Let me set the scene for you
“Every man dies – Not every man really lives.” ~ William Ross
“The only people who fear death are those with regrets.” ~ Author Unknown
I knew this day wasn’t going to be just another random one when I opened my eyes this morning, at the sound of Sia’s voice I had set as my alarm clock. I had no clue where that feeling came from but it was definitely there and I was actually excited when I pushed my fat ass out of bed before tying my hair in a messy bun on the top of my head.
I danced my way downstairs, trying not to trip on the carpet and fixed myself some breakfast. I stopped midway into pouring my orange juice and frowned before making my way to the window, sticking my nose against the cold glass.
I didn’t expect someone to move in the house next to ours. I mean, I knew someone would eventually but it had been vacant for so long that it startled me when I saw a moving van outside, with guys built like tanks putting boxes next to the front door.
And then my heart jumped in my ribcage when my eyes fell on a familiar face. I rubbed my eyes to check I was actually seeing right and gulped, unable to contain the swear word starting with an f in my mouth.
Damon Hollins. It had been more than five years since I had last seen him but when I looked at him again, there was no way I was wrong. I never even expected to see him again when I had moved out of town and now here he was. My old best friend was moving in the house next to mine. What kind of coincidence was that?
Damon and I used to be best friends before the Thing happened, five years ago, shattering everything we thought we knew and leaving us all broken in bits and pieces. We were both fifteen and we drifted apart afterwards. It broke our friend group and pulled us apart and we hadn’t seen each other ever since.
And now here he was, moving in the house next to mine and I couldn’t believe my eyes. He hadn’t changed. Maybe he was a little taller and his hair had grown a bit but basically, he was like I remembered. What were the chances he would move in the house next to mine seriously? Maybe it was on purpose but I highly doubted that so I decided to put it under the “fate” or “destiny” card.
I didn’t know what to do. Should I have gone to say hello or just pretend I hadn’t noticed he was here, taking the things out of the moving van to put them in his new house?
“Who are you stalking like that?”
I turned my head and saw my best friend Jenny staring at me with a strange face.
“I was just wondering who the new neighbors were…” I lied while stepping away from the window.
“Ok. Well, I’m in a middle of a crisis here so could you help me or should I get the binoculars?”
I sighed and helped Jenny in her “crisis” that consisted of her not knowing what dress to choose to go on her date with her new boyfriend Josh. I told her to pick the blue one cause it was good with her eyes and she trotted back upstairs to change. Like the crazy stalker I was, I came back to the window and saw Damon. But he wasn’t alone. He was kissing a blonde girl.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. I mean, let’s face it, Damon is and always was really hot and even though he was my best friend, I had always liked those grey eyes and this smile of his. But still it felt weird to see him kissing that girl.
I decided not to go out and interrupt them and I went back in my room to try to focus on a normal activity that didn’t imply staring through the window at my old best friend and his hot girlfriend.
Two hours later as I was singing my heart out on Twenty One Pilots, Jenny knocked at my door and I put down my headphones, raising my eyes to meet her green ones.
“Can you go pick up the mail for me? I think they were supposed to send us our bills.” She asked, a little breathless. “I gotta go see Josh, I’ll text you later.”
“Oh trust me I intend on it.” She winked before sprinting down the stairs, or at least getting down as fast as she could wearing these heels.
Sighing, I made my way down as well and put on a pair of converse shoes before going out to pick up the mail, whistling on The Judge. That’s when I stumbled upon something hard. Something human. I raised my head, blushing and muttering an apology before my eyes meet grey ones opened in shock as they raked over my face and body.
“Leah?” he breathed, passing his hand in his hair. The gesture was so familiar it struck me hard.
I nodded, feeling extremely shy for no reason whatsoever.
“Oh fuck! It’s you!” he exclaimed. “You… You remember me, right?”
“Of course I do.” I said, feeling like I wanted to laugh ad cry at the same time.
We both didn’t know how to act. Should we have hugged? Shake hands? Damon smiled before pulling me in a hug a little awkwardly and I chuckled.
“You’re still as short,” he remarked.
“Still as tall Mister Giant,” I retorted. “Plus, short girls are cute.”
“Can’t argue with that.” He smiled then stayed silent for a few seconds. “Damn, it’s been a while.”
“Yeah… It feels a bit weird,” I admitted.
“Agreed. So… How have you been?” He inquired, grinning gently.
“Good! I live with my roommate Jenny right here-“ I pointed to my house behind me. “- and I’m in college right now. What about you?”
“I’m in college too. Just living the normal-teenager-who-doesn’t-want-to-be-an-adult-yet life.”
I smiled. “I know a lot about that.”
“I bet. You’re still wearing Disney pajamas,” he laughed, pointing at my shirt and I blushed bright red.
“You’ve been back for five minutes and you’re already mocking me.” I huffed. “But I really did miss you. Do you want to come inside?” I proposed.
He followed me in and I showed him a little around my house, from the living room to my bedroom quickly. Jenny and I had gotten really lucky to have it to ourselves since her parents had another house in California where they lived for most of the year.
When the tour was done, we stopped in the kitchen and I served us two glasses of soda that we drank while I tried to comprehend how much of a surreal situation this was. Neither of us knew where to start. I wanted to know who this blonde girl was, even if it wasn’t any of my business.
“I have to confess something…” I started.
“I knew you were hiding something!” Damon exclaimed with a triumphant smile. “You did that thing with your hair.”
“You always used to play with your hair when you were hiding something or lying.”
“I can’t believe you remember that…”
“Well, we were best friends for fifteen years so I guess it’s like riding a bike or something.”
I smiled, feeling my cheeks turn pink for no reason.
“So… What did you do?” He asked.
“I saw you, earlier today. You were moving your things in and I recognized you. But I really had trouble realizing it was really you. I mean… It’s been five years and here you were, moving right next to my house…”
“You saw me with Katie didn’t you?” He interrupted me with a smug smile.
“Blonde tall girl?” I clarified.
“Yeah… So you’ve been together for a long time?” I inquired, trying to sound as careless as possible.
“A year now.”
“Oh. Great. She seems nice.”
“I know you don’t mean that,” he teased me with a smug smile.
“I do!” I assured.
He smiled and took a sip of his soda. I didn’t push further on the conversation and instead, we talked a little about college and what we had been doing for the past five years. But I knew what was on both of our minds. The Thing. The accident that drove us apart.
And now here we were, in my kitchen, five years later. Neither of us brought up the accident subject. It was on my mind and I was sure he was thinking about the same thing but we didn’t want to talk about it.
Jenny came down wearing the blue dress and stopped when she saw Damon, frozen in her spot before she gained her spirits back.
“Leah? Can you come help me?” she asked, doing weird things with her eyes and eyebrows to signal she needed to talk to me.
“Excuse me for a second,” I said to Damon before standing up and going in the other room.
“Is he the new neighbor?” Jenny asked, overexcited. “I understand why you were staring through the window now. He’s fucking hot!”
“Jenny… This is my old best friend, Damon. We haven’t seen each other for five years so we thought we would catch up a little.”
“Your old best friend moved next door?” She clarified.
“I see… Are you planning on dating him cause if not, I call dibs.”
“Jenny, you have a boyfriend and, no, I don’t plan on dating him he has a tall blonde girlfriend.”
“Oh. I never liked tall blonde girlfriends since crazy Meg.” She shrugged and looked at her watch. “Anyway, I’m gonna be late so bye.”
Crazy Meg was the girl her ex boyfriend had cheated on her with. She has a lot of trust issues ever since.
Jenny took off before winking at Damon, who laughed. The two of us talked a little more but he had to go soon after. He helped me clear out the kitchen then hugged me quickly.
“So can I come by tomorrow?” He inquired. “I want to spend some time with my old bestie.”
“I really did miss you princess.”
I rolled my eyes at the old nickname and he laughed.
“See you tomorrow then.”
I nodded and watched him leave. I couldn’t believe my old best friend was back. It brought back many memories, some of them terrible but old ones I hadn’t even dared thinking about. Like the feelings I had for him and had forced myself to keep hidden, and every laugh we had shared.
Feeling exhausted, I ate a brownie then went to bed, thinking about all the memories I had of Damon from before the accident.