releasing june 17th!
“Ugh, can’t a basic bitch get her name spelled right on her cup?” The ice clinks against the plastic as I swish it around in my hand. “I swear these baristas do this just for fun.” I glare at Reece spelt out on the side of my Grande Iced Triple Carmel Macchiato. Rolling my eyes, I stick the green straw in my coffee by way of my lips. The majority of the people in the world would use the same spelling, but still, I like the way mine’s spelt.
“You shouldn’t be so different,” Tucker’s dejected voice flows through the phone line, “and besides, you’re far from basic.” It pulls me back to the reason I’m even headed back to Texas to begin with. Tucker and I went our separate ways after high school. I chose to stay away after college ended, running from her, the skeletons in my closet and life as I knew it. Time doesn’t stop to allow you to catch up. Father Time, he’s an evil bitch who’s ticking his wrinkled old finger in your face as the seconds pass, demanding you pay attention and keep up. While all I want to do is throw my middle finger in his face and absorb the memories.
I earned my degree in nursing early and have been traveling around the U.S. to hospitals that are low in staff, caring for patients while trying to hide the scars holding my heart together like duct tape that’s been used one too many times. It just never really adheres as well as the first time.
Airports aren’t anything new for me, however, flying on a plane that will lead me back to Grayson, Texas, is.
“I’m sorry, Tuck. Get some sleep. I’ll be there soon.” My last shift in my contract was complete last night. I spent most of today catching up on some much-needed sleep until my phone decided to dance across my nightstand, not just once but ten times. After a few blind attempts at reaching for my cell, I swiped it off the charger, cracked one dry eye open, and immediately sat up in bed with my heart pounding in my ears along with the phone ringing, sending up a silent prayer that she wasn’t running down a deserted road from a serial killer. What? My mind’s a fucked-up place.
“How long is your flight?” She yawns, fighting sleep no doubt. Even though we haven’t seen each other than through FaceTime in a year, I still know my best friend. We talk daily, but sometimes, when that duct tape scarring lifts and I need her the most, it’s awful.
A cough sounds from behind me, redirecting my focus back to this stuffy airport. I survey my surroundings—black plastic chairs lined up in rows, some filled with waiting passengers smiling and eager to fly out, some empty. I can relate more to the empty. “It should only take about two hours.” I’m knocked slightly forward by someone who is clearly in more of a rush than I am as they speed past me.
“Will you see if anyone wants a cat?” Tucker throws out the question like it’s natural to ask random strangers if a cat in their life will make them happy. I, myself, am not a cat person.
“Sure thing.” I try to suppress my laugh, but it ends up sputtering out regardless of my efforts. “I’ve got to run.”
“You laugh, but some bastard needs this evil cat.” It’s nice to hear her weighted voice lighten. “Don’t get into any trouble, Rhys.” But the wild pitch she’s now added in intrigues me. “Don’t think that just because you’ve slept all day and now that it’s dark and the day’s almost over, I’ll forget.” My breath hitches, phone frozen to my ear as my mouth sags open. “As your best friend, I have to warn you off doing anything stupid— without me.” People always say you can hear someone’s smile over the phone. It’s true. I would place money on the fact that at this moment, my heartbroken best friend has a grin plastered across her tear-stained face.
“You remembered,” I mumble, I’m sure inaudibly, before I take a deep breath of overpopulated airport oxygen.
“It’s Random Day, Rhys. Kind of hard to forget some of the best times of your life.” Her voice has gone hoarse. Most likely recalling memories of all the years past and all the ones we’ve missed.
“I will not solemnly swear.” Flashes of moments pass through my memory, making it hard to fight the smirk on my face.
“For life.” It’s a promise that goes deeper than the marrow in our bones.
“And when we’re angels.” My response is short. I end the call too quickly, but she’ll understand. That’s been our sign-off since grade school. Our friendship took off when we found common ground—having boy-like names. We’ve been inseparable since. Miles don’t count.
Thank you for reading!