Things I’d Like to Tell You | Charlie Sykes


Things I’d Like to Tell You

Charlie Sykes

The Heineken Memorial Award


Visiting the bay today was a good choice. I know life has been tough on you recently but you always seem happy here. We amble forward slowly guided by the wide stretch of jagged cliff face. The stone is hard but years of erosion have chiselled out the crude outline of something vaguely human. Locals christened it the “Lady of the Stone,” though to see a lady in that structure takes more time and patience than I am generally willing to offer. I don’t normally care for this type of concocted “phenomenon.” But you know what- I like this one. Because this is where I met you.

We were both pretty lost back then. I think we needed each other. I had learnt to live a solitary life, but still it was killing me. You’ve…never been good on your own. It’s hard to take care of someone who needs so much looking after. To constantly be in charge. You’re so passive, I always feel like it’s my job to keep you on track. I know when you have a bad day it’s myself I blame. But please don’t think I begrudge it. You’re my best friend and I want you to be happy. Sometimes it’s just hard that’s all.

I wasn’t always alone. I was married once before. I’ve never spoken to you about it all that much, but then we’ve both tried to escape our past. Company was always hard to come by after that. The aggressive welt embossed from my temple to a point just shy of my lip renders this face a pretty unloveable one. People shun me. When they don’t they just stare. I know you notice them and I’ve seen you get defensive on my behalf- but it’s ok. You don’t have to do that anymore. I only care what you think of me.

You have your own scars too. Yours are easier to hide so people spare you their scorn. Thank God…I don’t think I could take that. I’ve never found out what happened to you before. I probably never should. I can’t bear the thought of you in pain. Besides, we left those lives behind didn’t we?

You didn’t really trust me at first and I hadn’t planned on keeping you around. I guess we were both too caught up in our own history to be friends straight away. But with each day together we both learned slowly how to let go of the past. How to be happy again. Every second that passed made the idea of saying goodbye seem more and more impossible.

I guess what I’m saying is I don’t want you to go. I don’t know what life is without you anymore. A selfish part of me knows that if I wanted I could probably make you stay a bit longer. But I would never do that to you. I just hope being here today made you happy.

You lessen your pace and we walk the last bit side by side. I turn around and look at our tracks in the sand. One set leads to my own two feet. The other to all four of yours.

I have to let you go now- It’s even harder than I thought. This room is so far from removed from the gentle beauty of the beach, it doesn’t feel like the right place to say goodbye. I’ve surrounded you with all your favourite things and I hope that makes it a little better. I told you I can’t stand the thought of you in pain.
I was so lost before we met but you made life good again. I hope I did the same for you. I.. I think I did.
“You’re my best friend,” I whisper gently. It wasn’t the last thing I said to you but I think it’s the last that you heard.

Note: I’m not so enamoured with the title but I don’t have a good one yet. Tackling the theme of a meaningful friendship was tough for me. Save for a couple of rare exceptions my friends are a total shower of bastards and I wasn’t inspired to write about any of them. I began to think about the unwavering loyalty and limitless affection offered to us by our four legged companions. This was much more enticing to write about than a story including the kind of dirtbags I socialise with. On reading that this was a memorial award dedicated to the loss of such a companion I decided to focus on the pain these friendships impart when we are forced to say goodbye. Its a little bittersweet but then all my favourite stories are. I hope I did the little pupper justice.