Friendship Never Fleeting

I chose to write this piece based on my own childhood experience with friendship. This is mostly a fictional piece with some non-fiction elements. 

Apollo and Kelly were the best of friends. Kelly has no memory of how they met or where they met, only that they’ve always been friends. Every morning, Kelly sets out on her sixteen-inch two-wheeled bright yellow bike with a black banana seat. This is a hand-me-down from Kelly’s sister. Kelly doesn’t care because this bike represents freedom. She can get away from her parents and siblings and ride without care or worry. Every morning, Apollo always joins Kelly for a bike ride. They muse about the frogs in the pond and the sounds they make.  Both kids love frogs and their unique way of transforming from tadpoles to frogs. Consequently, Kelly goes to the pond every day to see this transformation because nature is really really cool. 

Kelly and Apollo walk around the pond and the park in the early morning hours…the sun shining down on them warming their little souls. Both kids squinting in the bright light, staring out at the world. The fresh dew that fell midway through the overnight is glinting in the sunlight and has that smell of a fresh rain. Kelly just loves that smell.  Sometimes they lie on the grass on their backs and look up into the sky and pontificate about the patterns the clouds make…is it a shark or a dog? Maybe it’s a horse or a car. Maybe just maybe, that cloud will take them away to distant lands. 

Kelly doesn't remember if Apollo has always lived on her street because honestly she doesn't remember the exact day in which she saw him first. He just sort of appeared one day while Kelly was getting ready to go for a bike ride to the pond. Apollo was standing there at the end of her driveway staring at her. Kelly asked,

"What are you doing?"
Apollo just shrugged his shoulders.
"Do you have a bike?" she asked, but Apollo shook his head.
"Do you want me to double you on my bike?" Kelly questioned. 

Apollo nodded feverishly. Apollo was a slight child, seemingly anemic. He was so pale, Kelly noted. His eyes were small and piercing--blue in colour. He was tall for his age which might account for his anemic stature. Kelly didn't care about how he looked and she didn't judge him.  He was someone her age to hang out with.  Kelly had no friends her age in her neighborhood; all the kids were older by at least two years. It was lonely. 

Apollo told Kelly that he lives with his grandmother. Truthfully, Kelly had never met Apollo's grandmother. She must have been fairly reclusive and only when her grandson moved in with her did Kelly really know that they existed. Apollo, too, is reclusive and Kelly is his only friend. Kelly doesn't mind, as she gets to keep him to herself. None of the other kids in her neighborhood even take notice of Apollo. No one approaches him to even say "hi". Kelly does her best to introduce Apollo to her so-called friends, but everyone just looks right through him. Kelly being Kelly, strong willed, calls the neighborhood kids out for their behaviour. The kids look at her quizzically and steer clear of her now. 

Kelly loves talking with Apollo; even though, their conversations are always quick. In fact, they spend a lot of time observing rather than talking. Apollo loves to ride Kelly’s bike with her; she always doubles him on the bike and he sits on her handlebars or at the front of the banana seat, the really thin and uncomfortable part. In fact, he never rides his own bike. Kelly prefers it this way as it allows them to talk intimately during their bike rides. Both kids are lonely…Kelly is the youngest of three kids and spends a lot of time on her own. So her and Apollo’s friendship means the world to her. For two six-year-olds, they have a very mature yet playful friendship.

Apollo often comes for dinner. Kelly’s mom usually asks if they need to set a place at the table for Apollo and more often than not he does come for dinner. Normally, Kelly’s mom would object to having a friend over for dinner every night, but she’s just happy Kelly has a friend. At the dinner table, Apollo takes up very little space. He and Kelly even share a chair. Even though, Kelly feels squished by Apollo she puts up with it because she enjoys his company. During dinner, Apollo is super quiet and never talks to Kelly’s family, nor does he really eat. He just sits and observes.  

Months pass by of non-stop friendship and bike rides to the pond. Both kids inseparable. On a beautiful sunny Saturday morning, Kelly wakes up early. Apollo loves mornings like this. Kelly looks out her bedroom window to see if Apollo is waiting for her. He must be behind a bit today because he's not there. Kelly decides to get up anyway and get ready to go to the pond. Kelly gets dressed, has a glass of chocolate milk and puts on her runners. Her mom would be furious with her for not brushing her teeth, but that's all right; Kelly will deal with that later. Kelly feels a sense of urgency, but she doesn't know why. She's almost panicking. Apollo is always waiting for her. Kelly goes out the back door and grabs her bike. She walks it out the gate to the front of the house. The sun is shining directly in her eyes and she has to squint to see the end of the driveway. Is that Apollo in the distance? No it's only the shadow cast by the tree in the front yard. Apollo is not here. She can't believe it. Kelly jumps on her bike and heads down the street.

"Apollo...Apollo...Apollo," she shouts

She peddles so fast that her feet slip off the peddles. She's breaking a sweat now; she's anxious. With every second that goes by she is losing hope that Apollo will show up. She heads toward the pond because maybe Apollo went straight there. As she turns the corner where Blondeaux Street and Candire Street meet, she sees a woman dressed all in black pushing a baby carriage, but not just any baby carriage...it's the kind with the big white-walled wheels and the large area for the baby to lie in. The woman is singing: 

"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey"

Kelly stares into the baby carriage expecting to see a baby...there is nothing in the carriage...it's empty. Not a blanket, not a doll, and certainly not a baby. The shocked look on Kelly's face probably would have made her mother cringe, thus unleashing the evil eye upon her, but Kelly couldn't conceal it. She was worried that the woman in black would notice her shock and tell her mother, but when Kelly looked at the woman, she wasn't even paying attention to Kelly. She was still pushing the baby carriage and singing. 

Kelly keeps on peddling, even faster now. She has to find Apollo. She goes to the pond in hopes that he will appear. She calls out to him, but he isn't there. She rides her bike toward home thinking that he’ll run out of the bushes that line the street, but he doesn’t. Kelly decides that she'll go to his house to find out where he's been. But then she realizes that she doesn’t know what house he lives in. Kelly is heartbroken...her only friend is missing. How will she ever find him now?

For weeks after this bright and beautiful morning, Kelly would wake at six am and look out her window hoping to see Apollo standing at the end of her driveway, but he never manifested again. Kelly's parents started to worry about how depressed she seemed. She wasn't her normal jovial self, but they knew that over time that Kelly would forget about her imaginary friend...but she never did. She has never forgotten him and can still see his image clearly in her mind...

~Jennifer Ward

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