Penny sat on her armchair with her book on her lap, gazing into her phone. It had been two days since Richie had contacted her and she couldn’t put her finger around the actual reason. Had she done something? Was he okay? This had never happened before. Richie was always reaching out to her no matter the state he was in. He’d go out till 6am and still wake up at 9 to find out how she was fairing. She contemplated calling him but was not sure that would be the right move. She put her phone down, adjusted her reading glasses and went on reading.
By the time she raised her head from her read, it was already dark. She checked her phone and there was still no notification. Her curiosity got the better of her and she called him. The phone rang a few times and she heard the voice she had become accustomed to, “Hey, what’s up, how are you?” Replied Richie. “Uuumm, I’m okay. How are you? Are you okay? You’ve been awfully quiet the last two days.” Queried Penny. There was a moment of silence before Richie spoke. “I’m good. Can’t really complain much. A little bit of work here and there to keep me occupied but other than that, I’d say I’m doing great.” Penny was taken aback but couldn’t let it out on phone so she continued to prod to find out the exact reason for his silence.
“Are you sure? Because you’ve never been this silent before, at least not to me.” Richie took a deep breath and replied, “I know I’ve never been like this towards you and you probably think I’m pissed off at you or something but it has absolutely nothing to do with that. It has everything to do with me. And it’s not that cliche, it’s not you it’s me kind of vibe. Not at all. This is about me. My well-being. My sanity.” Penny cut him short, “What do you mean your sanity? I make you insane? I’m I that bad?” Richie tried to explain himself in a calm way. “I haven’t said that. I haven’t mentioned anything about you making me insane. Just give me a chance to explain myself and maybe at the end of it all you’ll understand where I’m coming from. I’ve known you for what? Five years? Maybe more? And I’ve always been that friend you needed. Been that guy.
I’ve put you first so many times I can’t remember the last time I made time for myself. And I’m glad to help. On any given day but not at my expense. I’m not going on about monetary forms because we make money and lose it. And you’ve never needed any money from me. I’m referring to something that’s not tangible, my happiness. Every time I put you first, I relegate myself to become secondary. I give and give and give but in that giving I also take away from myself. Have you even once thought to ask me, how are you? Not just to find out about my day. Facebook and Twitter can tell you all about that. Find out about my mental state? See where I’m at in life. I look happy but does that really mean I’m happy? I’ve been a listening ear for so long I don’t know how to talk about myself anymore. And I’m not blaming you or saying you’re at fault here. I’m just taking the first step in making my life right again.”
Penny cut in once more, this time in a calmer voice. “But you’ve never said anything before. Not even once have you told me, hey Penny, I don’t think I’m in a good space. Not even once Richie! You think I’d not do anything if you did? You know how much you mean to me. Don’t you?” There was an awkward moment of silence before Richie continued, “I know. And that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Whenever you’ve gone through it, I didn’t wait for you to tell me you were going through something. Sometimes it’s not show and tell. Have you ever been in a situation where someone plays down what you’re going through despite you opening up to them? It takes your ability to open up to another person a few notches lower. We’ve known each other for over five years! Five goddamn years, and you can’t tell when I’m not okay?
You ask me why I’m silent? I’m silent because I need to rediscover myself. I need to get to the point where I know people are important in life but not necessarily my life. I need to be able to find a way to deal with my issues without expecting someone to come and ask me, hey are you okay? Do you need to talk about it? I want to be free. Free of placing the expectation of my happiness on other people. Unburdening them while unshackling myself. So my silence is not a punishment to you or a retaliation of any sort. It’s an emancipation from myself. I’m giving myself an opportunity to live life on another scale and experience happiness. You aren’t an impediment to my bliss but how will I ever know what it feels like if I don’t put myself first?”
Penny took a deep sigh and with a somber voice replied, “I don’t know what to say. You’ve said so much and I have a lot to say but I don’t know how to say it. I understand where you’re coming from and I wish I could’ve done more. There’s only so much I can do but I’d like to try. Not as a repayment of any sort but to demonstrate that our friendship is genuine. Built on nothing but love and trust. Your happiness is equally important to me and I have no problem taking a back seat every once in a while and checking on you. Sometimes we get too caught up in our own mess and forget there are other people that help us get out of it despite there being only one benefactor. But I have something I need to say as well.”