April 6, 2010
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I woke up that day, excited. There was no school, and I had plans to spend the day browsing around the library. It's strange how people who never know what to say almost always love books. I threw on old jeans, a t-shirt and a hoodie. I made my tea, put it in my travel mug, and grabbed an apple for the road. I left my jacket behind, reveling in the spring air as I walked the short distance to Celine's house.

I knocked on their familiar door, ignoring the covered up doorbell. I thought about how there are more broken doorbells in the world than there are working ones. I thought about how we don't really need doorbells anymore; how nobody would ever visit unannounced; how everybody always calls, or texts. Dogs barked, one with a strong woof and the other a yap. People stirred. A young man answered the door.

“Jean,” I near-gasped, “you're home.”

He simply stared back. I guess I hadn't left much room for reply. There's no real reply to a true statement, even when it's surprising.

I stood awkwardly at the door, staring at him. “Is your sister here? We're supposed to be going out.”

“Sure, just give me a sec,” he smiled. As Jean disappeared down the hall, the dogs came down the split-level's entrance stairs, eyes shining. I caught Phoebe, the minuature poodle, in one of my arms. Abby, the classic golden retriever, nudged my hand with her cold nose and pleaded with her eyes that I pet her. I gave the dogs a sarcastic look. He'd left me waiting, half-in half-out the door. Typical.

I thought about Jean. I thought about how we'd been friends. Pretty good friends. I remembered all the Saturday nights of poker, the trip to John's cottage, his incessant text messaging, and the conversations about our hopes for the future we'd have taking the bus home. I thought about how much I'd changed in two years. Two years is a lifetime when you're 16. I used to think I'd grown up and he had somehow forgotten to. But really, he'd changed a lot, too.

Abby whined at me. Lost in thought, I'd neglected my petting. I gave her another look. “Isn't life just so tough?” I teased.

Jean laughed, arriving back at the door. “Life sure is,” he patted Abby and laughed again, “Celine'll be out in a few minutes. She was still asleep.”

“Spring break will do that to you,” I said.

“Sure will.”

I felt maladroit. Not only was I half in the door, dogs in my arms, but I couldn't even make conversation with someone who had been one of my best friends. Had it really only been two years? I thought. All I could think was that I was so glad to see him.

So I said, “I'm really glad you're home.”

He half-smiled. Do we ever fully do anything? Do we ever really put ourselves 100 percent into anything? Or is that too big of a risk?

“Why are you glad?” he asked.

“Because I like you.”

“But the others. They're still there. That sucks.”

“Jail sucks for anyone.”

He appeared torn. Guilt grew in his face; guilt that he had been the one to go home. “But some people deserve it,” Jean pleaded.

“They all deserve it, but they're not all my friends, either.”

He stood, partly hurt that I told him the others deserved whatever 'it' was, but mostly relieved that he was forgiven. That he was my friend. I swayed and crossed my feet at the ankles. I laughed.

“What?” he asked.

“Nothing,” I smiled.

We stood awkwardly. Words grew on his tongue.

“Hey,” he said. A long second later, “Thanks.”

Celine appeared.

“Ready?”, I asked. She nodded, smiled and we turned to leave. Jean stood at the door, with no apparent movement to close it. I looked back.

His voice lingered. "Thanks."

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