I wake up around eight fifteen with my stomach in my throat. Almost throwing up while brushing my teeth, my mother asks if I’m okay when she hears me gagging over the toilet bowl. I won’t admit it, but everyone knows I’m nervous. Today is my last day home before I drive my old clunker four hours away to university. I should be excited and I was at one point, but the thought has been looming over me like a dark cloud on a sunny day for the past month.

At first it was exciting. A small-town kid who’d never really been anywhere getting accepted into a prestigious university. My girl and I had plans to go to school together. I would study English, she would study psychology and we would study together or go drinking in each other’s arms, doing all that we could at each other’s sides when not in class. That dream came shattering when she broke up with me after enrolling herself at a totally different school. I bartered to switch colleges and stay closer so we wouldn’t be so far away, but she wouldn’t have it.

“No, Ben,” Angela told me with strict defiance, “we have been together for three years now and we need to experience life apart. If it’s meant to be, we will find each other again.”

“But we have each other right now,” I begged, “why wait when we don’t have to.”

“Because this is good for us. I need some time to find myself on my own and discover new things,” her argument was fair, but to me, it was a complete stab in the back.

“Angela, I love you,” I gave a final resort.

“I love you too, Ben, but I can’t do this anymore. At least not right now,” she paid her tab then left me at the booth in our favorite diner to stew over things. A week later, I saw her at the movies with some dopey-looking jerk from the town over.

I walked down to the kitchen and poured myself a mug of black coffee- I thought I should get into it since that’s what writers seemed to do in my head- and grimaced at each sip.

“Hon, why don’t you put some milk and sugar in your coffee to taste better?” my mom asked, helping herself to a healthy serving of each in her own mug.

“He’s becoming a man, we drink our coffee black, dear,” my dad told her while finishing his own cup of Joe and tying his tie. He kissed my mother on the cheek then headed out the front door to work.

“You got any plans for your last day home?” my mom asked with a little too much perkiness in her voice.

My younger brother sat at the kitchen table, shoveling spoonful of cereal into his gob like he’d never eat again, “He’s just gonna mope around the house for his dear sweet Angela to come back,” the twerp said. He was a fourteen-year-old pain in my ass. “Boo boo boo!” he mimicked with hands pretending to wipe his imaginary tears away, “Oh, Angela! How I miss you!”

“That’s enough, Jason,” mom chimed in when I started walking over to cram his face into the bowl of soggy flakes. “Benny, why don’t you hang here a little?” she asked. “And get over that girl, if it’s meant to be, y’all will find each other again.”

“That’s okay, mom, I’m meeting Pete over in a bit,” I told her. There was a nervous quiver that I tried to mask when I talked. I didn’t address the other thing she said.

“Yeah, he’s got to go plead with Angela one final time before leaving,” Jason said in his wheezy voice. I smacked the back of his head and he yelped out.

“Enough you two!” my mom shouted when the kid tried to retaliate. She hadn’t seen my aggression. I went back upstairs to shower. In all honesty, I had planned on going to Angela’s house one last time after lunch with Pete.

My car was too packed with essentials and nonessentials I was going to fill my half of the dorm with, so Pete picked me up in his car around eleven to get one last burger and shake from the diner.

“Man, you ready to leave tomorrow?” I was so fed up with being asked this question. Pete was going to state college an hour away, so it was no big deal to him.

“I guess so,” I replied, though it sounded feeble even to my eyes.

“Hey, its gonna be a blast, muchacho,” my friend spoke in his easy, devil-may-care way. Parties, not being at mom and dad’s, and girls, man!” Pete would end up dropping out a year later and getting a well-paying job working at his uncle’s waste disposal company.

“Dude, I don’t care about girls,” I tried to sound as cool as his voice was, but he knew exactly where my mind was.

“Ben, she broke up with you like a month ago, its ancient history, get over it. College is crawling with girls who are down to party,” he would end up being right, but it still missed me off that he was so noncaring about just about everything in life. That would all change when he would meet his future wife and start a family with her at twenty-six years-old, however.

“You don’t know what I mean, Pete,” I argued back, “she was everything to me, my world. We had our futures planned out.” We had resorted to not calling Angela by her name when talking.

“You’re eighteen years-old, Ben,” he piped up, “we have our whole lives ahead of us.” Pete had had girlfriends in high school, but never once did I see him get hung up on one once they broke up. As I got older, I realized how much I should have taken his advice. “You’ll find your soul mate one day and Angela will be a faded memory by then. But, until that happens, enjoy your youth, dude. Besides, if you two really are meant to get married, you two will come together again.”

In time, I learned that Pete was right, despite being a cow about it, a fact I still bring up to him to this day, I’d eventually meet my soul mate when I was twenty-five writing a story for a high-level magazine in a coffee shop. Angela was a distant memory by then, I hate to admit, and I wouldn’t trade my wife and the life I have with her for the world. Funny, how insignificant things mean the universe to us when we are young. “Whatever,” I told him.

The two of us drove around town a bit bringing up memories from our childhood and funny stories of the shenanigans we pulled as teens until he dropped me off in front of my house. “Later, man,” he said, “I’ll see you at Christmas break.” Before driving off.

Too uneasy with heartbreak and apprehension, I decided to walk for a while. It was only two in the afternoon and I figured I had time, though that time was moving way too quickly today. Where had the past four months gone when I was relaxed about things?

The late-August sun was hot, but it wasn’t the blistering ball of fire it had been in mid-July so I didn’t sweat too much. Before I knew it, I was in front of Angela’s parent’s house. I ambled up to the front door and knocked. Angela’s mother, Mrs. Powski answered.

“Ben, how are you? Ready to be leaving tomorrow?” she asked surprised.

“I’m doing well, thanks,” I tried to sound polite, “is Angela home?”

Mrs. Powksi looked a spitting image of Angela, just older. Her blonde hair hung beautifully around her shoulders and she had a killer smile with blue eyes. I always had a secret thing for Mrs. Powski. “No, she isn’t, I’m sorry to say. She’s out with one of the boys from the town over.” She said with genuine sorrow in her eyes. Mr. And Mrs. Powski and I always got along really well. “Do you want me to take a message?”

“No, that’s okay,” I told her, hoping my rage would stay contained, “thanks though.”

“Of course, dear,” the woman said, “listen, I’m sorry about you two breaking up, but if it’s meant to be, you two will find each other again.”

“Thanks,” I replied. I was going to lose my mind if I heard one more cliché that day. I left with a curt goodbye and continued my walk.

I eventually made it to the park a mile away from Angela’s house and strolled the walk way with benches dotting the sides. I stopped to look out across the lake that the park nudged up to. This is where Angela and I had had our first kiss. Though, we didn’t date until we were fifteen, we had been friends longer and had kissed each other at the age of thirteen so we wouldn’t have to go to high school unkissed. The spot had become a favorite of ours to makeout at on certain Friday nights. My heart and stomach pained with the thought of Angela making out with that pizza-faced ass I saw her with. A feeling of nausea crept over my insides and I continued walking to get over it.

I finally made it home a while later. The clock in the kitchen told me it was four nineteen! I wished with all my being that time could just stop for a week so I wouldn’t have to leave everything behind. Mostly importantly, so I wouldn’t have to leave Angela.

“Grandma called to speak to you earlier, might want to ring her back before dinner. I walked into the hallway where the phone sat on the way and dialed my mom’s mother with a groan. I loved my grandmother, but I swear she didn’t understand me sometimes. She answered.

“Hey! Ready to head to college tomorrow?” she began. My whole body let out a groan this time as I hit my head on the wall.

“Yeah, grandma, I’m excited,” I tried to sound the part for her.

She went on to tell me how she’d miss me but how exciting everything would be and how it was the start of the rest of my life before asking if I’d seen Angela lately.

“No, I haven’t grandma, not since we broke up,” I answered with maybe a little too much disdain in my voice.

“Well, I’m sorry to hear that,” she said, “I always liked her, but if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen again.”

I slammed my head against the wall this time. We said our goodbyes and I promised to call and write from college and she wished me luck and hung up.

My dad came home not long after, six ten o’clock. We had dinner of meat loaf and potatoes. I was too sick in my stomach eat despite everything smelling fantastic. My emotions were running too high.

“Honey, are you okay? You’re not eating much?” I had taken a few small bites, but I was mostly just dragging my fork around the plate.

“Just not too hungry I guess,” I answered looking down at my plate. Even Jason didn’t chime in with one of his quips.

“Ben, let’s go outside after dinner,” my dad said in his robust voice. He and I stepped onto the front porch. I was expecting a lecture about girls coming and going in life (my dad had been quite the lady killer in his prime I was told), but instead he pulled two cigars out of his pocket and handed me one.

“I’m not going to drone on about stuff you’ve already heard from a million other people, son,” he told me. “You’re an adult and you are about to start a new chapter in your life and gain new experiences. All I’m going to say is that it may not seem like it now, but what hurts us when we are young will seem silly as we get older.”

“Thanks, dad,” I told him, puffing the cigar he handed to me.

“I’m gonna miss you, son, but I know that this is good for you,” he said between puffs of his own cigar, “I’m actually jealous. I loved college.” He snuck into the kitchen for a moment before coming back out with two glasses with bourbon swirling around the bottom. “Don’t tell your mother.”

We swigged our drinks back, the liquid was hot and burned as it went down, but it calmed my I sides a bit. My head felt a little light from the cigar, which was almost finished now.

“Try to get some sleep, I got the morning off from work so we will all be here to see you off,” my dad said before going to his bedroom.

I spent the night tossing around my bed and pacing across the room. I was nervous for the coming semester and visions of failure flashed through my head like a horrible movie. Imaginings of Angela at college parties, flirting and hanging off of other guys made me feel sick all over again. I was finally able to fall into a fitful sleek at around two thirty.

I woke up early the next morning and hug and kissed my family goodbye before hitting the road. The long drive helped me focus on something other than Angela and as college went on, I learned to grow up and not worry about what was done. I was so naïve back then.

August 05, 2020 19:35

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Amany Sayed
00:00 Aug 06, 2020

Wow, Chris, wonderful job! I liked the way you wrote it so that you sometimes went to the present, which was to the future of the story. Over here, " I was too hungry eat despite everything smelling fantastic." this sentence doesn't make sense, and I don't really know what you're trying to say. There are also a few other small grammar mistakes here and there and I recommend Grammarly to help you fix them easily. I personally use it. Other than that, wonderful job! I also wrote a story for this prompt and would be grateful if you could c...


Chris Buono
03:19 Aug 06, 2020

Thank you very much! I will definitely check out your story and will change my errors. I really need to look into using Grammarly. Thank you so so so much!


Amany Sayed
03:34 Aug 06, 2020

No problem! Always a pleasure to help others :)


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