"Why do I still feel like I'm living in your shadow?"
She looked at me, "how? I'm not even there anymore."
Unsure of what to say, I just shrugged.
I looked back at our pictures together. There were lots of them, I noticed, in the first few weeks of us meeting each other. There were lots of them before everything went awry. Before the two of us drifted apart from each other.
There is nothing special about the pictures. It was just us, with some other people, smiling at the camera. But despite our slight resemblance to one another; soft features, dimpled smiles, and calm gaze, there was always something more to hers.
Her smile, brighter.
Her gaze, steadier.
Her gesture, friendlier.
Or at least that's what I have convinced myself to believe.
Because when I decided to say, "you're better than me in every way,"
she looked at me again, this time in disbelief.
"I feel like I'm the one who should've said that to you," she smiled hopelessly, a smile that contrasts the one shown in the picture.
"But why? You're already well-liked by everyone. You're the person who most people gravitate towards. You're the one with more stories to tell-"
"Because you're the only person I know who never fails in everything."
Silence falls as I shook my head in denial.
"No, it's you who never fails to befriend everyone you meet. I, on the other hand, never fails in being on the sidelines, in being the wallflower."
"Truth is, I wasn't befriending anyone. I was so self-conscious and I tried to seek validation from everyone I knew. Besides, I'm not that bright or clever. So, actively socializing with everyone was the only way I could get the attention I need."
"Well," I realized, "to be fair, there was a time when my only motivation in exceeding academically is to get that attention back."
Not having anything else to hide, we both chuckled at our silly rivalry and shared a comfortable silence, as two old friends would.
"If I didn't leave," she then pondered, "this comparison game between us would not end, wouldn't it?"
"True.. At least I know that I might try to become more and more like a replica of you."
"And even then, it would not be enough for you, or for the both of us," she continued.
I nodded gently. After a while, her eyebrows furrowed and her gaze softened, as if she were contemplating something.
"Since I left, every time you compared yourself to me, it's a choice. You know that you don't have to do it, right?"
"I mean, it's also a choice even before you left."
"Right... My point is, you deserve better than to feel like you're still living in my shadow, because you were never in it in the first place. You and I, we both have and always had our own place to shine, although we often don't realize that."
Before I had the chance to say anything back, a faint melody appears, causing her attention to drift somewhere.
"Sorry, that's my cue," she smiled for the last time, "perhaps we could hang out and catch up properly the next time we meet?"
Following my short answer, she left again, humming a familiar tune of a once popular song as she walked away from my sight.
About the 'Conversation on' Series
It is a curation of semi-fictional reiteration of real-life conversations (and situations) with important people in my life. Note that the amount of alteration and imagination varies from conversation to conversation.