A person walked into the living room while I fix my hair in the mirror. I’m assumed it’s Hannah since I just texted her to let her to just walk through the opened door in front. Hmm I might have forgotten to tell her to shut it before my neighbors yell at how loud my music is.
“SHUT THAT SOUND OFF!!!”
Ugh he always yells. I’m a girl, in college. I love music. Would you just let me live my life?
A little pause on “life” here.
Hannah is my best friend from a summer camp I volunteered at every summer since before I started high school. I still go there, as the girl they first met. To them I haven’t changed much since I was excited to finally enter high school. To them I haven’t changed much since the last time I went there. Well, I have.
I changed that summer after my senior year. I’ve never been the same girl, on the outside, since I left high school. On the inside, I was always like this but I always masked it with the preppy, girly girl everyone expected me to be. Well, now I’m not pretending. Everyone knows me as who I am now. Everyone, but Hannah.
She’s the only girl I still pretend around. I met her when she was all excited about entering high school, that summer before her freshman year, which was also the summer before my junior year. We’re two years apart.
At first I already knew I wouldn’t be the best friend for her. I would be a bad influence and all that other stuff. But even through my constant reminders and warnings for her to find a new best friend, Hannah stuck by my side. She kept saying that if I was as bad for her as I kept saying, which she doubted big time, then she would just accept it as a lesson to learn from in the future. After a while, I let her do it her way. She was going to learn a lesson she would never forget.
But when the time came, when I made the drastic change in my life and decided to let out the real me, I couldn’t let that happen. I couldn’t hurt her like that…and I didn’t.
That was a year ago. I’m going to be a second year in college now and she’s gonna have to say her goodbyes to most, if not all, her high school friends in a year. She’s entering her last year in high school, senior year.
Like I said before, when the time came and it was the planning time to separate and let her live her life, I didn’t do what I was suppose to. I didn’t let go. I couldn’t. I cared about her too much to say goodbye, but I also cared about her too much to have the destruction that always follows me go to her too. So, I kept pretending. Every summer, I still go to that summer camp with her and I pretend. I pretend to be that girl she was best friends with in high school. I pretend to be that girl all the teachers knew and loved. I pretend to be that side of me I lost.
Now, I guess the question would be: What does any of this have to do with Hannah coming over?
Well, this is the first time she’s come to my apartment, the first time we’ve seen each other outside of summer camp since high school…and the first time she’s going to see the real me.
For about a month now, I’ve been telling her what I have been since we’ve met. She needs to new best friend. I’m bad influence for her. But she doesn’t believe me. Maybe she will now.
She’s staying for the rest of summer in the guest room next door. She wants to stay until New Year’s and I’m sure her parents would let her in a blink of an eye, but I told her to not jump too far.
I looked at my outfit one last time before heading to the door.
Hannah stood talking on her phone, smiling, laughing…happy. She was just as I remembered. She grew taller, but nothing else changed much since we first met. Standing before me, she wore her light pink and white flower-covered knee high dress with white strap heels and carried a tan purse with all her things. At the door was her bright hot pink suitcase with all her pink and flower-covered belongings.
I examined my outfit while I waited for her to turn around and notice me. I wore my favorite black leather short shorts, black torn leggings, and navy blue skin tight tank top with my black leather high tops I wore everywhere.
Let’s get one thing straight. I’m not emo or whatever. I love black and dark colors, but that’s it.
My long black wavy hair hung down to my waist, a leather cuff wrapped on both of my wrists and my favorite plain black and silver ring was on my right ring finger. I loved my outfit. It screamed DON’T MESS WITH ME.
When Hannah finally turned around, her expression was priceless. I couldn’t tell whether she was about jump back in surprise or call the police first. Either way, I just laughed.
“Hey, Jewel.” I chuckled, giving her a hug.
She kept staring at me and then tried to smile, “Jay…you look…different.”
I shrugged and grabbed her purse from the table and swung it over my shoulder, “Not really. Let’s go. My friends are waiting for at the beach house.”
“Beach house?” I heard her gasp as I slammed the door closed.
Jack always got that reaction when he tells them his parents bought him a beach house when he’s still an undergrad at college. Well, I guess it makes up for them never being there. He practically raised himself while his parents were constantly on business trips across the world. What? Did it hurt to take your son travelling once in a while?
I parked my black Jeep in front of the house, not bothering to drive up the driveway knowing how hard it was to get back down. It was a long walk, but it was worth it.
Hannah got out of the car and followed me, eyed wide and mouth hanging open. I couldn’t help but laugh. She’s going to love my friends.
Jack. The blonde haired, blue eyes star. He gets a lot of attention, from the girls…his parents, the professors, the deans and so forth. Let’s just say, it’s not always good attention.
Matthew. The brown haired, hazel eyes super model. That’s what we keep calling him anyways. His parents are always away somewhere and even when they are home, it’s not the home Jack calls home. They talk and his parents take care of him, but I don’t think they ever had a ‘normal’ parent/son relation. He’s the nice guy of the group. Always helping people, always lending a hand, always watching out for you even when you don’t know he’s there. Yep, that’s him. He’s the less “crazy” of the group.
Brandon. The black haired, brown eyes player. Yep. We’ve got a player. He’s the guy Hannah needs to stay away from. I might be willing to say goodbye to her, but I’m not about to let her get hurt.
“Black, what took you so long?” Jack asked, taking my hand and pulling me into him.
I rolled my eyes, “Torturing you, hun. You know how much I love making you wait.”
We laughed as Brandon introduced himself to Hannah, who stood in the doorway. When I glanced over, Hannah was nervous and uncomfortably in his arms.
Pushing Jack to the side, I walked over and kicked his back, “Hands off, Brand.”
He put his hands up as he backed away from Hannah, “Woah, chill out Black.”
I growled, glaring at him, and he got the memo, “Stay away from her.”
Someone put a hand on my shoulder. I turned and snarled, accidently scaring Hannah.
“Sorry,” I closed my eyes to calm myself down, “You need to stay away from him. You don’t know him like I do. Remember the deal, if you want to stay with me, you need to listen to me.”
“She’s right.” I sighed in relief when Matthew spoke up and started to walk over, “I’m Matthew.”
I smiled at him in thanks and turned to Hannah, “He’s the guy you can hang out with. The rest of them? Stay away. Okay, Jewel?”
After a long night, Matthew and Hannah seemed to click perfectly. I was happy for her, knowing what a great guy he was. I was all in for them being together…if it didn’t mean her staying in my life.
I brought it up when she told me she wanted to ask him out, feeling bold one night. Her one-month stay with me was coming to an end. In a week, she would be packing her bags and leaving.
Of course this had to be the night we had THE conversation. I hated doing this to her, but I couldn’t find another way.
“You keep telling me you’re bad influence for me, I shouldn’t be your friend or whatever, but I never understood why. Even if that was true back then, you’ve changed, Jay.”
“I haven’t changed, Jewel.” There were tears in her eyes. Great. “This is who I’ve always been. It’s just that…the girl standing in front of you doesn’t have all that sugar-coated crap covering who she is anymore.”
She shook her head, “No. You’re still the same girl I met. I know it.”
When I saw Matthew walk out of the house and watch us, I gave him a little nod and wiped her tears away, “You’re welcomed to pick up your things at my place if you want to leave. I won’t be home tonight. Matt will take care of you from here. Trust him…don’t trust me.”
Matthew wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her closer as she cried against his chest, “Where are you going, Jay?”
I shook my head and nodded towards her, “Take care of her. She deserves a fairytale life. One without me in it.”
I took my skateboard and went down the hill to my car. I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay around to see my best friend cry. She looked at me like a little sister would, loved me as much as a sister could, and meant as much to me like any sibling should. I looked out for her for years, but all good things have to come to an end.
I already pushed this back too long and I wasn’t going to push it back again. I told myself, senior year that I would let her go on her way when I graduated. I had taken her to too many parties, distracted her from her studies too many times and ruined her chances for the perfect future too much already. It was time to say goodbye.
Driving down the road, I found myself riding my skateboard down the pier at the beach and back again. I skated down to the hidden tree Matthew and I had found during our sophomore year in high school. Although the sun was blocked most the day by the giant boulders that surrounded it, the tree grew over the past few years. It was a big tree now and was finally able to reach the sunlight above the rock wall I loved to lean on so much.
You could sit on top of the rocks, if you were careful climbing up and down, and sunbathe for hours, you could have a nice little picnic on the little grass the tree grew in by the rocks, or you could play in the sand that came from the beach a couple steps away. There were a bunch of things you could do in this little isolated world I loved so much, but the thing I did the most was…think.
I thought about my senior year here. I thought about prom. I thought about college. I thought about my major, my boyfriends, my family…my life. Now I was sitting here thinking about Hannah.
Jewel. I called her that starting when we met.
“Would you like company?” I heard the voice of the only person who could’ve found me. Matthew.
I sighed and leaned on the truck of the tree from my favorite branch and closed my eyes, ignoring his presence. Hearing his footsteps, I followed him to the backside of the tree. After a while, I heard him climb up.
“She’s a great girl.” He spoke again, sitting on the branch across from mine, staring at me.
He asked, “Then why do you want to leave her side?”
I opened my eyes and looked into his, “She deserves a better friend. I’m not good for her.”
“Maybe you are right…maybe she does deserve a better friend,” He started to say, “because the friend she deserves wouldn’t abandon her in the middle of the night but…she won’t find a better sister.”
“I didn’t abandon her.” I stated, “She had you.”
“But she needs you.” He shot back.
Maybe I didn’t realize that. I never thought, even for a second, that Hannah would ever need me. She was always strong, confident, smart and ready to take on the world. She was the girl I wish I was at her age. Maybe then, I wouldn’t have messed up my life so much.
“Your future isn’t safe if you stay here.” I told her, “These people, my friends, aren’t good for you.”
“If you know that, then why are you with them?” She asked, frowning.
I thought for a second and shook my head, “I don’t know. I think I always stayed because…I didn’t want to leave.”
“What didn’t you want to leave?” She asked.
“I didn’t want to leave Matthew.” I confessed.
A smile started forming on her face as she nudged me, “Then tell him to leave with you.”
I shook my head, “I couldn’t do that to him. He likes it there. He makes him feel like he belongs somewhere. Anyways, I’m no one to tell him to leave. He likes you, not me.”
She giggled, finally beginning to cheer up again, “He doesn’t like me, Jay. He likes you.”
A hand was placed on my shoulder, making me turn around and find to discover Matthew standing right behind me, “Believe her, Jay. If you want to leave the group, I’ll leave with you. I’ve only stayed because I didn’t want to leave you.”
“See?” Hannah smiled, “It’s time to start new again, Jay. I know the girl I’ve known is still in you.”
I nodded and looked at them both, “Maybe she is.”
So after a while, I realized that I was right when I kept saying “a person can’t undo any of their past, unsee what they have seen, unfeel what they have felt, or unexperience all they’ve been through” but I might have been wrong to say the girl I use to be is dead gone. I learned after some time that if I tried hard enough to look, I could find the girl I use to be again…covered by the girl I am today.