It’s strange to recall such a mundane moment in our lives: us walking down to the local convenience store together. There was joy and laughter in each of our steps towards the spot we always went to, but also inside jokes exchanged and words carrying our own songs of sadness and stress released from our lips. There was trust between two people, that much is known - though now, even that has become faded.
However, I do remember one summer day. It was the middle of June, and we had just finished our final exam of Grade 10. The weights on our shoulders were finally lifted; we decided to go for a stroll afterwards, like best friends do. It was something of a habit for both of us to go walking around the town together, with you always on the left side of the sidewalk, one earbud in your other ear so that you could still hear me with your right. Your music was loud though, and I wonder if you realized I could hear it blaring from the one side, that song called ‘Medicine’ from your favourite band, Hollywood Undead.
I still miss the way you knew every word to their songs and how you hummed to each line of the melody.
Walking down Broadway street, we could see the sign clearly from where we were, and we turned to one another; it was as if we had already read each other’s mind. I couldn’t help but smile at that as we both laughed, going towards the store. Each step of the way, my smile was growing, and the sun was parting from the clouds innocently, like a child peeking out from where they’d been hiding for so long. We had, after all, waited all year for a sunny day like this.
There was a familiar jingle from the top of the door as we entered the store. A notable smell of dust and a lavender spray made its way to us, and we turned to each other to giggle. No worries about the loud little comments we made about the way that the woman by the register was eying us, or about the fact that we could probably live off of the ‘food‘ in this place - we would just end up fairly stocky.
It’s the stupid conversations like that, that I miss the most. The witty conversations. The discussions that made absolutely no sense to anybody but us.
Her icy blue eyes scanned the shelves, looking for a candy bar that suited her taste for the day. She always said that chocolate was the way to mend anything, even a broken heart, but she never gave any real explanation for it; and I’d never had my heart broken. Admittedly, it gave me some relief to know that I hadn‘t gone through the same wars that she had.
After having already picked my candy bar, ‘Oh Henry!’, I was rushing her to choose. I don’t remember why or where we needed to go afterwards. Maybe somewhere important. Maybe nowhere at all. I only know that I pushed her to hurry, but maybe I shouldn’t have. I could have stayed in that moment forever, watching her go through her mind and her thoughts, analyzing all of her options. Sometimes when I come back to this moment, I wish I could unlock all of the frenzies running free in her mind. At least just for a peek. But unfortunately, the next time I see her doing that, I wouldn’t like the way she looked at me.
Then, she chose: a ‘Kit-Kat’. She put it down on the counter in front of the suspicious cashier lady, and we again, giggled to one another. She paid with debit, and I played with the spare change I had left in my backpack from a lunch, undoubtedly spent with her. We took our candy bars, and we left that June afternoon - we never came back.
Returning to our stroll around the quiet town, she took her candy out and split it in two like you’re supposed to. I watched her do it so easily, and a part of me tensed up. I didn’t like ‘Kit-Kat’, but the way she did it irked me: with just one snap, it was broken. I made a joke about it to relieve myself, though I realize that maybe I was worried about being her next candy bar. Still, she laughed, and that was enough for me.
Maybe I had every right to be worried. Maybe I should have known everything even then, walking beside her. With her music blaring particularly loud that day, how could I not have known that something was brewing inside of her? Couldn’t I see that something, or someone, had broken her heart? What had I missed that day? What had I failed to acknowledge? How did I not recognize the signs of distress, dismay, and disturbance in her eyes? But I didn’t. I saw her buy that candy bar, snap it in half, and I didn’t ask or have a second thought about it.
Now I walk these cold wintery streets alone, heart split in two, and to the sound of nothing but the crunching of my shoes in the snow. I don’t know what time it is, only that I‘ve just gotten off school... no, that was three hours ago.
I noticed our old spot the other day, seeing how it had been boarded up and closed down. It made my chest ache. I could even feel myself wanting to hunch over, throw up all of the memories panicking in my head. They were panicking. I was panicking. I thought that I would always have that place to remind me of you. Sometimes we return to those memories, just to remember something - even if it’s pain. Or regret. Or both.
The memory still stirs itself up though, but it’s growing more vague each and every day that passes. Each day that I don’t step back into that store for just a hit of that summer day, my thoughts of you grow smaller. Maybe that’s what’s supposed to happen, but I don’t want it to. It’s my senior year, and I know that I am missing something: you are supposed to be right here with me.
We are supposed to be having lunch at the Tim Hortons closest to the school, where you buy a small iced coffee, and I buy a french vanilla and a box of timbits for us to split. We‘d roam the streets until dark. We’d laugh, and we’d gossip. We would fill each other in on every aspect of our lives, and being in our senior year, we should be discussing all of our fears: you were always so scared to lose me. My application process should have been done with you right beside me, holding my hand, and whispering reaffirmations in my ears, like I’d have done for you. I’d have done anything for you. I wish I could tell you.
I walked past the same old spot today, or what it used to be. The creeping cashier. A potent lavender scent. Dust floating in the air. The sound of our laughter. Your stormy eyes scanning the shelves.
It was just a ‘Kit-Kat’, I remind myself.
But maybe it wasn’t.