I SHOULD HAVE TOLD HER
By Michael A. Kechula
When I saw Kerry, I nearly died. She looked gaunt, a virtual skeleton.
“Are you well, Kerry?"
“Never felt better. I’m on a rice diet. My boyfriend insists I'm too heavy.”
Heavy? Six months ago, she had six-pack abs, tight butt, and was a good athlete. Now, she looked as if she might soon expire.
She said she wanted to be perfect for her boyfriend. I thought him a brutal bastard, who wanted her a corpse.
I wondered if I should say something, considering we were supposed to be joyously celebrating our common birthday? Today she turned twenty, and I turned twenty-nine.
She'd called and invited me to a picnic for just the two of us. Her idea of a birthday celebration at the beach was wonderful. What a charmer.
We’d always clicked since meeting at the university. She thought there was a mystical tie between us, because we’d been born the same day. I figured someday I’d take her up on that. Maybe after my divorce.
Our picnic seemed more for me, than her. She ate only a handful of rice, but had made me huge, delicious, roast beef sandwiches. Plus wine and homemade apple pie. Faced with her emaciation, I felt like a czar feasting in front of a starving peasant.
She said her boyfriend had given her a new car battery for a b-day present. I tried to remain poker-faced. Good thing she couldn’t read my mind: she’d have seen, “freakin’ cold bastard” splashed across my gray matter.
She gave me an intricately woven, macramé key ring. Probably labored on it for weeks. What a terrific gift!
But my gift to her turned out to be an embarrassing, poor choice. A pound of fine Belgian chocolates. Rice-only eaters don’t permit themselves such wondrous luxuries.
Damn! How could I have known she’d been starving herself? Five pounds of basmati would have been a more appropriate gift. But that would’ve been just as hokey as a car battery.
Finally, I mentioned how fit she’d looked when we took Creative Writing together, six months ago. Hoped to make a point about her present appearance. I also mentioned how some men are cruel victimizers. She acted as if she didn’t catch my drift.
The man obviously didn’t love her. How could he watch a loved one waste away?
I thought, Kerry, love ME, instead. I’ll give you deep love that nurtures, not the perverse, sadistic kind that destroys. Why waste your life on a man who wants you dead?
But something urged me not to tell her. So, I didn’t speak my heart.
Now I wonder what might’ve happened if I’d told her that day how easy it would’ve been to fall in love with her? Perhaps she’d have said she was flattered, but think otherwise. Maybe she’d have downgraded our comfy friendship.
I lost track of her.
Until I read her obituary.