Paige stared at her bedroom ceiling, too lazy to move a muscle. She ought to pack up her things for the 3-day trip tomorrow, but no.
She’s currently in senior high and hopefully an upcoming college freshman the following school year. Admittedly, Paige wasn’t that smart but is pretty decent. Sure, she had a few slip-ups and late submissions, but she managed to pass them anyway
Her bedroom is a wreck. She doesn’t know what clothes to bring with her apart from a few jackets, long sleeves, and at least two pairs of sleepwear.
She sighed and rummaged through her closet once more. Sure enough, she found loose denim pants and a few black shirts. It only reminded her that almost everything in the closet was in dark shades. Maybe she should upgrade her wardrobe soon?
Scratching her head, another sigh came out of her lips. Oh well. Fuck it.
After what seemed to be an hour, everything was finally packed.
It was already 4:30 in the afternoon. It was way past lunchtime and Paige hadn’t eaten yet.
After cleaning up the mess in her room, Paige made her way downstairs and into the kitchen. Opening the fridge, she saw leftover meat and some eggs. There was also some leftover rice.
“Oh, there’s still some kimchi,” she muttered.
Paige grabbed the leftovers, an egg, and the can of kimchi from the fridge.
Paige grabbed a bowl and got herself a serving of rice, cracking an egg over it and putting meat beside it. After that, it was time for the microwave to do the rest for her.
While that was cooking, Paige grabbed her phone and swiped through her social media. She couldn’t help but go through an old photo album filled with memories of her first year of junior high school.
A picture of a laughing boy with side-swept hair and black eyes shows up on her screen. He wore a dark blue hoodie with a minimalistic Saturn on his left chest. An ID attached to an ID lace hung around his neck, the lace a vibrant yellow.
Nikolas Hernandez, her best friend, and partner-in-crime since diapers. Someone she loved maybe more than a friend, and much more than a brother.
Her heart skipped a beat. It had been so long since the last time she saw his face.
Six years have passed.
She couldn’t help but miss him.
The microwave slapped her back into reality with a ding, indicating her food was ready. Rushing, she walked toward the device and pressed a button. The microwave door swung open.
She doesn’t know if she was just hungry, but she finished the entire bowl within minutes.
The doorbell rang. Paige wondered who it could be. She wasn’t expecting any visitors today, and her mom was away at work.
The door opened, revealing a tall, pale redhead of a friend in neutral-colored clothing. Freckles adorned her face, and her long hair was up in a ponytail.
Eliza Cunningham, her friend since 2nd year of high school.
“Hey,” the girl greeted.
To which Paige replied in a heartbeat, “No.”
“I didn’t even say anything yet!” Eliza pouted at the other girl.
“Whatever it is, it’s probably another bad idea anyway.” Paige crossed her arms on her chest, turning around and making her way back to the kitchen. Eliza followed suit, closing the door behind her and locking the door properly.
“Come on! The first hang-out wasn’t that bad.” Eliza peaked through the doorway, her head sticking out, “Admit it, you enjoyed it.”
“Well,” Paige starts as she cleans used kitchenware, “I could’ve enjoyed it more if you weren’t wasted. You even threw up all over the floor!” She snickered, “Fucking lightweight.”
“A small cup of soju said otherwise. Heck, it felt like juice to me.” Paige shrugged.
“Ok, alcohol connoisseur. I didn’t come all the way here just to get disrespected like this.”
“You live across the street.”
“Oh, shut up.”
Once Paige finished cleaning utensils and the rest of the kitchen, the two of them made their way to Paige’s bedroom.
“So, what brings you here?” Paige asked as she played a game on her computer.
“Well, since it’s our retreat tomorrow, I was wondering if you’ve already packed?” Eliza shrugged, lying on the latter’s bed, “Oh, your bed’s so soft.”
“Sometimes I wonder if we became friends only because of it,” Paige joked.
“Oh, you wound me,” Eliza dramatically puts a hand on her chest.
There was only silence except for the occasional noise coming from Paige’s video game. The two were minding their own business.
Having Eliza around was nice. Paige never had anyone since everything fell apart six years ago.
They were children, she keeps reminding herself. Maybe they never meant the things they did or said. Everyone was looking for themselves at that specific age and got lost.
The world was so different in sixth grade. Like, the first years were pretty innocent. Everyone laughed and got along with each other. But in that specific year?
Everyone rushed to grow. Everyone strived to be popular. To be unstoppable. Everyone longed to be a part of something. To create. To destroy.
Eliza looked at her, “Did you say something?”
Paige looked back at her friend and shook her head, “Nothing. Just trying to win this game.” She looked back at her screen.
"Defeat" in bright red text displayed itself.
She sighed, left the match, and started a new one.
The sun had finally set. The two girls lie in bed. Paige stared at the ceiling as Eliza tapped away on her phone.
With earphones on, Paige felt as if the world was empty. It was like she was in another realm. Anywhere other than in her bedroom, with a friend, contemplating on life and things that were left unsaid.
If minds were audible, hers would be a rally. There’s a lot of screaming. Everything was so loud.
There were flashbacks of crying women. There were people dressed in black.
The skies cried along with the crowd as they wept.
In the middle of it all, she sat there, emotionless.
It was cold, damp, and lonely. Paige remembered everything all too well. Everything that led to that day was so vivid. Even after six years.
She was so lost in her thoughts that she almost didn’t hear Eliza calling out to her.
“Hey,” the redhead tapped her shoulder, “I’ll be heading home now. It’s getting pretty late.”
“Late?” Paige grabbed her phone and checked. The phone showed that it was just 6 in the evening, “Dude, it’s barely dinner time yet.”
“Well, I did let myself in without your mom knowing.”
“As if she cares,” Paige laughed, “You do it all the time, even with her around.”
“Touché. But as much as I want to stay, I still haven’t packed my stuff for tomorrow.”
Oh, right. Paige forgot about the retreat.
“Well then, I’m off!” Eliza walked towards the door and opened it, “I’ll see you tomorrow!” The girl walked out, closing the door behind her.
There was nothing but silence, save for Eliza’s footsteps fading down the stairs.
“Yeah,” Paige whispered to herself. “See you tomorrow.”
She didn’t eat dinner that night.
Paige didn’t know what was going on with her body at this point. Either the will to do anything isn’t there yet or maybe it’s the fact that she ate lunch at four in the afternoon.
It was already 10 PM. Her mom will probably arrive a bit later.
She turned off all of the lights in her room, save for only a desk lamp on her study desk.
She grabbed her phone and earphones from her desk, put the earbuds on, and let herself get lost in thought.
Paige listened to the sound of guitars as she lay down on her bed. The bass thrummed through the speakers. Her eyes were closed, her surroundings entirely pitch black.
And when she thought she could sleep, it hit.
A wave of sadness crashed down on her. Flashbacks came from all directions. The memory of brown hair and black eyes that once held galaxies in them kept coming back. How once an innocent boy shone brightly as the sun, only to crumble and fade away into nothing.
If only she did something. Maybe. Just maybe. She would have stopped it.
But she didn’t. She didn’t even try.
Paige sat up on her bed, tears streaming down her face as she tried to catch her breath.
The world is cruel. It always has been.