A friend of mine has endometriosis, so severely that she often cannot work, sometimes cannot walk, cannot rely on having enough strength to do her laundry, cook her meals. She’s been sick like this since she was twenty, and once said to me, I’m haunted by this ghost woman, living the life I was supposed to have, healthy and active and strong. I hear her running down the stairs, sometimes, or dancing in the bedroom with the doors open to the breeze, she never stays still for long enough that I can demand she give back the life that is rightfully mine.
A friend of mine has a seven-week old baby, with reflux which means she bawls with the full force of her tiny lungs for hours, every time she feeds; my friend says the baby is in pain and there is nothing she can do to make it better. My friend says, sometimes I forget that I ever had a life before this. Sometimes I think I’ve made a terrible mistake and wish I could undo it.
A friend of mine was followed through the streets of London, when she was on holiday, walking back to her hostel after a meal in a cheap restaurant; she’d sat by the window and watched the blurry faces of the people passing in the rain, hadn’t yet known how much was soon to change. My friend says, if I’d chosen a different restaurant, a different city. If I’d left earlier, if I’d saved my annual leave. My friend asks me to walk her back to her car, carrying her keys in her fist.