Heart Meet Butt
Grabbing your mail isn’t supposed to be earth shattering. It’s supposed to be mundane and clerical. But once in a blue moon, a letter falls into your lap and instantly makes your heart fall through your butt. I really didn’t anticipate that sort of anxiety today.
In fact, I was counting on not feeling like this for the first time in years. It’s the first day I didn’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn, run around campus, talk to professors, hand in essays and scramble to get everything done at the volunteer clinic. It was finally my first day, no longer being an undergraduate student and I was prepared to soak up every last bit of it.
I allowed myself to sleep well past sunrise and stumble around the apartment in my pyjamas for a few hours before doing anything productive even crossed my mind. Around noon, my caffeine craving kicked in so I wrestled my hair into a bright pink scrunchie- yes, I am stuck in the 80’s, sue me- and threw on a pair of sunglasses to shield my eyes from the blazing Texas sun. I was about half way out the door before I saw the tiny red line on the mailbox indicating it was full- heart meet butt.
That was three hours ago. Now, here I sit with an envelope between shaky fingers wondering which way my world will turn. Will I be heading back to New York to be lectured by my father or will I be starting a new life in Colorado with my best friend. For some reason I only applied to one veterinarian program in the hopes that somehow that would make it lucky. Now, I think that was probably the stupidest idea I’ve ever had.
I don’t even lift my eyes from the emblem on the front of the letter to acknowledge Lara entering our apartment.
“You should really get off the floor, I never did catch that ginormous centipede last night,” she deadpans as she drops her keys and bag on the kitchen counter and takes a seat on the couch to my left. I pull myself up off the floor and plop down beside her; handing her the letter.
“You open it.”
Ever my good luck charm, Lara, in all her Irish glory, eyes me tentatively before peeling open the letter. She hesitates, baby blue eyes nervously studying my face before turning her sights on the letter between her dainty fingers.
“Dear Miss Madeline Woods, it is with great pleasure that we offer you-.” Without allowing her to finish that sentence, I snatch the papers from her and jump up onto the couch. Rereading the words again until my eye sight blurs from unshed tears. Lara jumps atop the sofa and wraps her arms around my hips nearly knocking us both over in the process. “You got in! You’re coming with me to Colorado! We should leave now, like right now.” She yells in girlish squeal before scurrying into the kitchen to grab her laptop.
“We can’t leave now, we have to pack and we don’t have a place to live in Colorado and I need to look for a job!”
“I already told you! I can get you a job at the bar. Now let’s get drunk and look at apartments to rent.” She singsongs over her shoulder as she dances her way to our liquor cabinet. By the end of the night half of our apartment is packed and our bellies are full of Pinot Grigio and Chinese food.
A week later, Lara and I find ourselves sitting amongst our suitcases outside of the Colorado Springs Airport waiting for her brothers to pick us up. The sun nearly setting over the mountains, creating a delightfully picturesque backdrop for the next chapter in my life. I breathe a sigh of relief, as sense of calm spreads through my bones.
“I’m so excited for you to be here, you have no idea! I’m going to show you everything! ” Lara rambles on as she scrolls through her phone, her thumb moving faster than the speed of light. I lean into her side, her strawberry blonde locks tickling my nose with wafts of coconut.
Lara and I met four years ago, during the first week of university. I was terribly overwhelmed, alone in a new environment and unable to hold back tears I had been stifling all day. I remember sharply turning the corner in the animal clinic I volunteered for and ran right, smack dab into her. Instead of telling me off, she held on tight as I cried. Ever since that day we have been inseparable, becoming the sisters we had both wished for, our entire lives.
“I can’t wait to go hiking,” I giggle while shoving at Lara’s elbow, leaning in close I whisper in her ear. “If you come with me do I have to put you on a leash or something?”
Lara stops scrolling and fixes her eyes on mine. “Remember, they don’t know that you know…so just, no dumb jokes around them. I’ll tell them soon, I just want them to get to know you a little. Make sure they know you’re not some crazy person that’s going to turn us in to Area 51 or something.”
I pull her in for a hug. “I know, don’t worry, I’ll leave my dumb remarks for your ears only.”
She sighed and leans into my body.
“I’m going to be in so much trouble. That’s our number one rule, humans aren’t allowed to know.”
Our eyes meet again, “It wasn’t your fault. You know, you were protecting me, without you that night, I…well, we both know what would have happened. I’m sure they will understand based on the circumstances.”
She nods but I see the shadow of doubt swimming in her turquoise eyes. Before anything more can be said a giant silver Ford F150 pulls up at our feet. Two almost identical men pop out of either side, making a beeline for Lara.
“Owen, Nate! Let go! You’re going to squish me!” Lara squeals with a smile on her face. Fear grips at my extremities as I watch the brotherly embrace. What if they think I’m intruding on their family? What if they think I’m some annoying tag along?
Before anymore worry takes over, Owen and Nate turn in my direction and wrap me up in the same bear hug that Lara received. Letting out an awkward giggle, I crane my neck to look up at their faces about a foot above my eye line.
“Um, hi guys.” Their immediate affection sets my body off-kilter. They both introduce themselves as we pile into the truck.
“So are you two twins or something?” I ask as I glance between the two brothers taking up the front seats. They’re both over 6 feet tall, and as wide as the columns of ancient Greece. Their angular faces almost make them look dangerous if it wasn’t for their playful green eyes, freckles and sandy, blonde, untamed hair.
“How dare you! I look nothing like this moron!” Owen shrieks as he insults his brother from behind the steering wheel.
“Nah, we just have the same features but they actually look good on me.” Nate mocks as he punches his brother in the shoulder. I look more closely at the two and realize that there are indeed, subtle differences between them. They both have broad shoulders however, Nate is leaner, whereas Owen looks like he works out with the sole purpose of gaining muscle. Nate has his hair cut short and seems to have more ribbons of natural highlights running throughout. Interestingly enough, they look more like my siblings than Lara’s, what with her bright blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair. But as I watch and listen to the three bicker, I notice the similarities in speech and mannerisms that make it clear, they have had years to grow together and love each other.
A twinge of jealousy burns my chest as I consider the childhood Lara must have had. For years, I wished for a sibling, having other kids to play with must have been so exciting, someone to go on adventures with and make memories that last a life time. What really gets me is the thought of having so many people to count on. Especially when remembering the day Lara got the worst news of her life.
It was only this past January while we were at our favourite coffee shop, taking up a whole table with our laptops, textbooks and hand written notes, both of us concentrating as her phone nearly vibrated off the table. At first she smiled and answered the call but her face faltered within seconds. I frowned up at her, watching and waiting. Within moments her eyes turned from their usual cerulean to a golden amber with tears clouding her irises. Letting her eyes turn like that in public was a bad sign. So I threw everything we owned back into our bags and pulled her out of the shop as quickly as I could. Within 24 hours she was on a plane to Colorado to mourn the death of her parents. It had taken months for Lara to become a semblance of her old self, the bubbly carefree party girl. Even now, she is still subdued but at least now a smile appears ever so often. Lucky that she had her three brothers to take care of her in such a terrible time, I don't even know what would have happen to me in such a situation.
“This isn’t the way to our apartment?” Lara’s words break my train of thought as I turn from looking out the window and set my eyes on her. I had noticed that the houses and buildings were getting sparse and the evergreens were becoming more abundant and dense but didn’t put two and two together.
“What the hell! I said no!” Lara throws herself toward the middle of the front seat, flailing her arms in an attempt to hit Nate as much as her seatbelt will allow. Lara’s oldest brother, Sebastian had been trying to convince Lara for months that when she graduated and returned home, that it would be a good idea for her to move back into the family home. Lara insisted that she was an adult and didn’t need her older brothers smothering her.
“Bass said he talked to you about staying at the house!” Nate yelled while dodging Lara’s attack.
“You and I both know Sebastian didn’t say a word to me!” Lara sits back in her seat and whips out her phone. “We already put our deposit down, Sebastian can kiss my ass.”
“Lara, we all thought it would be good for you two to stay with us. It will be safe-“ Nate’s eyes cut to Owen then back to Lara, “It’s just better to be closer to family.” Nate’s brow furrows as he speaks those last words slowly and with emphasis, holding Lara’s gaze almost pleadingly. I shrug as Lara looks over at me with apologetic eyes.
“It won’t be that bad, we built a pool house for you two. It’s right by the lake, it’s better than my room for God sake!” Owen states, trying to make light of the situation. None the less, Lara folds in on herself, affectively blanketing the car in silence for the remainder of the drive.