The three of us walked in together to the entrance of the most memorable places I’ve ever been. The name of the park was now not readable due to the old wood that was used and the vandalized markings that were in it. I sighed and turned to both of them, the two friends I’ve most cherished all these years. I looked over at Tiffany and she replied with a nod. Closing my eyes, I thought about our last conversation.
“Are you sure it’s going to work out?”
Tiffany sighed over the other end “Yes. I’m pretty sure that’s the first step for all of this. We don’t know what has happened Leylah”
“Okay. I’ll be asking her about it when I see her”
“But isn’t she in your class?” she asked.
“She is but I haven’t seen her for days. She’s been absent” I said. True, I was damn worried about Jessica. She hasn’t shown up for 2 days or maybe even more. She has missed at least one week class due to her not showing up (aka skipping in which I like to call, but I think she’s too good to do that).
“Oh. Well then if she does agree, we’ll just go right on that day after school. I still got time since I haven’t practically got accepted into yours”
“You’re going to attend my school?” I asked in surprise. This was all going to be excited. It was like some reunion for us 3 or something.
“Of course. I don’t know any other schools in here Ley. Practically I still consider you as a friend even though we’ve only met since kids” Her voice quite low due to the loud music in the background.
“Huh? What the hell is going on there? It’s like you’re in some party?” After I asked, I heard the music tone down by a bit.
This time her voice was much clearer “Sorry about that. I was working out”
I laughed. Like really laughed. I mean, Tiffany is like really chubby when she I last saw her. She eats like everything she sees. Even now to be honest. I’ve been hanging with her for the past couple days and she eats pretty much for my breakfast and lunch.
“I still can’t believe how much you’ve changed though,” I said in the midst of laughs. She groaned and cursed silently.
“Yes, I do. My classmates teased me about it when I was abroad. I had this crush on one guy but he turned me down cause he said I was ugly as fuck” she sighed.
“And now years later, you’ve grown pretty much...” I said, encouraging her.
“No. He hasn’t seen me since then. I’m still not sure. Man, I don’t know even know if I still like him”
“Well sucks for you”
“It’s sometimes complicated and hard to like boys”
“Oh trust me I don’t even want to know.”
“Right. I don’t get how you turned gay like come on. I remember the last time we send emails to each other you were talking about how much you drool over this one dude.”
Ugh. Now please don’t remind me of that. That was back during Junior High. I was a stuck up obsessed girly girl who had a huge crush on the most popular guy in the school. It came to the point where I even stalked and cried for him. After all those years of obsessing did I then realized how much I regretted doing that.
“Please. Don’t even talk about it.” I cringed at the memory.
I heard her laugh, followed by coughing.
“You still have asthma?” I asked.
“I-...I guess.” After she recovered, she said “I still can’t believe you remember the most among the three of us”
“Well duh, I remember you almost choking when we were making sand castles once”
I recalled at the memory when I forced Jesse and Tiffany to help me build a sand castle. Tiffany always had her nose covered with her hands. That was until when one of the guys were stupid enough to push her on the sand castle that we were building. She nearly swallowed some.
“Dude that was horrible. Erghck. I can’t believe I tasted some of the sand”
“That was really funny but I might say I’m really sorry,” I said.
“Oh. Why?” she asks.
“It was partially my fault. Plus I didn’t know you were asthmatic”
“Ley, it’s okay. That was like way back then”
After then I took a deep breath and remembered the real intention of talking and catching up with Tiffany. At this rate, I figured I needed someone to be there for me as a friend. Someone whom I can talk my feelings with. And I came to the conclusion that Tiffany was the best. She was the only one who can help me because she too knew Jesse.
“Tiffany. I have something to tell you”
“Uhh... yeah, what is it? I have a feeling that this is really serious” she said, feeling quite uneasy.
I closed my eyes, did a couple of breathing exercises after taking in a deep breath and blurting out
“I like Jessica”
Silence. “You mean Jesse?” she asks in a calm voice.
“Jesse as in childhood friend?” she asks again
“Yes,” I answered with more sincerity in my voice.
“Jesse as in little girl with boyish clothes who now looks short and pretty?”
She laughed “Wow. No wonder you’re trying so hard”
“So?” I wanted to know her opinion. What does she think of me being all of a sudden having feelings for the girl whom I have met many years ago? Hell, I didn’t even know Jessica much.
“So... yeah? What am I supposed to say? I'm not quite shocked to be honest. I think she’s cute.”
“Tiffany” I glared at her. Well not really since we were both on the phone but she did hear the warning tone of my voice.
“I’m just kidding! Okay okay, I’ll help you out.”
My lips formed a smile, “Really?”
“Yeah. I’m your friend and I know you’re a nice person Ley.”
“Look, we’re going to talk more about this next time. Just remember to ask her. I have a plan in my mind. Gotta to go now. It’s time for me to shower.” she said.
Laughing I said “Damn, you really changed Tiffany. I’ll see you then. Bye!”
I hung up, knowing a smile was plastered on my face.
I was going to try for the three of us.
I was determined to get her to remember.
And I was definitely planning on winning her back.
Here I am, standing next to Leylah and a stranger who goes by the name Tiffany. Where am I and why am I here you may ask? I came because I was invited to come and hang with the supposed ‘old gang’ in which I never understood, and was going to hang out like ‘the old days’. We came to an old playground which literally had 0 kids playing here. Can’t blame them. I mean look at the place. It was all, old and worn out. Even the name was hard to read.
Following the two in front of them, I stayed quiet while my eyes looked at the surroundings.
There were benches, swings, a sandbox, and many more.
I was darn beyond confused on out of the all the places to go and hang out, why would we come to an old park?
When Leylah finally stopped, she motioned for us to sit on the bench. I sat between the both of them.
After we sat, no one dared to say anything. I don’t know if it’s just me but I sense some awkwardness. I was feeling nervous and had nothing to stay so I stayed quiet. I could feel the both of them conversing into each other’s eyes but I didn’t try to interfere.
After a while, Tiffany spoke up “You want to play?”
“Huh?” I turned my head up.
“The hell?” Leylah asked.
We both looked at her while she shrugs “What? I pretty much think I can do the monkey bars. I mean we are here in a playground right? My body is aching to do some pull-ups”
After she said the work pull-ups, I figured it was some sort of workout. So I looked at Tiffany and noticed that her body was really tone. I think she was even muscly than the all of us. Not like muscly like a man, but she had a hard looking shoulder.
“You can touch if you want to” A sly grinned Tiffany said looking at me. I shook my head and turned away.
I heard her laugh when Leylah playfully shoved her away from me.
“Sheesh I was kidding. I straight remember?”
“I know but please keep your thoughts to yourself. Let’s go look around” Leylah grabbed us along going straight near one of the slides.
When we came to a stop, Leylah turned around giving me one of her smiles and spoke “Jesse, do you like slides?”
“I uh... I don’t know. I don’t remember playing with them when I was young” I said honestly. It was true, I don’t even know if I played with Barbie dolls or whatever.
“Well, you guys wanna go on?” Tiffany suggested. Before I could even protest, they grabbed me by the slide. I struggled to get up because I was yanking myself away from the both of them. Tiffany laughed along the way and kept calling me a loser.
“Oh-okay,” I said while struggling to breathe. Leylah and Tiffany were behind me giggling. “Wait gu- Ahhh!”
I screamed and closed my eyes as they pushed me down. Of course with a clumsy one like me, I managed to hit my head into by the end. I felt quite dizzy right after and my vision came into a blur. Ugh, my glasses took off somewhere.
“Hey, you okay?” I heard Leylah’s concern voice close. She looked at my face and gently removed the dirt that got into me.
“It was your fault” Tiffany laughed.
“No shush. Sorry Jesse.”
I just nodded and told them it was fine. After that, we went on the swings. They were both talking, chatting, while my mind drifted off somewhere. I still had my hand on my head just in case some bruise or bump form on my head. I stared nowhere in particular, thinking about why all of a sudden the laughing and voices around me sounded so familiar.
I tried. I mean really tried to get rid of the fuzzy feeling.
“Hey!” Tiffany whined which immediately caught my attention. I looked at the both of them now.
They were both fighting over a swing just because the other one was for those younger kids. I shook my head and just sat in the sandbox. Their arguments trailed off in my ear as I scooped up a handful of sand. It was soft and mushy. Even this sand felt familiar.
It was weird in some way. I groaned to myself and put my head down.
“I swear I think you hurt Jessica” I heard Tiffany said. They both came to me, positioning me in between them.
Immediately I raised my head and said “I- uh... no, I”
Leylah’s hand touched my forehead and I frowned.
“Did you know Tiffany is allergic to sand?” she asked all of a sudden.
“Huh?” I turned to Tiffany and saw her glaring at us.
“I’m asthmatic, not allergic. There’s a difference. Just looking at it is making me sneeze already” she said now covering nose with her sleeves.
“We didn’t even throw anything at you. The sand is below in your feet so stop overreacting” Leylah huffed.
“Excuse me but particles of sand or dust or whatever it is are flying continuously on air.” Tiffany kept coughing so I gave her a tissue from my pocket
“Thanks. I think I should move”
Just then my hand reached something rough into the bottom of the sandbox. I was unsure but still pulled up whatever it was. My eyes widen in surprise when I pulled up an old ripped paper. Not only did that surprised me but also what was sketched and written into the paper
Jesse, Ley, Tiff
Below was a picture of 3 stick women holding hands. A date is written beside it and the words BFF forever
I turned to Leylah and saw her face mirroring mine.
“Hey! What’s that?” Tiffany snatched the paper from me but her face turned to the same expression we held in.
“This is…. This was…”
There was one question in my head.
What was going on? How? Is this-
Pulling out the piece of paper out of my pocket, I knew I had to call Carlos.
“So, uh how are you I guess?” Carlo shifted uncomfortably in his seat while nervously chuckling.
His eyes then met mine and the familiar cocky grin formed on this face. After observing his face for awhile, I noticed that he hadn’t changed much.
“Cool. It’s kind of weird to see you here, to be honest. Why did you move?” he asks.
“Oh um. My dad got married again”
“That’s nice! At least he moved on” he said. My face quickly fell after his response. I know he didn’t mean to sound it like that but I couldn’t help but frown.
“Sorry um... that’s not what I meant. I just thought it was a good thing. ” He rambled. “Anyway, J, what you up to? I don’t know but catch me up on something?”
I laughed quietly, knowing we were both trying so hard to get a conversation going on, plus the fact that he, Carlo, would start stuttering and fidgeting. He was never the type to do that when we were young.
“Nothing much. I um... after that happened, I guess I kind of just went along by my own self.” I said while taking a sip from my cup. It was green tea and it helped me relaxed
“Do you still remember it?” he asks all of a sudden. “You know...”
I sighed then shakes my head “It’s all a blur Carlo. The only thing I remembered was my mom’s death”
“You know I was pretty messed up too. My mom took me to rehab when I was young. She got me talking to multiple counselors and therapists. It went on for like 2 years. I became distant to them and quiet. I never hang out with my group. They were all shock too”
I observed him while he continued to talk. It was true, he changed. To someone better. He wasn’t the same old cocky arrogant Carlo I once knew. I noticed how his hands continued squeezed each other, and his left foot tapping on the floor.
“After 2 years, I decided to get up and leave it all behind. I applied for a job early to help me get busy and not think about certain things. I’m currently in my freshman year.”
“Aren’t you just the same as me?”
“Well yeah, supposedly but with all the rehab and stuff, my mom made me not go to school for a year. Plus, my grades were all bad.” he smiled then ran a hand through his hair. There was silence for awhile. We were both in deep thoughts.
After a while, the waitress came back and asks if we needed anything else, but we just shook our head and said thanks.
“So, you said you wanted something,” he says breaking the silence. I nodded, feeling my hands starting to get sweaty.
“I uh..I... I wanted to remember.” I said. His eyes widen at my request.
“What do you mean?”
“Remember how I told you that the only thing I remembered was my mom’s death. Tell me what happened” I almost pleaded. I needed this for my sake. I hated having to think about it for many years and not having the answer in my head.
“You really didn’t know what happened?”
I shook my head “The only thing I remembered was when we decided to go and the news that my mom died... because of me” I said the last part in a whisper that only I could hear.
“Okay,” Carlo breath in then exhaled. “But trust me, if you want me to stop then just say so. If it gets too much or whatever. Also, please if I ever stopped too... it’s probably because I still can’t take remembering it”
I nodded then started listening
“So you remember how you agreed on letting us go and see the guys in the back alleys. We all knew it was dangerous and it was very stupid of me to force you and the others to get to go. When we arrived, two guys came up to us what were we doing there and Miguel and I went to talk to them. They started showing us some basic stuff. But then after that, more guys started to appear around. You guys were all just standing and leaning on the wall during that time. Actually, you looked very nervous and hanged tight into Eddie. It was then after a while when the guy stopped and asked us why we were so desperate to learn win. That’s when I knew something was wrong. When he approached you and grabbed your arm, we all started to panic. But Eddie was brave among all of us. He kicked the guy, who then fell into his ass. I guess that all initiated the fight. The others managed to run away including me. But then after the paramedics and police came, they went to investigate. It took weeks for all it. ”
I nodded after he finished. I remembered it all but this time it was clearer. The faces of my teammates, along with the face of my loving mother. But what still left me confused was the thing that we picked up last week when I went to hang with Leylah and Tiffany. I hadn’t spoken to them since then.
“Thank you. But can you tell me anything about me during that time or even before?” I asked.
His face became confused so he asked “Huh? Why do you want to know?”
“I just... want to. I can’t seem to remember anything about that”
“Well from what I remember. You transferred there during that year when the incident happened as well. Um, they said you were coming from the U.S. When you arrived, I didn’t really pay attention to anything except the gossips and rumors. You became an athlete, good at basketball and soccer. You were friends with Eddie only. Apart from that, nothing else”
“Oh, I see.” There was nothing that gave me a clue from what except the fact that he said that I came from the U.S., in this country. But from what I remembered was I was born in Canada and had been living there for long.
I continued to converse with Carlo until it was time for us to depart. I thanked him for his help then left.
I needed to know something.
I needed to ask my dad.
Were we living here before? Who was Tiffany and Leylah to me? It seems that the pieces are finally starting to come together. But it won’t be long when I finally figure everything out.
I’ve been trying to find the time to talk to my dad but he’s always been so busy. It’s probably because he had so many projects to do that sometimes he wouldn’t come home. So I waited for days. School life was quite normal for me now. It was actually better than before. Leylah and I still talked but it was short. I haven’t seen Sarah since and I was starting to get worried. Sabrina was still Sabrina. She still bothered me time to time but whenever the Foster twins were with me, she wouldn’t dare come. I think she was afraid of John.
It was then another night of homework grinding. I’ve been trying to catch up with some of my classes and gladly with all the nighters I pulled for the past days, I’ve managed to somewhat catch up. The teacher wasn’t so strict with me and I became grateful for that.
Closing my notes, I let out a loud sigh. I was hungry because I didn’t dinner. After I cleaned up my bed, I went downstairs to go fix myself some food. While doing so, the doorbell rang and I opened to get it. I was relieved to find my dad standing there.
“Hey kiddo” He hugged me and gave me a kiss on the forehead. I was really thankful that we weren’t on bad terms anymore.
“Hey daddy” I hugged back and took his things and placed them on the shelf. After then I offered him to have dinner with me and thankfully he accepted because I really needed to talk to him.
“So how have you been munchkins?”
I groaned “I’m not a munchkin anymore dad. I’ve grown”
“Well you’re still my baby girl so you can’t do anything about that.” he chuckled when I glared at him.
“I’ve been good I guess” I shrugged “School’s fine for me”
He nodded “How about your friends?”
Scratching my back head, I let out a nervous laugh and said, “I guess they’re okay?”
He laughed then pats my head which causes me to frown.
“By the way dad, I needed to ask something,” I said
“Sure, what is it? Do you finally want a car? Books? Clothing?”
I shook my head “No dad. Um... have we uh... lived here before?”
He looked at me wide eyes then answers “Why you still remember? You were a kid back then.”
“So we did?” I asked surprised.
He nodded “Well yeah, you were like what really young back then. I didn’t know you would remember but it was only during summer. You were still originally born in Ontario though.”
“Oh” Okay. That made everything make more sensed to me. I lived here before, and probably meeting Leylah and Tiffany was a possibility. Maybe I did meet them before. But I couldn’t remember. I remember seeing Tiffany for the first time and she looked at me surprised.
“Why do you ask?”
“Nothing dad. I just um... remembered I guess”
He smiled then continued to ask things relating to school. Well, I never really answered after that.
I needed to sort everything out. I needed every single detail on place and every puzzle pieces together. I needed answers and I’m going to get them. I needed to talk to Leylah and Tiffany again.
But for now, I needed to get away and relax. Time and peace will help my mind think.