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The Unknown Future This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

“Will you come back to visit?” Anthony asked.

He sat on the floor of his girlfriend’s bedroom, his back resting against the bed. Faye sat in front of him digging through a box of her old things. There were two piles, one to her left and one on her right. The pile to her left would be things staying behind. The other would be going with her to California.

“Of course,” Faye said, smiling up at him. “But you’ll have to come to California at least once.”

They’d been high school graduates for all of two months, they’d dated for three years, and now it was close to the end of July. Faye would be leaving for college the next morning. Anthony would be staying in their home town, attending a college that was an hour away. He had never experienced a long-distance relationship but only had read about it in books or seen it in movies. In books and films, couples usually seemed to stay together and even grow closer, but Anthony knew that in reality, things didn’t always work out.

“Hey, Anthony,” Faye said, bringing Anthony out of his thoughts. A silver chain dangled from her index finger, and on the chain was the pale blue promise ring he gave her on her birthday two years before. Faye took Anthony’s hand and placed the necklace in his open palm. “You might want this back.”

Anthony furrowed his eyebrows, looking down at the necklace then back up at her. “Why?”

“Something to remember me by,” she said with a shrug. “While I’m away.”

Faye continued digging through the box, every now and then tossing something into one of the two piles. For weeks Anthony had ignored a little knot of worry in his chest, but the necklace in his hand tightened the knot. He put the necklace in his jeans pocket. Better to worry than to know, he decided.

“All right,” Anthony said, “but we won’t be able to visit each other often. We’ll probably only see each other once, maybe twice a year.”

Faye sighed and took her hands from the box of stuff. Pushing strands of hair out of her eyes, she crawled next to Anthony and draped her long legs across his lap. Her brown eyes sparkled.

Anthony always wondered how he had gotten so lucky. He knew he wasn’t the most exciting guy. He didn’t talk much and seemed always to be lost in his thoughts. Unlike most kids his age who went to parties or hung out with friends, Anthony would rather stay home and watch movies or read. The fact that Faye would want to be with a guy like him seemed crazy.

Faye was his polar opposite. Her cheery, outgoing nature had annoyed and taken him off guard when they first met. Faye was more talkative than most people, friendly with almost everyone. Perhaps that’s what brought them together. Faye had gotten Anthony to come out of his shell, little by little, throughout the years. Faye had changed him for the better.
Anthony didn’t know what he did to deserve someone as amazing and wonderful as Faye. He didn’t have much to offer in return, but now that he had her, he didn’t want to let her go.

“You worry too much, Ant,” Faye said, giggling when Anthony grimaced at the nickname she gave him long ago. “We’ll still be able to video chat and call each other like we always do.”

She ran her fingers through his curly hair and kissed his cheek. Anthony’s tanned cheeks grew warm. He stared at the far wall. “I guess . . .”

“We’ll be fine.” Faye’s tone was reassuring.

Faye leaned forward toward the box and took out a handful of papers and cards. As Faye rifled through them, a particular card came into view. It was a Valentine’s Day card dated back to the previous February. Faye sat up on her knees and shoved the card into her back pocket, but Anthony caught a glimpse of the name—Jared.

“Who’s Jared?” Anthony asked.

Faye’s cheeks turned pink. She kept her gaze on the other papers.
Look at me, Anthony thought. Look at me. But she didn’t.

“W-who? Oh! You mean Jared, um…he’s going to the same college as me. It’s just him congratulating me on getting accepted . . .”

Faye tossed the rest of the papers aside and stood, pulling Anthony up with her. She hugged him and stared into his eyes.

“Listen to me. Everything’s going to be fine. We’ll be fine. Nothing is going to change, not really. It doesn’t matter if I move to the other side of the world. You’ll always be my number one.”

“Yeah, number one,” Anthony said, bending to kiss her. He brought his arms around her in a tight grip. If he let go, she might disappear from his life forever.

“Faye!” Faye’s mother’s voice travelled up the stairs. “Come down here for a second!”
Faye pulled away, still holding Anthony’s gaze.

“I’ll be right back,” she mumbled, hurrying out the door.

Anthony stared at the empty doorway a moment. He reached into his pocket, pulled out the necklace, and frowned at it.

“Everything’s going to be fine,” Faye had said.

That’s the worst thing about the future, Anthony realized. You don’t know what will happen.

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