She wore a loose shirt with a white cami underneath with long black pants. Her thick braids were, as usual, tied into a low ponytail, and without a jacket no less.
“Aren’t you cold?”
“No. if I was, I would have worn a jacket.” She put it bluntly, knowing I was going to ask why she didn’t bring one.
I slowed down, getting close to the campus. But Morgan still had a ten minute walk left, and I didn’t want to keep her. We chatted a bit, and then said our goodbyes.
“Make sure not to be late again Morgan.”
“Same to you Nel. But you’re not being so slow anymore, so I’m not worried.” She smiled and walked past the gates. Such a strange and nice girl.
I got into class on time for once. How it’s possible to nearly be late everyday when my apartment is only about a block away from campus, I’ll never know, but I manage to do it. It was a lucky break that I got Biology first thing in the morning, had I gotten Calculus I wouldn’t be able to deal with the day.
The gates didn’t close, but were just there to publicize for students where the campus ends and the real world begins. Slight amounts of rust traced around the Victorian iron bars, and though it was a pretty kind of antique, felt restraining to me. I chose the apartment because it game me more freedom, even if I felt completely fine at home and in a dorm, without any rules concerning my lifestyle. That, and I didn’t want to have a roommate. Luckily I had enough money from working to pay rent for a few months. The apartment seemed small, but I liked it like that rather than having too much space. It was cheap, decent, and close to school, so I immediately accepted, and the first one to see it was my friend Maria.
She was moving to Florida to go to the university there, and I wanted her to spend at least one night at my apartment before leaving that weekend. Not only was she my childhood buddy, she was the best friend I told everything to. We shared everything with each other, and I wanted to share this with her before she left.
We sat on the floor with blankest and pillows surrounding us. I hadn’t thought about her in such a long time. We text every once in a while, but it doesn’t take me back like this. At that time I hadn’t bought any furniture yet except my bed, and that was too small for us to share. The food spread across our feet as we watched Spongebob as two in the morning. The beige shades were closed, keeping us away from the pitch black version of the wonderful view I had from the window. We were in the living room, that’s where I put the tv, and fully awake while talking.
“Why are you going to Florida again?” I moaned, grabbing for the apples smothered in peanut butter.
“Woman, I told you! They have one of the best marine biology courses in the United States!”
I was thinking for a second while we watched more Sponge bob , and then broke our silence. “. . . You just want a tan, don’t you?”
“Shut up, Nel.”
“It’s scary how white you look. It’ll be good for you to get outside.”
“Oh my god, no. Watch the sponge bob.” She laughed, throwing a pillow in my direction.
I threw it right back, even if it had peanut butter on it. We hadn’t really talked about her moving, or our futures. Instead, we chose to do a lot of random things we used to do in middle school. We prank phone called the Chinese place, baked cookies, pretended to do homework but actually ended up drawing, we even played Spryo on my PS2. But this couldn’t last. Before she left, we had to say something.
“Why are we still awake?” She yawned, grabbing the blanket from me and rolling over.
“I’m brushing my teeth, in case your germ infested mouth would like top do the same.” I commented, with no reply from her.
Is she asleep? I thought, moving towards the practically empty bathroom. Water running, brushing noises, the tv humming in the background, I still heard some kind of mumble coming from under the blanket.
“Didn’t you say something Maria?” I walked out of the bathroom to hover over her, still brushing my teeth.
“Yeah.” A pause.
“Well, what did you say?” She didn’t turn around, didn’t even move, but her words were very clear.
“. . . And if they think about me now and then, if they don’t forget me, then our hearts shall be one.”
That was a quote from Kingdom Hearts. It was a little off, but the point still got across loudly. She was thinking about the same thing I was. I put the toothbrush back in the sink and went to sit down next to her.
“I’m staying here where I’ve always been. There’s just a new apartment.. But you chose to leave. It’s going to be so much harder than what I’m doing. You wanted this though, right?” I may have sounded mean, because she threw the blanket off and stared at me, angrily.
“Are you saying this is my fault and I shouldn’t complain?! That I’m not allowed to miss you??!” The irony in it was that her quote was so strong and confident, but she appeared uncertain.
“That’s not it, Maria. It’s ok for you to feel this way, I do too. But because this is your choice, you can’t be leaving when feeling so insecure. Don’t say something to reassure yourself or hope that I will reassure you. Being on your own means also being confident in what you say or do. Believe in what you say, and no second guessing yourself.” I patted her shoulder, and she hugged me, crying.
“I’ll miss you.”
“I’m always here. You know where to find me, and you have my number. I’m still a constant you can have whenever you need.” I smiled and hugged her back.
“I am too, Nel. I’ll be strong.”
She left the day after that, and since then we casually text every now and then. I suppose we’ve learned to live without each other. Huh.
Maybe I’ll learn the same for him too.
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