Graduation Day! Graduation Day!! I can’t believe it’s finally here! High school’s been through with pot, drugs, booze, I want to say 30 babies born, and lots of sex in the bathrooms. I’m one
of the only ones who are still a virgin and sober. I think the only ones that are like this are me, Kera, Desmond, and Akira. Us four, we’ve been friends since kindergarten. Akira and I go back
even further; we’ve known each other since day care when we were two. Now, practically 20 years later, we’re together as boyfriend and girlfriend. Kera and Desmond are together too, which is super
convenient for double dates.
Akira and I have been together for about two years. We love each other more than oxygen. I’m still getting used to the fact that after high school, he’s going back to his homeland, Japan, to
study there. I can’t go with him, since I’m staying here in the States to study at Yale. The thought of having him halfway across the globe bothers my mind. But, still. He wants to go home,
and who could blame him? At lease we can keep in touch through e-mail. And perhaps there will be some other way to keep in touch besides that, like a networking site or something weird like
Akira goes up to receive his diploma. His long, black hair covers his neck, and when he turns, I can see his deep, almond back eyes and flawless face looking towards me. He blows me a kiss,
and I pretend to catch it and hold my hand to my heart. My name is next, and as we walk past each other, we whisper “I love you” into each other ear. I receive my diploma, do the traditional “throw
your hats in the air” thing, and head to hang out before Akira leaves for Japan.
We’re at Guava Mango. It’s a hang out for kids 18-20 (so you’re not hanging with younger teens or alcohol). It’s our fave hang out and we’re here almost everyday. We’re sitting around the
table and Kera starts to speak.
“Well, now what?” she says. “Akira’s leaving and we’re just sitting in silence.”
“Well it’s hard to know your boyfriend is leaving for freakin’ Japan,” I half-snap, “To know you’re not going to see him for years, possibly. It’s a rough concept!”
“Sorry Heyley,” Kera says, “At least you guys will be able to stay in touch.”
“That’s true. But it won’t be the same,” I say as I stare down into my drink. The silence returns, and tears start rolling down my face.
Akira gets up and gives me a hug. “Baby, I’ll try to visit every chance I get. I’ll e-mail you daily. There’s no way I’m letting you disconnect from my life. I promise. I love you.”
I manage to say “I love you” back, but by then it’s time for us to leave Guava Mango. Desmond finds me some tissues and we leave in silence.
The next day, all of us are standing at the airport, to say our final goodbyes.
Desmond goes first. “So...your parents aren’t here, I see...”
“Yeah, we said ‘bye’ back home,” Akira told him.
“Well that’s cool. I guess...” Desmond replies.
Akira laughs a little. “Yeah”
They hug, and I could’ve sworn that I saw a tear roll down Desmond’s face. And Akira’s, for that matter.
Kera goes next. She just starts with giving a hug. She’s half-crying too. “If you don’t e-mail her, I’ll fly to Japan, hunt you down, and make you e-mail her, do you understand?”
“I understand, Kera,” he says with half a smile, “Take care of her, okay?”
“Anything for her,” she says.
My turn. I just stare at him, studying his features one final time. It’s extremely hard though, since my eyes are filled with tears. He
just pulls me into a hug and I cry. He pets my long, brown hair and just whispers “I love you” over and over again. He pushes me away from second so he can take off his hoodie. It’s black, and had
a red heart with a line down the center and another line near the bottom of the heart in the middle of the hoodie itself. He slips it over my head onto my body. “For you” he says. I hug him again
and we just stand there for a second. By now, Kera and Desmond are crying too. Akira tells me that his flight is about to leave. More tears spill down my eyes as we kiss goodbye. He says “bye” one
last time and checks through security. All of us wave goodbye and start to walk away. I yell “I love you!” as I’m walking away. The last thing I hear from him is “I love you too!”
Today is my 38th birthday! Today, I decided to visit Kera. I haven’t seen her in about 10 years. She lives about an hour away, but it’s worth every minute. I head to her place, and
I hit epic traffic. I decided to call Simone, my daughter. She’s 13 years old. “Hey babe, I just wanted to say that I won’t be home when you get home. I’m visiting a friend for my birthday,” I
“That’s awesome! Is it cool if Tim comes over?” she asks.
“I guess. But no funny business, you understand?” I say firmly.
“Completely. Besides, I don’t even like him. Not after what he did to Rebecca.” she says, with a hint of worry in her voice.
“What did he do?” I ask.
“Well since Rebecca is with Charles, Tim got jealous and called her a “female dog” so she got Brady and Clara to blackmail him by getting an embarrassing picture of him from Frankie but
Frankie’s in deep crap with Ramona and Scott since they apparently slept together and it’s just a big mess,” she explains.
I’m completely lost. Rebecca has a boyfriend? Who slept with who now? I just say, “Oh, that’s terrible!”
“I know! Oh well. I better go. Oh guess what?” she asks.
“What’s up?” I ask.
“Today, I got the assignment to talk to a girl from Japan! We’re going to be pen pals, only not actually writing and talking online. She’s verified, so I won’t be talking to some creep,” she
This one I understand, and am relieved about. “That’s awesome! Well, I’m just about to get to Kera’s. I’ll talk to you later. Love you,” I say.
“Kera? The one who gave me that stuffed animal? Tell her I say hey! Bye, love you,” she says.
I hang up and pull into Kera’s driveway. “Thank God,” I think to myself, “She still lives here”.
I do a quick check in the mirror to make sure I look okay. My long, brown hair is now short, and closer to black. I’ve gotten glasses since the last time I saw Kera. I’ve slimmer than last
In other words, I look completely different than I did 20 years ago. Or ten years ago, for that matter.
I run up the walkway to ring the bell, but trip, since I’m wearing heels. She sees me from her window and rushes out to help me. “Ma’am, I’m not interesting in anything your selling an-” she
stops mid-sentence. “Heyley? Is that you?”
“Hey there. I’d thought I’d surprise you with a visit. May I come in and steal a giant Band-Aid from you?” I say, as I notice my bleeding knee.
“Of course! Come right in,” she says without hesitation, “Please excuse the mess, the kids just don’t listen when I say to clean up.”
“At least you don’t have a teenager yet!” I say with a laugh. “It can’t be much worse than my place.”
We walk in, and it’s messy, but not terrible. We head to the bathroom to fix my knee.
“So how’s Desmond? I haven’t seen him since the last time I saw you”, I ask. They had gotten married shortly after they graduated from college. They have 3 kids, aged 11, 9 and 9 (she had
She doesn’t answer me. She takes a deep breath and explains that he isn’t here anymore.
She said that he was involved in an accident five years ago. He was grocery shopping and some madman had come in and opened fire. He tried to hide, but he couldn’t. He was shot twice in the
arm, and died from blood loss. I just stood there and had to sit down.
“It surprised all of us,” she said after I had some seconds to absorb the news, “We still miss him”.
“Wow,” I say with a small laugh, “Best birthday ever”.
“Today’s your birthday? Oh...I completely forgot! I’m so sorry to hit you with such big news today!” she exclaims.
“Don’t be silly. My husband left me on my birthday so this is nothing”.
“Draven left you on your birthday?!” she asks.
“Yeah, 8 years ago. What a douchebag,” I say, still smiling for some reason.
“He is a douche,” she says, “Listen, I feel so bad for having you come all the way out but I actually have plans for tonight...can we reschedule to hang out for another night?”
“Believe me, that’s perfectly fine. Besides, I should go since Simone has a guy over and I don’t want them having too much fun.” I say with a laugh.
“How old is she now anyways?” Kera asks.
“Thirteen. She says ‘hey’ by the way,” I remember. I feel proud of remembering; since my memory is shot from everything I’ve been through.
“Tell her I say ‘hey’ back”, she says, “Next time you should bring her so she can occupy my kids.”
“No problem. It was great seeing you again,” I say. We hug, and I hop back in my car and head home.
I get home close to 7 at night. “Simone? I’m home!” I call into the house. Our dog, Alyssa, greets me by jumping on my legs. Simone starts laughing, but I don’t know where she is. I find her
online in her room.
“Hey Simone, how are you?” I ask.
“I’m good, what’s up? How was Kera’s?” she asks back.
“It was...fine,” I had to choose the right words to say, “Our friend apparently passed away a few years ago so I’m a little shaken up.”
“Oh Mom...I’m sorry,” Simone says, “Anything I can do?”
“Nah that’s okay. Anyways, are you talking to your pen pal person? From Japan?” I ask.
“Yeah, and she’s so awesome! Apparently its 9 AM her time! Isn’t that amazing?” she asks. She’s now apparently fascinated with Japan.
“That’s so cool! What’s her name?” I ask
“Manami. She said it means ‘love’ in Japanese,” she tells me.
“So pretty! Listen, I’m going to change my clothes, and then do you want to grab a bite to eat?”
“Sure! I’ll keep talking to Manami.”
I head for my bedroom to change my clothes. I find some comfortable jeans and a t-shirt and look through my closet for a sweatshirt. I find one that had a layer of dust over it. I’m
completely confused, so I pick it up to find a red heart with a line down the center and another line near the bottom.
It’s the hoodie Akira gave to me years ago.
I tear up. I had forgotten about Akira. We never e-mailed after he moved to Japan. I had moved on, and in college I met Draven. But now, with Draven gone, I felt terrible about forgetting
“Hey Mom?” Simone asks from the door frame?
“Yes sweetheart?” I ask with a slightly broken voice.
“Manami was telling me about her family, and didn’t you say you knew some guy named Akira at some point in your life?” she asks.
“No, because I just remembered about him. How did you know that about me?”
“Well, then, I guess you’d better watch your back the next time you’re drunk around me. You say some pretty messed up stuff. Anyways, she said that he fell in love in high school with a girl
named Heyley. Do you know this guy?”
“Akira? Akira Watanabe? Is it really him?” I ask anxiously. I’m clutching his hoodie with my fists.
“Yeah that’s her last name!”
“Do you mind if I talk to her? Just for a minute?” I ask.
“Go for,” she says.
I sit on her bed and talk to Manami. Manami says that they were moving to the States soon, and asked if we would be a place to stay until they found a house. I told her that that’s fine, and
that we would see each other in one week.
I’m going to see Akira in one week.
I hope he didn’t forget about me like the way I did.
Simone and I are standing at the airport. The same exact place where I said “goodbye” to him 20 years ago. I’m wearing his hoodie, and I’m shaking where I’m standing. “There’s Manami!” Simone
suddenly bursts, and I jerk awake practically. She runs over to meet an Asian girl. Next to her is Akira. Akira has the same flawless face, the same almond eyes, and even longer hair. I just stand
in place and he comes over and gives me a hug. “20 years later, and you’re still just as beautiful as when I last saw you,” he says. I just stand there and hug him. Too much happiness was flowing
through me to say anything. “I missed you,” I sputter eventually, “I’m sorry for not e-mailing.”
“It’s okay, it’s okay,” he says, “Let’s head to your place.” All of us head out to the car and we drive home.
Once we’re home, Simone and Manami head off to her bedroom to discuss everything girls can possibly discuss. I fix coffee for both of us and we catch up. Apparently, Akira’s wife passed away
from cancer over ten years ago. “I’m so sorry. Have you heard about...?” I say, not finishing the sentence.
“About whom?” he asks. Apparently, he has not.
“Desmond,” I say.
“No...what happened? I haven’t talked to any of you guys in 20 years, remember.”
“Desmond’s gone. He married Kera after college and five years ago he was shot and died from blood loss,” I explain.
“Oh God...when did you hear about this?” he asks.
“Just last week Kera and I talked. It was the first time in ten years for us. We just lost touch,” I say.
“Wow...what a week for you then. Listen, I understand we haven’t seen each other in years, but...are you seeing anyone?”
“No, my husband left me eight years ago. I haven’t been too interested since then,” I say.
“What a douche. Well, maybe we can...you know...pick up where we left off?”
I smile. “I’d love that more than anything in the world”.
We stand and we kiss. I missed him more than anything. Sure, I had forgotten about him in my mind, but my heart was aching for him. I
just didn’t realize until last week.
One year later. Akira and Manami have moved in. When Akira said he was going house hunting, he went engagement ring shopping instead.
Now, we’re married! After waiting 20 years, we are actually married. Kera made it to the wedding, and they were able to catch up as well. Simone and Manami were overjoyed to become sisters. They
became best friends faster than the speed of light.
Now, I get to see Akira everyday. He’s the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see before I sleep. I’m thankful
everyday for this miracle. Everything lined up so perfectly, and nothing makes me more grateful. Now, let’s hope we don’t lose each other again, okay? Because one miracle is enough for me.
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