The roses at the mission are in bloom. I stop to admire them; they are, after all, my favourite flowers. The little baby pink hues grow around the white picket fence and I can’t help but take a picture. All the other roses are in bloom, roses of every colour: red, pink, yellow, white, even magenta. They’re all brightly blooming, each one showing off its majesty.
Wouldn’t this make for a good coffee table? I glide my hand against the old steamer trunk. We’re looking for milk crates, but the large chest in the center of the room grabs my attention. I picture it in the house I’m moving into in just two short weeks and a twinge of anxiety washes over me. We leave the shop with a rusted milk crate and leave the chest behind.
I stop to look at the baby pink roses one last time. I touch one of them lightly with my fingers before I get in the car.
Well, would you like a new dress for Easter? My mother asks me, but her tone sounds more apologetic than anything. I wander around the store looking at all the dresses in creams and pastels, making it my mission to not get a black dress for once. I try on at least 7 dresses before settling on a pink one with little blue flowers on it. My mother zips it up for me and I tell her this is the one I want.
I watch my baby brother pick up his new girlfriend from her house. He nervously fidgets with himself until the door opens and she emerges. Her mother watches them as they walk to the car together and yells to my mom that she will pick her up later that night.
My mother does the introductions. The girlfriend’s name is Margot. She nervously smiles at me and reveals a full set of braces. I study the rest of her as she looks down at her lap: long, curly brown hair, blue eyes, petite frame, and a quiet voice. I wonder how on earth she could have gone for my brother and I wonder how many times they’ve kissed.
My phone vibrates: Got off work early. On our way to your house.
There’s a knock at the door. But not just any knock—it’s to the beat of some song. Damn musicians, I muse to myself. I open the door and see my best friend and his girlfriend standing on my porch. They both smile and we exchange hugs and greetings.
Was it your birthday on Wednesday? I’m your best friend and I can’t even remember!
It’s okay, I can’t remember yours either. We both laugh and I shut the door behind them as they walk into the house.
Everyone is gathered around the cake, singing happy birthday. After I blow the candles out, my mother begins to slice the cake. I’ve been watching my best friend and his girlfriend interact for almost an hour now and I’ve never seen him happier. I recall a text he sent me a week before: This is the girl I want to spend the rest of my life with. I take a bite out of my cake and try to ignore the fact that I am the only person in the room who isn’t in love with someone.
I’m sitting at a fire that my best friend built in his backyard. It’s just the three of us now. My head is throbbing and I’m exhausted, but I watch them interact some more. The way they hold hands, the way they look at each other. When he leaves, I ask her if she sees herself with him in the future. Yes, I definitely can, but I still have things that the Lord wants me to grow in before I’m ready for that. She smiles nervously as he re-enters the backyard.
I ask my best friend what kind of guy he could see me with. He doesn’t have an answer.
My friend announces that he needs to go to bed now since he has to wake up early. I offer to drive the girlfriend home, and the three of us walk to my car. I hug him goodbye and pray that he doesn’t start crying. This will be the last time I see him before my big move. He goes and hugs his girl goodbye and they exchange I love you’s before she slowly gets into my car. I look across the street at a familiar house and cringe.
You really make him happy. I say as I pull up to her house. I’ve never seen him this happy before. I see tears fill in her eyes and she grows quiet. Corinna, I really, truly love him. I believe her.I manage to say something along the lines of how happy I am to see him this happy and I mean it. She hugs me and tells me she loves me and that she’s thankful that he has a best friend like me in his life before hopping out of the car. I pull away from her house as an Arctic Monkeys song comes on my stereo.
I’m back at my best friend’s house, per request of his mother. I sit on the couch and tell her about my plans for the next year; that I’m moving out of my parents house and down south and that next year I’ll be living in Australia. I confess to her that I feel like I’ve been living my life in reverse, but I don’t think she understands. By the time you’re 25, you’ll have accomplished more than most 40 year olds have. I’m proud of you, kiddo.
I hug my best friend’s mom, my second mother, goodbye and head out to my car. Out of habit, I find myself sprinting to my car in the dark, even though it’s just on the street. A car drives past me as I get into the driver’s seat and I panic. Is that him? I try not to look across the street at the house that was once so familiar, that I once spent afternoons playing guitar and singing and stealing kisses with someone that I was once in love with. Has it really been almost three years now? I start my engine and take off into the night.
I am lying in the bed that I have slept in for years and realize that this is the last time I’ll be sleeping in it in this household for a long time; maybe even forever. I shift my body to face the large painting on the opposite side of the room. It’s of a young girl looking for a kitten in the middle of a blooming field of flowers. We bought that painting because the little girl looked just like you, I remember my mother telling me once. I turn the lamp on my nightstand off and lay in the dark. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll finally fall asleep at a decent time tonight.