I can't seem to remember any time that he hadn't been there for me, even though when I was younger, I hadn't realized how often he'd stayed by my side. I'd tried to avoid him, because of course he had cooties. I guess I'd grown up with him; I've gotten so used to him, so perhaps that's why it's this hard to suddenly let him go, and possibly lose him forever. Perhaps that's why I can't stand being here, watching the airplanes take off and waiting with him for his flight to be called. I didn't want this job, but of course our parents had practically pushed us out the door, making up some lame excuses about why they couldn't take him instead. Neither one of us bought it but simply complied with their commands and went with whatever ulterior motive they had up their sleeves.
I sat motionless on one of those chairs in the terminal, watching dazedly out the window as the planes took off erratically. He sat beside me, clutching his carryon. How was I supposed to say 'goodbye' to him, if he'd been that constant almost all my life? I couldn't simply watch him leave, just like that, and not even bat an eye.
There were so many moments in my life when he'd been there, right by my side, and I'd barely even noticed. It was surprising that he'd stayed so long. But then, I'd stayed around up until now. I used to chase after him sometimes, even when he didn't pay that much attention to me. It was just nice to have his company sometimes. And now, it'd be gone.
I walked towards the large window, deep in thought. I remember so many moments we'd shared together.
I was five. I still remember the day almost perfectly. It was during the summer, and the weather was sweltering hot. My mother had turned on the sprinklers, and he'd been the first to take up the invitation and run through them, grinning at me. I'd been too scared to, like how I spent about ten minutes entering a pool, always dipping my foot in the cold water and then jumping away. But the cooling water looked so inviting, and I joined him. I suppose that'd been the beginning of it all.
My sixth birthday. Somehow, I'd decided that he'd been the only boy I knew without cooties, so he was allowed to go to my party. We played hide-and-go-seek, and he'd found me, but I ran away swiftly. He'd chased me determinedly, yelling 'You aren't getting away from me!' No, I hadn't gotten away from him since then.
First day of middle school. My mom had forced me into wearing a 'pretty dress'. I thought it was a "pretty ugly disaster" at the time. But I didn't tell her that. I couldn't stand the dress, though. It was some strange shade of green, and it only made my face look green, like I was about to puke. He'd laughed, but helped me fend off anyone who made fun of it. Everyone knew that messing with him wasn't a good idea. He was strong, and they knew he'd go to any lengths to defend his friend's dignity. Only later did I realize that.
On my first date, he'd been the first person over at my house, right after school, to help me. I was desperately nervous. He'd been the one who held my hand and helped me pick out something to wear. He was the one who stood at the door and answered it when my date arrived, sizing him up as if inspecting whether or not he was worthy of me. He was the one who I confided in afterwards, unlike most girls who'd dial their best friend's number and talk for hours on the phone. I talked to him late into the night, and he was more understanding than any girl would be. I knew it.
Prom night. Not even a month ago. He'd been the one to save me from my date from hell. You know the type. The kind that your friends fix you up with because they felt sorry for you that you didn't have a boyfriend at the time. Except he was more than I'd expected. He'd been expecting more from me that night than I was willing to give. And I ended up running into the girls' bathroom and crying. The one guy that'd stuck by me since I was five walked nonchalantly into the bathroom, and told me that I was ruining my beautiful face and my prom experience. He'd hugged me to him and kissed my forehead.
Yes. As I thought back on the times we'd spent together, I realized that he'd always been there. And now he was leaving.
"What are you thinking about?" he asked me, walking up behind me and placing his hands on my arms.
I looked dazedly at the window and paused for a moment before turning to him. "Hmm?"
"You seemed to be in deep thought."
"Oh. I was just um… thinking… about how you're leaving. I'm… er… I'm going to miss you, you know."
He smiled. "Well thank you. I'll miss you, too. A lot. We've been through a lot together. Basically grown up together."
I fumbled with my fingers, nodding. "Yeah, we have. And now you're leaving."
"I'm off to college, sweetie."
"I know. I guess things'll just be different."
He stared at me, and I did the same, measuring up to his gaze. Ours eyes locked. "I'm going to miss you," he said.
"And I you," I whispered. "Call."
He made no move to leave, but we just stood like that, not one bit fazed, but staring into each other's eyes. "Flight 154. Flight 154."
He lifted his arm upwards. "That's my flight."
"Uh huh," I said, nodding absentmindedly.
"I should probably get going."
"Yeah, you should."
"So I'll see you."
"Yeah." I nodded.
He made no move to leave. In a swift movement that put me off guard, he wrapped his arms tightly around me. "Why can't you come with me?"
I looked up at him apprehensively. "What are you talking about?"
"I wish you could come with me. I don't want to leave you. I don't want to lose you. I guess what I'm trying tosay is… babe, I don't know if I can live without you. I certainly don't want to. I… I like you. A lot."
If I was expecting anything out of his mouth, it definitely wasn't what I'd just heard. "You… you do?"
"I can't say I don't feel maybe even slightly the same way, because I do. But you're leaving."
"Not without you, I'm not. I don't care where I'm going or where you're going, but I'm keeping you with me. We'll make it work."
I nodded and tilted my head up as he kissed me lightly. It felt so simple and comfortable. "I don't want to lose you, either," I whispered.
I watched the planes take off out the window. Flight 154 had been called long ago and had probably already gone and left. He didn't seem to care in the least.Author's Note: Well, the first story in this collection of short stories. I've got a few more written that I'll post soon, and then I'll be posting whenever the inspiration hits. Please please review and tell me what you think! I'd really love feedback on this.
-julia- July 9, 2004