“Ugh, quarantine sucks the worst of anything I’ve ever experienced.”
“I know. At least we have technology to occupy us.”
“Technology has become my worst enemy these past twenty days.”
“We’ve only been in quarantine for seven days, Catie.”
“I know that. Just feels like it’s been longer.”
Jessica smiled to herself. Catie always had a flair for the dramatic side of things. She served as the true personification of comedic relief when it came to bleak situations. She really adored Catie, more than words could ever tell. Jessica continued the conversation.
“It won’t last forever; you’ll survive just fine.”
“How can I without my best friend by my side??”
“Dude I’m right here.”
“No, you’re there. I’m here. And here is not there and there is not here. You know what I mean?”
“Not at all.”
“You’re not wrong on that, Catie.”
“No, wait. Stop, I’m a bully. How dare you take that seriously, Jess. No. Bad.”
“Wouldn’t it be easier to just talk on the phone instead of texting?”
“NO. Talking on the phone is barbaric. Our ancestors would want us to use modern technology for communicative purposes.”
“We were born before texting was invented, dude.”
“Nevertheless. No phone calls for me ma’am.”
“Alright, fine. What do you want to talk about over text, then?”
Catie waited a few minutes to think before she replied:
“Hmm. How about we play the Favorites Game?”
“Yup. We ask and say each other’s favorite things.”
“But we already know all of each other’s favorite things.”
“Yeah! That’s the beauty of it. Proving how much we know each other”
“Oh, okay I get it now.” Jessica thought of a few starting answers that she knew would get them to text back and forth for hours. “Your favorite color is purple.”
“And yours is green.”
“What’s my favorite animal?”
“Easy. Red Panda. What’s mine?”
“Easier. Dog. Specifically a Tibetan Mastiff.”
“Thanks, I try.”
The girls went on listing each other’s favorite things, never missing a beat or guessing incorrectly. Their conversation extended over hours, just as Jessica had hoped it would. Eventually, the girls arrived at the serious topics. Catie was eager to start the real questions.
“What is my favorite alcoholic drink, Jess? Bet you don’t know that one.”
“Damn. I stand corrected. Yours is wine because you’re lame and don’t drink anything else.”
“Correct, you are.”
“Lol, okay Yoda. Who is my favorite person?”
“Obviously it’s your mom. You love her so much.”
“Yes, I certainly do, you are right! Your favorite person…” Catie paused for a moment. She didn’t know the answer to that question for Jessica. Maybe Jessica doesn’t have a favorite person, she thought to herself, or I guess I’ll find out now. “Actually, I don’t think I know this about you. Who is your favorite person?”
Jessica paused, staring at her phone. This could be her chance to finally say what she really thinks. Her heart was in her throat and the color of tomatoes ambushed her ears. Did she dare disturb the sanctity of a friendship? Jessica sat on her bed and thought of the possible repercussions of what may come of this simple answer, how Catie would take it, where their relationship would go from there. Catie waited patiently on her couch, believing she may have ruined the entire conversation. Jessica finally replied:
“Actually, my favorite person, the one I like the most, is you. In more ways than one.”
“Are you trying to tell me something, Jess?” Catie couldn’t fully grasp what she was reading.
“I’m telling you that I like you. More than a friend.”
The two sat in stunned silence at Jessica’s message. Jessica no longer cared what the outcome was. She was proud of her bravery and knew she’d never regret her actions. Catie was screaming in her empty house, happier than a clam.
“You want to go out?” Catie asked. “Like on a real date? I’ll be really lady-like for you.”
“Hell yes, dude. You better take me someplace fancy, though. I expect lots of expensive wine.”
“Jess, I’m almost broke. You’ll get mediocre wine and like it anyway.”
“You’re not wrong.”
Relief washed over their shores. They texted for hours more, playfully arguing over where they’d go for dinner and what movie they’d both enjoy. After a long while, Catie’s mind lit up with an idea.
“Screw the quarantine, you want to come over and watch a movie at my place?”
“Yeah, sure. When?”
“But what about the virus?”
“Neither of us have it. We both tested negative, we’re completely fine. And it’s not like you’re going to encounter any other people on your way. You’ll be driving.”
“But it’s almost midnight and you live an hour and a half away.”
“It was only a suggestion; you don’t have to come over if you don’t want to.”
“But you want me to.”
“But I don’t have to?”
“Exactly. It’s up to you.”
Jessica once again had to contemplate an action. Did she dare to go against government order to stay inside unless absolutely necessary? Jessica did want to go see Catie quite badly. And after all, she already disturbed the universe once. What harm would it do? She thought.
“Okay, I’ll be there in about two hours and thirty minutes.”
“Yay! I’m so excited.”
Jessica started her first date routine. She grabbed a glass of wine, put out her two red dresses and cropped red sweater to decide on later, and hopped in the shower. Catie had a routine of her own that consisted of snacking on almonds and staring at her full closet for fifteen minutes. It was always difficult for her to decide on a first date outfit. She settled on a classy teal blouse and black leggings and went to work cleaning her house for Jessica. Every inch had to be spotless and perfect for her new girlfriend. Just the thought of Jessica being her girlfriend made her smile ear to ear.
Jessica finished her shower and continued drinking her wine. Putting her hair in two French braids, she decided on the red sweater since it was one of her Hanukkah presents from Catie the year before. Jessica hummed as she got dressed with black jeans and her good luck charm: a necklace with a chrysanthemum pendant her mom had given her. She took a deep breath as she texted Catie once more:
“Okay, I’m on my way. Better be ready in an hour and a half!”
Catie smiled at her phone. An hour after Jessica’s last text she had finished cleaning and setting up for their movie date. She texted Jessica one last time.
“All set and ready for you!”
Jessica’s phone buzzed in the cupholder of her car. She reached over and read the text. She was about to press send when her car unexpectedly swerved to the side of the road where a forest sat.
“I’m so excited,” the first responder read on her phone.