“Well, that’s all of it.” I thought while packing the last of grandma’s vinyl collection.
My fingers lingered on the box, and something blurred my vision. Again. Here they come, stupid tears. Can’t believe I still had more in me, I was sure I cried them all out yesterday.
I crouched down and held my head in between my legs, massaging my temples, trying to will the tears away.
A knock behind me pulled me from my thoughts. Mina poked her head through the door.
“Hey, T are you done? What’s wrong?”
“Hmm... All done… Nothing, just thinking...” I gave her a weak smile, which she returned.
Plopping down next to the boxes on my fluffy carpet, I exhaled loudly. The ceiling of my room still had those sticky stars that glowed in the dark.
I was going to miss this room… this house. Even though it was now void of my most favorite person.
“Minmin... I miss her…” My lips quivered, tears pooling and finally spilling down the sides of my face.
Mina laid down next to me and squeezed my hand tightly. “I know…. I miss her too…”
“Does it ever go away, this emptiness?” I whispered.
“No… But it gets easier to deal with in time…”
Mina faced loss at seven years old. Her father passed away in an accident. The two were really close. He was her knight in shining armor, and she was his princess. When it happened, she refused to leave the fort in her yard he made for us for two weeks. She stopped speaking for a while as her tears dried up. I tried my best to comfort her, make her smile, but my attempts were clumsy, futile. A child myself, I was unsure what to do. So after a week, I sat there with her playing board games, just being with her. I thought I understood what she was going through. Saying I know how you feel was lip service unless it happened to you.
“Thank you for being here Minmin... Love you.” I wiped the tears away.
“Always T, love you.” Mina smiled.
“Girls, dinner is ready!” We heard Lola, Mina’s mom, yelling from the kitchen downstairs.
“Well, that’s that. Enough for today…” I got up, reaching out my hand to Mina.
“You know what Nat always used to say ‘When life gives you lemons you get some tequila and salt,’ ” she started, “‘And the rest you shove it so far up life’s ass they become oranges!’” we said in unison and both started laughing as we left my room.
After dinner, we sat in the living room huddled on a couch, and watched TV, before we called it a night and got ready for bed.
We had an early flight to catch tomorrow.
As my grandmother named Lola, my guardian, I was moving with them to Blackwood. A small town in the middle of a vast forest, right past God’s left butt cheek nowhere. I couldn’t even find it on a freaking map. Lola’s mother lived there and when she got sick and passed away five years ago, they had to move there. It was almost a whole day’s journey away from Whiteridge, our hometown.
When Mina moved, it hit me pretty hard. Both of us. Though we kept in touch, during the years, our hours upon hours of phone conversations, messages, and face times dwindled.
Life interfered. But somehow the bond we formed since we were four survived and we still held onto it. Right now, I was so thankful for having her.
Mina slept in my room and she started softly snoring the moment her head hit the pillow. Even though exhausted, I couldn’t fall asleep right away.
My mind reeled. New town, new school, new people…. ugh… Usually, this would make me super excited. Grandma wasn’t big on road trips and travel, so I rarely ever went anywhere that far away from Whiteridge. Meeting new people was always fun in my book, but this was no trip. I was supposed to live there. That brought up so many uneasy feelings.
My stomach tied itself in knots. Taking a deep breath, putting a hand on my chest, I squeezed my eyes shut, murmuring to myself that everything was going to be fine, over and over again till I believed in it, till I fell asleep.
In the morning, we had a quick breakfast, checked if we packed everything, then waited for the cab to take us to the airport. Lola stayed behind so she could get all grandma’s affairs in order. The house, the rest of my stuff.
As a black taxi cab pulled at the curb, I turned around one last time to look at my home. To soak up every little detail before saying goodbye to it for the foreseeable future. I mean, grandma left the house to me so, technically, it wasn’t goodbye forever.
A two-story blue house, with a white front porch, decorated with grandma’s favorite potted flowers Mina and I used to put in our hair as kids. We thought we looked so beautiful, but Gran popped a vein each time she caught us. Behind was a yard with an enormous oak tree in the center. The poor thing had our initials carved into it. Also, a few of T hearts this guy or M hearts that guy, depending on who the current crush was. That backyard had some of my favorite memories.
I’ll miss this place.
Taking a deep breath, I opened the door of the cab and entered.
The ride to the airport was short, and we made our way to the benches to wait for our flight.
Mina was next to me fiddling with her phone while resting her head on my shoulder. She chuckled when her phone pinged with a message.
“Hey lookie here.” Sliding her hand over my shoulders and hugging me close to her, she brought her phone above our heads to take a selfie. I heard a photo snap, and I was pretty sure I blinked. As she took the photo, she texted someone.
“What’s that for?” I inched closer to see what she was doing.
“Oh, Ivan wanted me to send a picture of you, see.” She turned her phone to me.
“Ew, I look like a goat chewed me and spat me out.” I cringed at the photo.
“Stop it, you are beautiful!” Mina assured me, smacking me on the shoulder, chuckling.
Tucking my hands under my chin, I batted my lashes at her, beaming, doing my best impression of a Disney princess: “Aw shucks, beautiful in a way only a mother can love.”
She rolled her eyes, laughing before booping my nose, “Non, non mon chéri,” she wiggled her finger in front of my face. “Mother knows best. Listen to your mama.”
Ivan Hoe: Hey MB, send the pic ;)
Mina Bitch: >photo attached<
“Is that your Blackwood BFF?”
Another message came in.
Ivan Hoe: WOAH! She’s so cute! Dibs :)
Mina Bitch: In your dreams, Casanova, she’s MINE! My own! My precious! >Hiss<
Ivan Hoe: Chill Gollum! Chill! We’ll let her decide. How’s that? ;)
“What do you say? Who’s it gonna be, baby?” Mina turned to me for an answer.
“Is he hot?”
“Pfft... Is he hot?!... Yeah... Yeah, he is... Damn you Hoe!” she exclaimed, dramatically shaking her fist in the air.
I took her phone, turned on the camera so we could take another selfie.
“Look victorious.” I kissed her cheek, and she put on a smug bitch face.
Mina Bitch:>photo attached< The jury is out sucker :P It would never happen :)
Ivan Hoe: Noooooooo! Fate, you cruel bitch!
Ivan Hoe: Alas I shall not despair, for my charm works the best face to face or face on face >wink, wink<
Mina Bitch: Dream on, bro, she’s my lobster!
Ivan Hoe: Hey share the love… Stingy!
“He seems fun,” I giggled at their exchange.
Her face lit up. “Yeah, he’s the best.”
“Hah! I see how it is…” I dramatically flipped my long hair over my shoulder in mock hurt.
“Oh no, no, babe, I only love you. He’s just a side hoe. Trust me.” Hugging my waist, she placed her head on my shoulder, looking up at me through her long lashes while blinking and making a cute, pouting face.
“Ok, ok, he’s got a pool.”
“Jokes aside, he’s great you’ll love him. I know I did the moment we met. Like you, he gets me. I was lucky to meet him when I moved there. But don’t worry, you’re still my number one hoe. Forever and ever and ever,” she squeezed me in a side hug.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever….” I rolled my eyes in mock disbelief. “But you are not dating him?”
“Pfsh, no. No way! Hell no!” Her voice sounded a little too shrill. The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
“Why? You said he’s awesome, gets you, and on top of all that, he’s hot and you chewed my ear about him for years, so what’s the problem?”
“Yeah, he’s super fun. He is my dance partner. We rock, you’ll see us at practice. But… no, okay. I think the notion of us dating would disgust him.” I detected a bit of hurt in her tone as she said that, but she quickly covered it. “Also, as much as I like the guy he can’t hold on to a relationship.”
I squinted my eyes at her. “Like you can talk. You commitment-phobe. Which poor sap is it now? Dan? Max?”
“Hey, I’m not a commitment-phobe, I’m picky!” Cracking a light smile she put her hand on her chest, “And it’s no one now, I need a break and I’m all yours, baby!”
“Hmm... Till another unassuming poor soul falls into your alluring trap. You play with him a bit, and then... Wham! He’s a goner!”
“Wow, you make me sound like a black widow. Creepy but kind of bad-ass at the same time.”
“Well, yeah, minus all the mangled bodies in your wake. Only their spirit gets sucked out. What about that one guy you were gushing over a few years back? You were so into him, and then nothing, You stopped. You never told me his name, either.”
Mina waved a hand dismissively. “A fluke. A crush, nothing more. And I stopped because the feeling faded. Can’t seem to remember who it was now.” Though she said that, her tone light, almost indifferent, something flickered over her face that I couldn’t quite decipher.
There was more to that story. It was obvious she was not ready to talk about it, so I didn’t push.
The intercom sounded, the call to board the plane.
“Ok, so this is it. Allons-y my friend!” I said, motioning to the gate with a smile.
“Allons-y!” Mina smiled and latched herself onto my right arm.
“Oh, you remember!”
“Yeah, well, you made me watch the seasons of Doctor Who with Tenant in them, so... Also, you use that word a lot.”
Smiling, we boarded the plane and sat, continued talking, catching up.
An hour and a half later, I put on my earphones while Mina watched some dance practice videos. Pressing play on my old mp4, which grandma bought me as a birthday present, a soothing voice of one beautiful blond started singing “Dream a Little Dream of Me” and I closed my eyes.
Slowly, I drifted into my own little world. While dancing was Mina’s, music was always my solace. The world that opened with the melody a happy bubble where I tuned out the present and roamed freely inside my imagination, letting all of my worries slip out and become background noise.
Just for a little while, just enough to muster the strength to face it all again when the music stops.