs, you have a visitor. Matthew Jacobs.”
I stood, intrigued. Had Mewsy come to work to see me? Surprisingly, it wasn’t her. It was Midnight.
“Matthew!” She said as she ran up to me.
“Midnight, what’s up?” I asked.
“Matthew,” Midnight looked down, looking obviously pained, “Natalie is really hurting.”
“What do you want me to do?” I said, sounding harsher than I intended, “I’m not exactly joyful that we’re no longer friends either.”
Midnight looked sad to see me hurt, but continued. “I know you wanted to be her friend, but she’s going through a lot…”
“Yeah, I got that,” I snapped, “she told me I reminded her of a horrible guy she saw awhile ago. I’m the bad guy for trying to be nice to her.”
Midnight’s eyes started to get teary, but I wasn’t stopping.
“I’m fine with moving on. Clearly this girl isn’t worth my time since all I am to her is,” I paused long enough to make sure no one could hear me, then leaned over and whispered, “all I am to her is a rapist. Not a friend who spent time trying to be nice to her.”
I stood up, frowning. “You tell me what I’m supposed to do.”
Midnight looked up at me, the tears in her eyes looking like blobs of Jell-O. She clenched her fists, then with a grunt, struck me below the belt. I saw stars as I dropped, gasping for air.
“You’re a pathetic friend, you know that?” Midnight snapped at me. “You give up when things get hard. You leave someone in need because it gets hard. I wish I never met you. Maybe Natalie was right. Maybe it’d be better if we learned to live without you and Mewsy.”Bookmark here

Then Midnight left, causing some of my coworkers to stare as she ran out of the building. I didn’t even try and let it roll off; there was nothing I could do. A few minutes later I stumbled to the bathroom, a small one-room stall with a sink and a mirror beside the toilet. I stood there, white-knuckles grabbing the sink, and stared at myself straight in the eyes. Dark green eyes looking at me with an odd expression, like I hadn’t seen myself before. It was true, I did look different. It was awhile since I was this angry.
“What did you want? Did you only want a superficial relationship?”
I paused, clenching my teeth as I fought both the pain of my body and the pain in my heart. I was just tired of being lonely. I’d lived in the city for a year and knew no one. Suddenly, Mewsy comes along, a conduit of an opportunity; an opportunity to make a friend. But when I started, I withdrew when I felt like it was pointless to fight for that friendship. Friendship was about fighting. That much I knew, but not in the way I envisioned it. It wasn’t just about fighting outside hindrances to a friendship, but fighting selfishness, and greed, to always try and be with others especially when they need someone.
And what had I done?
No relief from this revelation came. I didn’t feel relieved, or emboldened to act. I felt sick. I felt dark; like a wrongdoer. Not like the unnamed man who caused Natalie so much pain, but indeed, I had caused her pain. Turning to the toilet, I vomited and my vision swam for a minute. I told my boss I was sick, and he was more than happy to give me the day off. With less of a spring in my step, I gathered my things and headed home, tennis shoes sloshing in the gathering rain collected in the gravelly streets.Bookmark here

The ride home gave me time to think. Natalie’s words hit me like hearing static scream at me suddenly from the radio.
“I’m sorry. You’ve been really nice and been a good friend; I didn’t mean to impose on you.”
I squeezed the steering wheel. I wasn’t a bad person because I wanted to be a friend. I was doing the right thing, and wanting to fight to help Natalie was worth it. I was worth it to Natalie. Instead of running, she at least took the time to tell me she appreciated me, for whatever it was worth. It was time I told her how she was worth it. How her friendship was valuable to me.
My tires squealed in the parking garage as I came to a stop, and I jogged up to the apartment door before entering. I took a moment to breath, then threw the door open and jogged down the hall. It was dark; the hall lights hadn’t come on yet. I neared my door, and wondered whether to let Mewsy know I was home and get settled first, or say ‘hi’ to Natalie. I decided to get situated first. It wasn’t like I was proposing to Natalie.
I entered the apartment, and Mewsy ran to greet me. She seemed reserved, wondering whether I felt ok or not. But, with a big smile and arms open for a hug, I embraced Mewsy and told her about work. She was delighted that I overcame a hurdle. Then she steered me to go talk to Natalie.
“How’s she doing today?” I asked, turning to the door.
“Not too good. I heard Midnight tried to talk to you…” She left the sentence open-ended, and I finished with a frown.
“Well, yeah. I didn’t see how much of a jerk I was being by ignoring Natalie’s predicament. Just because she was going through something,” I continued, nearing Natalie’s door in the hallway, “doesn’t mean I can’t be nearby to help her through it.”
“Right!” Mewsy said, pumping a fist in agreement.
I nodded and knocked on Natalie’s door. Midnight answered. She looked distraught.
“What’s up, Midnight?” I asked. “Something wrong?”
“Natalie’s gone!” Bookmark here

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