The last time I saw him, had been many years ago. He passed by me
as if he didn't know me, as if he didn't remember the childhood
we had shared or the memories we had made along the way. The part
of him that I had once knew was gone now, replaced by something
society had made him into.
When we were children, we didn't care about material things. Our
friendship was based, not on social standing, but on the basis
that we enjoyed one another. We never noticed the difference in
our clothes, our homes, or even our families. We only knew we had
But as time moved forward, thrusting us into the thoughts of a
materialistic world, we began to notice things; how his clothes
were expensive and stylish, while mine were hand me downs and
thrift store finds. How his mother brought him to school in their
shiny new car, while I caught the bus outside of the run-down
camp house my family called home. We had began to notice, began
to see how things really were beyond the rose-colored lenses of
But it wasn't until we reached the beginning of our adolescence
that it pushed us apart. Our worlds were beginning to change even
more. It wasn't the same as it was when we were children; no, now
his eyes began to linger on my tattered dresses and my dirty,
worn out shoes. Whenever we would meet out on the playground, his
'new' friends surrounding him, he would look at me with shame in
And then one day as I searched for him among the other school
children, I found him surrounded once again by his new friends,
all of them laughing. I walked over, a slow smile going to my
lips as I wondered what joke had been told this time. But I
stopped as I heard my name.
"Did you see Caroline? I swear, it looks like her mother gets her
clothes from the garbage dump!" exclaimed one of them.
My supposed friend looked down at the ground, scuffing his new
white shoes in the dirt. "Carrie's alright. . She's just . .
Well. . " He broke off, using the childish nickname he had given
me so long ago.
"She's just trash!" another exclaimed, causing the whole group to
burst into giggles. He gave in and joined them, never once
defending me against those boys.
With tears in my eyes, I crept away as silently as I could, not
wanting to bring any more shame to my once best friend.
As the years passed, we drifted further and further apart. At
school, we would pass one another in the halls, sometimes
offering a smile or a nod, but never breaking away from our
places in society.
I was the daughter of a lowly coal miner; bound to a life of
dusty camp houses and no hope of ever getting away. His father
owned the mines and the camp my father and and the others lived
and worked; his son would grow up one day, an education and a job
waiting for him from the time he was born.
We had met in the coal fields as children; both of our faces
black from playing in the midnight powder that littered the
ground, neither knowing what we were supposed to grow up to be.
The last time I saw him, had been many years ago.
As he walked through the camp where all the miners and their
families lived, along the side of the dirt road as he surveyed
the legacy his father was handing over to him, his pretty blonde
wife on his arm. They passed by my house as I sat on the porch,
telling my children to be silent as their fathers boss made his
He looked away from his wife, his eyes glancing around at the run
down houses that lined the dusty road that lead to the mine. He
never once looked my way, never once saw the girl he had called
his friend, nor the woman she had become. He smiled down at his
wife, the look on his face all to clear to me even from my perch.
They would never have to live this life, never have to raise
their children in this kind of poverty; the kind of life that
grabs a hold of someone and never lets go until they leave this
But I smile as look down at my children. At their smudged faces
and their coal dirtied hands that no amount of water will ever
get rid of. The coal is in their blood, even in their very soul.
I think of the poverty that made me who I am and took away the
friend I had all those years ago and I can't find it in me
anymore to regret.
The last time I saw him had been many years ago, because
since that day, I never once again saw him as I did before.