birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Friend

She is your friend, but she is not your friend.

You have friends who are real friends, and she wants to be a real friend, or maybe she doesn't, or maybe this is what a dying friendship looks like.

This is how you will recognize her.

She is the friend who wants you to come to her. She will not come to you. It is not on purpose or maybe it is. But she will give you myriad excuses of why it is better for you to come to her.

And it will make perfect sense.

She lives in a beautiful house with a husband whom she doesn't love. You might think of her as living like Nora in A DOLL'S HOUSE. She doesn't love him but the alternative is singles night at the local bar. She has seen the women there (and the men) and she has chosen.

So maybe because you know she doesn't love her husband or because she's had this or that happen to her, you will usually cave and go her way.

You will talk yourself into why this time will be different.

But she is a scrappy fighter this friend, and she came from crazy folk. She's fought to create a life away from crazy folk but remains enmeshed with them and will occasionally call to tell you the latest fiasco or outrage or insult.

It's all becoming mildly interesting.

She has a lot of money and she uses it to try fix problems that won't be fixed with money.

She is generous in the beginning of the friendship, but then withholds.

She stays gone a lot on the road going this place and that. Maybe it's hard for her to be in a house where she doesn't love her husband.

She has stopped talking about it, this lack of love, because she's not leaving, and because you listened so much the first few years, and now you don't listen because it's not something she wants to get out of, and it's none of your business, and you have grown to know her husband.

You wouldn't have married him, but he wouldn't have married you in a million years either.

She is not spontaneous. She is careful. She's learned to be these things.

How would you know her?

She's beautiful and vivacious and makes you feel as if you're the only one she wants to see, but when you get to know her, you will realize she does this with everyone.

You will know this because you had a friend like this before - a long time ago - high school to be exact - who would make plans and then not show up.

You are reminded of this in your middle age friendship, and you will think - Aren't we past all this crap?

So you will think of other friends...the friends who do show up...the friends who do mean what they say...who do what they say they are doing to do...who don't make excuses...who don't bail...who actually listen.

Not surprisingly, this friend/not friend is the worst listener. She wills herself to listen but you can see she is waiting for you to shut up so she can talk.

Or you will be about to say something important, something meaningful, or so you think, and she will point out a physical flaw you have just as you are about to begin, and you will remember...oh yeah, oh yeah.

Why am I putting up with this shit?

So you will realize you don't want to do that anymore. You don't want to, and it's okay.

And so you will recognize that the friendship is dying, and it might make you a little sad but not that sad.

You will wish her well. You will even wish her husband, and then you will get on with the business of living.

Richard Robertson

Oddball AMs