The rain pounded the car like angry bees. The windshield wipers had their work in for them as they cleared the window over and over again. Thunder rumbled in the distance like a melody of drums up in the sky. Everything was grey, that plain drab color, the color of lunch meat and belly button lint. The car was soaked in a coat of mud and it was hard and crusted near the bottom. Nevertheless, my mom was just as cheery as ever which almost made it worse. If my feelings were attuned to the weather I think the current forecast would be pretty accurate. Cloudy with a whole lot of rain.
“I’m sure the weather will clear soon!” My mom exclaimed hopefully, and I couldn't tell who she was trying to convince more, me or her. My dad sat typing away at his computer. A vacation for us was never a vacation for him. His work followed him around like a shadow. My brother had dozed off, toys and empty wrappers in his lap. I sighed, I never should have agreed to this. It was early July, you couldn't tell because of the miserable weather. We were driving upstate to celebrate the fourth of July. My parents and brother were going to stay with a family friend for the holiday. All of this had been planned months ago, and I remembered when my mom first brought it up I had begged literally begged not to go. My parents' friends were boring and drab and their only child was three, I would be bored out of my mind and spend the whole time waiting to get home. I had pleaded and pleaded with her to let me stay at my friend's house which was only a mile away. When she said yes I was so excited. But at the moment I was as far away from excitement as possible. We had only been in the car an hour and I already wanted to go home. “We're going to be here soon.” My mom said,
I looked out the window. Aria's house was like my second home. If it weren't so far away I could walk there blindfolded, but the rain made everything look so different and it didn't help that it was almost 10. The traffic had been horrendous and we had already been running late in the first place. My mom turned the wheel and onto the tiny gravel road that led to Aria’s house. The car bumped up and down as we maneuvered our way down to her house. The car skidded to a stop and I lurched forward in my seat. The impact had woken my brother who was now looking around and wondering where we were.
My dad looked up from his work. “Have a good time.” He kissed me on the forehead and then returned to his work.
“Bye Willy.” I cooed, hugging my brother's tiny body.
“Bye-bye evvy.” My brother babbled, and I smiled despite myself.
“See you soon.” I poked him on the nose and then opened the car door, instantly getting soaked to the bone.
I ran to the back of the car, hands over my head, and grabbed my bag and pillow since my mom was already dragging everything else up the steps. I shut the trunk and sprinted to the door.
I dropped my stuff on the porch and was about to ring the doorbell until I heard the pitter-patter of feet and realized my mom already had.
“Well, I guess this is goodbye then.” My mom noted.
“You're not going to talk to Sandra?”
“Any other time I would but it's getting late and the lightning is getting closer so we really ought to be off.”
“Bye, mom.” I squeezed her tightly.
“Love you, honey.” My mom called as she ran back to the car.
“Love you..” I whispered softly.
The door to the house opened revealing a tall lady with blonde curls tied up on top of her head. “Hi, darling.” She exclaimed pulling me in for a hug.
“Where's your mother?” Sandra asked.
“She said any other time she would talk but the lightning was starting to worry her.”
“Ahh of course.” Sandra nodded and then took a look at me. “Well come in, come in. We need you to get you some dry clothes.”
“I was only out there for a minute.” I protested.
So that was how I ended up in Aria’s pajamas snuggled in a blanket drinking apple cider on my friend's floor.
“Does your mom always have apple cider?” I asked Aria trying out the, pretending everything is the normal method I had decided on.
“Practically, it's kind of sad.” She giggled.
Sandra opened the door to Aria’s room and collected our empty mugs.
“Now I know you two have a lot of catching up to do but it's late and you have all morning so it's off to bed.” Sandra gave us a few seconds to get into our beds before turning off the light switch and shutting the door.
“You can come sleep up here with me.” Aria offered.
Aria was stretched out on the top bunk while I was on the bottom. But sleeping up there with her was exactly what I needed to avoid. If it was anyone else.. If it was Zea. Zea.
“I would but I'm just too tired to move.. It's soooo far away.” I moaned.
‘Night.’ I said sleepily.
“Girls!” Sandra called from downstairs.
“We're coming!” Aria called. But when someone says they rarely ever are.
I was sitting on a stool facing the mirror in Aria’s bathroom. Aria’s hands were covered in rubber bands and she had bobby pins in between her teeth. Aria was frantically doing my hair. Pulling it up, twisting it, and securing it with a bunch of hair products.
The last time I was here, every time her fingers brushed my neck it gave me butterflies and made my skin tingle but I just didn't feel it anymore. Some part of me wished that the feeling would come back but I knew it never would.
“Done!” Aria exclaimed. Aria spun the stool around so I was facing her. She had done her hair and makeup a while ago and once she was done doing her she insisted on doing mine. Aria looked me up and down. “Hmmm.” She reached for something on the counter. She picked up my hand and dropped a pale pink lip gloss into my palm. “Put that on.”
I applied the lip gloss trying to ignore the fact that this is the one that she had used minutes earlier and tried to tell myself that it didn't matter and it was probably a coincidence.
“Perfect.” She giggled softly and started to lean in but at that moment her mom threw open the door. “We need to go!” Sandra exclaimed. Aria smoothly made it look like she was just grabbing something from the counter. She pulled back and pulled me to her feet. “We're ready now mom.”
“Good, hop in the car.”
“Oh wait one more thing!” Aria rummaged through one of her jewelry boxes and took out a locket. I smiled despite myself. I had given that Lockett to her a year ago for her birthday. It was made of silver shaped in a heart. And inside were the two of us in front of the ocean in matching bathing suits. The picture had been taken on a trip to the beach. The trip where we first told each other that we had fallen for each other. My smile turned bittersweet.
“Now we're ready to go.”
Aria bounded down the stairs and slid into her mom's silver Camry, I carefully made my way down the stairs, not far behind her. We were going down to the beach to set off fireworks, and even though Aria’s house was literally overlooking the beach it was on the sheer side of a cliff so there was no way to get down and the wooden staircase was so old no one trusted it not to break.
The drive was only a few minutes. Sandra parked the car and we got out, shutting the doors with a loud bang. “This is going to be so fun!” Aria exclaimed, grabbing my hand and pulling me to the beach. It was almost nine so the sun was just about to set. Aria and her family were meeting a couple of friends so the plan was to just eat sit around the fire and then set off fireworks once it got dark enough.
The night went pretty fast, with lots of eating and drinking and running around. And then it was dark. “So…” Aria pulled me aside so we were leaning up against a weird rock formation. “Are you ready?”
“Eva? You said you were ready.”
I sighed. I was hoping it wouldn't come to this, you know, I really was. Back in April when this trip had first been confirmed Aria and I had been so excited. Because we decided on the fourth we would finally be brave enough to tell her parents. Tell them that we like girls and not guys tell them that we want to be together. This was the night, the night we wouldn't chicken out.
But April, April was the month I met Zea. Zea was sweet and smart and kind of a goofball. She could be friends with anyone and everyone, she loved adventuring and wasn't afraid to get dirty. She had a strong hatred for avocados and was terrible at dancing. And... I fell for her. And I still hadn't told Aria.
Because Aria was my first friend, Aria was my only friend for a while. Aria was the first one I told when I figured out that I liked girls. I was the first she told. She was my first everything, first kiss, first friend, first girlfriend. And I couldn't imagine losing that.
“Oh look! They are about to set off the first round of fireworks. Come on! We’ll tell them very quickly, we’re not back out but I am not missing out on the fireworks!” She dragged me back to the circle of people.
I sighed, Aria putting it off if not just for an hour was relieving but I knew I couldn't avoid it forever.
Aria and I sat side by side as we watched bursts of reds and blues, yellows and whites explode in the darkening sky.
But it was late and I was getting really sleepy and I slowly nodded off.
“Get up goofball!” Aria exclaimed.
I opened my eyes with a start. I was lying face down in the sand. “Bleggg!” I exclaimed, trying to get the sand out of my mouth.
“What happened?” I asked
‘You fell asleep?”
“I did?” I asked.
Aria rolled her eyes. “You missed the fireworks, and were going to go soon but right now people are just chilling so it's the perfect time to tell them.”
Aria grabbed my hand. But I didn't budge. She turned around to look at me. “Eva?” She asked.
“Look Ari, I need to talk to you.”
“What, you said you would do it, you're not backing out again are you?” She asked. Hurt in her eyes.
“Then what's the problem?”
It was now or never. “I like someone else.” I blurted out.
Aria let go of my hand.
“Whhh.. aa.t?” Aria stuttered.
“Look I'm sorry but... But I like someone else now.”
“Well, I see.” She said coolly. Aria was cool for three seconds before she exploded. “Then why even come?” She shouted. “Why even come if you were just going to break my heart?”
“Because I had no other choice! If I told my parents I didn't want to come they would know something was up!” I exclaimed.
“Something is up.” She said sourly. “You could have at least told me before you got here. Called me, texted me?”
“Would that have been better?” I asked sadly.
“I don't know.” She said softly. “Well, a heck of a good friend you are. Thanks for running my night, do you know how much I was looking forward to this?” She exclaimed.
“I could finally tell my parents, finally I wouldn't have to hide, and I would be happy because I had found someone who liked me as much as they liked me. Well obviously not anymore.” She scoffed.
“Ari.. I never wanted to hurt you.”
“Well, you already did.” Her voice was as hard as a rock and laced with a hint of betrayal. Aria took off the locket and threw it at my feet before storming into the darkness.
“Aria!” I called trying to chase after her. But I couldn't find her. The darkness had swallowed her up and wasn’t planning on returning her.
I sat down on the sand. The waves licking my feet.