This is an untitled story I started back in 2009, when I was 16 years old. I haven't edited it at all since then so it still reads a bit simplistic and childish, but I kind of liked that vibe. This is just the first chapter.
Nick could feel the nostalgia hit him as soon as he stepped onto the school bus. Even the smell of the exhaust reminded him of her. As he walked down the aisle, he half expected to see Trice sitting where she always used to; three rows back, by the window seat. He would have given anything to see her there, saving him a seat with her schoolbag. They would sit side by side like they always used to, sharing headphones, talking shit and losing track of time until they missed their stop altogether and had to walk a mile home. But neither of them would complain, because they loved each other’s company, and Nick would walk a thousand miles if he could walk them with her.
Nick found a seat at the very back of the bus and sat by the aisle. He would always save the window seat for her; no matter how many years she had been gone, he knew she was always sitting next to him. He didn’t pretend to understand how, but he could feel it.
Nick nervously took his phone out of his pocket and flipped it open. His stomach had been turning over all day just thinking about the call he made last night, but the butterflies stopped when he saw it hadn’t been returned. He could feel tears coming on and knew there was only one thing he could do to keep them from coming. He dialled Trice’s number, the only one besides his own he’d ever known by heart, and waited for it to ring, trying to forget that she would never pick it up again.
The outgoing message played, and just hearing her voice made everything a little better. “Hi, it’s Beatrice. You can leave a message if you like, but if I don’t like you enough to pick up when you call, I probably won’t return a message either.”
The phone beeped and Nick suddenly found himself at a loss for words. “Um, hey Trice.” He could feel eyes on him and knew what people must be thinking. But for the moment, he didn’t care. He closed his eyes and tried to imagine that he was alone with Trice, just the two of them riding the bus back home just like the good old days.
“It’s Nick. I’m taking the bus home right now and god, what I wouldn’t give to have you here, too. I’ve been missing you a whole fucking lot lately. I’m just trying to be strong for you.”
The bus stopped and nearly everyone left on it got off. “It’s our stop.” Nick laughed into the phone. “I’m gonna’ stay on for old time’s sake. We can walk home together in the freezing cold.”
The tears were coming now, and Nick let them. He had forgotten how good it felt to cry. Once he could speak steadily again, he told Trice about his plans.
“So I made a phone call yesterday. It wasn’t easy to do, but I did it for you.” Nick smiled. “You’d probably be hitting me for saying that.” He laughed and let the tears stream down even more. He put his hand on his arm in the place she always used to hit him when he made fun of her or, as she used to say, “got sappy”. There was a small bruise there and Nick hoped it wouldn’t ever go away. “I called the hospital where you stayed, because I wanna’ speak up for you. You always used to try to get me in front of people, because you loved it so much. Well, now I finally am. At least, I hope so. They haven’t returned my call yet.”
The bus stopped again, and Nick looked around and found that he was the only person left. The driver gave him a look in the rear-view mirror and Nick knew it was time to get off. He started the long walk home, and although it was the first time he would go it alone, it didn’t feel that way. Leaving a message for Trice brought her presence back in an odd way, and although he knew it was an illusion, Nick was comforted by it.
“I want people to know your story, Trice. I don’t want you to be misunderstood.”
Nick’s phone beeped. He nearly dropped it when he saw the call waiting for him. It was the hospital calling him back.
“Oh my god, the hospital is calling back. Oh my god. Ok, I have no idea what to say.” Nick laughed at himself. “I am about to make a total fool of myself. Well, I have to go and take this call, honey. I’ll call back once I get the news. Hopefully it will be good. I love you so much, Beatrice. I always will.”