Can You Stand the Rain? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

August 3, 2011
“Can you stand the rain?”

“Stand the what?”

“The rain, Sarah, can you stand it?”

“Yeah, I guess. I don't understand.”

“Come on, come on. We know she can. Of all of us, Sarah can stand the rain. Now just put your hand on the table.”

“Let's do this again. One year, same time, same place.”

“Same waiter!”

Between our bursts of laughter, I looked around the table. It was the day I'd never thought would come. In less than 48 hours those closest to me would be three hours away in either direction. It was the last time the four of us would be together like this. We were four crazy teenagers in the middle of the Macaroni Grill, our hands on the table making a pledge we all wondered if we'd keep.

None of us knew what would happen. Katie was bouncing around in her seat. I could pick her out of a crowd anywhere. I don't know if it was her auburn hair or petite figure, but she was the type of person who was always in the center of things. She never knew what was going on, though she pretended to. She lived for the moment. It was her spontaneous personality I loved. She had no rules, no boundaries. With Kate you got what you wanted, no matter what. She laughed, tilting her head to the side – her signature pose – as her eyes scanned the restaurant for our waiter. She squirmed, tapping her hand on the paper tablecloth. Soon she'd be in Vermont and I didn't know who was going to keep me crazy.

Across from me was Michelle. She smiled one of her “I understand, Jillian” smiles. Michelle had been through more in her life than I ever will. She was strong, stronger than she, or anyone else, knew. I'd seen her come up from being slammed on the ground when it seemed like she would never go on. Michelle had come to me with her fears, secrets and wishes – and had been there for mine. She always managed to make me smile and give me that extra push. She knew I was scared but she wanted me to be strong. She could read my mind and I was afraid that soon she wouldn't be able to. Vermont was taking her, too, and I wondered if she'd ever know the difference she'd made in my life.

On my right was Sarah. She was excited, I could tell by her eyes. Sarah knew the world was ahead of her and she wasn't stopping until she had it in her hands. She was confident, and if you didn't accept Sarah for who she was, you might as well move out of her way because she didn't want to deal with you. I could see her ten years from now, dressed in a navy blue suit making her closing argument before a jury, the court room stilled by her words. If anyone would make it through these next few days, it was Sarah. She was the only one of us who was sane, and she knew it. She thought everything through and guided herself with logic and instinct; only Sarah could do that. She said we were sisters in a past life because she saw herself in me. She would soon be a freshman in Orono; I didn't know how I'd make it without my sister.

I was a part of Kate, Michelle and Sarah. I held Kate's insane personality in my hands, Michelle's sensitivity in my heart and Sarah's intelligence in my head. We were all so different, all headed in different directions. I was two years younger and about to enter my junior year. I was ignorant and scared. Sarah could tell by my expression, Michelle by my eyes and Kate by the constant tapping of my foot. I was scared of losing them, the people who had unintentionally guided me through some of the hardest years of our lives. I was always running to catch up and now I was afraid they would lap me, without looking back.

How was I going to get through hectic weekdays and depressing weekends when my closest friends were so out of reach? How was I going to laugh things off when there was no one to tell me to? Who was going to tell me everything I needed to do to succeed? Who was going to give me advice on life, trig homework or my petty problems? My mind was spinning. I felt like thunder was crashing down. I could no longer hear the clanging of plates and silverware. The constant hum of voices had grown dim. Time had always been my biggest enemy and it was right at my heels, and I could feel myself falling.

Then Kate kicked me. “No tears,” she said.

“I love you, honey,” Michelle smiled.

“I'll email you all the time, Jilly,” Sarah confirmed.

I believed them. Their words seemed to push me faster, further ahead from what I always thought would let me down.

“So, we have to stand the rain, guys, right?” I questioned, my words shaking. “We have to get through everything, no matter what.”

“We can do anything,” Kate laughed.

“I can do it!” Michelle exclaimed proudly, putting her hand down.

“Me, too,” Kate agreed, sliding hers in the middle.

“Obviously I'm in,” Sarah said, placing her long fingers on top of Kate’s.

Three pairs of eyes turned to me. “Yes,” I said with confidence, finishing the pile. “I can stand the rain.”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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