The smell of carnival food wafted heavily in the ocean breeze. Screams of joy coming from children on roller coasters. Colorful lights of the game booths danced on and off the new boardwalk. Bits and pieces of strangers’ conversations floated by me. Each time a person would pass, my heart would pound just a little bit faster, and I would stare for a moment too long just to make sure it wasn’t him. It wasn’t like I was hoping to run into him here, but the thought of seeing his brilliant smile, and hearing his dark, soothing voice seemed amazing to me.
It was obvious that I was distracted when my best friend barreled into my arms without warning, practically forcing me to take a few steps back. I don’t know if it was the fact that I had just had the wind knocked out of me, or the screaming of my best friend. Either way I was shaken out of my reverie, and my feet were back down on the ground.
“Hey Harper, what’s up?!” Jessica loudly screamed, hands tightly griping my shoulders.
“Same old same old. How about you?” I said, knowing that this would get her to talk nonstop. Giving me the perfect opportunity to try and get her polished fingernails out of my shoulder. Just as I had called it, she started talking. I tried to listen to majority of it, however found it impossible. Luckily for me I was a pro at pretending to listen. Throwing in a “really?!” and “wow!!” now and then.
After awhile I was able to pry her fingernails off of my shoulders. The indentation of her finger nails burning still. By this point Jessica was turning blue in the face. I swear she hadn’t taken a single breath while she talked. At some point I was going to have to put her out of her misery. Trying to drop a hint for her, I started walking down the boardwalk. And as usual she follows beside me, still talking. I couldn’t stand it anymore; I casually reached behind her and pulled the strap of her bra. I smiled in satisfaction of the elastic snapping against her back.
“What the hell was that for!” she asked in an irritated voice
“Well it got you to shut up for a second didn’t it?” I asked laughing for the first time
“Okay, but it still hurt. You know there are nice ways to tell people to shut up right?” she asked giving me a little nudge towards the side of the boardwalk.
“Not with you! You are what we like to call a special exception.” I shoot back
It’s grows quiet between me and Jessica. Maybe it’s because the shock of seeing each other after graduation hasn’t completely worn off just yet. Jessica hasn’t changed one bit. Her ivory teeth still shine when she smiles, making any movie star envious. Electric blue eyes full of life that makes people look twice at her. Blonde hair cascading down the sides of her face. And her petite frame dumps a deadly concoction of hormones into boys’ bloodstreams.
Jessica is the type of girl who boys want to date, and every girl wants to be. I can’t blame them, she is; captain of the cheerleading squad, president of the student council, and homecoming queen. Not only is she all of that, but Jessica is un-doubtfully the biggest party girl in West Falcon High school, and everyone knows it. Jessica is no stranger of getting drunk every other night. Even though she is only 18 years old, nothing stops her from getting a few drinks in. The worst part of it is like everyone else, when she gets drunk, she makes stupid choices. Luckily she has friends like me, who will wake up at insane hours of the night to come get her sorry ass. I would rather get up to a call from her, than her parents saying she’s been killed in an accident.
Jessica seems deep in thought too, as she is abstinently minded bumping into people. Her eyes in some far of distance place. Our friends like to call this Jessica’s “special” little world. She slowly seems to be coming back to planet earth. I cherish the silencee because it’s golden, but as with everything with Jessica it doesn’t last long.
“So….how are things between you and Ben?’ she speaks up.
I hesitate, being careful of the words I choose. “You know, how it is with us. One moment we are making up, and the next breaking up. Ever since we were in kindergarten it’s been like that.”
She rolls her eyes in irritation. “No, I don’t get what’s going on between the two of you. Ever since we were little you and Ben were the inseparable ones. If one was playing with Play dough than so was the other. If one was laying on the carpet for nap time than the other was right there with them. But once we grew older, I don’t know something changed between you. No one knows what “it” is though.”
“Time changed, Jessica. Time changes all of us, eventually. When we were little things were just simpler. But then when we entered Jr. High things got more complicated, more difficult. And suddenly this cute little friendship between me and Ben turned into a teenage relationship. It was all just too fast; I don’t think either of us were really ready. And then there was the whole booze and drug problem in High school. And ever since then we have never been the same.” I said walking over to the railing of the boardwalk. Bending over the side in anguish, I never wanted to bring these feelings up again. But there they are floating on top of the wind for everyone to hear.
Again Jessica was right there by my side, I knew this only because of the strong scent of Bath and Body Works’ Sweet Pea lotion. “Look Harper, I know that I can never understand the things you went through when Ben started shooting up with cocaine. I just hope you remember that in some ways I do. I saw what it did to you. But like you said before, time tends to change people. Even people like Ben.” She says throwing a small plastic cup into the ocean. “How long has it been since you actually talked to him?” she asks.
I watch the cup being pulled out from the shoreline, further, and further it drifts away. “I think the last time was when we were arguing about his rehab. That was more than three weeks ago. There is no possible way he can be better now than he was then. Trust me I know this from personal experience.”
I say looking up at the sky, hoping that an answer would just fall like a shooting star. “Jessica, I wish things between me and Ben could work out. Sometimes there are answers to all the problems in the world, than other times none. And this just so happens to be one of those times. If Ben hadn’t turned into a drunk and hooked on drugs, maybe it would be easier to forgive him. But Jessica that’s something I can’t do right now.” Whispering. I pause a moment to let everything sink in. I laugh at myself in frustration. “You know when we first started dating Ben told me I would have all of his love forever. But he was wrong, he found something that even kicks me to curb when it comes to his love.” I mumble under my breath. I move away from her, ashamed of my pathetic situation. I start to cry, tears rushing down my cheeks, falling into the ocean. I’m quick to wipe a few away and turn back to her. Pretending everything is okay.
“Come here.” She says arms wide open a tiny smile on her face. I smile and walk towards her. Wrap my arms around her tightly. Even though she can be a little obnoxious and gets drunk all the time. It’s nice to have a friend like her for these moments. After a few more tears and hanging onto her I let go, and step back.
“I know you are upset with Ben right now. But he is really making an effort to change. The night you guys go into a fight about his rehab he called me. He asked me to come with him to the rehab center. So I took him. When I met him at Get’N Go he looked like a dog that had been kicked too many times. He knew what he was going into. And I think even after that feeling had worn of, he was surprised that you weren’t in the car with me. For awhile he just stood there frozen, in some ways I think it hurt him not to see you one last time before he left. It took a lot of coaxing from me to get him into the car. Then the whole way there Ben never said a word. And then when we got to the rehab center, his hand stayed frozen on the door handle. Ben told me to tell you that he’s sorry for everything, Again.” Jessica added
“So are you going to call him? Because two weeks ago he got kicked out of the program.” She said giving me a little nudge, a cheesy smile on her face
“I don’t know, maybe.” I said still looking out at the ocean.