First Things/Last Things

by Christian Stella

Emily says, “I can’t remember any of these last things.” She is making a
list of every adult friend of her adult life and the last thing she’d
heard of or from each of them. She says, “It was hard enough
remembering who my friends were, or who I’d considered to be a friend as
an adult. Maybe I should’ve started with the childhood ones. They’re
always the most lasting and memorable. I mean, I could tell you what
Jackie Stevenson traded me for my Fruit Roll-Up in the lunchroom on the
first day of fourth grade, but I don’t know if any of the women on this
here list are even wondering what the last they’d heard of or from me
was. It was a sweet potato. A baked sweet potato that Jackie
Stevenson’s mom packed in her lunchbox. It was a room temperature sweet
potato wrapped in tin foil that Jackie left a mystery until after the
trade was finalized. I don’t know what I thought it was, just that it
was big and wrapped in tin foil. Then it turned out to be a sweet
potato. I put it in my backpack. Then I stepped and stamped on it on
the sidewalk on the walk home from school. I jumped on that sweet
potato and Jackie Stevenson was then the best friend I’d ever known.
She’d gotten me good. Before the trade, she’d even promised that the
mystery lump of tin foil was some kind of dessert. I made the sidewalk
orange and silver and I respected Jackie Stevenson so much. But that
was something for a childhood friend first thing list, not this adult
friend last thing list. The sweet potato. We became such great friends
after that, but I don’t know who all of these adult friends on this
list were or are anymore, so I’m just going to put that they didn’t fuck
me into a sweet potato. Isn’t that all that matters? That the best
friend I ever had left me standing in a pile of her glittery, unwanted
orange potato?”

And I say, “Well, what about me?”

“You don’t like sweet potatoes either.”

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