The Idle Town
TWO MONTHS LATER
My footsteps echoed in the long hallway as I made my way through the familiar row of blue lockers. I couldn’t help but think that I would absolutely miss this place. From meeting my best friends on the first of day of freshman year in gym class, to stalking cute surfer guys and hot football players all throughout sophomore and junior year, joining the theater club in my senior year, and finally having the best boyfriend ever.
Funny how things just… fall into place.
And I was referring to that night when I just fell on top him. I couldn’t help but smile as I remembered everything that had happened since then. Maybe it was just me having my period today, but I think the reason why I was feeling super sentimental this morning was this: it was college acceptance letters day.
“Guess who just got her letter of acceptance from NYU this morning!?” I heard a familiar squeal before I was grabbed into a tight hug from the side.
“Oh—Hallee!” I gaped as soon as I noticed the white piece of paper in her hand with the NYU logo on it.
“Tisch School of the Arts, theater directing program—Tay, I am freaking out! This is the best day of my life!”
“That is so amazing! All that hard work, the play, everything’s all paid off,” I was smiling from ear to ear as I hugged her tight. I couldn’t be more proud of her. She truly deserved it.
We were jumping up and down in the middle of the hallway, causing a bit of a commotion.
“Move it, losers,” the annoying bird-like voice chirped from behind us. It was no other than Viviane and her gang of minions. Plus Cameron?
Cameron had his hand on Viv’s hips as they were walking side by side. Maddie and Peyton were behind them. Not waiting for Hallee and I to move over, Viv decided to just shove past us, followed by her entourage.
“I didn’t know Viv and Cam started dating,” I said to Hallee when they were all at a distance from us.
“Yeah, it’s been going on for a week now. You’d notice if you’re not so preoccupied with the bad-boy sex-god,” she snickered nonchalantly as I gaped at her.
Hallee was just teasing me, as per usual, and we ended up laughing about it. But as I turned my head back over towards Cameron and Viv, I noticed that a group of guys were greeting them. Blake was amongst them, and he was wearing a Yale sweatshirt.
I turned my head away immediately before Blake could see me. It just felt awkward every time we saw each other in the halls, so I would do all I could to avoid any eye contact with him. If things had ended better between us, I would go up to him and congratulate him for getting into Yale. Maybe I’d even ask him about Princeton. But we weren’t on that level, and maybe it was all my fault.
“Finally, I’m gonna be where cultureis. So long shirtless surfers and flip flops, you shall not be missed,” Hallee said again, referring to the group that was Blake, Cameron, and their friends.
“Right,” I agreed with her. One look at the group and the amount of ego in the room was just suffocating.
“But I will miss Jesse. That’s for sure,” Hallee pouted, referring to her longtime boyfriend, who was still attending college in Hawaii.
“You guys can do it. If any couple can pull off a long distance relationship, I know it’s you two,” I said reassuringly. “You’re both mature and you two love each other,”
“Yeah, but long distance relationships are tricky,” she let out a desperate long sigh, and I could tell she was genuinely worried. “You and Judah are lucky. You’re both going to California together,”
“Hope so. We’re still waiting on our letters,” I said with two fingers crossed.
“Well, actually I got my letter from UCLA this morning, but I haven’t opened it, yet. I wanna wait for Judah to get his letter so we can open it together,”
Although Judah had been working hard the past few months, his overall GPA was only a 2.1. That was an accumulation of all his grades since freshman year. Knowing that he couldn’t get into a good school right away, he’d applied to a few community colleges all over Los Angeles. One in particular caught his eye, Santa Monica College. It was located just 23-minutes drive away from the UCLA campus. Judah’s planning on going there for two years, fix his GPA, and then transferring to UC Berkeley.
“Guys. Check this out,” Gabe suddenly ran up from behind us and he shoved a piece of paper in front of our faces.
“Nashville Music Academy in Tennessee, congratulations Mr. Serrano—“ I was trying to read all the sentences, but Hallee had grabbed the paper away and shrieked.
“Gabe Serrano, you hotshot! You got in!” she said as she pulled him in for a tight hug.
“Yeah, ha-ha,” he smiled widely. Gabe did have a nice smile, which could really be a chick-magnet if only he would be more confident and smile more often.
“Oh, Serrano’s getting some action,” I heard Judah’s voice from behind me and I whipped my head around instinctively.
“What’s the occasion?” he said again as he strode over to me and linked his arm over my neck.
“Our boy’s getting into a music school in Tennessee. He’s gonna be a rock star!” Hallee exclaimed proudly, patting Gabe’s butt a few times before Gabe got uncomfortable and pulled away.
“Did you hear anything yet?” Gabe said to Judah.
“I checked the mail this morning, nothing yet,”
“They’ll come, don’t worry,” I said reassuringly. Both to him and at myself.
“So what are we supposed to do with our lives now?” Gabe asked.
“Do whatever the hell we want, we’re seniors with futures!” Hallee answered, “Guys, let’s celebrate! Let’s cut class and go to Zippy’s?” Hallee said again, and it was funny that this came out of her, little Ms. Perfect Attendance.
“Senior ditch day, that sounds awesome. What do you guys think?” Gabe turned to Judah and I.
Judah and I exchanged a look. We weren’t sure if it was time to celebrate just yet. Things could still go very wrong.
“Don’t worry about those letters. You two are my Romeo and Juliet. You’ll get your happy ending,” Hallee insisted, pulling both my hand and Judah’s over towards the door.
“But Romeo and Juliet doesn’t have a happy ending,” I protested.
“Not in this story,” she winked, “I mean, how many happy endings have he given you?”
Judah and I looked at each other for a second as Hallee broke into laughter. She ran off immediately towards the door because she knew I was gonna come at her.
“Hallee!” I screamed aloud, trying my best to hide my flushed up cheeks, “And you call yourself cultured!”
We ended up ditching school, headed over to Zippy’s and shared some loco moco. Hallee also invited Jesse and he brought the party with him, a nice looking six-pack. We piled into his truck again and we drove to the beach to catch the sunset.
As the car speeded past through town, I was reminded again of how much I would actually miss this place. My favorite diner, the Wal-mart parking lot, the park that I used to go to when I was a kid, the church where my family and I would go to on Sundays, the café where Gabe would sing on his guitar, the mall where Hallee and I would spend hours obsessing over boys, and the secret spot that Judah and I shared together.
“What are you thinking about?” he said suddenly, breaking off my daydreaming.
I scooted over closer to him and said, “Just how much I’m ready to leave this place. On to a new adventure with you,”
“Are you sure you’re not a mind reader? ’Cause that’s exactly what I’m thinking about too,” he said it playfully, as if he was joking, but I knew he wasn’t.
I knew we both had the same things playing on our minds for some time now as soon as we’d submitted our college applications. I noticed he was feeling antsy and anxious every time the topic of college came up.
“Are you nervous?”
“Yeah, but the good kind,” he smiled reassuringly as his face snuggled into the crook of my neck.
Kauai was a lovely and peaceful town for me, until the arrival of a certain that shook everything around like a hurricane. And I couldn’t be more grateful for him. This beautiful boy that was leaning his head against my chest as he fell asleep. Hurricane Judah.
Hallee and Jesse ended up dropping me off at Judah’s because I didn’t feel like going home yet. I was just planning to spend the afternoon idling around with my boyfriend, when something else caught my eye as soon as we stepped into his house.
There was a letter placed neatly on the coffee table.
“Judah…” I said as he followed my gaze.
“Shit,” he muttered as he went over to grab it briskly. Maybe he was too excited, or to anxious, that he ended up cutting his skin on the piece of paper.
“Ouw,” he grimaced.
“Here, let me see,” I said as I opened my hand to him, waiting for him to show me his hand.
“Good thing I came prepared,” I said again as I studied the small cut on his index finger.
I pulled a Band-Aid from my bag, opened the paper, and I placed it neatly around his finger. He just watched me in silence as I did all these, not saying a word.
When I was done, I kissed his finger gently and said, “All done,”
“What would I do without you, Blondie?” he said as he flashed me that heart-melting smile. Yup, the one with the dimples.
His fingers now fidgeted around the envelope’s seal as he looked at me with a glint of worry in his eyes. I took a deep breath and pulled out my own letter from inside my bag.
“I can read it for you if you want, and you can read mine?” I said, hoping it would ease the tension.
“Deal,” he said as we quickly exchanged letters.
“Oh my gosh, I think I’m gonna hurl,” I said as I ripped the seal open and scrambled to get the piece of paper out.
“Dear Mr. Hudson, Santa Monica College is pleased to announce your acceptance to our program—oh my god, Judah!” I couldn’t contain the smile and excitement on my face, but it all suddenly died down as I watched him read my letter with a serious face. Until suddenly, his face turned bright and his eyes lit up…
“Congratulations Ms. Williams, your application have been accepted to the University of California, Los Angeles—“ he couldn’t get a chance to finish the rest of that sentence because I was already tackling him to the floor.
“Oh my god!” I screamed into his chest, “I’m so happy, I can’t believe this! We’re going to college… together!”
I was a laughing and giggling mess as I linked my arms over him and hugged him tight. But after a few seconds, I realized that he wasn’t hugging me back
“Wait, why aren’t you excited?” I said as I peeled back and studied his face.
“Look, Blondie, I… gotta tell you something,” he started shuffling nervously and I got up to stand on my feet. I waited patiently and anxiously as he got up, let out a long sigh, and raked his hair with his hand.
“What? You changed your mind? You don’t wanna go to California with me?”
“No, no, it’s not that,” he said quickly and sighed in frustration, “It’s just that… my mom just got fired from her job a few days ago,”
“We don’t know. There was a new owner or something like that. And they just… fired her,”
“They can’t do that,”
“They did, though. And since I haven’t been working for Max either… we couldn’t make money,” he said as he looked away.
“Things are not looking great for us right now. My mom’s been trying to find a job, but apparently no one in town is hiring…”
“Judah, why didn’t you tell me all this?”
“I dunno, I don’t want you to worry about us,” he shrugged as his hands went to his pocket, “But that just means… college is a bit… I don’t know,”
“There are loans and scholarships,”
“Scholarships?” he scoffed, pausing for a beat before saying, “I don’t know, Blondie. I was thinking maybe I’d just get a job. College can wait,”
Suddenly all that happiness that was overflowing through me was sucked dry. All my hopes and dreams felt as if they’ve crashed.
“Hey, I could still be with you in California. I’ll move over there and get a job there,” he said as he reached for my face, clearly he knew that I was upset.
“But you wanted to study… you were excited about studying architecture… you wanted to be an architect,”
“I’ll get there. Maybe not this time, but I will. Have some faith in me, okay?”
His dark amber eyes were staring deeply into mine. I knew he was being honest and real with me, so I guess all I could do now was to trust him.
“You know I always do,”
“I know that face,” he said as his fingers tilted my chin up and his eyes studied me, “You’re still worrying. Don’t worry. We’re gonna be together no matter what. And that’s what matters,”
I felt a little bit better as he said those words. He was right. We would be together no matter what and that was all that mattered. I put my arms back over to him as he pulled me in for a kiss. But before our lips had even met, his phone started ringing and he jerked away in response.
I saw the screen as Judah pulled his phone out. And he was debating with himself whether or not he should answer the call.
“What does he want? I thought you don’t work for him anymore,” I said to him as the phone kept on ringing.
“I don’t,” he replied, but his eyes looked lost.
“I’ll just talk to him real quick,” he said finally as he picked up the call.
I wanted to protest, but it was too late. Judah walked a few feet away from me as he pressed the phone to his ear and said, “Hello?”
I tried my hardest to listen, but I couldn’t hear anything. Judah didn’t speak much too. It seemed like Max did most of the talking. After a good minute, Judah finally put the phone down and he returned to me.
“What did he say?” I asked cautiously.
“Nothing much. But I, uh, I think I should go meet him,”
“There’s just this thing… I’m not working for him, I promise. But, there’s this unfinished thing… and it’s complicated. So, I just have to see him one last time. Just for a minute. Okay?” he was stammering as he was explaining it to me.
“Do you trust me?” he said again, locking my eyes with his.
“Of course I do, but—”
“Okay, then I’ll be back. I’m not gonna get in trouble, trust me,” he gave me a short smile before he went to get his jacket and keys.
I didn’t know what to do at this point. Everything happened so fast and it was so confusing. I watched as Judah gave me one last smile before he exited through the door. He was in a hurry too, as if it was an emergency. I wanted to press for details but I didn’t wanna sound too naggy and I wanted him to know that I trust him.
“I forgot something,” suddenly the front door opened again and Judah came striding in.
“This,” he pulled me quickly for a short kiss. Short and sweet. And how crazy that all my doubts had suddenly went away with this one simple gesture.
“I’ll see you later,” he grinned and flashed me those cute dimples, before he was out the door again in seconds.
I was feeling all sorts of butterflies in my stomach as I was still reeling back from that kiss. But suddenly, I heard the doorbell rang, and now I wondered if he actually left something this time.
“Did you actually forget something—“ I said as I swung the door open.
But to my absolute surprise, it wasn’t Judah at the door.