Chapter One: Introduction
I guess college was okay. I mean, it was fun and all, and I was making friends. I got along really well with my roommate, Amber. She was so nice and really outgoing. She was sort of a party animal, though, and I felt as though I always had to deal with watching after her at parties to make sure she didn't get into anything bad.
I still kept in touch with Alyssa, who was away at an out-of-state college. We texted occasionally, and kept a Facebook conversation that never really ended. She was still the person I asked for advice the most. I knew she would tell me the truth, rather than tell me what she thought I wanted to hear- this was something I grew to really appreciate.
I really only kept in touch with Jim through Alyssa. I'd see him occasionally when everyone was home visiting. We were never really close anyway.
The most surprising thing about my college friends was the person that I'd grown the closest to in the entire year that I'd been there.
That person was Tristan Koehler.
I went to high school with Tristan, and up until the end of my senior year, I had never really talked to him. He was in with the group of people that had always made fun of me. In fact, he was the one who coined my infamous nickname 'Pee-Pee'. I disliked him because I assumed he hated me too. The reality of it, though, was that we just didn't know a thing about each other.
I had discovered that we were both attending the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire campus, and from there things just kind of snowballed in a good way. I got along with Tristan. I learned a lot about him that I never would have ever guessed.
And I was still learning new things every day. He was just incredibly interesting.
"You play guitar?" I had asked, surprised to see him greeting me with a guitar strapped to his back. He sat next to me in the grass and pulled it around in front of him and held it in his lap.
"You bet," he said, smiling.
"Well, what are you waiting for? Play something," I insisted. I wondered if he was any good. He bit his lip.
"I've never really played for anyone before," he shrugged.
"Well, if you're not going to play anything for me, I'll be forced to assume you don't actually play. Heck, you're probably just using it as a prop for a party so you can nail all the girls that want to date a guitar playing douche," I sighed, being slightly overdramatic and very sarcastic. Tristan took well to sarcasm though.
"Hey, hey, that's absolutely false."
"Then play something."
"Fine," he sighed, unlatching the case to reveal his acoustic guitar. He pulled it out and held it in position. "Now what to play . . ."
I was about to offer some suggestions, but before I could, he started playing 'Blackbird' by the Beatles. It was a simple song, but what shocked me was the fact that he was singing it as well. He stopped midway through the song, blushing a bit. Blushing was something I had never seen Tristan do.
"Sorry about the singing, I forgot you were here," he chuckled.
"No, Tristan, it's really good."
"You think so?"
"I do. You should play for people more often."
Flash-forward to that spring, and Tristan was sitting next to me on a bus, accompanying me to the cemetery where Lenny was buried. It was the first time I had visited him in a while, so I was anxious about what kind of emotions I'd experience. It had been exactly a year since he had taken his own life.
'Are you sure you're okay?" he asked me as we got closer and closer to our stop. I shrugged.
"I'm fine," I said, stiffly, accidentally letting a tear escape. He reached over and held my hand in his. I looked down at it and squeezed it, appreciating his support. I held his hand until the bus came to the stop we were looking for. We had to walk a little ways before we got there, and I didn't let go the entire time. We were supposed to meet Alyssa and Jim there, too. Alyssa had come all the way from Michigan just to visit him.
We saw them at the entrance, and Alyssa looked up.
"I was just about to text you- hold up, am I missing something?" she asked, her eyes dropping to my fingers that had become interlocked with Tristan's. I immediately dropped his hand, even though a part of me liked holding it.
"She was just upset, so I was comforting her," Tristan shrugged.
We went into the cemetery together and found his headstone, 'Lenny Evenson: 1994-2012", and that was all it said. I remembered asking his dad if he was going to put anything else on it, but I never got a clear response.
I cried a lot. Alyssa cried too. Tristan's eyes got a little puffy, but I didn't notice any tears. Jim managed to keep a straight face the entire time.
Eventually, Alyssa and Jim had to leave. He had driven her there, and her parents wanted to visit with her while she was in town for the day. That left just me and Tristan once again.
"You want to know something stupid?" he asked me.
"What?" I sniffled.
"I used to be really jealous of Lenny. Like, it was ridiculous," he sighed. When I didn't say anything, he continued. "In eighth grade, there were lacrosse tryouts, and I got cut in the first round, but he made the team and still had the audacity to complain about how he thought he messed up. That was the first time I ever met him. I guess it makes sense now that I think of it."
"I didn't know you played lacrosse," I said.
"I did when I was younger, it's whatever though. If I hadn't been cut, I never would have picked up my guitar," he chuckled. I smiled at that, which amazed me. "Are you ready?"
"I guess," I said as he stood up and held his hand to me so he could help me up as well. I walked out of the cemetery with him and took the walk to the bus station where we would wait for the bus to take us back to school.
The end of that first year of college was bittersweet. I was partially excited because I was done with all the course work and everything. It was summer, so the weather was nice, and I got to go home. I was a little bummed though, because it meant and entire summer without Amber or seeing Tristan on campus every day.
I mean, we hung out over the summer, of course, but it was interrupted because he was taking a vacation to Europe with his family, so he was gone for over a month. When he came back, though, he threw an end of the summer party at his house.
I went to the party with Alyssa.
"Wait, do you know what kind of party this is?" I asked her, as my mom texted me asking what time I would be home.
"Tell her you're sleeping over at my house," she said, signaling exactly what kind of party it was going to be. I listened, and shot my mom a quick text. I looked up from my phone to see that we were kind of in the middle of nowhere. I mean, it wasn't hard to find the middle of nowhere in Wisconsin, but I didn't realize that it was where Tristan lived.
"Where are you going?" I asked.
"Um, Tristan's house? Haven't you been to his house?" she asked.
"Nope," I shrugged.
"Well that's surprising, since you guys are like married."
"Hey!" I whined.
"I'm just saying . . . he's awfully flirty with you," she said, as we came upon a long, winding driveway that led up to a rather large ranch-style house. A ways away I could see a barn and a bunch of cows.
"Tristan's family owns a dairy farm?" I asked, watching the cows.
"Um, yeah, I can't believe you didn't know that," she said as she parked. I got out of the car and walked up to the house with her. She pushed the door open and I followed her in.
"Hey!" he said, greeting us when we entered the living room. His house was pretty open on the inside, yet still had that old-fashioned, homey feel to it.
"Where is everyone? Where's the music and the alcohol and stuff?" Alyssa asked. Tristan shrugged.
"The alcohol's outside- we're having a bonfire. But, it's just a small group. No wild house parties today."
We followed him outside after he grabbed a few items from his kitchen. Sitting around the bonfire were Jim and a few of our other friends from high school like Troye and Steve and Kristen. I took a seat on a bench in between Tristan and Alyssa.
There were a few exchanges like "Hi, how are ya?" and other catching up things.
"I just wanted to see everyone I guess before we go off to school again," Tristan said to everyone, holding up a beer can that he pulled out of a cooler. He cracked it open and said, "Here's to another year closer to everything."
"Everything?" I asked, as he handed me a can and asked me to pass it along.
"Yeah, if you think about it- after college we have, like, everything in life to do- you know? Sorry, that's deep," he chuckled.
"You should write a song about it, or are you not a guitar douche anymore?" I teased.
"Shut up," he laughed as he took a swig from the can he had. And since he'd laughed, it spilled all over his lap, causing him to laugh even more. "Piper, look what you did!"
"It's not my fault, you're the one who thought it was funny," I countered, holding back my own desire to laugh.
As number of cans in the cooler dwindled, so did everyone's desire to be mature. I mean, you'd expect that with alcohol, but no. They wanted to play games like truth or dare and spin the bottle. Tristan was even the one who came up with the idea for the second game. He set a wine bottle on top of the cooler and spun it around. It spun quickly and sloppily, almost falling into the grass, before finally landing on . . .
"Ha, now you have to kiss yourself," Alyssa giggled hysterically.
"No, it just means I get to kiss whoever I wanna kiss-" and without hesitation, he turned to me and locked his lips onto mine. I didn't resist at first, but slowly the realization set in that I was kissing Tristan. Not only that, but it was the realization that he was the first person I had kissed since Lenny. I broke away immediately and stood up.
"I'm going inside," I said, briskly stumbling away until I had gotten into his house. I lied down on the couch in his living room and cried until I fell asleep.
So writing that one-shot got me thinking about a sequel . . . and well . . . here ya go :) Let me know what you think!