Not Everyone Likes a Resurrected Friend
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Ebb and Flow.
“Bitch!” the man screams at me over the phone. “How could you do this to me?”
Sometimes I wonder if I’m a walk-in. You know, one of those souls who comes in and takes over the body when the previous soul is just too tired to go on? Not that I think that I am, but I do wonder at times. Like today.
The sad and troublesome thing about starting your life over—a resurrection or a rebirth—is that people who were happy with your life when things weren’t so happy for you, well, they want things to be like they always were, and they’re not. It’s like that kid you knew in the third grade, the one who moved away and you never saw her again. To you, she’ll always be that shy little kid with freckles and pigtails. Never mind that she’s now a black- vinyl-wearing domme fatale who can flick a gnat off the wall with her whip. People you knew long ago and knew in a certain way will always be regarded in that way unless you allow them to change.
People in my past don’t want me to change. And for good reason. I was very compliant, and I gave my fire away much too often.
The man on the phone shows up in my life every now and then…when he wants something. This time, he doesn’t even bother to ask how are you doing, how’s the family, are your parents still living, did I ever pay you back the money I borrowed for lunch that time? Last time we talked, I was in the middle of a divorce. He doesn’t ask if it’s over or how I’m faring. He doesn’t have to, but who knows? I might have appreciated the pleasantries of a false concern before he launched into, “Do you have any idea how hard it was to track you to your current office?” in an angry voice.
He doesn’t realize that I’ve changed phone numbers 3 times since our last conversation.
He has an idea he needs help with. Now the proud owner of a fledgling company, he wants me to introduce him to some important people and recommend him for some Government contracts. He’d also like me to help him write up some proposals in my spare time. He can’t pay me, but if he wins a couple of contracts, he could give me some stock in his company or something. Or maybe sell copies of my novels in the lobby of his office.
First off, he’s asking me to cross the line into something illegal, which it would be if I were in the job he thinks I’m still in. At best, what he wants from me is un- ethical, but he’s willing for me to do it. I won’t. I wouldn’t at any previous point in my life either. But he’s not really concerned with the consequences to me.
Second, my spare time is hard to come by. He wants me to do this for free or for some worthless stock or for a promise to support my writing career when I know for a fact that he’s never bought a single one of my books. He wants me to do this because it’s him and he’s a friend. Or was, once.
Third, what he wants from me isn’t in my job description and it’s not in my life purpose.
“Come on!” His voice gets louder, gruffer, angrier as I explain the ethics of the situation. “Can’t you do it for an old friend?”
“No. Not for you, not for anyone.”
He launches into Plan B, which isn’t unethical but would require a significant investment of my personal time, with little or no return. (It’s still outside my life purpose, too.) I tell him no, I’ll pass. I’m not interested.
“How could you not be interested? I was your friend! You used to help me whenever I asked. What’s happened to you?”
What’s happened? Lots. But that’s not really his question.
“You,” he snarls, “were always the one person I could count on to be there when I needed help. I don’t under- stand what happened to you.”
“I woke up,” I answer.
He curses me, once…twice…a third time. “The Lorna I knew would never have told me no. You were the most selfless person I knew.”
Self. Less. Without Self. Yes, he’s right. I gave away my Self and had nothing left. But the way he says it is meant to incite me to defend myself by doing something that would be great for him but terrible for me and for my goals in life.
“I’m not the doormat you remember.”
“Yes, you are. You are!” He didn’t even hear me correctly. He thinks I said I wasn’t the person he remembers. He’s scared. He realizes I’m about to hang up. Or more importantly, that I’m not going to be a free resource for his struggling little company. “The Lorna I knew was so kind. She would have done anything to help me out.”
“Then perhaps,” I tell him, “it would be best if you thought of that person as dead.”
I hear him cursing me again as I hang up. It’s times like these that I realize how much I’ve changed over the past few years, almost as much as if I’d been reborn with a new soul.