"Hey man, have you heard from Tristan recently?"
The message popped up on Felix's screen. It was from his old friend Henry. Clicking on the message, Felix drafted his response.
"No, I haven't. Why do you ask?"
"I was just thinking about our friends," Henry replied.
"I received this strange note the other day. It told me to gather my friends from high school at a specific date, time, and location. I already talked to Halia.
You and Tristan were the last people I hadn't contacted yet." Felix paused a moment before responding.
"Are you going to send me the details or not?"
"Are you going to come?" Henry asked.
"If it works with my schedule, sure thing. I haven't seen any of the old gang in years!" Felix sent his last message.
Turning his phone off, he laid back in his recliner. It struck him as odd that Henry brought up the old gang because he'd just been thinking about them.
All the good old times back in high school, before they were all scattered by life. Henry's message came through. The details lined up perfectly with Felix's schedule.
I guess it's just meant to be. Felix thought.
A week later, Felix rolled up to the address, his window down. The other two stood waiting for him. They were gathered around a piece of paper with the large letters written across it.
ONLY READ ME WHEN EVERYONE IS HERE
Felix got out of his car. Something felt off about this whole scenario. Henry suddenly getting a note telling him to gather his friends, right outside of their old school.
The fact that nobody could get a hold of Tristan. It just gave him an unnerving feeling.
As he walked up to the group, Henry hailed him. "Hey Felix, I'm glad you made it!"
"Yeah, sorry I'm a bit late, traffic was a real pain," Felix said.
"Oh, you're all good man. I'm just glad you made it." Henry said.
"What's up with the piece of paper?" Felix asked as they joined the rest of the group.
"No clue." Halia, Felix's old crush said. "But now that we're all here, we can finally find out."
"So read it then," Felix said, gesturing at the piece of paper.
Henry flipped the paper over. On the other side was a nicely written letter. They all read it silently.
Hello, all of my old friends. It's Tristan. I'm glad that you are all together for at least one more time. It's just too bad that I couldn't be there.
Not that any of you noticed my absence anyway. I suppose this is my way of providing all of you with a final sendoff before I leave for good.
"Before I leave for good?" Felix whispered. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"I have no clue man, just keep reading," Halia said.
First of all, I want to know, did any of you really care about me? Did you ever notice when I wasn't there and did you even care when I was?
Because I never could tell if I was just that one kid you allowed to stay with you. I never really knew if you cared about me.
And that's really too bad because that is ultimately what led to my decision. My decision to kill myself.
Felix's heart dropped. This wasn't just any note, it was a suicide note. It was like a horrible accident, one that you wanted to look away from but simply couldn't.
The other two let out a gasp as they read.
I want all of you to know a few things. I really cared about all of you, I really did. I looked up to all three of you. You were like the older siblings I never had.
You each meant the world to me.
But why would a world pay attention to a lowly little man like me, right?
So I stayed in your shadows, never sure if you even noticed me hanging out with you guys, let alone if you cared about me. I was always just there.
Felix wanted to reach through the paper and slap Tristan across the face. He wanted to shake him and scream at him.
Tell him how much he'd really meant to him, how much he'd appreciated his company. How much he'd actually cared about Tristan.
An image of Tristan popped into Felix's head. His ratty black hair. Brown eyes sunken into his gaunt face.
At first, Tristan had been a really happy guy, at least when he was around Felix and the others.
Now that Felix thought about it, the only time Tristan had seemed even remotely happy was when he was around Felix and the others.
At the time nothing had seemed wrong, but looking back, Tristan had always seemed a bit off, a little sad when he wasn't with the group. Constantly hiding his face in his dark hoodie.
It seemed so obvious something was wrong now. He continued reading.
So, I lived in your shadows. People called me 'popular' because I hung out with you guys. I never really felt that way. Nobody came up and complimented me like they did to you.
No one ever showed their appreciation for the things I did. No one said thank you when I refilled their drinks, or when I would drive them someplace.
Now that Felix thought about it, he realized how little he'd actually expressed his gratitude for Tristan. That guy had done practically everything for him, Halia, and Henry.
He would drive them everywhere, and get them anything they wanted. But they never told him that they appreciated it.
"Thank you," Felix whispered. Tears started to gather in his eyes. Only a little bit of the letter left.
So, I want you all to learn a lesson from my death. But first, please understand this, you three are not the sole cause of my death.
I simply wanted to teach you a lesson, maybe help you become better from my death. There were many more factors, many more people who helped lead to my decision to take my own life.
Don't blame yourselves. To put it simply, life made me feel unappreciated, unloved, so I unlived. All I ask is this: learn from your mistakes. Be kinder to others. Serve people wherever you can.
And above all, show your appreciation. Tell others thank you for the things they do for you. And maybe do things for them in turn. Until we meet again in the next world, know I love you all.
Love - Tristan, you're loyal friend, even across the grave.
Felix stepped back, feeling released from the hold the note held on him. Tears formed in his eyes as he thought about poor, unappreciated Tristan. He grew sweaty, and his chin began to quiver.
He replayed the letter over and over again in his mind. His chest grew tight, and he started to itch nervously. All three friends were silent for a moment.
A billion questions ran through Felix's head.
Why hadn't he ever shown his appreciation to Tristan? Why would Tristan go to this extreme? Had he really failed him so badly as a friend? What more could he have done?
Could he have prevented Tristan's suicide?
"I can't believe this," Halia said. "I feel so bad. Like I should have done more."
"We should have actually told him how much we appreciated him," Henry said quietly.
"I want to make a promise with you two, a pact," Felix said, tears starting to stream down his face. "We'll all do our best to actually tell people how much we appreciate them. For Tristan."
"For Tristan." the other two agreed.
The three of them walked back to their cars. As Felix sat down, he completely broke down. Tears flew out of his eyes, and his heart felt shattered into a billion tiny shards.
He wished he could travel back in time and tell Tristan how much he'd meant to him. Only one thought came to his mind. I will always appreciate people from now on.
Because I don't want anyone to ever feel unappreciated, unloved, unlived.