I’m painting your nails while you fill me up on what’s happened over summer and autumn in your life in between sips of a chocolate and peanut butter shake. You wanted something common that would go with any outfit you wore tonight so you chose a metallic black with bits of glitter. A nude would have been bland for your taste; it would be my choice of nails. I’ve locked your fingers with mine because you’re reckless and I was determined to let the paint dry without a smudge this time. You complained about not being able to drink the shake like this before giggling at the possibility of you still managing to get a smudge on the nail-paint. Because of course, that would be classic you and not entirely impossible. But then again, that’s if it were somebody other than me involved in this equation.

We’ve known each other since post-puberty and, pre-adulthood. We saw your first heartbreak and, my first breakdown. We didn’t have sleepovers but walks at the beach. We’d climb the rocks and sit at the edge where the tides were more prominent and talk about life and cookies till the sun started to disappear. You’d tell me drunk night stories and, stories of the trips to countries in this continent and another with your other friends, over breakfast. I’d tell you stories of the months you’d been away and the art exhibition I’d been to just before you came home. We let out secrets and burdens others could never understand or not pass judgement on.

As I gave your nails a final check, your other friends walked in. The ones you were going to the concert with tonight. The reason I was painting your nails. I was dressed in an oversized sweater and a pair of black jeans so, naturally, my outfit was a matter of concern for tonight’s concert and hence questioned. But I wasn’t going to the concert. No, I wasn’t on that list of friends who you went for concerts with. Or whom you had drunk stories with or went for trips with. No. I was on that list of friends who picked your outfit for the concert, sat on your bed folding clothes that you packed into your suitcase for the trip and, laughed at your drunk stories from the previous night as you narrated them soberly the next day at breakfast. I was in the category of friends you brought back souvenirs and, called up crying; who you’d take along for errands because our schedules clashed and we didn’t need formal setups to catch up. I not the category of friends you’d go dancing with at a music festival. I only heard the stories, not create them.

I was the sugarfree americano to your chocolate milkshake with extra chocolate chips; a balance. Because I was the yin to your yang, not the yang to your yang.


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