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It’s our last four minutes together.
The five of us, united.
The impenetrable past, the future hanging unpredictable in the skies, the present with its potluck of emotions sitting between us. Two checked minutes pass in silence.
Charlie’s mum honks pressingly from outside. He shifts on his feet, the closest to uncomfortable he’s ever been around us. ‘Well, guys,’ he says. ‘I’ll send you Berkeley sweatshirts, OK?’
The twins pat him on the back, the restricted show of emotion available to guys.
Sheila tackles him with a hug, eyeliner surprised by tears. ‘I can’t believe you’re leaving us, you bastard,’ she whispers, throat constricting. Even though in a week, she’ll follow suit and go off to New York. Later Michael will fly out of the continent, Dan will be moving a few hours away, and I will also find my place elsewhere.
It’s beautiful and painful how the blue yarn splits and threads its way in different directions.
We’re terrified and elated.
We wouldn’t have it any other way.
I want to cry too, but Charlie looks guilty enough, hands shoved haphazardly into his jean pockets. Holding my tears in for later, somehow, someway, I think of our endless nights shooting the breeze and smile. ‘Hey, Charlie?’
He arches his eyebrows at me.
‘Best of luck,’ I offer. ‘Not that you’ll need it.’
He tosses an arm around my shoulder, grinning. He says his goodbyes, gives Sheila and I a squeeze, then walks out the rusty gate. We follow him onto the sidewalk as he settles into his car, window rolled down.
He calls bye, waving, as he drives away into the future.
Michael calls, ‘Kick ass, CHARLES!’
Charlie gives him the finger and a grin in the rearview mirror, ignoring his mum’s look of shock.
And then he’s gone, tanned arm slung out the window, rumbling down the road, away, away, away.