I wasn’t sure why but waking up this morning seemed to be more of a chore than it usually was. I just had a really bad feeling, a pit in my stomach that, no matter what, would not go away.
In hindsight, I now know that I had lost my best friend, and this feeling was a sign.
If you would’ve told me that this day was the starting point for the craziest year I would ever go through, that I would lose my grandmother, move to a different city, find someone who would change my life, break my heart, and then make me fall in love...at 22?
I would laugh in your face.
This was the worst day of my life, but today was the turning point, my life would change drastically.
“Gen? You’re gonna be late for class, sweetie,” I heard my mom through the door, “If you’re wanting to shower, you need to get up now.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I grumbled and tossed the comforter off my body and huffed, finally getting up and making my way to the bathroom.
Something had me dragging my feet all throughout my morning routine and I just couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
‘Something’s wrong. I can feel it.’
Nothing is wrong, everything’s fine.
But I should’ve known when I called my grandmother and she didn’t answer.
It was basically a routine now. I’d call her while I was doing my makeup and she’d always make me tell her what my plans were for the day, what classes I was taking, where I was going to have lunch and who I was going to be hanging out with.
“You need to come to Dallas soon and visit me, Genny. I miss you and I’ve got a guest room with your name on it,” she’d say almost every morning and I’d shoot her down every time.
“Sorry, grandma, you know how it is with school. I’m super busy and finals are just around the corner. I can’t afford to take any time off. I will visit as soon as I can though.”
“Fine, but you know I won’t be around forever,” she’d try to guilt me.
“Don’t talk like that. You’ll be here still for a long time. Long enough to see me graduate college, long enough to see me get married, long enough to meet any great-grandchildren I decide to bring into the world.”
“I’m glad you put it in that order. Definitely finish college first before even thinking about boys,” she’d say in her no-nonsense voice.
“I know, grandma. ‘Never let a man take care of you. Be independent, Genny. Get your degree and buy yourself the life you want.’ You never forget to tell me to be my own person and I appreciate that.”
And that would be the end of the conversation.
But this morning...she didn’t answer.
And I chalked it up to her still being asleep or leaving her phone in another room, or something...
And again, I should’ve known better.
But before I let my mind wander any further, my mom came to the door again.
“Gen, your father left some money on the counter for lunch today. I’m leaving for work. Love you.”
“Love you too, mom! See you later,” I called as I pulled on a floral blouse to go with my black slacks and then slipped on a pair of beige flats and grabbed my backpack before walking down to the kitchen to grab a bottle of water and a granola bar for breakfast.
I made it to the school with a few minutes to spare, thankfully and met up with my small group of friends in the quad.
“Morning, Gen. You look like shit,” Rachel, someone who I asked myself every day why I was friends with, said as I walked up.
Before I could reply, I heard a familiar voice behind me, “Hey, Gen, can we talk?”
‘Seriously? We’re gonna do this now?’
Don’t be so rude. He was my friend before we dated.
He was also the reason Rachel hated me.
I turned and looked into a pair of bright blue eyes, the eyes that belonged to my ex-boyfriend and childhood best friend, Jackson Walters.
“Sure, Jacks. What’s up,” I asked. I felt bad for him. He was hurt when I decided to end the relationship after a year but we were better off as friends. Apparently, I was the only one of the two of us that felt that way.
“Um, alone,” he said in a low voice and I heard Rachel scoff behind me.
“Hey, Jackson,” she spoke up in a voice that was reserved just for him.
He looked over me at her, “Oh, hey, Rachel. How’s it going,” and then turned his attention back to me, “Genevieve?”
I sighed and followed him a few feet away.
“What’s up,” I asked again, pulling at the straps of my backpack.
I had to admit that dating him had been a huge mistake. Not that he was a bad guy, but that ever since we crossed the line from friends to more, now I knew that we could never get that ‘friends’ part back.
He would always want more than I could give and that made me feel slightly guilty.
‘Girl, it is not your fault you don’t feel the same. You are entitled to your own feelings.’
Yeah, yeah. I know, but still...
“I just wanted to say,” he started, “that I’m not mad at you. I get that you don’t feel the same as me, but I still want to be your friend, Gen. You mean the world to me, you always have, and I love you. And if you need me as a friend more than you need me as a boyfriend, well...I guess I’ll just have to be okay with that,” he finished, his fists clenching and unclenching as they always did when he was nervous.
“Thank you, Jackson. That means a lot to me. You know how important school is to me and you know that I’m trying really hard to get this business degree and right now just isn’t the right time for me to have a relationship,” I lied, which I probably shouldn’t have done as I saw his face light up in understanding.
“Yeah, no, of course. I get that. I’m really glad we had this talk,” he smiled and drew me in for a hug.
His hugs use to be a safe space for me, but now they felt suffocating.