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You Can't Be Missed If You Never Go Away.
“Gabe? What are you doing here so late?” I rubbed my sleepy eyes as they focused on the purple hoodie-clad boy at my front door.
It was four AM, an odd time for anyone to be out of bed. But not for Gabe. In the six years I had known him, I found out he was an insomniac when he was thinking too much.
So I asked him, “What’s wrong?”
He shrugged and jammed his hands into his jean pockets, looking down at the green welcome mat.
“Do you want to come inside?” I prodded. Before he could answer, the light from my grandmother’s room flickered on and she looked through the curtains.
“It’s only Gabriel.” I told her, and she went back to bed. I waited until I heard her snoring before pulling Gabe inside and into my room after locking the front door. I climbed up into my bunk bed as he sat in my pink computer chair. I settled down in bed and looked over the edge at him.
“Spill.” I whispered.
He took his hoodie off and held it out to me.
“Huh?” I raised an eyebrow.
“I came by to give this to you.”
I was shocked. “Are you drunk?” He never let anyone even touch his purple hoodie.
“No. I want you to have it.” He stood up and climbed up into bed with me, lying down and covering me with the sweater. I looked into his brown eyes.
“Gabe, why are you giving this to me?”
“Because I want to. I want you to have something to remember me by. I-I’m leaving to New York tomorrow.”
His words slapped me across the face. My best friend was leaving me?
“I need to go so I can record some demos.” he continued.
I knew he was a talented singer. What if he made it big?
“What if you get signed? What if you get tour offers? What if you never come back?” I whispered the last question out of fear.
“I’ll come back, baby cobra. I promise.” He called me by the nickname he’d given me our freshman year of high school. We’d been play-fighting and I’d bitten down on him too hard. He still had the scar on his shoulder.
“Promise?” I asked, doubt lingering in my voice. He came closer and put a hand on my cheek.
“I promise. I love you, baby cobra.” With that, he pressed his lips to mine in an innocent kiss. I was taken aback by this but kissed him back nonetheless. I had been in love with him since the first day I had met him…
I woke the next morning, not remembering how I had fallen asleep. Gabe was gone, but his sweater still covered me. I slipped it on and put the hood up. It still smelled like his cologne.
A year later I had moved to Los Angeles to pursue cosmetology. I hadn’t heard from Gabe since that night he’d come over. Oh sure, I saw himâ€”on the internet, on TV, even on posters, for Christ’s sake. He’d made it big, all right. But he’d forgotten me.
Part of me felt stupid for believing he actually loved me when he’d said it. Another part of me wanted to keep him around. That’s why I wore the purple hoodie wherever I went. His scent was, of course, long gone, but if I closed my eyes and thought back, I could still feel him pressed against me, his body heat keeping me warm.
The day I graduated beauty school, I spent the afternoon with my friend that lived across the hall from my apartment.
“That sweater is pretty.” she said, looking the purple hoodie over.
“Thanks.” I smiled weakly.
After hours of coffee and conversation, I checked the clock.
“Oh, I better go, it’s late!” I said my goodbye and started back to my apartment. I stopped in my tracks as I noticed a figure knocking at my door.
“Hello?” I asked quietly.
The stranger turned around, making me realize it was no stranger at all. He took a step forward and smiled.