3 MONTHS LATER
I hadn’t realized how much was waiting for me in Buenos Aires until we were back. Hadn’t realized how much I always took for granted, and how much I didn’t even realize I had until the prospect of the world almost ending made me look at it all. I have more people that care for me than I’d given myself credit for, and I’m now making a real effort to get to know everyone that has shown up for me before.
I remember flying back, the moment we were stuck in time, returning home. It felt like time had paused. Like I could stop, rewind, or fast forward if I wanted to. I remember promising myself to stay in the present, to live the moment, to be exactly where I am at each given time. Where I’m meant to be.
Life will be as it needs to be.
Halfway through the flight, I finished reading ′This is me letting you go’, and I noticed that just like beginnings, endings are funny things. Where does a story end? When I was younger, I thought all stories ended with a ‘they all lived happily ever after’. But then I grew up and realized there’s not such a thing as living happily forever; there’s always going to be more stones in our path, more challenges that we’ll need to face. I know that life keeps going, that there are no happily forever endings like those.
But there are still endings. Many endings.
And leaving New Zealand, for me, felt like an ending. The end of life as I knew it. The end of my innocence. The end of being always scared and running away from anything challenging or different. The end of my first real-life adventure, and the end -or pause- to my amazing time by Tane’s side.
But what’s an ending, if not the start of something new?
“Come on Sam! Time to go!” Em yelps happily as she storms into my bedroom, ripping me out of my daydream.
“Em, how can I even figure out what to wear if you don’t tell me where we’re going?” I say frustrated as I hold a pair of shorts in one hand and white jeans in the other.
“Go with the shorts, they make your ass look bomb. And put that flowery light green blouse with the nice cleavage that looks so good on you. It matches your eyes... Then the brown boots, definitely, and here,” she adds as she extends a little bag towards me. “Happy birthday!” She sings happily as I grab the bag from her hands.
“Thank you so much!” I say as I open up the bag, and take out a jewelry box. “Are you proposing to me?” I joke.
“I’d be on my knees in that case,” she replies with a wink.
I untie the bow on the box and open it up to reveal a silver bracelet. It’s got a couple of charms on it, and I look through them slowly. There’s a sphere that I realize is the world, a cute little plane, a small tree that looks a lot like a pine, and-
“Is this a tiny bar of chocolate?” I say, not being able to contain the laughter. “Oh my God, Emma!” I laugh out loud again, and Em joins me as she punches me on the shoulder playfully.
“Come on, hurry up and change, we’re leaving in two minutes,” she says as she walks out of the door, and I can hear her talking in hushed whispers with my mum.
I get changed as fast as I can, and then I dash to the bathroom to brush my teeth. Once I’m done, I find myself holding the Pikorua between my fingers, looking at my eyes through the reflection in the mirror, and hoping I could see a pair of greener eyes looking back at me. Tane’s trip to Argentina has been taking longer than expected, and I have been missing him dearly. I shake my head to let go of the thought, this is no time for moping. My curls bounce around as I stop the movement, and some hair gets stuck to my lip gloss, picking the dark strand off, I fix it behind my ear.
After a few minutes of driving, I realize where Emma is taking me, but I play dumb not to spoil her surprise. As she parks at the staff car park of Constellations, her now favorite pub in town, I raise my eyebrows at her.
“Is this how serious things are with Miguel? Are you using his spot in the car park now?”
She doesn’t answer me, and instead, she chuckles loudly as she jumps off the car. Em and Miguel have been seeing each other almost every day for the past three months since we returned from our trip, and I couldn’t be happier for her. She seems to have found a gem of a guy, even if I have to admit that it’s a little hard to watch them together sometimes.
But I can’t complain, life has been good to me. I’m taking things slowly at uni, having more time for myself, and getting to socialize with my classmates a lot more. I was welcomed into Nico’s group with arms wide open, and going out for drinks after class is something I never knew I needed in my life. I don’t think I could live without that banter now.
As we finally enter the dance club and Em walks towards one of the booths, my jaw drops.
“Happy birthday!” A little group of people chants. Nico’s right in the middle of the booth, his warm smile spreading from ear to ear, and Julia is the first one to stand up and come over to embrace me in a bear hug.
“Happy birthday, you beauty,” she says loudly into my ear so I can hear her over the music. “Are you ready to party?” She adds with a wink as she walks me over to the booth, her long ginger hair dancing around her as she moves. I greet everybody else, hugging every one of my new friends, and then sitting on one end of the booth, the one closer to the stage.
“The show’s starting in five,” Em sings happily over the sound of the music, “And Miguel told me there’s a new guy starting today,” she adds as she wraps an arm around Miguel’s shoulders. We have become regulars at Constellations since coming back to Buenos Aires, and the crew that works here is almost like a second family to us. “I hear he’s to die for!” Em winks at me before we all keep on chatting until the light dims and the show is set to begin.
When the curtains open up, the stage lights turn on on the back, and the music blasts on the speakers. I watch lazily as a tall muscular figure emerges on the stage, his body shadow-like, his features unreadable against the light. He’s tall, with muscular shoulders, and I can see his hair is a little long, a little messy.
My breath catches in my throat, and I push my palms against the table as I lean forward. The rest of the lights all turn on at once around the stage, illuminating the figure standing in the middle. As I see the guy in front of me, his deep moss green eyes staring right into mine, I can’t move fast enough. My legs tremble as I stride towards the stage and trip with the edge while I climb up and collide against the warm body already coming my way.
“Tane!” I say against his chest, my arms holding onto him as tight as I can.
“Sam,” he breathes against my hair, “Happy birthday,” he adds as he kisses the top of my head. “I’m sorry I’m late.”
I snap my eyes up to him, not believing that he’s here.
“What? How? When?” I mumble, but all answers are lost as he lifts up me and I wrap my legs around his torso, my hands tangling in his hair, which is a little bit longer than the last time I saw him.
I press my lips against his, feeling blissful at the best birthday present anyone could have ever gotten me. My cheeks flush as I’m suddenly aware of the crowd screaming and cheering behind my back, one particular voice getting to me above them all.
“Yaas girl! You get that piece of chocolate!” Emma screams at the top of her lungs and I can’t help but laugh against Tane’s lips.
“I’ve missed you,” I say, and then I hide my face against his neck, ashamed of the number of people watching us now that I’m aware of them. I jump down, and we rush off the stage together, walking towards the empty booth to the far side.
“I missed you too.” We sit down, catching our breaths, and Tane buries his head in my hair.
“I like your new hair,” he says quietly against my ear, and my insides warm. Changing my hair back to its natural color was the first thing I did upon arriving in Buenos Aires.
“I’m so sorry it took me this long to come over,” he apologizes, his face still buried in my curls. “The paperwork was harder to get than I expected.”
“It doesn’t matter anymore,” I say, moving back and pushing his chin with a finger so he looks at me eye to eye, “You’re here now.”
“I’m here now,” he repeats, as if needing to make sure.
I press my lips against his again, the world seems a little warmer, and I know now that even if I was already whole… He makes it all better, he makes the world brighter.
“Let’s go join your friends, I’m sure they have a hell of a party organized for you,” Tane says after a few minutes, our bodies feeling warm inside from not being able to let go of each other.
We walk over to the booth where all my friends are, our arms laced around each other, and in his embrace, I find an ending I didn’t know I was looking for. I find closure, but I also find a new beginning.
The start of a whole new adventure.
NOTE: Can I scream? I will scream again... AAAAHHHHHH. It’s over. My baby has finally seen its last update, and I couldn’t be feeling any more emotions even if I tried. I have no words to describe what this rollercoaster of a ride has been like.
Across the Globe was born as a completely different story... and day by day, it changed skin, like a snake. It twisted and turned, changing itself to be what it is today. I know there’s still so much work to be done, as this is only my first (well, third? fourth?) draft, and I know there’s a lot of things I want to polish and change... But I’m happy with this. I love this story, it is my first real baby, and I am proud of it.
To everybody that’s been reading this story, encouraging me with their lovely words: THANK YOU. You’re the reason I managed to keep going, the reason I pushed through every writer’s block and plot hole I didn’t know how to get out of.
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