In Five Years' Time

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chapter two

Lola was lying in bed, the light of her phone illuminating her pale face. She couldn’t stop thinking about Marley. Her first love. She’d loved since, had her heart broken since, but for some reason these memories of Marley were sticking out. Maybe it was just the nostalgia from looking at those yearbooks, but her heart was pounding in a way she couldn’t explain. She decided to text Noelle.

u reaaally think its a good idea to text marley


its not kinda weird?

No lol u guys made a deal


i cant stop thinking about her 4 some reason

My girl b in love n shit


i dont even know what she looks like currently im just thinking about when i knew her

I’ll show u!

Noelle sent a picture. Tap to download image. Lola tapped it, and an image appeared on the screen. A candid photo of Marley, sitting on a bed, a red solo cup in her hand. She was wearing an oversized navy blue sweater, the words HOWARD UNIVERSITY in big, blocky letters. She was laughing about something, her nose scrunched and her mouth open and smiling. Her hair came to just below her jaw. God. She’s so fucking cute.

is she dating anyone rn?

Honestly i dont know

I dont think so though?

Lola held the receipt with Marley’s number on it between her index and middle finger, trying to decide whether or not to text her. Would it just seem like a booty call if she did it past 11 PM? Is it weird to bring up this shit from grade ten? Should she be asking Marley on that date, or just mentioning it? She had no idea where to start. She decided to just send a preliminary text. Holding her breath, she tapped send.

hey, is this marley?

She waited for a couple minutes before remembering how notoriously bad Marley is at texting back, and swallowed all of the thoughts rushing to her head. She decided she should try to sleep for class tomorrow. I should’ve just sent that in the morning. Stupid.

As she reached over to put her phone on the bedside table, it buzzed in her hand. Her heart leaped into her throat as she jerked it back towards herself, looking at the notification. Marley.

yes whos this??

it’s lola! from high school

oh my god wow yea we haven’t talked in too long how are you imy

been a while mhm i think its been uhh five years

less than that since the last time we mean since we dated?

Shit. Lola was hoping Marley would catch onto what she was hinting at, but it dawned on her that there’s a good chance Marley doesn’t remember the deal they made at all. Lola hadn’t, not until she saw the note Marley had left in her yearbook all those years ago.

yeah, that’s what i meant

How do I say this?

this might be weird buut do you remember that deal we made when we broke up all those years ago?


oh my god that

that dAte

haha yeah i was just looking through my old yearbooks and i saw a note you left in it alluding to that deal we’d made

are you texting me to ask me on a daate

like….. if yr still down i am

i meann why not???? wait i wanna talk to u

Talk to me? I— Suddenly, an incoming phone call appeared on her screen. Marley Elise. Oh my God.

With shaking hands, she hesitantly tapped the green button. “Hello?”

“Lola.” came Marley’s crackly voice on the other end of the phone. “Lola fuckin’ Cann.”

“Marley,” Lola played along. “Marley fuckin’ Elise.” Marley laughed.

“Oh my God. You.” she giggled.

Lola laughed. “Me. What does that mean?”

Marley was quiet. “Wait. You can’t see me. I shrugged.” Her words were a little slurred.

“You havin’ a good night over there Marls?” Lola asked, laughter edging her voice. She heard a glass being put down on the table on the other line.

“Fan-fuckin-tastic, Lola.” she said. “Wow. It’s weird being on the phone with you.”
“Just been so fuckin’ long!” She laughed. “How’d you even get my number, you stalker?”

“No, no. I saw Noelle today and she came over and saw what you wrote in my yearbook years ago, and I explained it to her, and she told me I should text you. She gave me your number.” Lola explained.

“Ahhh, Noelle! I miss her.”

“She misses you too.” Lola smiled.

“So what is this? You’re tryna fuck?”

“No — I mean, like, whatever, but I was just—“
Marley hiccuped. “Oh, wait. Yeah. The date.” she said.

“Yeah. I mean like, if you want to, I was also reminding you about it just for like nostalgia and—“

“No, no! I do want to. It could be fun. What’s the harm, right? Just a date.”

Lola swallowed. “Yeah. Just a date.” Marley giggled uncontrollably on the other end of the phone.

“Are you alone?” Lola asked.

“God, no. I’m not at the level of drinking alone yet, Lola. Thought you’d think of me more highly than that. I’m with my roommate.” Lola heard a distant “Who’s that?” on the end of the phone. A muffled “It’s Lola. She’s my ex, we dated in high school.” A muffled aww. Marley had put her hand over her mic to talk to them, but Lola could still hear her, softly.

She returned to the phone. “I should go. Girls’ night.”

“Y’all are having girls’ night on a Sunday?”
“It’s usually Friday but I was busy. Sienna was busy Saturday. So it happens tonight.”

“Respect.” said Lola, and Marley laughed.

“Fuck yeah. I’ll talk to you later, Lola. About that date.”

“I’ll hold you to it,” Lola grinned. “G’night, Marley.”
“Night, Lola.”

When Lola woke up, the memories of her and Marley’s phone call the night before came racing back to her. She smiled, thinking of how Marley’s voice had sounded, drunkenly laughing into the phone. She felt a ball of warmth in her chest, and she put her hand over her heart as if to negate its fluttering. She hadn’t heard that laugh in a long time.

She shook her head. Calm down. This is a girl you dated five years ago, who doesn’t even live in Chicago. She grabbed her phone off her bedside table. There were two texts from Marley.

i’m coming to chicago 2 visit

my family next week

we should go on that date thenn

Lola beamed. The texts were from 25 minutes ago, so Marley hadn’t just agreed to the date out of drunkenness. She was down. For real.

definitely! what day do you get in

it’ll be nice to see youu

i get in the 21st and stay until

the 27th

this is funny

ha what do u mean

just cus we’re actually doing this

yeah lol i’m glad we are

me too

we owe it to our teenage selves

i think

for sure

It was true. They did owe it to their teenage selves. The date didn’t have to be a serious thing, definitely not as serious as 15 year old lovestruck Lola and Marley were probably envisioning it being. But it was a nice gesture to do it. For the nostalgia. To respect the deal they’d made all those years ago. It was simply an ode to their younger selves.

Lola got up, stretching and scratching her scalp. She yawned and made her way to her dresser, picking out clothes for the day. She opened her phone to quickly check the date. April 17th. Four days till Marley visited. A notification appeared at the top of her screen from Noelle.

Did you text Marley

i did! shes gonna b in chicago next

week so we’re gonna go on that

date :)))


THAT makes me so happy

ha its not gonna lead to anything

just nostalgia yknow


It was purely nostalgic. Nothing more. She pulled her hoodie over her head and walked over to her washroom, grabbing her toothbrush from its holder and squeezing toothpaste onto the bristles. She looked at herself in the mirror as she brushed her teeth. Her short black hair fell over her face messily, parted haphazardly in the middle. She had purple bags under her eyes. Classy. She didn’t bother covering them up. She simply finished getting ready and left her apartment to go to her lecture.

When she arrived to the lecture room, she assumed her usual spot near the front of the room. In high school, Lola was not what you’d call a star student, but university was different. She was studying something she was genuinely interested in, and that affected her academic motivation in enormous amounts. That was always her issue. Really bright, missing the motivation. “Apply yourself.” She’d heard that a lot.

With the all the events that’d unfolded the past couple of days, Marley crossed her mind. Lola remembered that she was like that too. She started to think about that.

Marley was probably the smartest person Lola had ever met. No one ever really gave her the credit she deserved for that. Even Lola, before she’d had gotten to know Marley, had written her off as a stoner that didn’t care about school, not even enough to just show up to class regularly. But once the two began talking, even as just friends, Lola realized the breadth of Marley’s intellect. The two had conversations that left her thinking for days, and she was always enamoured by Marley’s ability to easily comprehend concepts that would normally make people need to stop and collect their thoughts for at least a few minutes.

“Do you believe in fate?” I ask her, looking over at her from where I sit on the kitchen counter. She turns around to look at me, still stirring the spaghetti.

“I’m still trying to figure out my stance. I think it’s really complicated.” she says after a moment, turning back. “There are so many things the question of whether or not fate is real brings to the table.”

“What do you mean?”
She smiles, looking up at the wall behind the stove. “Like free will, for example.”

“How would fate influence free will?” I ask.

“In every way possible.” she said. “This is how I think of it. If fate is real — if all of us are just headed down a pre-written path, every single choice we ever make is already determined.” I nod. “Meaning that we don’t have any control over our decisions.”

“And you could take it a step further, too.” she says. “It even connects to the multiverse.”

“The multiverse?”

“Yeah.” She turns the stove off and picks up the pot, pouring the spaghetti and water into the strainer as she speaks. “I mean, the whole theory of the multiverse suggests that every time we make a choice, two parallel universes split off like tree branches. One where we picked option A, one option B. And if fate, is real, that can’t happen, because—“
“Every choice we make is already outlined.” I finish. She looks up at me with a smile.


“Hey, you.” said Lucy, sitting down next to Lola. Lola quickly turned her head, not realizing Lucy had sat down next to her.

“Jesus, you walk quietly.” Lola said, elbowing her. “Scared me.”

“That’s not even true!” laughed Lucy. “You’re just always in that head of yours. So wrapped up in your thoughts.” She poked Lola’s forehead. “Dumb pisces. Never paying attention. S’why you always need my notes.” Lola scrunched up her nose and stuck out her tongue. “You hate me ’cause I’m right.” she laughed, pulling out her laptop.

“Actually, I hate you ’cause you’re annoying.” joked Lola.

“You love me.” Lucy said matter-of-factly. “And because you love me, you’re coming over after this lecture. Unless you’re working.”

Lola grinned. “Yeah, I am. Coming over, I mean. Not working.”

“Good. Cole and Caelan are gonna come too.”

“Me, you, Cole, Caelan, your place? This sounds like a non-sober affair.” she said, raising an eyebrow.

The lecturer was at the front of the room, rapping his knuckles on the podium to indicate the lecture beginning. “Is us hanging out ever a sober affair?” she whispered.

Lola grinned. “Good point.”

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