The sunny day had long been replaced by a night sky full of constellations. Yet, we laid there, fingertips half frozen as they continued to roam the frosty patches of grass. Alex’s face was still frozen in wonder as she took the time to observe every star in the sky. She seemed to be hypnotized by the gleaming galaxies before us, and when I turned to her, her sterling blue eyes shine almost as bright as they did.
It was until she spoke that I realized that I’d been caught, and in that moment, I couldn’t even begin to fathom just how rosy red my cheeks had become. “What are you looking at?”
She giggled when she asked, in the cute way, scrunching up her nose and squinting her eyes. The cute way. The way that she used to.
Alex caught me off guard that night, which we spent the rest of laughing ourselves into oblivion. My stomach cramped, and she laughed even harder. I didn’t mind. It was my favorite sound.
We were nine then, and the innocence was bliss.
On my eleventh birthday, we met up and spent yet another night at my house. This time, we hadn’t snuck past the creaky, rusted gate and over the jagged pavement. Instead, we laid in the same bed, under the same roof, listening to the rain drops collide with the shingles as we exchanged the stories of our shared memories throughout previous years. I reminisced on the time we crashed our bikes while riding together, and as the moonlight crept through the curtains, the matching scars on our calves were revealed.
Alex reached out to touch mine, and smiled up at me, but her eyes didn’t shine. I could no longer see the stars in them, and as much as it pained me to see those empty blue orbs, I never questioned her. It felt as if somethings were better left unsaid, yet at the same time, there’s so many things I wish I would’ve told her. I suppose that was the way our friendship worked, and it was strange in that way.
Fifteen, freshmen in high school when I first caught the scent of her morning buzz spilling from her full, yet pale, lips. Alex. She reeked of stale whisky almost every encounter after, and we were nearly 16 when I witnessed it firsthand.
“What are you doing?” My voice was barely above a whisper as I fought back the tears that were threatening to escape. Alex tightened her grip on the neck of the bottle, and raised it down the rest of its contents, then stood on shaky knees. Without saying a word to me, she staggered towards the door and made sure to brush against my shoulder as she did. I heard her low chuckles all the way down the hallway, until they were replaced by gags in the restroom.
My best friend spent the rest of the night losing her stomach to the toilet bowl, but I never left her side.
I was 18 when I lost my first love. Our childhood ambitions came to a screeching halt as I laid flowers on the cold wood. It was a gloomy day and the rolling thunder still was incapable of drowning out my thought. Each flash brought back a wave of childhood promises.
We’d buy our own apartment together in a big city. We’d sleep in the same bed.
We’d buy our first house and sit by the bonfire at night, sipping the finest of wines and remembering where it all began.
Our kids would play in the front yard while we watched from the porch.