We arrived at Starbucks at around 3:30pm. The bell chimed as we entered.
Oh, how I loved that place. I knew the staff enough to call them by name and they knew right away what I wanted.
That summer, I had tried every combination of everything in Starbucks. I decided that my favourite was definitely the Café mocha with soy milk, no whip.
Yes, I like soy milk better. I think it's just because my mom is a health freak, and it rubbed off on me. Not to mention the fact that it simply tastes better.
I always get the Venti. It's expensive enough on its own, and you get more that way.
I walked up to the counter and smiled. The last time I was here now feels like weeks, even though it was just yesterday.
"Hey, Julia," I said to the girl at the desk. Julia is awesome; she's seventeen and is like a sister to me. Although, I never see her anywhere else than behind the desk of the Starbucks...
She smiled at me, "Hey Matt," She answered, "Same as always?"
I smiled back at her, "Same as always."
"And for your friend here?" She inquired, the question innocent enough.
"I'll have a cappuccino please." Rachel answered the question with a smile.
Julia looked at the both of us, "Is that together, or separate?"
"Together" I said and at the same time, Rachel said "separate."
We looked at each other as Julia laughed at us. "Separate it is," She said, still chuckling.
We paid for our beverages and waited for our drinks. Rachel glared at me. "I told you I would pay for myself." She retorted.
I shrugged. "I thought you might change your mind."
Her frown slowly turned into a smile, as mine already had. Our eyes locked in place. Ahh yes, the lovely abyss of Rachel's grey eyes. If there was anything else as perfect, I haven't seen it. As our eyes departed, I shook myself inside. You always do this! Why do you always do this?! You're going too far, too fast. I tried not to show my panic as we retrieved our drinks and sat down.
"Matt, you never did tell me about your friend who used to live in my house. What was he like?" I blinked, trying to realize what she had just said. I really didn't want to talk about Mark with her.
"Mark was my best friend." I said, taking a sip.
She smiled at me. "I notice again that you say 'was'."
I tried and failed to return the smile. "We turned our separate ways when he got involved with the wrong people." I answered simply. The coffee was taking its toll.
"Tell me about it." She stated. It was much more a statement than a question.
"It's a long story."
"We have all afternoon."
"We used to be best friends. I knew him since… I don't even remember. We liked the same girls, ate and dressed the same… listened to the same music, everything… but…"
"But?" She questioned. She really wanted to know.
I wondered if I should tell her anything... Did she really have to know about my drug-addicted friend? I stared at the table in front of me and started reading the words printed on the top, "Drink up, my friend and spill out your guts here. Every word you say I will hear. No matter how hard to take. Drink up, yes every drop… Tell me anything you want." I had read those words every time I came here. It was always my table… but only then did I understand the meaning of those words. Rachel really wanted to know about Mark. So I decided to "Spill out my guts here."
"In grade 8, it started. He was invited into a group at school that experimented with smoking… and drugs. Not just pot either… much harder stuff. He tried to get me into it, but I refused to do anything." It was very hard to tell her all this stuff, but I was glad to get it off my chest.
She stared blankly at me, surprise was in her eyes but she was thinking calmly.
"The drugs eventually consumed him. He couldn't do anything without them. He had tried everything from heroin to coke and back." I stared at the coffee table, reluctant to see Rachel's eyes again.
"He wasn't himself anymore. He never wanted to be with me, do anything with me. It was like he was a completely changed person." I blinked back tears from the memory. "I… I couldn't take it anymore. I tried to make him stop but he refused. One day, I just told him, I told him that his drugs were his only friends…" I looked up at Rachel, she looked up at me. "It was worse than ever. He had stolen my iPod. MY IPOD, for money for drugs. It was then that I knew he had gone too far."
There was silence for a few minutes as Rachel took it in. We sipped our drinks, relaxed in our Starbucks chairs and enjoyed the much-needed silence.
"Why did he move?" She asked simply, breaking the silence.
I looked away. "They found drugs in his locker. Enough to put him in jail. His parents were happy to find that he was caught. They put him in rehab and went to Australia. I always knew they were horrible parents. That was one of the reasons he got into drugs so quickly, his parents were never home."
I turned back to Rachel, my hands shaking. "So I was left here without him. Without any hope of ever talking to him again." I took a sip and shook my head. "I used to have so much fun with him, though. I used to make smoothies in his kitchen and play catch with him in the backyard… there are so many awesome memories I have with him that are now ruined because of drugs. I miss him so much. I just wish I could rewind things to when we were kids… those were the best days of my life."
We both sat in silence again. Neither of us knowing what to say. I decided to break the silence; "But what about you, why did you leave?"
Rachel looked up at me and smiled weakly. Pain was in her eyes. "I'm sorry that you lost a friend so dear to you… I know the feeling. My father was diagnosed with cancer when I was thirteen. It was totally unexpected. He was a strong, healthy man… until he started to choke… and cough up blood. We later learned he had lung cancer." She stared into the emptiness above my shoulder. "I used to play with him all the time outside in the yard. After they found out about the cancer though, he was stuck in the hospital… and I couldn't play with him at all. I would visit him every week. Wednesdays became my favourite day in the week. But he was getting worse… The saddest memory I have is the day he died." She choked on her tears. And they began forming on her cheeks… "It was my fifteenth birthday. Like some death wish or something."
She sniffed. "Not only that, but my time at school wasn't all flowers and butterflies either. My best friend hated me so I never told her about my father's death. When he died, we decided to move. So we did."
"What about your best friend?" I asked. "Tell me about her."
She looked up at me. Her eyes full of the grief that I wanted to know about. To be able to go through everything with her, that was all I wanted. "It was the stupidest thing to be mad about. She liked someone, and he liked me. He was an obvious jerk, and made up a story that we were going out. Andrea believed every word and never talked to me at all. I couldn't figure out why but whenever I asked her about it, she wouldn't tell me. She ignored me." Note to self, if ever mad at Rachel, ask her about it. "The last time I saw her, she was still mad at me, even after I explained I had nothing to do with it."
What a jerk. I hope I never turn out to be like that girl. Rachel will be my new best friend here, I just know it. She is so strong to be able to live through her father's death without a friend's shoulder to cry on. I think I'll be that shoulder from now on. I pulled my chair closer to her and hugged her. "And I thought I had it bad," I said while I hugged her.
She snuffled a laugh through her tears. Oh, how I love a girl who is willing to open up to me. Oh, how I love this girl.
When he told me the story of his ex-best friend, I was surprised but happy that Matt's fate was not the same as Mark's. The story is almost as bad as my past. Almost.
And I'll admit, when he hugged me, I was glad. I was happy to simply be held. No one had ever really heard that whole story before. I hadn't told anyone, and Matt's reaction was just as I had hoped he would react.
I didn't want to cry in front of him, though. I can't believe I actually did. I only realized afterward that I had forgotten to wear waterproof mascara that day. Talk about unlucky.
So Matt had seen me at my best (this morning) and my worst (at Starbucks). There was nothing to it; he was turning out to be my best friend in New Jersey. But there was something about that afternoon at Starbucks that couldn't help but make me think, was there something more going on between us?
I woke up the next morning and groaned as I stared at the clock.
This time, the numbers "3:56" screamed out at me, and I wanted to destroy the clock. When I finally decided that my laser-heat vision wasn't working and my clock wasn't exploding, I got up.
My bedroom was still covered in clothes…I really have to clean that. As I stepped over the laundry, I slipped and fell on my right arm. Ouch. Graceful, there Matt… graceful.
I got up again and walked out of the room, grabbing my Coheed and Cambria hoodie on the way out.
I clutched my iPod in my pocket and decided to go for yet another early morning walk. Thoughts poured into my waking mind as I walked around the foggy neighbourhood. Rachel, Rachel is amazing. My mind kept telling me. There is something wrong with me. The rest of me decided. Why can't I stop thinking about her? I shrugged inside She's beautiful… nice, smart… what's not to think about?
I wanted to tear out my hair and run away from my body… WHY CAN'T I STOP THINKING ABOUT HER? She's simply too amazing…
Our talk at Starbucks was one I simply couldn't forget. Her makeup was all smudged as we walked out of the coffee place and I wanted to hug her again. It was so cute the way she was smiling but mascara ran down her face.
I think this is the first time when I like someone that might actually like me back. I mean, she told me about everything, right? Doesn't that mean she trusts me… and likes me?
But… what about Jason? He's so much better than I am. He's such a lady's man and it's not fair. No, I should stop kidding myself. It's obvious that she likes him more…But what if she doesn't?! Ohh… Why do I want her so much?
So there I was, arguing with myself for about a half hour. There was definitely something different about Rachel. It was like she had taken over my entire head, all my thoughts. I've never felt this way about someone before. I've been thinking about her so much that I forgot to turn on my music. I NEVER forget my music.
So I hit myself inside and pressed the "Play" button. The first lyrics that sung out to me were:
"There's a special place inside my skull
Where your DNA it codes my cerebrum
The Spill Canvas definitely had the right idea. Rachel was taking over my skull. And all I could think about was her…
I woke up the next morning, thinking of Matt. Do you think he could like me? I mean, he took me to coffee, insisting he would pay…
No, probably not. Hopefully not. Matt is my friend, I wouldn't want to destroy that by dating. I mean… imagine what would happen after we broke up? He would still live next to me… awkward much?
Besides, there's still Jason to think about. He really is the one for me. If he asked me out, I would say yes on the spot.
Although, Matt is cute… more than cute even. And he has a style that anyone would want. The punk/skater/emo look really works on him.
Oh… I don't know what to do. I like them both!