Places

Melissa Zavala
Jun 4 · 10 min read
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When I was six years old, my best friend Oscar moved away.

We used to do everything together. People couldn’t even tell us apart.

I remember crying for days when he was gone. At that age, it was too hard for me to understand that sometimes people don’t stay in your life forever.

I´m eighteen years old now and I think I´m still trying to understand it.

A week after Oscar left, my grandfather came into my room and sat next to me on my bed. He didn´t say anything for a while, but I knew he was going to say something important. That was the thing with my grandfather; he didn’t talk much, but when he did, everyone knew better than not to listen.

“Sometimes people are meant to be in our lives just for a while, everything happens because it’s supposed to happen,” he said without really looking at me.

“I don’t get it, grandpa. It’s unfair.”

“Nobody said it was fair, life never is. But, you´ll learn that in your own time.”

After he said that, he just stood up and walked out of my room. I didn’t cry anymore after that. I think some part of me understood what my grandfather wanted to say, even if I didn´t know it back then.

Moments like these are when I miss my grandfather the most. He would know exactly what to say right now and just by listening to him, I would know what to do.

As I look at the clock in my car, I realize that it’s time to start driving. or I’ll miss the chance to say goodbye to Vera. And the possibility to say other things to her, things I have never told her. Like how I love when she calls me as soon as she wakes up just to tell me what she’s been dreaming about, or how I love when she waits for me outside of my class just so we can walk to lunch together, or how I love when she laughs like nobody is looking at her, how I love the way she says my name.

I have never told her how much I love her. More than a best friend.

I start driving towards the airport with a heavy feeling in my chest and doubt clouding my every thought. I don´t know if I´ll be able to tell her or if I even want to. What good would it make? I waited five years already. It would be stupid to tell her now. What if she doesn’t feel the same and never speaks to me again? Or worse, what if she does feel the same? We would have to face the fact that we can´t be together because she is moving to another continent. It took me months to stop feeling devastated about it.

“I’ll write every week, I swear. I say write because I think it will be much more intimate and effective if we write long emails instead of texting. And I say every week because I´m not about to be that person who says everyday and doesn’t stick to it. I can do every week,” she said as we laid on the roof by her window.

“Oh, so you admit that you will be too busy for me,” I said nudging her shoulder and making a face to let her know that I was kidding.

“Don’t be like that. Think about it this way, since we are literally the same person, it will be like you went all around Europe too. I´ll even film everything, so you can really feel it,” she smiled towards the sky, but I knew the smile was aimed at me.

“I’ll miss you,” I said while laying my head on her shoulder.

“You already know I’ll miss you more.”

I will miss her more, I already know that. I´m always the giver in our relationship. It doesn’t sound fair but we work like that, we always have.

I know Europe is the best for her. Vera is all art, she deserves to be around all art as well. Even though she said that she´ll write every week, I know she won´t. Vera forgets almost everything, it’s in her nature. She is bad at promises. One time, she promised she was going with me to the latest Star Wars movie premiere, but by the time it came around she had already made plans elsewhere and stood me up. She apologized for weeks and even started carrying around a journal to keep track of everything she promised. It lasted a week.

Marcus, my other best friend, is convinced that she feels the same way about me.

“She looks at you like she’s ready to give you everything, and I don’t even mean it in a dirty way,” He admitted while we were waiting for our show to start after a commercial break.

“She does not,” I said aggravated.

Even though I sounded unconvinced, my mind started wondering about it. I started thinking of all the times she’s ever looked at me. She does look at me a lot. But, she is always making a joke about it when I catch her. She also told me once that she loves to look at people. She loves to see how they concentrate on something, or how they smile at something without even noticing they are doing it.

“Keep on thinking that and be miserable, or maybe get some balls and tell her. Don’t overthink it.”

“Overthink it? This could jeopardize our whole friendship. It’s not an easy decision to make. Maybe I like how things are right now.”

“Maybe you are just a coward.”

Maybe I am a coward.

Maybe I should stop overthinking and just tell her. I don’t need to think about the worst possible scenario. Maybe if she doesn’t feel the same way, she will not be awkward about it.

Vera is good at keeping things natural, she’s good at acting like something never happened.

“The moon has never looked so beautiful.” Vera smiled with her eyes closed.

“You are not even looking at it.” I laughed.

“That’s how you know it’s special. You just need to look at it once to get it stuck to memory. I can even see it without opening my eyes.”

That’s the way I see her. The same way she sees the moon. She´s stuck in my mind forever.

Suddenly, she sat up and I followed suit.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Why do you think there’s anything wrong?”

“You have that look on your face. Something is about to happen and I’m scared”

She threw her head back and laughed.

“You need to live a little and stop being scared of everything. Plus, it’s not a bad thing, I swear,” She replied while scooting closer to me.

I could feel her breath on my face while she was finishing her sentence. That’s how close we were. Either of us could just lean forward and we would be kissing. And much to my surprise, that’s exactly what she did.

It was a quick kiss. It was over before it really started.

But it felt endless. It was like going up on a rollercoaster and feeling the tension building while you are waiting for the drop. It feels like forever, but then, the drop finally comes and the rest of the ride is over before you notice it.

It was the same feeling. It lasted a lifetime, then it was over.

I wanted to feel it again. I wanted to be the one to kiss her this time.

“See? Nothing scary about a kiss. Stop looking so shocked, I just wanted to try something,” She said scooting away.

“What?”

“I wanted to know if a kiss can stay just a kiss even if it´s with someone that you care about,” she replied closing her eyes.

“And..?”

“And…it’s true. The world didn’t stop because I kissed you. Everything’s the same.”

Everything was definitely not the same, at least for me.

She never talked about it, never even mentioned it. She said everything was the same and it was. I thought about bringing it up thousands of times, but I always chickened out. I even thought about just going up to her and kissing her right on the spot.

Maybe if I have done any of that, we could have been together.

But, even if we never get the chance to be together, I wouldn’t be sad. We are extraordinary together just the way we are. She understands me in a way I never thought possible. She is the first person to know anything that happens in my life. She is the one person I look for when I feel like I’m falling apart. She is my person.

It doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship for it to be special.

Even if it’s already special, my mind can’t stop wondering all the what if´s.

I park my car in a spot close to the entrance of the airport and I make my way to the international departures section. I still haven’t made a decision.

“You always know what to do, I wish I was like that,” Vera said out of nowhere while we were out for lunch.

“I never know what to do Ver, I’m more of a follower. I follow others into doing stuff, which can make it look like I’m doing it on my own. But, I’m not.”

“Lies,” she said rolling her eyes. “You are your own person, you know it. You would never do something that you didn’t believe in.” she continued.

I stared at her for a while before replying.

“Where is this coming from?”

“I just wanted to let you know that you have things going for you. You are always saying that you are not good at anything. Well, you are good at that.”

“Good at making decisions?”

“Yeah”

“How is that anything remotely useful?”

“Dude, it could save your life.” she smiled.

I’m not good at making decisions, I can’t be. Or else I would know what to do right now.

As I get closer to the waiting area, I see her.

Vera is standing with her parents and her little sister Sadie.

She is telling them something but stops mid-sentence when she sees me.

She runs over to me and throws her arms around me, hugging me tightly.

“You fool, I thought you were going to stand me up!”

“You know, it would have been the ultimate revenge plan for that time that you stood me up.”

She laughs and punches my shoulder.

“Can’t get over that, huh?”

I move over to say hi to her family. They greet me warmly, as they always do.

“Come on, sit with me for a while,” Vera says while gesturing to a table nearby.

“I can’t believe you are really going away,” I say with what I think could be classified as a sad smile.

She touches my hand and looks right into my eyes as she says:

“I’m not really going anywhere”

“What?”

“I’m always with you, remember?” She says rolling her eyes.

She got me there for a second.

“Gosh Vera, can you be any more cliche?” I say mockingly.

“You did not just call me cliche! That’s it. Friendship over. I’m glad I’m leaving”

“Drama queen”

“Learned from the best”

We laugh loudly. Maybe too loud, since I notice people are starting to stare. But, I don’t care. I know there aren’t going to be moments like this anytime soon, so I won´t let anyone ruin it.

She starts telling me a story about the guy who checked her bags and how she was convinced he was flirting with her mom.

She uses hand gestures and different voices to narrate the whole story. That’s the way she always does it. Listening to her telling a story is a whole experience.

Watching her, I knew what my decision was.

We continued talking for a while and then we joined her family at another table.

A little after that, it was already time for her to leave.

“Well, it’s time”

She has tears in her eyes. Vera, the girl who never cries, has tears in her eyes.

“Oh, Vera”

“Don’t. Don’t mention it and don’t tell anyone. Nobody would believe it anyway.” She says tearfully.

I hug her and it’s kind of that same feeling I got from the time we kissed. Like it lasted forever, but at the same time, it didn’t.

“I promised I would write every week and I’ll keep my promise,” she whispers in my ear.

“I love you, Vera,” I whisper right back.

“I love you more,” she says pulling away.

“You better do crazy things, you hear me? Don’t stay back because I’m not here. I want full reports on your weekends and they better be fun,” she warns me with one of her looks.

I know better than to try and disagree with that.

She stands on her tiptoes and gives me a kiss on the cheek.

“Laters”

“Laters”

I watch her back as she goes through the gates and I know I made the right choice.

I say goodbye to her family and go back to my car.

People exist in a funny way. We get so close to someone to the point that we think it’s crucial to be close physically. But, sometimes, you get someone so much that it’s like they are always with you. Vera was right about that. We can be in different places, but physically it’s like we are not apart. Even if we don’t get to talk every day, even if we don’t see each other for months.

I couldn’t tell her how I feel because I knew it was not the right thing to do.

The thing is, I kept debating about telling her because I thought it was my last shot to do so. I thought we were running out of time. But, I got it all wrong. We are not running out of time. We might as well have all the time in the world.

When I was six years old my friend Oscar moved away and I was devastated. I didn’t hear from him again.

Now, I’m eighteen and my best friend just moved away. I’m okay with it because I know it’s not the end for us.

We are definitely going places.

The New North

// Home of storytellers and poets // Facebook: @thenewnorth

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Melissa Zavala

Written by

Writing runs in my family and I´m happy to be sharing with you. I hope you enjoy my stories!

The New North

// Home of poets and storytellers // Facebook: @thenewnorth

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