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Red is for Coke Bottles
“I think, if the world was a book it would be written in red ink,” she murmurs bitterly, “Red for anger, red for pain. Red for love, both mutual and unrequited. Red for the blood spilt by the hands of others and by our own. Red for…” Here she trails off and puts her head in her hands. The necklace around her neck, that reads Lauren in curly letters, digs into her skin, but she doesn't seem to notice. Most people think the necklace is childish, a gift from her parents long ago, but he thinks it's brave. She wears her pain around her neck on a silver chain.
“Red for the coke bottles drunk and undrunk,” he continues and she lets out a small laugh.
“I'm pretty sure ‘undrunk' isn't a word, Rhys,” she says her eyes revealing a trace of the humour that usually dwells in every word she breathes.
Rhys shrugs nonchalantly, “For the purpose of this game, ‘undrunk' is a word.” He doesn't let her see the triumph he's feeling inside for getting her to speak without saying something depressing about the colour red. Until now he'd always considered red one of his favourite colours.
“Since when is this a game?” she asks her eyebrows arched playfully.
“Oh, come on Lauren,” he grins impishly, “When it comes to you and me, everything is a game.” She gives him a slight smile back, but then she closes up once again.
He sighs disappointedly and then says as gently as he can, “Lauren, it's only a boy. You've got to get over it.” Her eyes flash angrily and he realizes he must've said something wrong. Lauren was always one to be overdramatic, but that was part of what made her fun to be around. She was always inventing poems and songs about the strangest things. She'd make the whole class laugh when she'd stand up and sing about a ‘dreaded test' or a ‘preposterous project.' Somehow she made everyone love her. Rhys could never figure out how she did it.
“You really think I'm that shallow?” she cries out heatedly, “You think I'm sitting here crying over some dumb boy? Why can't you just…I just want to…”For a few seconds her hands ball into fists and he honestly thinks she's going to punch him, but then she collapses into a messy fit of tears and hiccups. He holds out a box of Kleenex and waits patiently until she speaks again. He knows her too well to offer her comfort; she prefers to fight through her problems alone. She thinks she doesn't need a shoulder to cry on, but she needs Rhys all the same.
“It's my parents' wedding anniversary,” she whispers her voice hollow and her eyes brimming with emotion, “They would've been twenty years married today.” He sucks in a small breath and mentally kicks himself for not knowing beforehand. As her best friend, he should have known.
“I'm so sorry, Lauren,” he says and hesitantly wraps an arm around her shoulders, which she does not shrug off, “I didn't know.”
“It's alright,” she murmurs sadly, “I thought I could get through the day. I guess I'm not as strong as I think.”
“I think you're much stronger then you think,” Rhys says quietly, “I've never seen anyway go through what you've gone through and come out okay at the other end.”
“You're a really good friend, Rhys, you know that right?” She says warmly and wraps her hand in his.
“I know,” he smiles jokily, “Its part of my natural charm.”
“Don't push it,” she warns him jokingly and they both laugh. Silence then fills the space between them, but it's a comfortable silence. A silence shared between two people who know each other better then anyone else.
“So, the world would really be written in red then?” he asks her after a while.
“Of course,” she nods and then glances up at him, “Why? Would you not write the world in red ink?” She smiles a little and punches his arm lightly.
“No, I think I'd write the world in blue.”
“Because it's your favourite colour.”
“That's not a very good reason,” she teases trying to hide her smile.
“It's a very good reason,” he replies unfazed, “I would write the world in your favourite colour, because my world is you.”
After a brief pause, in which Lauren could no longer hide her smiles, she whispers, “My world is you too, Rhys.”
“Well, that and chocolate-covered raisins,” he smiles jokingly, he knew everything about her not excluding her favourite snack.
“And don't forget those red coke bottles drunk and undrunk, Rhys,” she joins in, reveling a little inside with some indescribable feeling, “Those are my world too.”
“And fluffy blankets,” he adds, “The ones where all the fluff rubs off on your skin. For some reason you love those, they are your world as well.”
“I like my world; my world seems fun,” she grins and reaches out a hand to poke him between his eyes like she used to when she was younger. ‘Scientific research' she would answer when he asked.
“How could it not be?” he says sincerely, “You're in it.”
“And so are you, Rhys, and so are you.”
Their hands link together in a promise. A promise they will break many, many times, but they will always try to fix and treasure it. They know it's rare to find someone who will love your world more than their own, even when it's awful. Even when it's falling apart. Even when it's no longer habitable. They will love it all the same.