“I knew this day would come eventually. It doesn’t feel real yet,” Vivi said, gripping the small key in her hand tightly. The silver ring that held the formed copper metal felt bare without the colorful lanyard that it was usually held on. It was cold to the touch, like the wind that was chilling them on this winter evening. Vivi wasn’t one to enjoy spending time outside in this weather, but today she couldn’t bring herself to leave this spot even though her car was waiting a few feet away from her.
“I know,” Haley replied. Haley, unlike Vivi, wasn’t bundled up in three sweaters and a scarf but rather just a single jacket. In all their time living together, Vivi had never understood how Haley handled the winter so well. Haley’s resistance to the cold had caused plenty of debates over when they could and couldn’t turn the heater on.
They were silent for a moment as they stood outside the door to apartment 42 for the last time. While they had experienced plenty of problems while living in the small two-bedroom place, it had been a home they had come to share together for the last few years. It would strange to have it become unfamiliar again.
“I’m going to visit you in Spain thought, I swear,” Haley added, breaking the silence before it lasted too long.
“You better!” Vivi shot back, smiling softly. “It’s just going to be so…”
“Different. Yeah, it will. At least it’ll be warm for you,” Haley finished.
Another pause. The two looked at each other while trying to hold back the tears that were threatening to spill. Change was hard, and the two had been together through all of their young adult adventures. Today was the start of the two best friends having to face the change in their lives apart.
“I hope things will work out with you and Maria. You two are really great together,” Vivi said.
“It’ll be weird living together, but I think we’re ready for this step. It was going to happen eventually,” Haley replied.
Vivi looked at the ugly gray painted door that stood before them. The mounted four was crooked and the two had chipped paint, but it was still readable. Except, apparently, to the Door Dash drivers whenever they had ordered food.
“Remember when we first moved into our freshman dorm room?” Vivi asked.
“Oh, the tiny little closet that wasn’t even meant to fit one person but they shoved three of us in? Of course I do,” Haley replied, laughing.
“It seems like it was just yesterday,” Vivi said. “I remember you had so much stuff that we had to climb over all the boxes to get out of the room to go get dinner. Even though we were so excited to finally be out of our parents’ house and out on our own, moving was exhausting.”
“Yeah. I still have too much stuff. Maria gives me shit for it all the time,” Haley replied.
“I know. I never thought we’d be able to get all of your things out of here,” Vivi added.
“Oh shut up.”
The two women laughed, the fond memories of their college days flooding back to them. The many sleepless nights where the coffee never stopped flowing as the deadlines approached. The parties they walked back home to, stumbling up the stairs to whichever door room they were assigned to that year laughing and singing Disney songs poorly in the middle of the night.
“We were so different then,” Haley said. “I still had long hair and thought I was straight.”
“Yeah and I was still dating that dick Tim,” Vivi added, giggling. “God, I’m glad you helped me end that.”
“Look, like I’ve always said, a breakup just requires a best friend to spoon feed you ice cream while you cry for a night. Then it’ll all be okay,” Haley replied.
“Oh, remember that one night-” Vivi paused when her phone alarm went off. She pulled her phone out of her pocket, turning off the alarm. “It’s already 4:30.”
“We should head over and turn in our keys before the office closes,” Haley said. “We don’t want to be charged that late fee.”
“This is really it then. The end of an era,” Vivi replied.
“Oh come on, it’s not like we won’t see each other again,” Haley said.
“Yeah, but it’ll be different without you by my side. Who am I going to complain to every day when I get home from work about how shitty my co-workers are and how I hate capitalism?” Vivi asked, laughing.
“You’re the one who decided to go 5,000 miles away for work,” Haley shot back. It hadn’t been Vivi’s first plan to go so far, but when the offer for the job had come and their lease on the apartment conveniently ending, it was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.
“5,720 miles, to be exact. Only a fourteen-hour flight. Not that I’m keeping track or anything.”
“Sure you’re not,” Haley paused. “We can call each other every weekend like we said we would.”
“Yeah, we can,” Vivi replied.
Another pause. They knew they were running out of time, and it was getting to the point where they couldn’t delay the inevitable anymore. They had been though times like this before together; the night before they graduated college, the night before they moved into their first real apartment together. No matter how excited they were for the future, it was scary to move forward. Sometimes they just wanted time to freeze so they could enjoy what they had a little longer.
“Well, are you ready?” Haley asked.
“Yes and no. One last picture?” Vivi questioned.
“Of course. Though, your nose and ears are hella red,” Haley said.
“Hey! It’s cold out. Call me Rudolph I guess.”
The two turned their backs to the door. Haley, being the taller one and thus the usual selfie taker of the two, pulled out her phone. Once the camera was ready, the two women smiled and held up their keys, recreating the picture they had taken together when they had moved into the apartment two years before. A way to look back and show those around them (and on social media) that this was really it. The trouble twins, as they had been nicknamed in college, were finally going their separate ways.
Yes, it was the end of an era. The end of what they knew and were comfortable with. Two people who just years before had started off as awkward strangers were now at a point where they were family.
However, they both had bright futures ahead. Even if the two best friends couldn’t walk their paths right next to each other, they knew they had the other’s support through everything. Best friends don’t have to be right by your side to be your best friend, and they realized this now. The keys that had once gained them entrance to their shared home was now going to be turned in in exchange for the start of their separation in distance, but still together in heart, futures.
“Let’s go, we’ve got things to do.”