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My best friend Alia

Alia is a close friend I've known for years. We first met around middle school, when a conversation struck up in the middle of the playground about what each girl's parents used to do for a living. "My dad is a doctor", "mine is a teacher", "what about yours Diana?". A shiver went down my spine as I realized I was not prepared for this question. I had not met a single girl in my class who did not have a dad like me, so how would I go about explaining this without being ridiculed? That is when I first saw Alia. Noticing the fear in my eyes, she crept up close and whispered into my ear: "just say anything, something cooler than what the other girls said". I took a quick look around at all the girls who were now eagerly huddled up to hear my response. "My dad's a pilot, that's why he's out of town all the time". My reply was met with several oohs and aahs.


From that day onwards, Alia and I were practically inseparable. She had awoken a side of me that I never knew before, a side that was fearless, outspoken, and a little crazy. We'd catch up late nights before bed about all our thoughts. We giggled about how much we hated the "teacher's pet", how much of a show-off another girl was for wearing only designer shoes to school, and the bratty girl who sat at the back of the bus with her stupid new iPod. As we got older we grew apart, but there were times where I got hurt and I ran back to her. She greeted me with open arms and the usual "I told you so" attitude. One such instance was when my partner was paying another girl more attention than me.


"What do you mean they went for dinner?", she asked me with wide eyes. "It's...it's not like that. They have a really close relationship. But it's purely platonic", I explained. She was really tough when it came to giving me advice. She went on and on about how I should have been the one at that dinner. She started reminding me of all possible reasons why they might be together right now. "Maybe it's because she cooks more than you. You know, I told you this might happen if you don't act more like wife material. Or maybe it's because they're both Arab. I mean come on, did you really think they'd make you their life partner? They don't want to be talking in English every day."


I started sinking lower and lower into my chair. I caught a glimpse of my pathetic self across the room, and I couldn't believe I had convinced myself that I am worthy of my partner. Alia's words had really resonated with me, because I carried it with me everywhere - even into conversations with my partner. Instead of listening, I began to attack. Alia would look over my shoulder and nudge me to ask them the same questions over and over: "are you with her? are you enjoying your time? you know she's not the person you think she is right?" The words coming out of Alia's mouth fueled my rage, until all I could see in front of me was red. At times my partner would retire from these conversations, and the only person I had left to comfort me to sleep was Alia. "Do you think we pissed them off too much? Did we drive them into her arms again?" I'd look up at her, teary-eyed, "Please stop, I just want to sleep now. What is done is done".


It took a long time to realize that my friendship with Alia had evolved into something toxic. One random day, as I lied down next to my partner, I looked deep into their eyes. Their gaze, although simple, was telling me a story. A story of love, happiness, and a lifelong of protection. A story that was dedicated to me, with chapters dedicated to my beauty, my intellect, and many more things. I grabbed my phone and lied back down on their chest to scroll through my messages. That's when I noticed something peculiar. Alia's messages were gone. Her chat was gone. In fact, there was nobody under my contacts list named "Alia" anymore.


I've been feeling much calmer recently. I am at peace with myself, and I feel enough. I no longer hold resentment towards others for what they do or do not have. And I still have not heard back from Alia, but maybe things are better that way.

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