So, this post I decided to put up against my better judgment. I’m still trying to get back into the spirit of things.
Please leave comments, thoughts, and such in the comments section.
“My goodness, Tobi! You’re so bad!”
I smile. I’m not so bad. Well, I could be worse. Much worse. Ari just needs to loosen up more. I was merely pointing out to her how hot the guy two tables away would look between the two of us in a more serene setting.
She always laughs when I make a pass at her. I laugh too, although I’m really not joking. I really do have a thing for her. The mere thought makes her uncomfortable, so I make my desires jokes for her amusement. Anything to keep her happy.
“You look fine, Ari. I wish you’d stop fidgeting.”
She smiles coyly. Her insecurity has always been her biggest drawback. For the umpteenth time since I’ve known her, I wish she could see the beautiful woman everyone else sees.
She’s wearing the same dress she wore the last time we were here. Strapless to show off her smooth shoulders, short to show off her amazing legs, fitted and cinched at the waist to shoi$w off her rocking body, and caramel to compliment her skin. I’d picked it out for her earlier and made her wear it for the rest of the day. It’s still as hot as it was that day a year ago. I remember I’d joked about stealing it and altering it to fit me, and maybe stealing her body as well. She’d giggled a little and smiled.
“How are you, Ari?”
Lately, I’ve gotten better at telling when she’s not okay. She smiles. That smile I’ve become too familiar with.
“I’m fine sweetie.”
She’s not. The light in her eyes, snuffed out. I can almost feel her struggling to keep up her cheery act. Sickening, the feeling is.
“Talk to me.”
Those words….. As I utter them now, I ache to smack myself across my face. Talk about “too little too late”. Should have noticed earlier. Should’ve seen through the lies, the “I’m fine”s, the fake smiles…. I’m her best friend. Some best friend I turned out to be.
Don’t blame yourself, Tobi.
I scoff. How could I not? I stare at her now. Watch the single tear rolling down her cheek. She’s still smiling. It hurts even more. I just want her to be happy.
I’ll be fine, sweetie. You should eat. I have to go.”
I reach out to hold her outstretched hand. It’s warm, but just for a second, and then nothing. She’s gone.
I’m alone again. Surrounded by music and cheery people eating and chatting away. My appetite fails me, so I leave.
I take the long route home. Earphones in, volume set to the highest, I let my feet find their own way, and my mind wander back to that day a year ago.
We were seating at the exact same booth by the window. I assumed there was some sort of party going on, because the place was packed. Our order was taking forever, and Ari and I had talked non-stop. Mostly arguing about the dress I’d practically forced her to buy and wear. My phone buzzed, and I was soon distracted by several chats.
“Tobi, I’m going on a trip.”
I hadn’t even glanced up. “Where to?”
“Not sure yet.”
I kept typing away on my phone. “How can you be traveling if you don’t know where you’re going?”
“I just need to clear my head.”
I’d put my phone down and stared at her. She was smiling, and I’d figured it was just another one of her episodes, as I’d liked to call them. “Fine, Ari. If you feel you need a vacation of some sort, go ahead. Just don’t stay too long, okay?” She’d glanced at her feet. “Meanwhile, that guy over there is checking you out.”
She’d giggled. “He is NOT! Stop it, Tobi.”
I’m not walking anymore. I take a deep breath and open my eyes. I want to ring the bell. To be greeted by that cheery smile that came so rarely. To go up to her room and gossip all night and talk about a whole bunch of irrelevant things.
But I know she won’t be there. Hasn’t been, and won’t be, for a while.
That night, I’d walked her home as usual. As we hugged in front of her door, she’d whispered in my ear “I’ll be fine.”
Sighing, I turn around and head home.