Walking Together A While Longer

Anticipation can be a toxic distraction. Imagining what something might be like before it happens is just that, imaginary, not real. I spent years picturing the moment my dreams and goals were realized. I imagined it so hard. It was the motivation that got me through the late night cram sessions and extra classes. It was the comfort when I wanted to be anywhere but home. I found the danger in relying so heavily on something that hasn’t happened yet to be great.
I sat there at the foot of my bed as Stevie read the letter out loud. By the third word I knew I was in and by the second paragraph I knew my hard work paid off, and I got the scholarship I needed. Stevie’s voice cracked as she read it, she was so happy and proud. Pike stood there awkwardly next to her as Jared and my father sunk slowly into their own personal holes as my success was being recited. I saw this and felt the weight of what I’ve wanted so long to know for certain. I wasn’t sad or happy. I wasn’t anything. I was completely numb. I looked up at Stevie, who was quite possibly happy enough for the both of us. She threw herself at me with hugs and emotions, and I sat there stunned. My dad and Jared didn’t say anything for awhile.
Once the letter was slid back in its envelope and laid on my desk, my dad said, “I guess it’s finally happening, you are finally getting away.” His voice was so low and solemn. It made me sad. Jared looked at me, sighed, then said, “Now you know. You did it.” I nodded at this, but my mind had already begun to drift into a cloudy and very uncertain future. I didn’t feel accomplished at all; I felt completely unprepared.
In my daze of my acceptance, Pike somehow talks us into double dating in celebration. If I weren’t so distracted, I would have fought it. Jared didn’t seem quite able to figure me out and went along with it too. Stevie thought it was a great idea at first until now. Now, we were sitting in a family-friendly, Mexican restaurant near the high school and I could feel Jared boiling over next to me in the too hard booth. Everything suddenly felt so out of control. Stevie had stopped trying to carry on a conversation with Jared—and Jared’s unmistakable bad mood seemed to be rubbing off on Pike, who had barely said three words since they came over. A sour feeling settled in my stomach, and a bad taste lingered on my tongue. Nothing about this night felt right. I couldn’t stop worrying about my lack of excitement.
“You dipped the chip twice,” Jared said looking at me as a popped the rest of the tortilla chip in my mouth. This was our third basket of chips and salsa. Apparently the restaurant was experiencing a challenging understaffed, shift, and we weren’t exactly being helped yet.
I shrugged,” I didn’t realize.”
“That’s gross,” Jared said curling his lip.
“That’s rude,” Stevie snapped.
Jared met Stevie’s eyes with an unenthusiastic glare. She Lifted her shoulders and puckered her lips. Their inability to get along drove me crazy.
“I don’t know why you hate me so much,” Jared shook his head. He had to have known why.
“I don’t hate you,” Stevie said smoothly crossing her arms in front of her untouched napkin.
“Okay, whatever,” Jared’s voice was rushed. He picked up his diet coke, took a sip, then placed the glass back down. He looked at me then back at Stevie. “After this dinner wraps up, let’s get back on out regular scheduled programming.”
I nodded, uncomfortable.
Stevie let out an aggregated scoff. “Can wait to ditch us?”
“No, it’s not that, I just had a night with Samantha all planned out. As you probably know, we haven’t been hanging out much.”
“I know, I’d think you’d be taking advantage of your time with her,” Stevie said this, then instantly looked regretful.
Jared looked away for a minute, then ran his hand through his hair, “You’re right,” he said. I felt his hand squeezed my thigh under the table.
Stevie mouthed sorry.
“It sucks to think about,” Pike added.
The three of us looked at him, I think surprised he finally talked. It took me a second to realize Pike meant it sucks to think about Stevie leaving in response to Jared admitting he should benefit from the time we have together.
Stevie looked down at her soda. There the four of state, each next to our own elements of similar meaning. This was all just phase and it was hard to ignore and tricky to handle. I wasn’t sure if I should I fight the inevitable or just start by giving into it.
“I’m sorry,” Jared said, “I shouldn’t feel bad for my loss, and I should celebrate your achievements,” he said. I was surprised at first, then not so much. He had the amazing ability to seem like a magnificent boyfriend, even though he wasn’t. Jared had could sense the right thing to say at the perfect time to say it.
The dark brown walls of the restraint added the tenseness of the conversation. I felt like we were in a cave a million of miles away from the reality. I focused on Jared’s hand, his touch was distracting, I felt like it was telling me something…or I wanted it to say something, to mean something.
“It’s nice that we finally all get dinner together before we all go our separate ways,” Jared said plainly. Stevie’s eyes grow rounder somehow, I could tell this sentence hurt her. The truth behind was hard to deny. Even Stevie and I would be different, I was relaxing. We would be in New York but in different schools, which for all I knew meant whole different worlds—which just had to be partly the case. There was so much that would be different. The relation of the immensity of New York started digging a hole underneath of me. We all looked at each other, unsure of what to say next. The truth was there sitting in the middle of the table.

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