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Mars;) : Hey, we should see each other one last time before I leave :)


I arrive at the mall, already ten minutes late to a date I’d planned. But it hardly mattered at all. The one, who I thought was “The One,” was moving 9,291 miles away. She always spoke of her plans to move to another country in hopes of better education, and I always sat there, absorbing all that I heard, and leaking out what I could say: “That sounds nice. Hope you can go there.”


But the time had finally arrived. One week separated the now from her departure. I’ll never say it, but I don’t want her to go.


I see her slowly meander towards me, though I pretend I don’t notice her yet. I want to see what she’d do if she were to surprise me. She gently hugs me from behind.


I hold back a smile. I’m saving it for later. “Hey!” I say.


“What’s up? Are you hungry?” she asks.


I mean I wasn’t really. My mother had prepared a big breakfast that morning. So, I denied the request about my hunger, and we strolled down the massive corridor, filled with shops. Some of which were pointless to visit and others we’d get to later as we went to other floors.


Zumiez. I’ve only been there once with my brother and his friend. They were both thirteen, while I was ten—a measly fourth-grader. But I’d grown up now. I was going in with some I loved. I wasn’t following anyone. I was with her. I was with her for the last time.


We explore the racks of clothing. Not that I could afford anything in here anyway. She probably could, but I’d rather not bug her about a hat with a diamond. A store clerk approaches us, asking if we too have Labor Day off today. “Yes,” I say, happily.


My girlfriend, void of schoolwork until she arrives, says “Well I don’t have school at all.” I nudge her in a playfully annoyed manner. But giggling only ever hides true sorrow. I attempt to make my smile fade away a little slower, so it isn’t apparent that a deep thought had hit my mind, leaving others to question, What’s wrong?
Everything.


We leave the store, nothing in hand, except for our phones.
“Are you sure you don’t want anything to eat?” Her question hadn’t yet made it apparent that she was hungry.
“Yes, I’m very sure,” I reply as we approach a large dirt pit. “What happened to the ice rink?”
“Oh, that's been gone for a month or two.”
“Well, that's another plan ruined” I mumble under my breath.
We stand still as the elevator carries our feet toward the lower floor. We pause in front of
a Genghis Grill. Her intentions clear, I quietly panic. The money I’d planned to bring had been forgotten at home. “Well, I’m currently broke,” I say.


She pulls out her phone, containing twenty dollars held captive within the clear case. “Want some frozen yogurt?”
I deny. What boyfriend would I be to cost her money? Honestly, I should have money to pay for both of us.
She’s filling a paper bowl with a swirl I discern is probably cookies and cream. “Are you sure?” she asks.
I’m tempted to say no again, but my sweet tooth that has made me hide candy wrappers underneath my bed denied me this right. “Sure.”


***


We walk around the third floor, still suffering brain freeze from the rink-level. We both struggle to hold conversations, most only lasting for a minute or two. We, still confined to hugs, and uncomfortable when holding hands, take an escalator down a floor. I spot a place that we should go, called Box Lunch. However, before I mention it, she points directly at it. I don’t know how I didn’t expect her to notice the Deadpool hoodie in the window. It reminds me of homecoming when she wore that red and black dress. I’d been too chicken to ask her to go, so I lied saying I had an extra ticket. I intended for her to never know of my original planning, but come homecoming she stood in the arcade area. All I could do was watch her pin a boutonniere to my lapel.


I look her in the eye as we tour the first floor again, in search of a place to sit. Sweat starts to accumulate on my forehead. I wonder if it’s nervousness or the flannel shirt I decided to casually wear (despite my mom's suggestion). An open bench. We sit down and start conversing about games and school. There is so much she’s missed since school’s started. And there’s so much she’ll miss when she goes. But I won’t dwell on that. At least not through conversation.


I pull out my phone and download a game that I’ve never heard of. A notification pops up indicating the mobile data limit has been reached. I’m 0.10 gigabytes over my data cap, but an icebreaker is needed. I start playing the game, the derpy graphics angering me. She glances over, asking if she can play next. A response of yes almost enters my mouth, but she leans in. My body stiffens, her head grazing my shoulder. I look at her. The only thing stopping me from kissing her is my intuition. My mind tells my body to move, but it only tightens the strain. I hand the phone to her, and she leans in the other direction. A pressure is released and my ability to breath is returned. I lean in, hoping that in one swoop I will have kissed her and ended the day on a high note. Yet again, however, I stiffen halfway into the lean. A message pops up on my screen, and she hands me my device.


Mom: Are you ready to be picked up?
You: I’ll be out in 10 minutes.

“Welp. My mom is here. I guess it’s time.”
“Oh, should I walk with you?” she asks.
I gesture and smile. She follows.


It’s a solemn walk. We don’t really talk. A realization has struck us, and the looks hidden within our eyes say it. This was the end. We approach the drop off point, near the exit of Banana Republic. I see my mom circle around in her Corolla. She comes to a halt when she sees me. I look at my girlfriend. I laugh. Her height reaches my shoulder. She slugs me in the arm as I realize I’ve said that out loud. We stare eye to eye. A kiss seems like a bad idea right now. I open my arms and wrap them around her. She does the same. The moment lasts as long as our eye contact does, only a few seconds. I walk towards the car and wave back. My mom greets her and they exchange smiles. I close the car door as we slowly pull off. And then, I drift from her orbit.


No, no, no! This wasn’t the plan. When I wrote the rap proclaiming my love, this wasn’t what I had in mind. There is so much I didn’t even get to experience with her, with love. The preparation for the year, I had spent so long doing. I still wasn’t prepared, but there was no way I could prepare. I couldn’t have prepared to kiss her. I couldn’t have prepared for her to leave. I couldn’t even prepare a damn date. Just comes to show that being unprepared is the only form of preparation sometimes.


I look out my window to see her walking back inside. At least she has a plan. 9,291 miles away or not, she has one. I need to stop preparing one for us, but for myself. And if our plans ever combine, then we’ll start talking. Even if we're 33.9 million miles apart.


You: Cya
Mars;) : Bye






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