Her friends trailing behind her, treading holes into the sidewalk from the familiar route they took. Leaving school was more of a blessing than coming, though they had specifically chosen this school. Well, most of them, some of them didn't get into the university of their dreams, and came here as second best, or third, or fourth. Some had traveled many miles to escape the common landscape of their hometown, for some, this was home. Her new university friends sounded just like her old high-school friends, but they were of course, more mature about their drama.
"I swear, if I see that bitch who keeps telling all the girls I'm a whore," Lena carried on in her violent motions. "I'll beat her face in, and then we'll see who's a whore."
"Do you really think beating her face in makes her a whore?" Allie giggled, receiving a glare from Lena.
Yes, of course, they were much more mature. She trailed on, barely hearing but snippets of the conversations. Her mind wandered after hectic days, wandered back home, asking herself why she ever wanted to leave the comfort. To be her own person, to be free of restrictions, to start over, unknown. Stupid reasons, at least, now that she reflected on it. They couldn't answer for the loneliness and sorrow she felt late at night, sleeping in her rundown apartment. Couldn't answer for the homesick feeling she received when she opened the mail box and found nothing from home. What was she expecting? She had left without a trace, packing up her things and leaving. No letter, no inkling as to where she went. Why on earth would they send her letters?
"Who wants to go drinking tonight?" Lena invited, the rest quickly agreed, needing a break she assumed. "Well, how about you Zooey?"
She shook her head. She never agreed, but they kept inviting her, hoping to no avail that eventually she would join them. She understood Lena's reasoning. Get her drunk, get in her pants. How she had become the timid center of Lena's fantasies she would never know. Perhaps it was the accidental time she ran into her, and touched an inappropriate area. Or maybe, it was the first time Lena had appeared drunk, and forced her against the wall. Kissing her, touching her. The heat raced to her face just from sheer memory. But she could never be Lena's, because she was someone else's. So much for starting over. She couldn't erase her feelings. And she couldn't accept new ones. So Lena would just have to keep preying on her vulnerability, and she would just have to keep running.
"Really? Is that cheap beer in your refrigerator enough for you?" Lena dared.
"Aw, leave her alone!"
She stared at Lena, seeing the rejection hurt her once more. She didn't feel anything, it was commonplace. She just shrugged it off and continued on. The parking lot was closer with every step, and then she would be free, at least until class on Monday. Free from the drama her friends divulged in, free from the stress, the boring lectures, and Lena's steely, lusting gaze. Free to wallow in sweet misery until the time comes to plaster the smile back on, and the life into her eyes.
"Hey, Zo', who's that by your car?"
She glanced up, finally spotting her car, and the memorable stranger. Don't break, she warned her heart, don't cry, she warned her eyes. But the warnings were useless, she would break, she would cry. The horrible feeling she had felt months before returned. Her throat got that hardened lump in it, and she felt fear, suffocation, but mostly fear. On those late nights, she always questioned how to deal with such a situation if it came around. However, all the scenarios had disappeared, and all she felt was an empty longing.
Longing for the warmth of the loving embrace, longing for the feeling of slender fingers running through her hair. Longing for the shade of brown that could only be in their eyes. Longing for the feeling of satisfaction, feeling of being whole again.
Her eyes flooded over, her heart shattered louder than she ever thought it could, and it felt like the world was staring at her, waiting for her to move. Her instincts, deciding her mind was useless took over, tossing her books to the ground, willing her legs to run. In that moment, she could have outrun the track team's star. She could have outrun the air, the spin of the earth, if only to get there before they disappeared. She thudded against the familiar shape, felt her arms wind around their body, felt how they fit, still, just as if they had never been torn from them. Her tears stained the shirt she had buried herself in, her hands wrinkled it from the force she used to cling.
The warmth returned, shockingly, allowing her to feel the cold she had become numb to. Those slender fingers brushed through her hair, before interlocking themselves around her waist. The steady heartbeat calmed her own, slowed the tears, though it didn't nearly stop them. She forced herself to pull away, to see. She shook unsteadily as she studied perfection. Their body was as magnificent as when she had left it, no, it had gotten better over time. The curves of the hips, the softness of the skin. And then, their face. If they could harness the feeling she had when she saw into their eyes, they could destroy the world. As those eyes constantly did, destroyed her world.
"Forgive me, forgive me," She found herself begging, as she clung still more to the shirt.
"Why else would I be here?"
The shock from the words sent chills down her spine, numbed her senses. It mattered little what they meant, only the sounds they made. The illness they caused her. The sweetened taste they left her with, they were a melody no one would ever recreate. A song only perfection could sing, and there was no one as perfect as the one in front of her.
"I love you, remember?" The voice laughed, she stared at nothing wide-eyed and frightened by the words. The good kind of frightened, the kind people sought out. The kind only three words could bring. "You're not very smart if you think a few choice words were going to keep me away. That's not what love is."
"Hey, uh, Zo'? Who's the new chick?" Lena, appearing to ruin the moment. She froze, Lena. Lena would hate her if she ever told her the truth. But then, she would understand, wouldn't she? About how they couldn't, how she wouldn't. Yes, it was the only way.
"Her name is Hazelle, and I love her."