Come Back Friday

March 17, 2008
By Mary Katherine Brown, Hillsborough, NC

The summer before I started college at UNCA I drove up to the school to take a tour of the campus. I was there alone that day and I was supposed to be meeting the son of one of the men that worked with my father. From what I knew about the boy, he was twenty, a year older than I was, and he was there on a full ride. I believed he was just the kind of petty jerk that I was trying to avoid. I really wasn’t looking forward to the day.

I chose UNCA because it was small, quiet, and artsy, just like me. I figured that it was the kind of school that all the snobby girls and guys from my high school would stay away from. As I drove into the small parking lot where I was to meet my guide and carefully parked, I looked around to see I if could spot the boy even though I had never met him in my life.

There were a few people around, leaning against their cars, or walking towards one of the many restaurants and cafes on the street. One person in particular was leaning against a light pole at the far end of the lot and was staring straight at my car. When I got out he was still standing and as I went around the back to the trunk to get my book bag I could see, out of the corner of my eye, him straighten up and walk in my direction. By the time I had dug out my bag and gotten the trunk to close, he was only a few feet away.

“Excuse me?” he said, holding out his hand. “Are you Sophie?” As I turned towards him I noticed a few things about him. His shirt and his jeans were specked with paint and his zip-up hoodie looked to be older than he was. Other than his clothes what stood out the most were his eyes. I could have gotten lost in those eyes. They were bright green and they stood out behind his dark brown hair. After seeing those eyes it took me a moment to regain my thoughts.

“Yes, and you’re Patrick?”

“The one and only.” He stuck out his hand; it looked rough, like he worked with his hands a lot. “So, ready for the grand tour?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be.”

“Good.” He said smiling at me. Quickly he turned around, still holding my hand, and began pulling me towards a coffee shop that sat next to the parking lot.

“So, there are a few things you should know about the campus. Number one. There are about a dozen coffee shops, but this one is the only one worth buying from. Oh, but never order the ‘Reese’s Carmo-Latte.’ Trust me.” We stepped into the shop and instantly we were surrounded by the smell of fresh coffee. As we stood in line he told me a few things about himself. He was there for art school and an elementary teaching degree.

Patrick’s ability to just jump right in and start dragging me around shocked me. I had never met someone like that. After we drank our coffee he dragged me out the door again and turned onto the sidewalk that went past the small shops and restaurants that lined the block. I already knew a little bit about the campus, from school trips and the pamphlets that the school had sent me after I was accepted. But the things that Patrick showed me that day were different than any brochure could ever teach me. The things ranged from the campus’s best coffee to the easy way to get from class to class, to the best place for lunch on a Saturday when you are studying for a test.

“So where did you learn all of this?” I asked him as we sat down to eat lunch. We were in a tiny Chinese restaurant that sat over a hairdresser. The whole place smelled like soy sauce and hair spray.

“Trial and error mostly. A lot of the places, like the coffee shop, I just happened to find one day or another. And since I only go home every now and then, even during the summer, I’ve had a lot of time to wander.”

“Why do you not go home a lot?” I asked. He looked around, a bit nervous for the first time that day. For a minute he sat silently poking at his food. Only the distant hum of the hair driers from down stairs broke the silence.

“I guess you could say that my father and I don’t see eye to eye… on anything.” He paused, quickly taking a sip of soda, “You see, after he and my mom divorced, he got pretty protective. When it came time for me to go to college, he expected me to go to UNC or Duke, like he did, and become an attorney or a businessman. And well, I didn’t want that for myself. I wanted to come to a small college and get my teaching degree. Then hopefully become and elementary art teacher. I told him of my plan, and the fact that I had gotten in on a scholarship, and he blew up. He couldn’t see why I wanted a scholarship to a small school when he already had the money to pay for a big one, or something like that. He couldn’t see that I was doing what I wanted, and he wouldn‘t accept my dreams.”
With a shrug he took another drink. Seeing the stunned look on my face he smiled, it was a killer smile. “Look, Sophie, you don’t need to feel sad for me. I’m happy. I’m following my dreams and if my dad can’t see that then it’s his problem.” Slowly he reached across the table and took my hand. He held onto it as we finished eating and left the restaurant.
As he led me on to our next destination without realizing, we walked a bit slower, and a bit closer. “So what about you?” he asked suddenly.
“What about me?”
“Why are you coming so far away from home? Trying to get away from your friends?”
“No. I don’t really have any friends.”
“Why is that?”
“My junior year one of the girls, one of the rich girls, was holding this huge party at her house. Me and a bunch of my friends decided to go. When we got there, it was wild. The people there were almost tearing her house apart, and the girl was helping. So many people were beyond drunk. My friends joined in on the fun, I tried to leave. One of the guys at the party tried to stop me. Then he tried to get in my pants. So I left and I called the police. The next week at school I could just tell that everyone hated me. I finished of the rest of that year, and my senior year with no friends. I used to like school, but then I dreaded it. I had nothing in life but leaving town to look forward to.”
“Wow.” He stopped walking and turned to me.
“I’m coming all the way here so that I can have a fresh start.”
After that we didn’t talk, there didn’t seem to be a need for words. After a few minutes of walking Patrick turned into a hardware store. He pulled me through the door, suddenly walking fast, and nodded at an old man that was standing over a pile of boxes. He pulled me into the storeroom and up a flight of stairs. As we approached the top he stopped, fishing around in his pocket for the key.
“Patrick, where are we?” I asked uncertainly.
“The last stop on our tour. It’s, um, it’s my apartment.”
“Your apartment?”
“Sophie,” he laughed, “I’m not trying anything. Well, I’m not trying hard. I just need to show you something. One more thing before you go home.”
Quickly he opened the door and pulled me inside. Taking my hand again he pulled me across the room to a spiral staircase that sat in the middle. As I looked around I saw that the whole place was only two rooms. The big part that we were in served as living room, with a couch pushed against one wall; bed room, with a huge four poster bed that was against another; and kitchen, with a small kitchenette in the back corner. A door led to what I figured was the bathroom. It was very nice. Wood floor, the whole front side of the room had floor to ceiling windows that looked out onto the street below. All over the walls were posters of bands, movies, concerts, and paintings. In one cleared out spot near the couch there was a half finished mural painting that nearly covered the whole wall. All across the floor were records, and books.
With a tug he pulled me up the tight spiral staircase, pushing up a trap door in the ceiling as we reached the top. “Close your eyes,” he said pausing. I obeyed, nervous about what was going to happen. Carefully he pulled me up the last few stairs and through the door. Then letting my hand go he stepped away.
“Okay. Open your eyes.”
What I saw was amazing. It was a full panoramic view of the campus. It was truly incredible. “Its beautiful Patrick.”
“Yes,” he said taking my hand as I made one last turn, “you are.” Slowly he stepped towards me, reaching up to my cheek and tucking a piece of hair behind my ear. He let his hand fall to my shoulder, and then to my elbow, finally letting it rest around my waist. He was so close I could feel the heat of his body. As I looked up into his bright green eyes, I saw that they shined more than ever.
Slowly he leaned forward, pulling me close to him, and placing his other hand behind my neck. At last we kiss, and at last time stopped. It must have only lasted for a few moments, but it seemed like a lifetime. All to quickly he let go. Grabbing my hand he pulled me toward the trap door. We went down the spiral staircase at top speed and at the bottom we came together again. He pulled me to him quickly and held me close as we kissed. I lifted myself onto my toes so that we were the same height. He led me over to the little couch that faced the windows and sat me down. The sun was going down and as I looked out the windows the room was filled with a warm orange glow.
I watched as Patrick crossed the room to a pile of records and selecting one, placed in on the record player. Softly the sounds of Miles Davis filled the apartment around us. He again crossed the room and sat down facing me. I leaned toward him, resting my head against his chest and we lay back. For a long time as we watched the sunset, and then the stars, we lay without making a sound. I listened to his heart, letting the beat mix with the sound of the music.
With a faint click the record ended. The hands on the clock on the wall read 10 o’clock, it was time for me to go. With a groan I sat up, pulling my knees to my chest. Patrick leaned over, wrapping me up in his arms.
“I don’t wana go home.” I leaned my head onto his shoulder, letting myself melt into his arms.
“I don’t want you to go.”
“But I have to. I could come back Friday.” Again I groaned and wiggled even closer, burying myself in his arms, never wanting to forget how I felt at that exact moment. With one finger he lifted up my chin, first kissing me softly then more strongly. It took us a few minutes, but we finally got up and left. We walked slowly across campus to my car, stopping every so often to hold each other or just make time go slower. We passed the coffee shop, which was now dark and locked tight for the night. We stopped at my car, I put my bag back into the trunk, and I moved towards my door. He held on to my hand staying where he was. Right when I opened the door he pulled me back to him giving me one last kiss.
I got in my car and drove away. As I turned onto the main road I smiled to myself. Finally, I had something to look forward to.

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