Chapter 38: Libby
“You had a boyfriend?"
I don’t see why this is shocking news - especially since Megan has done almost absolutely everything in the book.
She catches me rolling my eyes at her question but doesn’t comment until I reply, “Yes.”
She hops off the bed above mine in one whoosh and comes to sit criss-cross beside me on my bed. “Is this boy the reason why you’ve been so mopey?”
“‘Mopey?’ Is that even in the dictionary?” I ask, but she veers the conversation back to its original subject.
“Lib. C’mon. Spill the goddamn beans, you oaf.”
Having Megan as my roommate for the past three weeks has definitely been a ride. Silly me, thinking that I could go through college with a smile on my face - meaningful or not. But the first time Megan saw me, it’s as if she knew right then that something was wrong.
And now she’s finally torn it out of me.
Three weeks, and this girl already has me sharing my entire sob story.
Sighing, I let it all out.
Starting from Liv’s death, to sharing the kiss with Liam, to camping in the woods with his family, to....
“He left you?”
Pursing my lips, I try and wipe my tears off with my arms, my hands full from hugging my quilt close to me. She waits patiently as I try to muster up words, staring at me with her wide green eyes and playing absentmindedly with her enviable red hair.
I shake my head solemnly. “No.”
Her eyebrows crease as they pull together in confusion. “You... you left him?”
Something climbs up my throat as I hear the unspoken words said aloud. Attempting to swallow it down, I nod. “It was the right thing to do, I think.”
She furrows her eyebrows tight. “And who told you that?” I feel my cheeks flame in embarrassment as I tell her Jimmy’s grand idea. She laughs humorlessly. “Fucking fantastic! A gay, semi-alcoholic twat told you it was a great idea to run the fuck away?"
I feel as more tears start to run down my face and I don’t even bother trying to wipe them this time. “I know, I know it sounds terrible, but you should’ve seen Liam’s face those last two weeks. He wouldn’t even look at me, it was that bad.”
“Well, what did you do?” she asks plainly, as if it’s as simple as a math equation. In reality, it’s German instructions on how to put together furniture from Ikea.
“Before or after?” I ask lamely.
She rolls her eyes and I’m surprised they don’t get stuck. “Before. We already know what happened after,” she replies, giving me a pointed look.
“You’re really great with moral-support, you know that?” The sarcasm rolls off my tongue easily, but she’s pretty quick to catch it and just shoves me lightly in the shoulder in response.
“Nothing happened... I don’t think.”
“You don’t think?”
I shrug. “Not really. I mean, I think like crazy - almost every second of every day - but... every time I come up empty.”
She looks at me but doesn’t say anything more.
There isn’t much to say anymore. At least not about Liam Nottes.
That night, I dream.
Liv and I are at Juke’s, painting white roses red, and Bentley is busy at the main desk while we’re leaning on the windows at the front of the store. The paint is messy, but the old man doesn’t mind if we get it on the floors.
“It brings character,” he had said to us when Liv accidentally left a handprint on the tiles. The three of us just laugh like there are no worries.
Liv’s long brown hair is lustrous and wavy in her ponytail and mine is cropped into a pixie cut still. We’re in blue jeans and white t-shirts, and we remark at the same time how maybe these weren’t great wardrobe choices for the day.
Somehow in the dream, it’s as if we already know that she’s gone - intangible. But we continue painting in silence, until I finally say what’s been on my mind: “I miss you.”
She gives me a half-smile, but doesn’t look up from her rose. “Like you miss him?” And right as she finishes the sentence, Liam comes out of the supply closet like he’s been there the entire time.
My heart stutters in my chest, but he just smiles at me his dazzling smile, grabs something from beneath the front desk beside Bentley, and then disappears back into the closet like he was never even here.
“No?” she asks, as if confused, but when I look up at her she has a knowing smirk on her lips.
“Not like I miss you, Liv,” I try to explain, but I know the excuse is weak.
“It’s okay to miss him, y’know,” she says carefully. “It’s funny how you never forget your first love.”
The sound of someone humming from far away comes to my ears and I shiver involuntarily. “I don’t want to forget,” I find myself whispering. “Not someone who’s given me so much to remember.”
And as the words come from my mouth, I know it’s true.
Putting secrets inside the balloons and letting them fly away; building a blanket fort for Jere as we watched Disney movies all day long; the camping trip; lying in the middle of the road with Liam, admitting our true feelings for one another....
The memories come flying at me in mid-air, as if they’re hallucinations playing out before me right there in the shop.
And then they stop when something disturbs the pictures - or, rather, someone.
My gaze flickers from where the memories were once rolling to where Liam stands not too far away from Liv and I. I turn my head to look at her, but she’s gone.
“Where’s Liv?” I ask him, as if he has something to do with her disappearance.
He purses his lips and shrugs, and although I know I should be mad, I can’t seem to get myself to be. Not when it’s him I need to be mad at. His light brown hair is silky, but the same as the last time I’d seen him, and he’s wearing my favorite blue t-shirt of his that match his eyes.
“You look nice,” I comment, because I know I should at least say something rather than stand here in silence with him. There’s so much I want to say, but none of it can be formed into words that make sense.
But he just shakes his head and sheepishly walks up to me like he use to when we were once intimate. When he’s only a breath away, I close my eyes, hoping for something that’s never to come again. “Libby,” he whispers, his breath blowing against my lips. Coffee and smoke. “I need you.”
His words are so full of pain that I open my eyes to see him, to make sure that his words are true to him.
But he’s gone, just as though I didn’t taste his perfume only milliseconds before.
Liam, I think as if he can hear me in my dream. I will remain forever yours.
Because of my best friend and Liam, I will never be the same, and I don’t think that will ever change.
Just like Liv.
And now, just like me.