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Everything at Once
I started to write this piece while I was going through a rough time, and I felt as if this story was a way for me to escape in a sense. Now when I read it, I still find myself escaping to the world I had built for these characters.
“Don’t you find this kind of stupid?”
“Shut up.” The screen comes off the window. The brunette, Rose, steps out into the yard.
“Well come on!” The blonde-haired boy looked up and scowled. The night air tingles in Rose’s nose. The boy slides the window shut, their longboards in hand. Rose took the boy's hand and sprinted down the street, streetlights flashing behind them. They stopped once they reached a downwards hill.
“Peter, come on. Live a little!” Rose said. Her long brown hair flies in the wind.. He looked deep into her blue eyes and sighed.
“Let's do this.” He said, setting his board on the road. Rose squealed and did the same. They set off, feeling the wind brush their cheeks. A smile slides across both their faces, the feeling of joy erupts in Peter's stomach. The board picks up speed, inch by inch. The moon stares down on them, illuminating the streets. The stars twinkle, as if they are smiling with the two teenagers.
Rose hits the end of the hill first, smiling as she waits for peter. When he comes down, his smile is two miles wide. They both start laughing so hard their stomachs ache.
“What’s next on the agenda?” Peter says, still chuckling. The excitement crawling through his skin makes him antsy, the longing for another adrenaline rush lingers.
“I don’t know yet,” Rose responds, “Want to go up to the church?”
“Sure!” Peter replied. It was obvious that Rose had no genuine plan, but for once Peter felt okay with that. He knew his friend was constantly indecisive, just one of her many quirks. They skated off towards the church up the road, their summer hang out.
The lights of the church shine on them, the vacancy of the lot could seem almost eerie. However, in that moment, it brought down a setting of peace upon Peter and Rose. They set their boards up against the fence and went to the playground area, sitting on top of the monkey bars. Rose took a deep breath, feeling herself be in this moment. The stars glisten above them, seeming like a laser show in the sky. Peter glances at his best friend, a movie of their friendship going through his head.
In 7th grade Rose moved to North General Middle School. She showed up with this long brunette hair, curls flowing. Peter sat across from her in their language arts class. As shy as Rose seemed, Peter was ultimately intimidated by her. They barely spoke any words, then he didn’t see her until the end of the day. He sat in his normal seat on the bus, when a familiar head of brunette curls plopped in front of him. He didn’t think much of it, until his stop came and he saw her get up in front of him. She got off the bus and walked down the street, whilst Peter watched her. He saw her walk up the steps of a house that had been for sale for ages. He shrugged and walked to his home, right in front of the bus stop.
What he didn’t know was that Rose had noticed him on the bus as well. And every day she secretly wished he would come to the bus. She got busy getting involved with the wrong crowd, and never bothered to genuinely talk to Peter. They said a few words to each other in class, but nothing more. Then in 8th grade she genuinely spoke to him. Everything was falling apart, her friends ditched her, her grades were low, and her family was falling apart. So after about 3 days of being sad over it, she said screw it. She marched up to the bus stop the next day and talked to Peter. She acted as confident as one can in that moment, and realize they got along pretty well. From then on they hung out, texted, and talked whenever they could.
When 8th grade finished, they kept in contact over summer vacation. When they went back to school, things were the same. They laughed and talked and even had seepovers because Rose convinced her dad Peter was gay. They were nearly inseparable. However, freshman year things got rocky. For about 3 months they would stop being friends while they were both sorting things out. Rose found this to be extremely hard, especially because at this time, things got worse in her family. She spent days crying on the bus, Peter unknowingly behind her by 3 seats. Eventually they reconnected, but both were open with each other to make sure nothing bad happened again. Since then they have been super tight, and learned to genuinely appreciate one another. And they’ve been that way since.
“What?” Rose said, snapping Peter out of his daze, embarrassment flushes his cheeks as he realizes he had been staring straight at her.
“Nothing, just thinking about how we will be seniors next year,” Peter says, which wasn’t a total lie.
“Yeah, that is crazy. One more year and we get to leave this dump.”
“Yeah. I don’t know how I feel about it.”
“I feel fantastic. This place is sh*tty and full of negative vibes. I'm going to go to the big city and live my life.” Rose says. Silence fills the air, however not a comfortable silence as she usually feels. “You know my mom is going crazy again.”
“What happened now?” Peter said, jumping down and laying on the grass. Rose follows.
“She just is saying things again,” Rose groans, laying down next to him. “The other day, we got into a fight. She told me I am the reason her life is screwed. Which I know isn’t true because she screwed herself.”
“I’m sorry.” That was all Peter could say. They both stared at the stars as if they were speaking to the sparkles in the sky rather than each other. This happened often, it seems the longer they stare, the farther the lengths of the universe.
“It’s fine, really. I can’t help that she is freaking insane.” Although, it wasn’t really fine. But she didn’t want to burden Peter with more of her family drama. “So what is popping in your sexy, thrilling, fun life?”
“Not much really. Sophie is getting worse. I saw her yesterday, she looked so dead dude.” Sophie is Peter's little sister. She got in a car wreck a year ago. She slipped into a coma a few months ago. Peter tries to act like he can handle it, being the big brother and all, but Rose knows it's getting really hard for him.
“I’m really sorry, Peter.” She says.
“How many other people are out there?” He asks.
“I don’t know, trillions? There’s a crap ton of people on this earth alone, and there are probably plenty of other planets like Earth,” Rose responded, her face lights up with excitement. The idea of the universe and everything out there in infinite darkness gives her a rush. “Like dude, there has to be multiple galaxies! There can’t just be our galaxy! And even then, alone in our galaxy are other solar systems. There has to be other planets habitable for life! We just can not POSSIBLY be the only ones!”
“You're right. Maybe there are other versions of ourselves. Maybe Soph isn’t sick in another world. Maybe there is a Peter out there that has everything right in his life.” Rose felt the same way, but she knew she shouldn’t chime in with her issues right now. She hoped there was another Rose out there, someone who had it good. A Rose whose parents got it together, whose brothers don’t hate her, whose life isn’t a constant war. But that might be too much to ask for. They continued to talk for about another hour, just about everything. That is one thing Rose loved about Peter, she could talk to him forever. There is always another subject to move to. Never significant, but it’s nice. Though they are a complete contrast of each other, they work well. Peter is introverted, while Rose is quite extroverted. Peter is a November scorpio, and Rose is an October libra. And they both act exactly like it too. But everything about the other compliments. When Rose talks Peter actually listens, and when Peter talks, Rose’s full attention goes to him. Rose teaches him to enjoy the thrills of life, while Peter teaches her to enjoy the subtle things.
“Alright,” she stands up, “Let's get out of here.”
“Okay,” Peter stands up as well. They walk up to the beginning of the big hill.
“Are you taking it on?” Rose smirks at Peter, a challenging look on her face.
“I don’t think so tonight,” Peter shakes his head, chuckling at the idea.
“Okay, see you down there!” Rose takes off, a smile on her lips. The adrenaline courses through her body as she speeds up. The temperature has dropped a bit since they first came out, the new chill giving her goosebumps. The stars dance above her, seeming to be smiling with her. For a split second, she forgets where she is. It is just her, in this moment, slowly going through time. The trees arch over her, the street seems to be asleep as well as those who live there. The moon resembles a streetlight with its brightness and glory. The wind whistles around her, enjoying the freedom as much as she is. Freedom. Free. Everything slips away, every issue with her mother, her father, slips away so effortlessly. Like it never existed. The night air silk as she glides through it, embracing every curve, every sway. Then it all comes to a peaceful rest. Her board slows, the solitude slips away. She reconnects to her environment, and recognizes Peter still halfway up the hill. A smile spreads on her face, chuckles bubble in her belly and come all the way out her mouth. She falls into laughter, as she realizes the moment she just had.
“You, like, good?” Peter asks when he finally reaches the bottom of the hill. He eyes the girl sitting on the road laughing uncontrollably. He watches as she unravels, the laughs turning slowly into sobs. He quickly goes and sits next to her, putting his arm around her. She buries her head into his chest.
“I’m sorry… I’m sorry” She says in between sobs.
“It's okay! You’re fine!” But it wasn’t And this pained him. His best friend was going through something and he had no idea what. She had never broken down like this before. She looked up at him. But something in her look was different. She had looked at him many times before, but this time something was off. She looked vulnerable, weak, like a stuffed animal at a department store.
She noticed his features at that moment. He had blonde floppy hair that hung in his face. He had piercing blue eyes, though she found them quite comforting. He scrunched his small button like a nose. There were little wrinkles on the sides of his eyes, his eyelashes crossed over in all sorts of places. She had never taken in the person she calls her best friend before. It was weird. He was stereotypically attractive, though his build was the lankiest she had ever seen. But she supposed that came with being 5’11. And though he had skinny arms, they still held her with security. This was her person, and she was happy he was there at this moment. She wiped her eyes and stood up, holding out her hand.
“Thank you.” She said with a small smile. He just nodded in response. Then she started walking, leaving him standing behind. He processed what just happened. More importantly, how she immediately looked like nothing had happened. Dumbfounded, he picked up his board and followed her.
Birds' songs flow through the air, sun rays peek through the blinds, seeming to cast a fire glow over the walls. Rose rubs her eyes and groans as she looks at where she is. Peter snores next to her, his nose slightly twitches at Rose's movement. She sits up, a pounding in her head seems to boom through every canal in the brain. She looks around the room, bottles of rum lay on the messy floor, and food wrappers are left on shelves. She stands up and goes over to her vanity, where her phone lays charging. She opens it, gasping at the bright screen. The clock on her phone reads 5:42 AM. She walks over to her bathroom and pulls out ibuprofen, shooting 3 down with a chug of water. She walks back into her room, Peter still sleeping soundly on her bed. She starts to pick up the empty bottles, trying her best to be quiet. She pulls out her drawer with other bottles of vodka, tequila, and rum. She places the new bottles in there quietly and shuts it, groaning at the mess she has to clean.
“Morning, Butt-juice,” A husky voice says. She jumps and turns around, finding Peter smirking at her with his eyes half closed.
“Morning, Urine-face,” she responds with a smile. “How did you sleep?” She continues to pick up articles of clothing strewn across the floor.
“I kept waking up to you kicking me, how do you think?” He responds as he sits up on the bed.
“You could have slept on the floor, or I mean you SHOULD have,” Rose says, flashing him a smile. Peter bends down and starts helping her clean her room. Rose opens the blinds, letting the sun pour into the room.
“I was and then my back hurt- ow! What the heck?” Peter groans at the sudden brightness.
“Oh sorry! Did I hurt your precious head?” Rose asks, a mocking tone in her voice.
“Yes, you jerk!” Peter responds, covering his eyes. Rose goes to the bathroom and grabs the pills and a glass of water and walks back.
“Here you go,” she smiles as sweetly as possible and hands them over to him. He gulps them down immediately and smiles in response. For the next half hour they cleaned up the room together, watering the plants, making the bed, throwing clothes in the washing machine. When they finished they walked outside and sat on the grass. The sun was now up, shining on all the houses, heating everything up. The morning air had a certain chill that seemed relaxing when contrasting the heat of sun rays. Birds flew around the sky, clouds formed in many shapes above them. The silence of the neighborhood is comforting, the only people waking up right now are the 50 year olds getting ready for work. It's peaceful. Rose and Peter lay down.
“What do you see?” Peter asks, not taking his eyes off the clouds.
“A little girl.” Rose points up at the sky. “See there is her face shape, and her pigtails are sticking out. How about you?”
“I see a puppy. There is its body, ears, tail, and there is his little tongue sticking out because he's happy,” He points at the sky the same way Rose did. They just sit there staring for a little while longer, the clouds seem to be a picture book.
A cry comes from upstairs. A screech. It progresses louder and louder, piercing the human ear. Rose sits trying to focus on her book, but it grows harder and harder. She stomps out of her room and knocks on the door next to hers.
“Butt-wipe! Open up!” She shouts at the white door. She hears a groan and footsteps move closer to where she stands, then the door opens, revealing a young boy. He has dark auburn hair, and green eyes.
“What do you want?” He sighs, an annoyed look on his face.
“What's going on up there?” Rose asks, returning the irritated stare.
“I don’t know, do I look like I am up there?” He responds sarcastically.
“Whatever. Screw off.” Rose marches back into her room and slams the door. She sits back down on her bed, her shamrock green bedspread lit up by the sun. A rainbow is cast on her wall off the CD’s she has hung up. She picks up her book and continues to read it. However the screams continue, making her unable. She groans and gets up to go up the stairs.
“What the heck?” She whispers to herself. As she climbs the stairs she hears sharp whispers come from down the hall. She stops and listens.
“That is not what she wanted! No wonder she hates me!” A man's voice says.
“Shhh, shhh, baby, it’s okay mommy’s here,” a woman coos. “Figure it out, David.” Rose hears footsteps walk out of a room to another room, followed by a slam of a door and boots stomp on the floor. Rose goes and hides under the banister, and sees her father storm out the back door. Her father and her stepmom have been arguing more and more frequently recently, and to be honest, that worried her alot. What if he got another divorce? What would happen? Rose tried to shake the worry away, but there is only so much one can do when the truth lies in front of you.
Everything has been so overwhelming. She takes a few breaths and grabs for a pen and her journal.
Hey. Everything is sometimes too much. Like it gets difficult. I don’t know what is even happening with my dad. I was never there when he was in relationships, so I don’t really know what type of guy he is when it comes to that. And I don’t even know what's happening with my mom. Every time I speak she sees it as an attack on her. Like what the heck. God i hate these people so much. I just want to-
Rose stops and looks up from her journal. ‘What if you did?’ a voice echoes through her head. She immediately stands up and calls Peter.
“Hello?” He says as he answers the phone. So it's more of a “llo”.
“Meet at the church in 10.” Rose says, and then hangs up. She runs out the door, as fast as she can. Her lungs burn as she sprints farther and farther, her sharp breaths seem to engulf her in a dark hole she tries desperately to run away from. Though the edges around her vision start to go dark, she doesn't stop. She keeps going, pushing as fast as possible. She won’t stop until she reaches her destination. She reaches the church, walks to the side facing the highway, and screams.
Peter arrived 7 minute later, needing to catch a breath from the walk up the hill. He spots Rose over next to a tree facing the cars. Her long dark curls blow in the wind. He slowly approaches her, trying not to startle her.
“Hey,” He said gently, she jumped suddenly. He failed.
“You're here!” She pats the seat next to her signaling him to sit down. He does, leaning his head on the tree.
“So,” He sighs deeply. “What’s going on?” His face turns to hers.
“I am leaving.”
“What? Why? Where are you going?”
“I don’t know. But somewhere away from here.” She continues to stare at the cars.
“What about your family? What about Carly?” Peter asks, a tone of panic in his voice. Rose gets reminded of Carly. Her little sister. One of the best people in her life.
“She’ll survive. Everyones waiting on their hands and knees for her anyways.” Rose responds. She gets up and starts to walk away.
“What is going on with you?” Peter asks, nearly yelling now.
“Nothing! Why are you freaking out?” She asks, rolling her eyes.
“What about me? You're going to just ditch me too?”
“You have a reason to be here. I don’t. And you said it yourself we won’t be friends after high school! It's not a big deal.”
“Whatever. You know I am going through stuff too! Did you know they're planning on pulling the plug on Soph next week?” Rose went ice cold. She could see the pain on Peter's face.
“Hey dude I am so sorry.” She said, “Wait-no, sorry doesn't do anything. When did this happen?”
“My mom told me last night. I went down to the hospital. She can’t even speak right now.” Rose ran up and hugged Peter.
“I’m sorry.” She said, Peter lightly hugged back. When they released Rose took a deep breath. “Look, I am so sorry, but I still need to go. I won’t go now. But I can’t be here much longer.”
Peter looked her in the eyes and saw she was serious.
“Okay.” He said and walked away.
Peter arrived home, trying to shut the door as quietly as he could. The cigarette scent engulfed him. He tiptoed down the hall towards his room.
“PETER” he heard a hoarse voice call. He stopped dead in his tracks.
“Hi mom!” He turns around to face a small woman, her black hair unbrushed. She was wearing a tattered nightgown and black slide on sandals.
“Where were you?” She asked.
“I just went on a walk! It was nothing.” He responded quickly, fear slips into his voice.
“Okay. Your father is passed out in front of Junes again. Go get him.” His mothers voice seems to have acid dripping from it.
“Yes ma’am.” Peter said and walked out the door, his mothers car keys in hand. He walked over to their green minivan.
“Witch,” He said as soon as he got inside the car. He turned on the car, switched the radio to 94.7 FM and went on his way. Mr. Brightside by The Killers came on and he turned the dial. As he drove he opened the window so the air sailed onto his face. The trees sang with the summer breeze. The dread as he saw the Junes Bar sign filled his stomach. He pulled up to the bar and went inside.
“Where is he?” He asked the bartender, Therese. They commonly met under these circumstances.
“Where do you think, Buster?” She popped her gum and rolled her eyes, as did Peter. He walked over to the far corner of the bar, under the Coors sign layed a middle aged man in an empty booth. He had a somewhat slender tall figure, his bald head shone under the red light. His flannel was unbuttoned revealing a grey tank top with grease stains adorning the shirt. The man groaned loudly as he opened his eyes.
“Hey dad,” Peter leaned down and shook his shoulder. It made him very sad that his parents ended up being these stereotypical washed up losers. They didn’t used to be. There was a period of time where they were all happy. But then Sophie got in the accident and it all fell to crap. The only person who kept everything in check was Peter. His mom picked up smoking, his dad drinking, and all they did was constantly fight. Peter got up and sat across the booth from his dad, in thought. Is this the life he wanted to continue to have? Is this where he wanted to be in two years? Will it get worse after Sophie is gone? Sophie.
“Dad?” Peter said.
“Hm?” Peters dad responded slowly.
“Why are we cutting off Sophie?”
“Your mother decided to.” and then he nestled back into his spot and closed his eyes.
“Mom?! Okay, dad let's get you home big guy.” Peter stood up and tugged on his father until he sat up. He placed his hand over his shoulder and stumbled out of the bar.
“Thank you, Therese!” He called over his shoulder.
“As always!” She shouts back, and they get in the car and leave.
“We’re back!” Peter shouted as he entered the house, his dad hanging on his shoulder. He walks over to his parents bedroom and sets his dad on the bed. “Take a nap, dad.”
“Peter!” He hears his mom's voice.
“Coming!” He walks out of the bedroom towards the living room, where he finds his mom. Legs propped up on the table, cigarette in hand, food crumbs surround her. “Yes?”
“Did you put your father down for a nap?” She asks.
“Yes, I did.”
“Why did you decide to take Soph off?” Peter asks, nearly demands.
“Hm?” His mom looks up into his eyes.
“Why are you pulling the plug on Sophie? Why did you choose that?” Peter felt the anger bubble inside his stomach.
“Because she is not getting any better,” his mom says calmly.
“Who are you to say that? Who gave you that right? That is my sister! Who are you?” Peter snapped. His voice boomed with utter passion. His mom stood up abruptly.
“She was sucking all the money away! She's been in a coma for 9 months! Do you even understand how much money that swallows? She's not waking up! Move on Peter.” His mom is screaming as well.
“Screw you.” Peter marches off to his room, tears threatening to spill from his eyes, but the sheer anger makes it almost impossible for his face to change shape. He marches to his parents room, grabs a cigarette out of his dad's pocket, and marches out the door.
The crisp air swallows Peter as he steps outside. The blue sky screams with joy. Peter goes to sit on the steps of his house. He pulls a cigarette he stole from his father out of his jacket pocket. He hears humming around the corner, only to find a Rose smiling to herself. She stops dead in her tracks when she sees the cigarette.
“What’s up?” Peter asks, slipping the cigarette into his mouth and flicking his thumb to light it.
“Nothing much. When did you start smoking?” Rose asks, concern very apparent in her voice.
“Oh you know, since everyone decided life wasn’t worth it. Just trying to fit into this house's status quo. ” His sarcastic tone throws Rose off for a second.
“Well, I think you should stand out” She claims, a smile brushes her lips. She takes the cigarette out of his mouth and takes a puff. “This is gross.” And she gets up and leaves with it.
“Hey, that’s mine!” Peter runs after her. “How are you today?” He says when he catches up to her.
“I don’t know. Apparently, my best friend is a lowlife now who is pathetically smoking because he's upset.” She snarls at him.
“You don’t even know what happened!” Peter exclaimed.
“Yeah but I know you and I know you wouldn’t want this,” Rose responded.
“I deserve that!”
“No, you don't. Whatever is going on doesn’t mean you deserve an addiction. And smelly breath.” Rose waves her hand in front of her nose mockingly. She throws the lit-up killing stick on the ground and smushes it. “There. All gone.” They continue to walk, gazing at the sky and the trees. Seeing the birds fly all around.
“I want to go with you,” Peter says.
“What do you mean?” Rose asks
“I want to go. Get out of here. Start something new. We’ll do it together.” he responds.
“You sound crazy. But okay when?” Rose says.
“Tonight..” Peter responds.
“Okay. We can do that. Should we plan where we want to go?” She felt it was best not to push his limits.
“I don't know yet” He grins.
“Well just take out all of our savings, and I'll scavenge for money around the house, you do the same, and we should have starter money. At least for the car ride, and we will leave on complete impulse.” Peter knows it sounds impossible, but he gets excited at the thought of it.
“Okay! Let's do it!” Rose squeals excitedly. They continue walking, looking at the trees. Suddenly it feels that their mood does match the crystal blue sky.
They spent the rest of the day walking around the neighborhood, talking. Rose talked about her family, Peter talked about his. They finally let go of everything. Before they knew it, the sun was starting to set.
“Wanna go take a drive?” Peter asks.
“I get the aux?” Rose responds, a yes from both ends. They went back to peters house, climbed into his tiny black car, he calls her maurice. He starts the car and heads off.
“Where are we going?” Rose asks as Just Like Heaven by The Cure starts playing in the background.
“I thought we could go watch the sunset, I don’t know,” Peter says. “I love this song!”
“Duh, who doesn’t?” Rose says, laughing. They both break out in song as the first verse hits. Rose turns the dial to make it louder, and they roll down the windows to let the summer breeze flow in. Rose sticks her hand out the window, feeling the glaze of chill among the warmth. Multiple sounds of joy come from the car. The sunset in front of them illuminates pinks and oranges, hints of blues. A sense of happiness fills both of their bellies as they burst out laughing. This lasts the entirety of the three minutes. The warmth nestles Peter in an invisible blanket. He feels himself gently slip into a state of contentment.
They reach an empty park, the river at the edge. The city lights of Portland illuminate the water, the pinks blending into purples now, they get out of the car, keeping the volume turned up as Modern Love by David Bowie starts to play. Rose and Peter start jumping around, dancing freely. The first genuine laugh erupts from Rose's stomach, as the realization sets in. This moment is unmeasurable. They are fully existing right here right now. And that feeling is so indescribably amazing. They continue to do this until it is pitch black. Before they know it they find themselves on the ground, staring up at the stars yet again. They hear Do Not Wait by Wallows start playing.
“Are you sure we should go?” Rose asks.
“I really do. Do you think there is anything left here for us?” Peter responds.
“Yeah I don’t know. I guess I just got nervous for a second.”
“We are gonna reinvent ourselves. We will be awesome. New names, new place, we won’t be Rose and Peter anymore. That sounds so relieving.” Peter says, almost like he is describing a daydream.
And they went back to looking at the stars, both secretly hoping they are making the right choice.
They drove home, sneaking into their homes as quietly as possible. Rose gets out her suitcase she hasn't used in years and starts to pack. As she goes through her room, she realizes all the memories she's letting go of. The thought almost makes her cry. But Peter will be right there with her and that seems to make everything okay. She only picks clothes she knows she will wear, and packs her pink elephant stuffed animal, the one that's been with her since she was little.
She creeps upstairs and goes into her sisters room, trying her best not to be loud. She walks over to her bed and runs her finger along Carly’s hairline. She kisses her forehead and walks out of the room, shutting the door quietly. She did the same for her brother, and went and stood by the front door.
She took a deep breath, glanced around the corridor, opened the door and walked out. The night breeze met her with a sudden chill, but it was refreshing. She started to walk to Peters house, texting him on the way. When she arrived, he walked out of the house, suitcase also in hand.
“Hey,” Rose whispered.
“You ready?” He asked.
“Definitely.” They climbed in the car, the moon gazing down upon them. Peter starts the car and rolls out of the driveway. They drove in silence for the first 5 minutes.
“Can we stop by my mom's place?” Rose asks.
“Sure!” Peter says, and starts to drive towards her moms house. Rose plugs her phone into the aux, and presses shuffle on her playlist. She bops her head as Should I Stay or Should I Go starts to play. It is now 3 in the morning, the stars still illuminating the sky.
They pull up to Rose’s mom's house.
“I will be right back,” She says as she gets out. She walks around the side of the house, down to the basement door. She unlocks it using her key and walks in, trying to be silent. She walks up the stairs, to her little brother Luke's room. She walks in and lays next to him for a minute, hugging him tightly. She kisses his head, and runs her hand through his hair, savoring the touch.
“I’ll msis you” She whispers as she leaves the 6 year old to a peaceful slumber. As she walks out, she can’t even bring herself to go into her mom's room. She walks out of the house, relocking the door. And feels a tear run down her cheek as she walks towards the car. She quickly wipes it away before Peter can see.
“Okay lets go,” she says when she shuts the door.
“Are you okay?” Peter asks, obviously skeptical.
“I am fine, Don’t you want to say goodbye to Sophie?” Rose responds, a little harsh. Peter felt the snap and didn’t respond, just pulled onto the road and headed to the hospital. Fortunately, Rose’s mom lived close to the hospital, so it was only 10 minutes. They arrived at an empty parking lot and fluorescent lights shining from inside the building.
“Want me to come in with you?” Rose asked.
“Sure I guess.” Petr responded dryly. They got out of the car and walked slowly towards the entrance. Peter knew visiting hours weren’t going on, but he hoped Bree, the nurse, would do him a solid. He walked into the building, and started to walk towards Sophie's room, room 311. He figured he would have less chance of getting caught on the stairs, so that's where he went. Rose followed closely but shyly behind. When he reached the third floor, he looked through the window to see if there was traffic, which there wasn’t. He opened the door and walked down the hall until he reached his sister's room, where he hesitated to open the door. Then he heard a tray drop and immediately opened the door, to see Bree standing there, picking up medications and such.
Bree was a med student, meaning she wasn’t a full nurse, but since she was ahead of her class they had her usually doing little chores around the hospital. She was about 21. She had beautiful brown skin that seemed to glow under the light. Her eyes were a mesmerizing green color, and her long dark hair was in braids and half up half down. Her eyes widened at the sight of Peter bursting through the door.
“Peter! What are you doing here!” She whispered.
“Sorry Bree, I just had to say goodbye to Sophie. Please do me a solid on this and don’t tell anyone!” Peter spoke quietly but with a slight pain in his voice.
“Okay,” Bree said uneasily. “Where are you going?”
“I'm not sure yet, but far away from here,” He says as he walks slowly towards his little sister. “I am sure you heard about my mom's decision.”
“Yeah, I am sorry Peter. We are all going to miss Sophie,” Bree said walking to the other side of Sophie's bed. “Whos that?” she asks looking to Rose, who is hiding in the corner of the room.
“Oh that’s Rose,” Peter responds, waving for Rose to come out of the shadows.
“Ah so YOU'RE the infamous Rose. Peter talks about you,” Bree says smiling. She holds out her hand for Rose to shake, which Rose does weakly. Peter crouches down next to sophie, and just looks at her.
“Im sorry Soph. This isn’t how its supposed to be.” He kisses her on the head. “I love you.”
Rose just stares at the interaction, feeling undoubtedly out of place. She doesn’t know what to do with herself. So she stands there and stares. Peter suddenly gets up.
“Bree, can I talk to you for a second outside?” He asks.
“Sure!” And they both walk out of the room. Bree leans up against the wall. “What's up?”
Peter leans in and kisses her. Bree kisses back nearly immediately. It’s a fast kiss, but pure.
“Thank you for everything, Bree.” Peter says. He opens the door to Rose sitting down in a chair next to Sophie. “Ready?”
“Yeah!” And Rose gets up to leave. Peter grabs her hand and they start to walk down the hall.
“Bye, Bree!” He calls behind him, leaving Bree standing in the hall, her finger touching her lips.
“Holy crap,” She mutters.
Peter and Rose reach the car and drive out of the parking lot. Peter has a grin on his face, though he tries to hide it. Rose doesn’t bother to ask.
“New York,” Rose says when they reach the highway.
“What?” Peter asks.
“Let‘s go to New York!” Rose said, smiling. A wider grin spreads across Peter's face.
“Let's do it!” He laughs.
Sometimes I think about Sophie. Her smile, her giggle, the smell of her strawberry kids shampoo. I know it's pathetic to dwell on the small things, it's just crazy. I haven’t gone through a phase of grief or whatever you're supposed to do when someone close to you dies. I can’t find the emotion.
Rose and I really should have planned better. We have been doing everything we can to save money, but gas is like a lot of money. And we have stopped staying at actual motels at night, and started eating less. Little things to minimize our money use. We have travelled approximately 1,900 miles so far. We were arriving in Chicago, home of Nick Miller from New Girl. I looked over at my passenger seat where Rose sat. She was slumped over and asleep, obviously exhausted. I myself was exhausted but she had the last driving shift, so I am happy she is resting up. But I am going to wake her up anyway.
“Rose, wake up dude,” I poke her face until she starts to blink. I find this technique works most often, so it is my go-to.
“What? What is going on?!” She jumps up and looks around, her eyes darting all over the car.
“We’re in Ms. Chicago!” I say loudly, trying to increase her alertness.
“Why are you being so dang loud?” She glares at me
“Sorry,” I say, trying to keep my amusement from showing. “Wanna walk around?”
“Sure, we should find a bathroom though,” Rose responds, her voice still a bit croaky. We found bathrooms, did all our bathroom stuff like wash our face and brush our teeth. When we get out of the bathroom, we start to walk down the streets. The buildings tower over us. The scent of food from restaurants makes my tummy grumble. I haven't eaten in 9 hours.
“Shall we have a snack madam?” I ask. I know we don't have much to waste, but I figure we can go to a store and get little dollar snack treats.
“Only if they are at the finest quality a dollar can spare!” She says with a proper esc accent. We both laughed, though it was not that funny. I suppose that is just how things are with us. Anything can become the most hilarious thing. Her laughter keeps going even as mine dies down. I love Rose’s laugh. It is so warm and pure. It's genuine, and happy, it reminds me of when the sun shines a little when it's raining. The feeling of the rays hitting your skin next to the rain drops. And when it finishes raining a rainbow illuminates the sky, all the colors stretching across the grey clouds. Just like Rose.
We find a dollar tree up the street, and buy a bunch of nasty snacks. We buy little bags of chips, two water bottles, and some extra treats like nuts and candy. We spent a total of 16$, meaning we have about 105$ left. It may seem like alot, but we have to manage to set up a life in New York. Which, if you didn’t know, is expensive.
But I know we can do it. Whatever the world brings, if Rose is here we can take it on.
Chicago is cool. I haven’t heard much of it, but I do know its where our man Nick Miller came from. Which I think is awesome, he’s like my favorite character. Peter and I watched New Girl together for the first time last year, and its just a thing we both love.
The clouds graze overhead, little puffs here and there. We end up in a park, laying in the grass watching them move. I pop a M&M in my mouth and turn over to face Peter.
“This is real,” I say, the outer layer of the candy melting in my mouth.
“Yeah?” He turns over to look at me. “Are you sucking your M&M again?”
“As if!” I gasp, chuckling a bit. “We should change our names, you know so we leave our old selves behind.”
“Okay. What should mine be?” Peter asks. And honestly I don’t know.
“What is your middle name?”
“Thats it! Hello, Thomas.” I hold out my hand for him to shake.
“Alice.” He shakes my hand, and I can’t shake the feeling of accomplishment. We made it all the way to Chicago. Thats insane, yet we are doing it. I roll over back on my back, and he does the same. I pop more M&M’s in my mouth and think. I am Alice now. 17 year old Alice. The trees are like a canopy, framing this perfect gaze to the blue sky. And from above it would be framing Peter and I, laying in the grass. A picture perfect moment.
I look down and realize that my hand is still intertwined with Peters, and it gives me a sense of reassurance. Peter and Rose against the world, or rather Thomas and Alice against the world.
When the sun starts to set we hit the road again. 12 hours left until we hit the big city. I take on driving duty, while Peter sits in the passenger and sleeps. I plug in my phone and play the first playlist on my phone. I blocked my family from calling me. I guess I think of them and get sad, but also they were just a virus. I constantly got treated like a slave, and I'm sorry but I am human. I am not even sure they did love me. I probably sound like a spoiled brat, but this spoiled brat has endured too much trauma for food and water.
One thing I never understood was the food thing. They would buy all this nice food, name brand, healthy, tasty, and I wasn’t allowed to have it. Like excuse me? I am supposed to have brown rice for breakfast lunch and dinner? It was so weird. Especially because they only got brown rice for me to eat. So I got a job, I started to mow lawns and do things for money at my neighbors and stuff. I bought some food, and then I would get in trouble. I don’t really understand it. But I will not have to deal with it any longer. It's bull. Realistically I will be broke the first couple months of New York, but I will get a job. And Peter will get a job. And we will make money. And it will work out.
I know it will work out. Peter is here. Next to me. And he is one of the smartest people I know. He will get us out of any puzzle. That's what I love about him. He is this magical force that can save anyone from anything. And when he cares about people he is always there. It is incredible. I can’t imagine doing any of this without him, hell I would probably be dead by now. He is the best person in my life. He's caring, he's brave, he's happy. He is so wonderful and I am so happy I met him. It's us.
When I opened my eyes, it was still a bit dark in the car, but the sun was coming up. A Taylor Swift song was playing, and Rose was singing softly along. I stayed in my position and just looked at Rose. She had a small slender nose. Her eyes were a dark brown, her eyebrows were raised as she was actively trying to stay awake. She reached down into the cupholder and grabbed a paper cup with a dark liquid inside. Coffee. She must have stopped at a rest stop and bought it while I was asleep. She was in a sweater and jeans, as she was yesterday. Her long wavy hair fell on her shoulders. She made eye contact with me and smiled.
“Take a picture, it’ll last longer.” So I grabbed my portable camera and took a picture. She laughed, her beautiful laugh. I don’t know why I feel this way, maybe I am just tired.
“What time is it?” I groan, my voice is dry and croaky. I pick up her coffee and take a swig.
“It’s 5:4- HEY!” She grabs the cup from my hand. “Get your paws off.” I smiled at her and looked ahead. The sky had pinks on the edge, orange was filling the base. The sun was starting to come up, its tiny rays covering the distance. It was comforting, a new day. It was joyous.
“How far?” I ask.
“Two hours, and you're driving!” She pulls over and gets out of the car. She sits on a rock, staring out on the field next to the road. I walk over next to her, the wind blows our hair. To Build a Home by The Cinematic Orchestra starts to play. Rose stands up and holds out her hand. I look up at her and take it, locking eyes. A tiny smile crosses her face as she runs out to the Pennsylvania feld. I follow, smiling. We stop in the middle, and she starts to twirl and dance. I follow, spinning in her hands. Her long brown hair moves gracefully in the wind, her deep brown eyes catch mine. Grins on both of our faces, the birds fly overhead chirping and gliding. The sun rays shine on us like spotlights. I place my hands on her waist, and she places her around my neck. We sway back forth, eyes locked. I feel goosebumps crawl up my body, though I am not cold. We stay like that until she rests her head on my chest. I freeze up, and set my head on top of hers, her shampoo wafting in my nose. Though it isn’t unpleasant, in fact it smells of strawberries. I try to think of something to say but my mind goes blank. She looks down and clears her throat.
“Um, let's get back?” She asks, the sun is fully up now.
“Sure!” And we sprint back to the car.
The next two hours I drive, and it feels a bit awkward if I am being honest. I want to talk to Rose about what happened in the field, but she hasn’t spoken once, except for asking where our gum is. So I figured I shouldn’t push. But then, far down the road, I see it.
I see the shiny buildings, the cars, the people. I see New York City. Excitement bubbles in my stomach. I glance over to Rose, she's leaned forward. Her golden brown eyes light up with excitement, her mouth opens in shock. I make a note to myself to remember these little things, the bubble in my belly, the reflection of the buildings, the smile on her face. These are things that keep me going. These are things I must remember.
We roll up to a run down motel that we found online. People sit on the sidewalk in front, the cars run loud on the road. I grab my backpack and our money and walk in. At the front desk is a little old lady, her long dark hair pulled into multiple braids. She wore a floral yellow shirt which contrasted her dark skin. She flashed us a sweet smile.
“Why hello, sugars!” She exclaims as if she knows us.
“Hello! 20$ a night?” I ask, my tone a bit more down from exhaustion.
“Yes sir. But that's only for a single bed. Would you go higher for 2?” She looks up, her eyes darting from Rose to me. I look at Rose with my eyebrows raised.
“One is fine, please.” Rose speaks up.
“Ho ho, okay little lady.” the lady says and grabs two keys. She walks us to the rooms, they are in the middle of the main hallway. “You kids don't disrupt my customers.”
“Yes, ma’am.” I smile at her and open the door. Inside is a bed, a small bathroom, and a tiny table. Functional, not fancy, but functional.
“I just said one bed because we only have so much money,” Rose says. Her back is facing me, she is staring out the window. She only says after a few beats: “We should change ourselves.”
“I'm gonna cut my hair. You should dye yours.” Rose starts to rummage through the drawers of tables and such. “Aha!” She pulls out scissors and snips them.
“Yeah, it’ll look cute!” And she leaves for the bathroom.
I walk down the street to a nearby store. I walk through the aisles looking for hair dye, and I finally find it. I skim all the colors, but I decide I want to go brown. I look for the cheapest box, and go ring it up. I decide when I leave that I will go walk around a bit. Our motel is more on the outside of all the excitement, so I decided not to go all up in that business today. But I stroll along the neighborhood. These aren’t fancy houses. In fact some may say these are trash. But they seem to be functional for the families living here. I see moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas. They are in chairs, on the steps, sitting in the grass, just talking. Laughing. The little children run around, they scream, they giggle, they smile. Everyone gathers in their areas enjoying themselves, enjoying each other. That is a sense of family.
It starts to get darker as I walk back. I am really excited for this next chapter of my life. I think I will do well. Because even those people who don't have the greatest things mmanage to be happy. And I already feel happy.
When I get back the room feels empty.
“Rose?” I called.
“It’s Alice, now” She jumps out of the bathroom, making me jump a bit. Her hair is cut above the shoulders. Her brown hair sticks out, like its pulling away from her head. Like a fairy haircut. And it looks really good on her.
“Wow! Look at you!”
“Awesome, right?!” she smiles, I can tell she really loves it. I pull out my hair dye.
“Look at what I got!” I say, waving it around a bit.
“Ooh! This is so exciting! Let's dye your hair right now!” And she grabs my arm and yanks it into the bathroom. “You are going to look smokin’ after this!”
“Hey! I think I am pretty smokin’ as is!” I saw and she pulled a chair over and started to take the stuff out of the box.
“Yeah, okay” She snorts. I shake my head.
“Let's just get this over with,” I say and then I turn on some music through Roses phone. She mixes the things in bottles and tubes and stuff, I am not very sure about any of it. But she just does her thing, and I sit back. I see her bob her head back and forth through the mirror, singing along with whatever rock song is playing. She applies it on my head and I shiver from the immediate coldness on my scalp.
“Big baby.” I hear her whisper. In response I slap her arm. She cries out, “Hey!”
“I am not a baby,” I respond. I see a small smile crawl on her face. Then Cornelia Street by Taylor Swift starts to play, she bursts out singing. I sing too, though my voice is a bit crackly. She uses my hair dye bottle as a microphone, while using her hands to apply the brown goop to my hair. It kinda resembles poop. After about 5 minutes she takes her hands off my head.
“Now we wait.”
“Er, 15 minutes?”
“Okay.” I walk over to the bed, sitting on the edge of it. I pick up the remote and flick on the TV. It's a little box TV, which is cute. It’s similar to the one I had at home. I skip through the channels, trying to find a show that might hold my attention for 15 minutes. I end up finding this weird soap opera, the only thing that isn’t an infomercial. But apparently I clicked on the wrong episode. Some ladies' husbands got blown up but it was her daughter who was her husband's secret lover even though she had a boyfriend. And the boyfriends sister was the main lady's long lost daughter. Why are all these people connected?
“Do you understand what is going on in this show?” I ask and turn around to look at Rose, who is resting on the pillows against the wall.
“No clue,” She says, staring at the little screen. “Why are they all related?”
“That's what I was wondering! Like are they all just committing incest or soemthing?” I point at the TV, trying to connect the dots in the air.
“This is so weird. I'm happy our lives aren’t complicated like that.” She looks down at her nails, examining them for some reason.
“Dude,” I turn around and look at her like I have just seen someone fall on their face. “We just ran away to New York! What do you mean our lives aren’t complicated?”
“Okay, yeah. But like its not like our parents are siblings and we are having sex or something!” Rose looks up from her nails. I feel antsy with what she just said. That was weird. Does she think about us having sex? Why did she say that?
“Yeah, I guess.” That's what I had to say? ‘Yeah, I guess’ ? Smooth Peter. We fall into a silence and continue to watch the show. Then I hear an alarm start to ring.
“Rinse!” Rose says loudly.
“I’m sorry?” A confused look crosses my face.
“Go shower? Like wash it off? What do people usually do when they dye their hair?” Rose said, slowing her words down.
“Oh! Okay! What am I supposed to do? Do I wash my hair?”
“No rinse the excess dye out of your hair and then use the conditioner in the box.” I nod my head and walk off to the bathroom. There were 3 brown towels folded above the toilet. Thank god, I didn’t want to stain anything. I get in the shower and let the warm water wash over me, not even bothering to close my eyes.
I have been getting a weird vibe from Peter recently. Why did I say that sex thing? That was so weird! He probably thinks I'm creepy now. I hear the water run, which is obnoxiously loud. I pick up a book next to me, one of those tourist booklets things. I need to figure out a job. Tomorrow I go job hunting.
I shuffle through the booklet looking at nearby diners and such, places where I could do the job. I see this spot nearby, apparently a couple blocks away. Dotties Diner. That will be my first stop tomorrow. I look up to see what's happening on the TV. Now the husband has come back to life and is running away with the daughter.
“I love you georgiana!” The man is holding the girl's arms, forcing her to look at him.
“But what will mommy say? This is too much, Brett.” The girl has a little southern belle accent, but she doesn’t look sad.
“This show is bull.” I continue to flip through the booklet, then I hear the water turn off. Peter comes out of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his waist. I haven’t seen him shirtless since we were 14, and he looks exactly the same. Skinny but no muscle at all, defined collarbones, I try to stifle my laugh, but some of it slips out.
“What?” He looks up, almost glaring like he knows what I’m laughing about.
“Nothing.” I smile and bat my lashes teasingly. I notice his dark hair, its laying in all different directions on his head.
“Wow! Look at that!” I walk over to him and run my hand through his hair, shaking it out. “Looks good!”
“Thanks,” he smiles and walks back to the bathroom, “I am gonna change.”
“Okay!” I start to get my shoes on, I want to go exploring. Peter came back out wearing a plain white shirt and blue jeans. His hair was a bit damp, but you could tell it had been dried by a towel.
“Get on your shoes!” I say.
“We are going exploring!” I smile and start to head out the door. I hear Peter also puts on his shoes and follows. We ran out to the car laughing, the sun was down by now. Trees were shaded by the darkness. Stars were revealing themselves one by one, though they had to fight with the lights of the city. We got in the car and I rolled down the sunroof, letting the summer air in the car. The breeze caught my hair and blew it in every direction. We drove down the street, towards the array of different colors shining. The buildings glisten like christmas trees. We stopped and parked our car in one of the few possible parking spaces.
When we get out we are met by a rush of people, I immediately jump to Peters arm, clutching tight. He starts to walk through the crowd, being my guide. I continue to hold onto his arm, refusing to let go in any sense. I look up around us, the buildings seem to be leaning towards us from this view. The people seem to be ones of purpose, yellow cars drive through the streets. We continue walking until we get to a place filled with a million people in a group. The billboards shine around us, theaters are everywhere. We are in Time Square.
“Holy crap!” I have to shout so Peter will hear me.
“I know!” He shouts back. I look at him and smile, and he returns the expression. We see dancers, performers, artists. Everyone expresses themselves indefinitely. My brown hair flies around my face, the cool wind brushes on my face. Music is blasting all around us, people shouting at other people, the scent of far away food fills my nose. My belly rumbles in response. But I ignore the feelings and start weaving through a group of people in Times Square.
Suddenly music starts to blare out of someone's stereo, and the people around us start to line up in formation. I twirl around and look at all the people, and they start to dance. I notice my hand is empty, and Peter is gone. I feel my breath start to quicken, so I stop. I close my eyes, and take a deep breath. The world falls silent for one second, and then I open my eyes. The people are still dancing, the music still vibrates in my ears. But I don't hear it, everything seems to slow down, I start to glide. I weave through the bodies, avoiding their sharp elbows, their kicks. Then out of the corner of my eye, I see familiar brown hair. And my face starts to light up, I start to feel hope wash back into my body, but it all goes away. He's talking and laughing with someone. They’re shorter than him, they have long blonde hair, and a dazzling smile. He holds out his hand and she takes it, and they walk out of the crowd.
I follow them, flowing through their path of leave. The slip between buildings into an alley, across the square. I don’t know why I do this, I feel inevitably lured to follow. My footsteps grow heavy as I walk across the square, my chest feels fuzzy. Then I feel a body collide with mine, my eyes start to focus. My brain recollects, I feel clear. I look up at the person standing in front of me and I am met with glowing brown eyes.
“I am so sorry…” I start, nearly stumbling over my words.
“No issue here, cherie,” Her words seem buttery and smooth, a light french accent. Her brown skin illuminates by the building's lighting, her hair is curly and bouncy, springing with every head movement. I continue to stare at her, in awe of her beauty.
“I am Marie, what is your name?” She asks, talking a bit loudly due to the noise around us.
“I am Alice!” I respond. I look down at her hands which are adorned with rings of all sorts, characters and stones, chunky and tiny. “I like your rings!”
“Thank you! I got them from New Orleans on my trip.” She responds back. “You look tense! Alice, do you want to see a really great place?” I glanced at the alley I was going to follow Peter in and shrugged. He will be fine.
“Sure!” I nod and she grabs my hand, guiding me through the crowds. A current of electricity seems to flow through me from my hand, spreading down to my feet. We walk fast, her long legs carrying us faster than I would have gone alone. We get spit out of the chunk of people, finally reaching space. We walk down the street, crossing and curving. A smile starts to glide on my face as a warm breeze goes by. We turn onto one small street that seems to be a silent pocket away from the city life. I see trash float on the sidewalks, the streetlights glow on the pavement. I see a bar on the corner, ‘Bucky’s’. Marie starts to dance over to it, opening the door for me. I walked inside and heard a gentle jazz tune play, piano and saxophone playing in harmony.
“Welcome to Bucky’s, cherie,” Marie smiled, her white teeth shining bright under the colored lights.
“This place is so cool!” I say, taking in everything around me. It is styled like a 1920’s jazz bar, big chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, decals all over the walls, a big stage with a band playing. We walk over to the bar and she calls the bartender over.
“Two Shirley Temples please, Barney love,” she smiles sweetly at him and he nods.
“What have you been up to Marie?” His voice is coarse and loud but not uncomfortable.
“Oh nothing much, just out on the town until I met Alice here,” she wrapped her arm around me, sending chills down my spine.
“I am Barney,” The man across the counter reached out his hand, his skin tone just a tad darker than Maries. I shake his hand and smile.
“You new around here, Alice?” He asks while preparing the drink.
“Yeah, my best friend and I just moved here actually,” I responded.
“Best friend?” Marie looks at me quizzically. I realize I hadn’t mentioned Peter once. I remind myself his new name is Thomas.
“Yeah, Thomas. He was at the square with me tonight but he ran off with some blonde girl, so I don’t know where he's at now. Barney sets down the drinks and goes to help some other customers.
“How come you and Thomas are here?” She asks and takes a sip of my drink.
“We actually ran away here. Portland, where we used to live, we felt trapped. And we always do everything together, so we ran away together too. We have been best friends since the end of 8th grade. And he is just my person. He's funny and he always knows what to say. There is rarely a moment when I am with him and I don’t smile.” I rambled on and saw Marie raise her eyebrows. I ate my cherry off the top of my drink. “What?”
“You like this Thomas,” She said with a smirk.
“What? I could never.” I say, taken back by the statement.
“Is he attractive?” She asked.
“I mean, I guess conventionally. He has pretty eyes, fluffy hair, and a really cute smile. But I could never think about him like that.”
“Oh but you already do, no?” She laughs a little, I can tell she is wildly amused.
“I mean, I have been feeling a little awkward around him lately. Like today he walked out of the shower in just a towel and it was so awkward. And on the drive here, we had this moment where I thought he was going to kiss me… But he has been running off with other girls!” I say defeated. I don’t want it to be true, but it just might. I take a deep swig of the Shirley Temple, the alcohol burning my throat. I raised my eyebrows at her.
“They make Shirley Temples special here,” she smiles. “It sounds like he might have an interest in you, huh cherie?”
“I don’t know. I mean I love him, but I just can’t. Can we talk about something else? Why are you here?” I say rubbing my head.
“Ah, changing the subject, I see. Well I am travelling the world.”
“What does that entail?” I ask.
“I have been floating around, city to city, state to state, country to country. I have been doing this for the past two years. I grew up right outside of Lille, France. I moved to England when I was 8. Then when I turned 16 I moved out and started to travel.”
“That is so cool, where have you been?”
“Ah, lots of places. California, Florida, Maine, Oregon, Utah, Hawaii,and Alaska. I am heading to Italy next.”
“And you are how old?”
“I am 18 now, plenty more time to fulfill seeing the whole world. I will experience the life of others, meet the ones around me. Same as I am you, Alice.” She twirls her straw in her drink, the ice moving and making music as she does. The idea of traveling seems so comforting, the new people the new sights.
“When do you leave next?” I ask.
“Cherie, I only got her a few weeks ago. I only hop to another if there is a reason for me to go. You must make connections before you leave.”
“I establish my relationships, so I have people to call home, say I return. Barney here is my home in New York, and so is Sinclair up there on the stage. This whole bar knows each other, we are family.”
“She's right,” Barney walks over and starts to line glasses in the cabinet. “We all rely on each other, we all connect.”
“That is really nice. Do you think I could ever be a part of this family?” I take the last drink from my glass and hand it to Barney.
“Child, you already are.” He smiles and pours me another one. I smile, a feeling of warmness and comfort fills my stomach, and I know it isn’t the alcohol.
I look across the crowd and see Rose smiling, and it sends butterflies down my spine. I shake my head, trying to knock myself out of it. I glance all around us, the noise, the life, the colors. It is incredible, as if I am the only one here and it is my world. Then my trance is interrupted when I hear a female voice shout in my ear.
“Hi!” Her greeting is sloppy and slowed.
“Um, hello!” I greet back. She has long blonde hair that is pin straight. Her eyes are a seemingly dazzling blue under the gleam of the party.
“I am Daisy! Who are you?” She asks.
“My name is Thomas, nice to meet you Daisy!” I have to be a little loud due to the noise around us.
“I want to get to know you, want to go somewhere quieter?” She asks. I look around trying to find Rose, but I can’t see her anywhere. She would probably scold me for not being nice to this girl, so I agree.
“Sure.” She takes my hand and guides me through the crowd, giggling the whole way. She pulls me into a small sliver between buildings. Our bodies are uncomfortably close to each other.
“So basically the reason I came over and talked to you was actually that my friends and I thought you were really cute,” She shifts uneasily so I can tell she feels nervous. However I still stand in shock.
“Oh, um, wow. Well-uh, thank you. You're beautiful yourself.” I say, a fake smile crossing my face. She smiles.
“Really?!” She jumps up and kisses me sloppily. I immediately jumped back.
“Woah, hey! We don’t know each other!” I say, simultaneously wiping my face.
“Well, I am Daisy, and you are Thomas. We do know each other!” She comes near me again and I run out of the alley.
“Uh, no. That's not how this works. Nice talking to you! Bye!” I run back to the square, looking for Rose, but I can’t find her. I walk around, searching for her. I apologize to many people as I bump into them, calling out her name. I walk down the streets around time square, and cannot find her. I feel the panic rise in my throat. I shouldn’t have gone with that girl. I should have stayed next to her. What if she has been kidnapped? What if she got killed?
I find myself wandering back to the car. I crawl inside and sit in the front seat, just sitting there. I try calling her phone and it goes straight to voicemail.
“Great,” I sigh. I lay my seat back and lock the doors. I close my eyes, and fall asleep.
The sun is pouring through the window onto my face. I hear an abrupt knock on the window. My eyes blink rapidly as I wake up, there is Rose’s face in the window. I immediately get up and jump out of the car.
“Where the hell were you?” I shout when I get out of the car.
“Thomas, this is Marie. I crashed at her place last night.” She raises her eyebrows and nods towards the woman next to her. I stare back at Rose and see a blush cross her cheeks. The woman reaches out her hand.
“Hello, Thomas. I am Marie.” I shake her hand and start to focus on her. She really is breathtakingly beautiful, her perfect complexion, her chocolatey brown eyes, her curly hair draping around her face.
“Um, hello Marie.” I say awkwardly.
“Come back and rest at my home, it is just a few blocks from here,” She smiles at me with perfect white teeth.
“I think I am good, actually we need to get home.” I say and motion for Rose at the door. She shook her head.
“Come on, Thomas. You fell asleep in a car!” She says. She obviously wanted to go with Marie.
“Fine,” I said and followed them back up the street. I saw Rose slip her hand between Maries, and I felt a pang of jealousy. Why was she with Marie? She is pretty, but she just met her! I want to go back to the hotel, not to the house of her one night stand!
“You okay?” I hear Rose whisper. She is walking next to me now.
“Where did you go?” I ask sharply.
“Why do you care? Did you have fun with your little friend?” she snaps.
“ I care because you disappeared? What if you got killed? And what friend?”
“Your little blonde one that whisked you away from the party like you're some sort of princess?” She laughed menacingly. I glared at her.
“Nothing happened with Daisy,” I grumbled.
“Oh she has a name now?”
“Yes and actually we kissed, I think I may call her later.” I started to walk ahead. I heard Rose huff and she went back to Marie, leaving me in her dust. We arrived at a grey building with white trim on it, an apartment building.
“Welcome to mon maison,” Marie says as she opens the door. Revealed is a special apartment, decorated with antiques and paintings in an elegant form. Colors pop out against the white walls.
“As you can see, Thomas, I travel a lot. These are different collections from the many places I have been. If you would be open to staying here I would be honored,” She walks around her living room and looks at me. I see Rose standing to the side staring at me, the corners of her mouth turned up in excitement.
“I wouldn’t want to intrude, Marie,” I say, though it is hard to decline.
“There would be no intrusion at all. In fact when I go travelling some more, I will need one to care for my home.”
“I mean, okay. If you insist,” I smile at Rose and she smiles back.
“Fantastic!” Marie clapped her hands together. “Well I need to run some errands, so you should grab your things from your hotel room and bring them here!”
“Thank you, Marie,” Rose says and gives her a hug.
“Not an issue, au revoir!” And she walked out of the apartment. Rose and I sit there for a minute taking in the place. It's incredibly big for somewhere in New York. There is an unspoken tension, I can tell she feels upset, but I am too. I try to break the tension and make conversation.
“So, you and Marie?” I ask.
“What do you mean?” She still doesn't face me.
“Are you guys an item?” I try to be nonchalant.
“No. We just hung out last night. She is incredibly admirable.”
“Oh okay. Well I'm gonna go get our stuff from the hotel.” I say grabbing my keys and heading for the door.
“Okay, I am going to go try to get a job. See you in a bit.” She waves and walks out of the room. I go outside and walk back to the car, which is surprisingly still there and not stolen. I get in and drive out to where the hotel is. I turn on the radio and roll down the window, the breeze rolls in and hits my face. Thoughts swarm in my head. I know Rose is my best friend, but why do I feel so hurt by everything? It's not like I am PMSing. I feel so conflicted. And hurt. I want to go back to Marie's house and just take a nap. Maybe I will have an answer then.
I arrive at the motel and I am greeted by the same old lady again. She smiles at me and I smile back. I grab the keycard out of my pocket and open the door. Inside I see our ags and a few things strewn around the room. I grab our clothes and shove them in the bag. I go into the bathroom to check for any products that would be ours and grab them as well. When everything is packed I decide to strip the bed and fold everything to make it easier on the cleaning crew. When the room is all cleaned up I walk out, grabbing the 20 bucks I owe the lady at the front.
“Here to pay for checkout.” I say when I reach the counter.
“Did you enjoy the stay, sugar?” She asks while typing things into her computer.
“I did thank you. You have a lovely place here.” I respond.
“Why thank you! You're all set. You be good out there!” She calls the last one as I start to leave the building.
“Thanks!” I wave and get back in the car. The drive from there to the city is 5 minutes with no traffic, but it's New York, so it's really 20 minutes. It's quite calming actually , to have this time to think to myself. I feel like I can just be alone with myself. It feels for a moment like none of this is real, all of it could be a daydream of some sort. But I know it’s not. Nothing is fake about life. And I must own it in the only way possible. So I continue to drive until I get back to Marie's house.
Coincidentally, right in front of Marie’s house is a parking spot, the size for my car. I pull in and walk into the house with our bags, setting Rose’s in her room and picking out a room for myself. I find one with grey paint that hasn’t been decorated yet, and I plop down in there. I lay down on the full size bed, covered in a white comforter, and I rest my eyes. Then I feel myself start to detach from my body, start to float into my dream. My body relieves into full rest mode, until I am in a deep slumber.
When I awake I see that it has turned dark outside, the lights of the city shine brightly. I get up and walk around the apartment, looking at all the things Marie has around the place. I hear footsteps from the other room and stop, unaware of who is here. Rose appears around the corner, wearing a big sweater and shorts now.
“Hi sleepyhead.” She walked by and ruffled my hair.
“I didn’t know you were home?” I say to her, “Weren't you searching for a job?”
“Silly it’s like 11. I already had my interview.”
“Where is Marie?” I ask.
“I have no idea. She never came back.”
“Oh.” We sit on the couch for a few bits, the silence haunting us.
“Want to see something cool?” Rose perks up.
“Uh-sure.” I grab her hand and follow her. She leads me up stairs that are at the back of the apartment. We go up multiple flights, winding me out of breath. “How close are we?”
“We are 3 flights away. Come on!” And we keep going. We reach a door after 3 flights, a metal door. Rose opens it and walks out, and I follow. Surrounding us is the night sky and the lights of the buildings. The whole city lies before us. The sounds of cars echo beneath us, stars and airplanes shine above us. Everything stands out in this moment, it is all magical. I look over at Rose. She looks undeniably beautiful, the excitement gleams in her eyes. Her hair floats around her face, like a frame on a painting. I look away before she sees me staring at her.
“I lied today.” I say.
“Oh yeah? What about?” She responds.
“Daisy and I didn’t do anything. Like she kissed me, but I pushed her off and ran away.”
“Why did you lie?” She turns to face me, the wind blows across both of our faces, the light warmth tickles my nose.
“I thought you and Marie, you know, hooked up. And I was hurt so I wanted you to feel the same.” My head is still facing the city rather than her, it's much easier to avoid the anger this way.
“Why would you be hurt, Peter?” She says, I can see a smirk on her lips from the corner of my eye.
“Oh, I don’t know.”
“Yeah you do. Either way isn’t it your business about what I chose to do with Marie. You're my best friend, not my mom.” She turns back towards the buildings, now I shift to face her.
“Rose, don't play that game with me.”
“What game?” She says and turns towards me. We are now face to face for the first time in this whole conversation.
“You know why I was hurt. I know why I was hurt. And you know why you were upset when I said Daisy and I kissed.”
“Was I? I don't recall.” She puts her finger to her head and pretends to think.
“God, Rose! I care about you and I know you care about me too!” My abruptness startles her for a minute. She sits there, I can tell she is trying to think of something snarky to say. Before she gets the chance, I lean forward and kiss her. And she kisses back. The beautiful New York backdrop melts away, it is just me and her. And I feel safe.
Peter abruptly leans in and kisses me, and I melt into it. I feel at home, I feel comfortable. When we pull away it feels like the whole world got brighter. The lights, the stars, I can feel my cheeks go red. I giggle and instantly want to punch myself for giggling.
“Well that was something.” I say to cut the silence.
“Yeah,” He blushes. “Sorry, I just didn’t want you to say something snarky again.
“Well,” I turn back to the city away from him, and he does the same. Both of us were leaning on the wall of the building. “If it counts for anything, I do care about you too.”
“I knew it,” He laughs.
“Don’t you get cocky now!” I say and push him a little bit. And we just sit there. And I feel alright, because he's here like he always has been. Who knows what will happen in the future, but if it is like it is right now, I am excited for it. No more running away.