March 17, 2014. Kenadee’s insomnia was overpowering her at 4:20 am as she scrolled through the never ending posts on Tumblr, when she stopped to gaze at a picture of one of her idols from one of her favorite bands, posted by a 16 year old Australian boy named Alex. His blog consisted of pictures of various rock, punk and few metal bands. They were all bands that Kenadee was obsessed with. She ended up spamming him with likes on his posts over the next few days and after a while, she sent him a message saying hi. He replied, they talked and they grew a bond with each other and over the course of two weeks, the two had sent each other over twenty thousand texts, emails, and other forms of messages via the internet. When they finished talking, Kenadee continued trying to go sleep and Alex went to finish his homework. They had no idea that they would have a bigger friendship than they ever thought they would.
As they talked, they noticed how much they had in common. They both liked the same music, liked to draw and write, both played guitar and they even liked the same Anime. They talked more each day but it was hard since they lived on opposite sides of the world. Alex lived in Queensland, which is in Australia and Kenadee was in Texas. They were about 8,536 miles away from each other with a 16 hour time difference, but they still made it work. They even came up with nicknames for each other. Alex was Munchkin and Kenadee was his little Koala.
Pretty soon, Kenadee started having feelings for Alex. She didn’t know what it was. Maybe it was how he was cute and had an amazing personality, or how he also battled depression and understood exactly what she was going through, or even his love for music. Whatever it was, it was attractive and she couldn’t stop how she felt. As they talked each day, she destroyed the contents of her heart to make more room for him but deep down, she knew things between them would never work out: she was two years younger than him and they lived so far apart. Plus, there would be a one in a billion chance of meeting each other.
One day, while they were talking, they made a deal.
“Hey. Promise me something,” Alex said.
“Promise you what?” asked Kenadee.
“Promise me that no matter what, you’ll talk to me if you’re ever in trouble. I might not be able to reply right away but I’ll always leave my ringer on, just for you. If you ever feel like you’re going to relapse, call me or text me. If anything is bothering you, talk to me. Please. Promise me.”
“I promise. On one condition. You have to promise me the exact same thing.”
They promised each other that they would talk about it and not be afraid of “bothering” the other one. They promised each other they would try their hardest to not relapse. They kept the promise and didn’t mind it at all. They knew it was for the best. It helped them both to deal with problems without taking any rash decisions.
Each day, Kenadee looked forward to seeing a message from Alex. Since there was a big time difference, he usually replied when it was around 2:00am for Kenadee. Sometimes she stayed up, sometimes she would fall asleep. The days she’d wake up to see a message from him were days no one could ruin. She told all her friends about him. She started to mention and talk about him so much that eventually, they had to keep reminding her to breathe in between sentences. They thought it was adorable, but also a bit annoying at the same time.
July 8, 2014, There was a gap of a few days when he didn’t reply and Kenadee was becoming worried. He’d been feeling down for a while, and she hoped he was alright.
“I feel bad for my mom having to deal with me,” Alex had told her. “I’m depressed, I self harm, I’m suicidal. I have so many problems. She has to do so much to look after me. I’m such a burden. I hate it. Maybe if I wasn’t here, her life would be better. Your life would be better. I’m pretty sure everyone’s life would be better.”
“Don’t you dare say that, Munchkin. If you were a burden, she wouldn’t be taking care of you. She loves you. Everyone loves you. Having depression is not your fault. Being suicidal is not your fault. If I hear you say that again, I won’t be happy. Trust me, Alex. You are not a problem. Any mom would be the luckiest mom in the world to have you. I envy your friends and family. They see you everyday, while the only connection I have to you is my phone. I love you, darling. Never say that again.”
“I dunno. I guess. How do you manage to deal with me? All I do is cause you more trouble and issues and make you worry. I don’t deserve a friend like you. I really don’t. I love you so much.”
Kenadee froze. Friend. That dreaded word. I’m just a friend to him. I knew it. She thought. Just a friend.
On the morning of July 12, 2014, Kenadee woke up and saw she had a message from Alex. She was so excited to see what it was, that she opened it even before her brain could process what was happening. She had a big smile on her face and as she read the message, it faded. Her heart shattered. She felt a sharp pain in her side. She dropped her phone, buried her face in her pillow and started sobbing uncontrollably. Tears flowed from her eyes like a waterfall, and she did all she could to muffle the sounds of her silent screams so she wouldn’t wake up her mom. The message wasn’t from Alex, it was from his sister, Rebecca. It said:
Hi, this is Rebecca, Alex’s sister. I know you’re one of his best friends, so I needed to let you know. Alex tried to kill himself a couple of days ago. I had asked him if he was okay, he just nodded and ignored me. I asked him again but I don’t know what to do. He was just so quiet. At one point he started vomiting and coughing up blood and I got so scared. Mom and Dad took him to the doctor and they gave him different checks and blood tests. They said that he had an excessive amount of morphine in his system. He’d tried to overdose on painkillers. He said that Alex had thrown up most of it, but he would need to be watched for a while. He had to stay in the hospital for a few days and then we got to take him home. After we got home, he went into his room and locked the door. He wouldn’t come out. He’s refusing to eat and I can hear him crying in there. I tried to talk to him but he won’t say anything. I’m so worried. I’m sorry I couldn’t do anything. I know you care about him. And I know he cares about you too. I’ll let you know how he’s doing.
Kenadee’s heart sank. She couldn’t stop crying. She tried to keep her tears under control but didn’t succeed. She kept asking herself why Alex had to go through this. He was so innocent. He didn’t do anything wrong, he didn’t deserve any of this. She cared so much. She cared more than what was safe.
She had sent him a message letting him know how worried she was and how she hoped he was doing better. She hoped that it would turn out to all be some horrifying nightmare, but her pleas were not answered. “Munchkin.. You promised..”
Two weeks passed, each day filled with heartache and sadness. Kenadee didn’t feel like talking to anyone. She didn’t feel like painting or writing. Her mom went to work so she’d be home alone for most of the day. For hours she’d just sit on her bed, staring at her phone and waiting for a reply from Alex.
July 28, 1:48am. Kenadee was lying awake in bed reading Bruiser by Neal Shusterman. She was completely immersed in the book when she heard her phone vibrate. She glanced at the screen and almost fell out of bed at the sight of the phone in her grasp. “ALEX!” She gasped, then quickly covered her mouth and listened to see if she had woken anyone up. She didn’t notice any lights turning on or footsteps approaching so she picked up her phone and started typing a reply as fast as her thumbs could.
“Hey, it’s Alex. I don’t know what happened. I’m so sorry I wasn’t here. It feels as if though it’s been decades since I last spoke to you. How are you?”
Tears were cascading down Kenadee’s face. “It doesn’t matter how I am. What matters is that you’re back. And you’re okay. I’ve missed you so much. I was so worried. I was so scared. Please never do anything like that ever again. Promise me, swear to me. I don’t know what I would’ve done if it’d worked. I never want to lose you; not now, not later; NEVER.”
“I know.. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I hurt you. I don’t want you to worry so much about me. You’re really the best. I’m glad it didn't work too. I wasn’t thinking. I don’t want to lose you either. I won’t ever leave you. I love you.”
Kenadee couldn’t believe she was so close to losing him. If Rebecca hadn’t been there, who knows what would’ve happened?
After a few days, a text that Alex had sent made Kenadee’s face totally red..
“Hey, your friend Renae sent me a message.. and.. um.. it kind of says something about you liking me,” Alex had typed.
Kenadee felt her cheeks turn bright red, and was glad Alex couldn’t see her. “Oh.. did she now? Well, it maybe, possibly, could be true. I didn’t want you to find out but never mind now.”
Kenadee didn’t know Alex was blushing just as much as her behind his phone screen. “Well, don’t worry about it. It’s not weird. It’s cute. I’m just surprised. I honestly didn’t think you’d feel that way. I mean, obviously. Why would you? She also told me about how you keep talking about me and how it gets annoying,” Alex smirked.
“What? Oh, gosh. I’m sorry. I don’t know if I should feel embarrassed and try to lie about this or track down Renae and slap her. How about I do both? Yeah. That works. I totally don’t like you..”
Alex laughed. “I think it’s cute. But.. um.. haha. If I was straight, I’d totally be all over you but I’m kind of not.. I happen to be homosexual. Didn’t mean to tell you like this but I couldn’t just keep letting you think I was leading you on, if that’s ever how you felt. That, and I’m with Zach, which you already know. I’m so sorry, darling.”
“Dude, it’s fine. It’s totally cool. If I’m being honest, I kind of figured. But I’m really happy for you. And I’m sorry if this makes anything awkward, which I really hope it won’t.”
“Nah. It’s cool. We’re both as weird and socially awkward as ever.”
“Haha, well, perfect.”
“I love you, little Koala. Promise me you’ll stay safe.”
“I promise, Munchkin. You too, okay?”