“Don’t you ever knock?”
She pranced over to his bed where she laid on her back, crossing her golden legs.
“Nah. It’s not like you would ever have a girl in here or anything.” She winked.
Ignoring her jest, he flung the letter at her that he was holding.
“I got my acceptance letter today.”
“Ohh, Mr. Ivy League. You’re a little too fancy for my taste now.” He knew her well enough to know that was her version of a compliment.
“Did you ever end up applying anywhere?”
“Nope.” She tossed the letter back to him, but it fell short and glided to the floor.
“What about that university in New York? I thought you at least sent that one in.”
“I just said that to get you off my ass.” She smirked.
“So what are you doing then?”
“Whatever the hell I want.”
“And what is that?”
“Probably travel. Until I wake up and decide I want to do something else.”
“I don’t think it’s that easy.”
“Why not? It’s only difficult if you make it that way.”
There was a brief silence.
“Come with me.”
“Come with me. Travel with me.”
“I don’t know...”
“It’ll be some much more fun with you there.”
“Yes you can.”
“I have to go to college.”
“I want to be successful. Don’t you want the same?”
“I’d rather be happy.”
That was more than a decade ago. Since then stress had left its mark upon his face, and caffeine had become one of his most valued food groups. He sat down at small table in an outside cafe terrace. He never got the allure of eating outside of a restaurant, rather than in the building. The waitress brought him out his coffee, black, before returning back inside. Unfolding a napkin and placing it under the saucer, he looked up at the seat across from him.
“It’s been so long. I can’t believe we let ourselves loose touch.”
“Oh I know.” She tucked a piece of waved, sun bleached hair behind her ear. “I tried calling you a few times at first. But you were always so busy, and I was kind of hard to call back...”
“Yeah, maybe because you refused to get a phone of your own.”
“I would’ve had to worry about paying for it, it would have just gotten in the way.”
“I said I would take care of it for you. I wouldn’t have minded.”
“Yeah... I knew you wouldn’t.” She leaned in, putting her elbows on the table and smirking.
“So tell me.”
“Tell you what?”
“Tell me everything.” He leaned back, unnaturally relaxed in his chair. “I want to know it all.”
Taking a deep breath, she began her story. She told him of soulless Russian winters and golden Australian springs. She taught him the feeling of unexpectedly waking up in the sand, using only the sun as an alarm, and the thrill of being caught in a hurricane. She talked of welcoming rural villages, where the days were as long and as slow and you wanted, and of the fast paced loneliness that makes up a city. Her triumphs and failures with foreign foods, her cultural mishaps and her many language barriers. But as she spoke, her emerald eyes aglow against her seasoned skin, it was clear that no matter the outcome, she held no regrets.
The same however, could not be said for him. For when he spoke, he taught her of stressful all-nighters, and grumpy TA’s. He told her of looming student loans and daunting dissertations. And then, once school was over and the real work began, papers and tests were merely traded for memo’s and projects. Grumpy TA’s became overbearing bosses, and the all-nighters stayed nearly the same. And oddly enough, to his own surprise, she stayed leaned in, engaged and interested, through it all.
He finished, and there was as slight pause.
“I didn’t know how you did it.” He mumbled, fiddling with his spoon.
“Fly so often.” He kept his gaze on the table. “I’m so afraid of flying.”
“It’s not too bad once you get used to it, once you learn to to let go.”
He looked up from his now empty coffee cup at the equally empty chair across from him. He picked up the prayer card that he was given earlier that morning, and headed towards the office.