It was a chilly November night, he couldn’t believe he was going to see her again. After all these years, they were going to go out for one night, just the two of them, for once. He wasn’t sure what her intentions were. She said she didn’t want him to leave, and yet she exclaimed two hours prior,
“You have to see me before you go. I’ll be very upset if you don’t show up tonight.”
He clasped his hands together and rubbed them feverously. Where is she? He reminded himself she always had the bad habit of being late. She’s late as usual, some things never change. He scoped around for the fifth time and checked his watch. It was only 7:10pm. They were supposed to meet up at 7, but he’ll give her another couple of minutes.
He finally sees her. She's rushing into the mall, gazing around, wide-eyed, face flushed. He reminisces the many times she showed up to the meets like this. Meet at the fountain, don't be late.
It was already 7:17pm, she was late. Their eyes lock, and she smiles apologetically. His heart starts to thump harder. He just misses her, that's all. She speeds up towards him and hugs him.
"I've missed you! You never hang out with me and now you're leaving me!"
They were never really close to begin with, but why did she bother to take the time to see him before he moved? Maybe she was just being nice, maybe she just pitied him for his loss, maybe...
"So what do you want to do tonight?"
He snaps back into reality. He takes a good look at her this time. Wow, has she grown up. Granted its been only about a year or so since they last saw each other, but that year did a lot to her. She was cute before, but she was stunning now. He felt his heart thump once again. Take it easy. He wasn't sure if he was just attracted to her or if he was actually feeling something. After all this time.
"Darling, it is as if you've seen a ghost. Are you okay?"
He feels his cheeks getting red, how long has he been drifting? He tells her he's fine and that he wanted to see the movie, the Departed. How fitting.
She exclaims how much she's been dying to see the movie and links arms with him. What was this? Why is she doing this? He doesn't ever remember her getting close to him like this before
They walk side by side, arm in arm. They exit the mall, and a huge gust of wind greets them at the door. She clasps her other hand to his arm and complains about how its so cold. Why is she so close to me? His heart thumps once again.
They take the treacherously windy walk up the block to the theatre, with every gust she holds onto him tighter, making his heart thump even more. He tells her he has to stop by the bank. She nods, and they rush inside the little ATM stall.
"Ohh its warm in here. I don't want to go back out anymore."
She rubs her shoulders and giggles while he debates whether he needs enough money for just himself or for her as well. He ends up pushing enough for the both of them, and then some.
They had a half a block left to walk, and the wind was blowing even more violently. She hung onto him so tightly, as if she was going to blow away if she didn't. He let her, but why?
They finally got to the theatre and as soon as they were called to the ticket booth, he asked for two tickets and shoved 25dollars into the slot.
"Why are you paying for me? Crazy! Here let me pay you back."
She attempts to put the money in his hands, but he refuses. She then tries to put it in his pockets, giggling in the process. We were never this close.
They walk up to the theatre, only to find they had to wait for 15 more minutes. They start talking about the good old days. He starts to recall the times he was so high, and the on-going smile disappeared on her face.
"Why did you do it?"
"Get high all the time. Seriously, was it that necessary?"
It was, it was his only way out.
"It was to get away from things, and it was fun."
She stares at him, in such a way it feels like her big brown eyes were digging into him, searching for his reason. He continues on..
"Life wasn't easy for me, mama. I joined the navy to get away from the Bronx, only to find myself hating it after three years of service. So I first did it to kick myself out of the military. It didn't work though. They demoted my rank, but I still had to finish my tour. It felt like I was in prison. I couldn't go home, I didn't even want to, but I didn't want to keep traveling either."
Her eyes soften and her mouth is agape. She's listening, she's actually listening. He goes on..
"After my duty, I came home, and it was a wreck here. Not only did my mom have HIV, but now she had cancer, too. How much more could I take? I felt horrible for leaving her, and all I could do was watch her suffer now from all the treatments and all the pills that were supposed to make her better. I couldn't even kill myself, so I decided to do more drugs, hoping it'd eventually kill me, by accident."
His eyes well up, but he fights back the tears. Why is he telling her all this? They were never really close. His heart thumps once again.
She comes over to him and embraces him. She cradles his head in her hands, his face buried in her collarbone. She smells so sweet, feels so warm, and his heart thumps even faster. They stay like this for a few minutes until they are called to go inside the theatre.
They go inside, and she seems as if that moment just did not happen. He feels crushed. He thought he felt something, never has he confessed like that to anyone, never. They took their seats, and she poises herself to look him straight in the eyes. She grabs a hold of his hand and cups it between hers.
"I'm so sorry about your mother. I know how it feels. I lost my dad last year."
She was just pitying him. He should have known better.
"Tell me, why do you have to leave? You're leaving everyone who loves you. Why?"
Her hands are so soft and warm, and gently squeezing his.
"I have to leave, mama. There's nothing left for me here."
"What are you talking about? How about the rest of your family? And your friends? You're just going to ditch all of them? You've lived here all your life..."
"I've learned that the only person who loved and cared for me was my mother. Now that she's gone, there is no one else."
"How could you say that? How do you know your friends don't care about you?"
Her hands are squeezing his fingers, gently, but he still feels her earnestness. They were never really close, so why is she bringing this up? He decides to test the waters.
"Mama, do you care about me? Honestly, we weren't even that close. I don't even know why you took the time to hang out tonight."
"Of course I care about you! That's why I'm here. I don't want you to go, but if you really need to, I'm not going to be selfish and try to keep you here."
His heart thumps so hard and so fast. He wonders if she could see it. He feels absolutely touched. None of his friends have told him to stay, none. They all just wished him a safe trip to Colorado. Maybe she did feel something. They were never that close, but just maybe....
He leans over to her and closes his eyes. He tries to kiss her, but his lips aren't met with hers. He opens his eyes to find her reclined back into her seat. Her face was that of utter shock. He realizes she has let go of his hand, too.
His heart sunk, and he sternly faces the movie screen, as if nothing just happen. Idiot, what a ****ing idiot. She was just trying to be nice.
"I'm sorry, if you took it the wrong way. I just, I just care about all my friends, and I never want them to leave. Friends are the most important part of my life, and I feel that each friend is here for a reason. So I hold onto each one tightly, to always remember the reason."
He clenches his teeth. He wants to scream at himself for his idiocy. He averts eye contact. He feels so embarrassed, so retarded.
She places her hand on his knee.
"I know we were never close, but you came into my life for a reason. I now know your past, and I feel as if you've never let it out to anyone. You've made me realize just now everyone needs a friend, to just be there and listen. I hope I did that for you, but I'm so sorry you took it the wrong way."
His face softens. She's right. He was finally able to tell someone about his life. He was finally able to let it out. And it did make him feel better, lighter even. He looks at her before the movie starts, and just smiles "thank you".
He was still going to leave, but at least he knew he had a real friend to come back to. They were never really close, but maybe, just maybe, this distance will bring them together.