The Best Friend

Asha couldn’t stand it anymore. The yelling, the screaming, the pressure, the competing.

She still remembered when Charlie had entered her life. His sweet, ringing voice, his versatility, his beautiful, well-proportioned figure. Asha loved him immediately.

Charlie was her parents’ idea. They were the ones who introduced Asha to her new best friend.

Over time, Charlie became more than a best friend. He was her one true love. Her one and only. Charlie made up for Asha’s speech impediment, her klutziness, her social difficulties.

Every day, Asha raced home from school to spend hours with Charlie. Together, they discovered new worlds and shared secrets. No one understood Asha as well as Charlie, and no one could bring out Charlie’s greatness like Asha.

People began to notice the synergy between the two. Asha and Charlie were invited everywhere to share their story.

Although Asha had always struggled with school, Charlie encouraged her, and helped her, literally, to get into the university of her dreams. When she moved away from home, she had to leave her parents behind, of course, but not Charlie. Never Charlie.

Her new professors saw the rare bond between Asha and Charlie, and encouraged it. Nurtured it.

But then, something happened. The more people pushed Asha and Charlie together, the more Asha felt something wasn’t right. The pressure mounted, the stress increased. Asha found that she and Charlie were competing against other students–cold blooded, competition-minded young men and women who stared daggers at them, not understanding their love.

Sometimes, she even felt like she and Charlie were competing against each other. They weren’t a team anymore.

Slowly, Asha found that the love she shared with Charlie was being tainted by this new competitive, corrosive atmosphere. As the months, then years, passed, spending time with Charlie was no longer a joy, but rather a burden. Asha found that she was dreading spending time with him.  She went out of her way to avoid him.

And then one day, Asha had had enough.

“This is it, Charlie!” she said. “I know we’ve been together for over a decade, but enough’s enough. I can’t do this anymore. We need to break up.”

Charlie was silent.

Asha took that as acquiescence.

That summer, Asha went home without Charlie.

“What happened?” her parents asked.

Asha’s only response was “I’m tired.”

Her parents exchanged worried looks. “Are you sure, Asha? After all, you’ve spent so many years…”

“Please, Mom, Dad. I’m really tired. I can’t handle it anymore.”

“Well, okay…maybe you just need a little break, and next semester…”

“Next semester, I’m still not going back.”

With that, Asha tramped up to her room.

But something odd happened. Asha felt odd without Charlie by her side. The hours she spent every day without her best friend left her feeling strangely empty, as if she weren’t quite sure what to do with herself.

She tried going to the movies, she tried reading the newest books. Nothing quite filled the emptiness in her soul.

There was no getting around it. She missed Charlie. He alone completed her.

When the semester started, Asha went back a day early. Quietly, she slipped into her apartment, where she knew Charlie was waiting.

Asha opened the door. Sure enough, there he was.

“I was wrong,” Asha said, kneeling next to him. “I missed you, Charlie. Can we be friends again?”

Charlie was silent. But as Asha stroked the smooth wood finish of her violin, she knew Charlie was smiling at her.