iii. the boy with shaggy hair, north
The boy with shaggy hair and I rode the same bus every day, after school. We each knew each other's bus stops by heart, as well as what each of our favorite sour gummy bear flavors were (his was watermelon, mine was strawberry) and what ticked us off (both of us agreed that Velcro ripping apart and rude or transparent people are the worst), alongside many other tiny snippets of the other's personality. The two of us arrive on the bus at different times during the ten-minute boarding period, but we positioned ourselves to sit near the front, to avoid the rambunctiousness the back had to offer.
Today was no different, despite the lack of the seniors onboard, as the school released them two weeks early. The seat beside mine was occupied by a girl hammering her fingers into her keyboard, updating one of her many social media statuses. As he approached closer to where I sat, I greeted him with an apologizing grin, clenching my teeth to prevent yammering at the girl about hitting her elbows to my stomach. He shrugged and took the seat in front of mine, chatting vigorously to a friend of his in the same row.
This is how we were now-- speaking in silent conversation lacking of any verbal communication, but we understood each other completely. This wasn't much of a difference to our youth and popcorn-filled days, where he hardly spoke to anyone except for the teacher and I. The expression in his eyes, a sparkling vibrancy that he rarely ever inhibited, slowly grew as his conversation grew on and on. "Over the summer, I'm taking an aerodynamics over at one of the career.
This news shocked me a bit, but that was only the beginning of his rambles. "I took a course there last year, and I'm a credit ahead of everyone else. I don't know if I want to join any of the military badges or not," he paused, puffing out a chest full of ribbons and medals from his ROTC involvement, "but just in case, I'm planning to go into engineering."
For years he never truly disclosed his plans for the future, always wanting to keep to himself and engage in any athletic endeavor rather than discussing what laid ahead of him. My fingers pried at the seat in front of me. "You are literally the coolest person ever."
"I know I am." He puffed out his chest, meeting his textbook in the middle of his lung expansion. A laugh broke out between the two of us. This was like the good old times, when our most common saying in communication was not any word at all, but a sound of air ringing at different pitches, a universal way of communication everyone knew. We laughed so hard that I snorted, prompting us to giggle harder. When our laughter died, he turned around and said, "You may not be the most popular person, but you're one of the greatest people I know."
A giant blush ran across my face. As usual, he played everything sweet, but what could I do? The boy was a softie at heart, who did lookout for his friends no matter the small exterior. We gazed at each other and exchanged a grin-- this was how everything was meant to be.
iv. the girl with the buck teeth, south
The bell of the coffee shop rang open, and there entered the girl with buck teeth, one of my closest friends and confidants in practically anything we planned. She waved hello at me and ordered herself a cappuccino (with whipped cream, caramel syrup and chocolate chunks) before placing herself to sit across from my seat. Like me, she sat with her luggage beside her. "Aren't you nervous about leaving?" I asked, taking a sip from my tea.
"Saying goodbye was the hardest thing I've ever done." For years, she discussed her need of having to get away from her relatives, who treat her more as a neighborhood babysitter than their art sketching niece. The two of us discussed many ways with her wanting to cope, until she decided to head off to college in pursue of an Architecture degree, only keeping contact with her immediate family. Her dog dozed at her side, wearing a serene expression on his face inside the kennel. "But it's for the best, I suppose."
"I suppose. When does your flight leave?"
"In two hours, but I have to leave in about ten minutes to make it to the airport. Wait a second." She reached forward and slowly released the grip of my fingers. Her tongue ran over her now regular-sized front teeth. Eyebrows furrowed while leading through the pages. "Is this that dreaded notebook you carried around with you when we were kids, 24/7?"
"Hey! Don't touch my notebook." She snorted, but her eyes grew bigger by the time she reached the end of the notebook. "Wow, I can't believe that you ended up writing that much about, you know, the four of us. Even after we all dispersed, I suppose."
"'I suppose.'" I go the notebook out other and dropped it on the table, settling on the page depicting the four of us drawing mindlessly with burnt popcorn sitting at our sides, a burnt staple of elementary school snacks. "Well, what do you expect? We all were different people who happened to coincide in the same place and time." My tea cup was down to the brim. I teased by finger over the edges and gave a small sad grin. "We were the social experiment waiting to erupt, because when..."
"Guys and girls segregated themselves to sit at different tables from one another, we defied that rule, thus beginning a year of trouble. That novelty held for a while. I wonder what made us break apart besides clashing personalities..." That was the question of the century. Within the many years that have gone past, no one knew the answer to the question. All we were aware of was the end-- rocks and harsh words. She lifted her cup. "A toast to being social pariahs?"
I held my drink in response. "Social pariahs."
We both drank from our cups. "So, where are the boys now?"
"Well, the boy with thick glasses-- who now wears contacts, don't you know-- is heading over for military training. I'm not sure what branch, all I know it's on the west coast. But our other friend is being an engineer, and everyone knows a lot of the good jobs come from the top of the country." My eyes flickered over to the time on my watch. 12:38, noon time. "I, on the other hand, will continue with what I've been born to do. Life's been good."
"Same. Look, I better go." She picked up the dog cage, and we greeted each other with one last hug. "We are video chatting once my dorm is fixed, okay?"
"Okay!" I watched as she waved goodbye, nearly stumbling over a group of caffeinated children. Her suitcase rolled out the door and she disappeared onto the street of busy business workers returning from their lunch shift. My waves of goodbye slowly diminished. My flight was about to leave within the next few hours, but for now, that could wait. Sitting here and pondering about my friends' futures was a moment that should be held onto for the longest time. We may be embarking on our separate ways, but knowing our destinations, we were bound to each do great things.