A/N: I know it's lame, but I can only write angst and misery when it comes to the Eds. Sorry all. -Sky.
I never once called them. I was too afraid.
I walked down the beaten concrete alley of the cul-de-sac, my heart heavy with regret. So many lives had come and gone since I had last been here, and I hadn't kept in touch with a single one. I walked past the houses the friends of my youth once called home, remembered how I used to play within their walls, and sighed. Those who sought to destroy my scams and plots stood frail at their windows, parents without children to fill the screaming void. I recalled how I used to fear them and I smiled. They weren't so scary anymore.
I walked past my old house, but I knew my parents were no longer inside. They were gone, dead and buried and cold in the ground, as happens when people age. Death comes to us all, and for some of us, it sticks around. Death had robbed me of my family, taking away any reason I had to ever return here. Death had taken my friends from me and yet left them here on Earth, scaring me away from them but leaving them unharmed. I had no one save the family I created, and with them being my joyous future I saw no reason to return to my morbid past.
I never thought I would let it get this bad. I promised myself that we would never end up this way. If I had known what the days to come held for me back then, I would not have made such hollow pledges to myself. You cannot hold the world together when you yourself are falling apart. My brother had passed away too young for me to ever let him go. It had been a cancer that had taken him, consuming him from the inside out until my hero was nothing more than an unconscious hairless creature, disfigured on a hospital bed and waiting to die. There had been nothing on this Earth that could have prepared for his leaving. Despite the fact that he was a rather abscent figure, he was always the voice in the back of my mind. My brother was the one who taught me to scam, he was the one who taught me how to stand and fight, and now he was gone. I have felt no greater pain in this life than that which came from falling after my legs had been kicked away from underneath me, and no amount of friends in the world could ever have helped me back up.
Not that they didn't try. Greater comrades I could not have asked for in the battle against my own grief, but that war was lost before it had even begun. To early I submitted to it, and too long did I let strike me down, time and again, until my friends could not longer put their problems aside to make way for mine. Just when they thought they had pulled me from that emotional grave I spent too much time digging, something would happen to force me right back down again. His birthday, my graduation, everything he should have been there for and wasn't, it all reminded me of what I had lost, and how lost I had become now myself.
I blessed my friends for their presence each and every time I wept for my brother, but then I took them for granted the day I started weeping for myself. I changed, and I was no longer their friend. I was their duty, their burden, and though memories of the times we shared in our early years may have kept them hanging around for a little while, when the time came they could not leave fast enough. I could see the reluctance in their eyes, make no mistake, they loved me and I them, but I was not being to them the friend they deserved. They vowed to keep in touch, with me and with each other, but as time passes promises fade, and without reminders we just forget. We all left the cul-de-sac as soon as we were able to stand on our own feet, and we had split into three different directions, our backs to each other as we went.
I am not sure what caused me to return there. There was nothing monumentous about the day in question, I just found myself climbing into my car and embarking on the long drive here, never thinking to stop and turn back, wondering what I would find at the other end. As I expected, I found nothing that hadn't always been here. Maybe the part of me that lived in fantasy and longing imagined they too had been struck by this feeling, and the unbreakable cosmic bonds of friendship brought us all together again for one last hurrah. But they weren't there when I arrived, and the most part of me knew that they weren't coming. It was likely in my mind that all three of us would, at some point in our lives, make this very same pilgrimage back to our childhood homes, but they would never coincide.
My eye caught an impression on the cracked concrete on which I walked. Funny how it had meant so much at the time and yet now I had almost forgotten it was there. Three crudely drawn doodles of boys still in the age of innocence, marked under protest from Double D. He did not go in for public vandalism, but the significance of the moment was not lost on him. My brother had just been diagnosed, and I was pretending to be in high spirits, but at that moment in time I just need reassurance that some things could never die. I smiled as I wondered if he had kept the nickname for old time's sake, or if he had dropped it now that he was not surrounded by namesakes to be confused with.
I knealt down to examine the ground more closely, my eyes were not what they used to be. We had signed our names underneath our self-portraits that day, insistant we be imortalised for all time. The drawings alone were not indication enough as to who had made the marks. On many an occasion I had sat down at my desk with the full intention of writing them letters, just to catch up and see how they were doing, but I couldn't bring myself to push the nib down and form the words. Never, as long as we had known each other, had we ever discussed something as trivial as each other's lives. We discussed jawbreakers, we discussed Kankers, we discussed whatever took our fancy, it didn't matter, we were just comfortable knowing we could. If I had sent them letters asking what they had made of their lives, if they had married, how many children they had, it would have crushed me.
It is an unsettling feeling to think that they people you once regarded as the most important in your life were now nothing but mere strangers to you. Desperation to cling on to something that should be laid to rest can be a push too far. If left untouched, our friendship would never end. We would be twelve year old boys together until the end of time. I got to my feet and walked away, shedding a silent tear for the friendship I once knew. Rain began to fall from the heavens, filling the indentations that formed messy words on the ground. I never looked back at them, I didn't have to, the message would never leave my heart. It simply read:
"Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy - Friends Forever."