Chapter 1: The Boy is Back in Town

I'm supposed to see him again today. It's been three months that he's been gone. When I talked to him yesterday he sounded different, somehow darker. I don't know if it's because I hadn't talked to him in weeks or because I've somehow changed, but something was definitely off.

I can remember back when we were kids and we'd stay up all night. We used to sit outside his house on his front porch, talking and watching the stars. He used to tell me that one day he was going to be one of those stars. I never doubted him, though I never wanted to believe him.

I saw his mom yesterday. She was excited that I finally stopped by, even if it was only for a few minutes. She used to be like my own mom. I think I spent more time at his house than I did at my own. We used to joke that I was actually a part of their family.

My dad would joke and say he never had a daughter; he just gave money to the lawn gnome. It always made me laugh and I would always say, "You have a daughter; you just never see her." He would smile and nod and then ask how Adam was doing.

Adam. The boy I'm supposed to see in a few hours, the boy who sounded different on the phone yesterday, the boy I can't stop thinking about, the boy I'm in love with and worst of all: my best friend, my best friend for as long as I can remember.

I sighed, as there was a knock at my door. I snapped my eyes open and glanced around my dark bedroom. It was early, very early. Yet I was wide-awake. My door swung open a moment later to reveal a tall beefy, balding man. He was wearing a blue button up work shirt with grease stained blue jeans. "You up?" he asked. Typical father. Always coming to make sure I'm up on time.

I sighed and nodded, slowly sitting up. The blankets fell to my lap, to show that I was, in fact, fully dressed.

"You okay?"

I shrugged and swung my legs over the side of the bed. Was I okay? How was I supposed to know?

"What time are you picking up Adam?"

I glanced at the clock, even though I knew the exact time. I had been staring at the clock every ten minutes since I tried to go to bed last night at twelve. Though, much to my amazement, the clock read 6:45. I must have nodded off sometime during the night. "His plane lands at eight."

Dad nodded and stood in the doorway a minute longer. He looked like he was contemplating saying something, but eventually he smiled and nodded again. "I'll let you get ready," he said before closing the door.

Get ready? Ready for what? To see Adam you idiot, a voice in my head screamed. I sighed and stood up. I was already dressed, plain blue jeans and a black tank top. Simple. Boring. Did I really care what I looked like anymore? I yawned and walked toward the door. No point trying to dress any different. It was just Adam, after all.

I went to the bathroom across the hall and ran a brush through my long brown hair. I quickly lined my brown eyes with black eyeliner before brushing my teeth. A few moments later I left the bathroom and went to the kitchen where my dad was eating a bowl of Frosted Flakes with a banana cut up on top. Typical. The only way he ever ate cereal.

He looked up as I sat down at the table and smiled softly. I returned it before glancing at the clock. 7:00. Adam's flight landed at eight. It would take me almost an hour to get to the airport, especially with early morning traffic.

I slowly stood up and pushed in the chair. "You going to be home for dinner?" Dad asked.

I shrugged.

"I'm making spaghetti. You can bring Adam with you, if you want."

I nodded and headed toward the front door. I wasn't much of a morning person, even if I was wide-awake. I didn't like talking to anyone until at least 10:30 or a few hours after I woke up. The people I talked to and hung around all knew that. Most of them thought it was strange, but let me be anyway.

The drive to the airport was relatively slow. Traffic was like I thought it would be, very congested. But soon I found myself standing in pick up area of Wilson Airport in Rocky Mount, about an hour and a half drive from my house on a good day. Today took a little longer.

"Where are you?" I mumbled, as I looked around the airport. Seas of anonymous people filtered through the gates to their awaiting families and friends. I stood along the back wall searching for Adam's shaggy brown hair and deep brown eyes.

Then I saw him. His shaggy hair was longer than I remembered, reaching just past his chin. His face was scruffy, as if he hadn't shaved in days. His tan t-shirt was tattered and hung loosely on his scrawny frame. He carried a black bag over his right shoulder and kept his left hand glued in his jeans pocket. It was a nervous habit he had since he was eight, when he suddenly didn't know how to act around a girl he liked.

His eyes were scanning the crowd, but for the moment I remained invisible to him, invisible to the world. "Oh, I'm sorry," a middle aged women said after she bumped into me, jarring me from my thoughts.

I glanced at her and nodded as she started to walk away with two kids following. They looked about eight or nine. The girl was slightly taller than the boy, but he had his arm around her as if he was protecting her from all the evil in the world. For some reason the children reminded me of Adam and me when we were ten. He always was my knight in shining armor, even though I was taller until we were about fifteen. He always treated me like I was the most precious thing in the world.

I sighed and turned back to the gates, in search of Adam. I found his eyes locked on mine as he walked toward me. He was maybe twenty feet away, but people were streaming in between, blocking his quick route. The closer he walked, the more I took in his haggard appearance. His eyes held bags under them, and his hair was more ruffled than ever. He looked skinner too, if that was even possible.

Despite how bad he looked, I couldn't help but smile. This was my Adam. My Adam. He smiled as he reached me and for the first time since I saw him, he looked like the old Adam, my best friend. No words were exchanged as we wrapped our arms around each other. I closed my eyes and rested my head against his chest, taking in the feel of him being here again, his being home.

When we broke apart he placed a small kiss on my forehead before smiling down at me. I smiled back before stepping away. We walked together toward the baggage claim. Random people around us watched Adam, as if they thought they knew him from somewhere but couldn't place it. It was definitely different. I guess I would just have to get used to it.