Six months later
“Come on, sleepy head, wake up!”
“Mmph… five more minutes, please, for the love of God.”
“No, now. Wake up, girl, you can’t be late today.”
“Today? What’s today?” I opened bleary eyes and found Daisy leaning over me.
She was wearing so much mascara her eyelashes looked like baby tarantulas. As usual, she wore a belly skimming top.
Pulling the covers off of me, she laughed, “It’s only the day you graduate, Emily! So get a move on! Your mom’s been calling you for hours!”
I grumbled all the way to the showers.
An hour later, I was standing in line to receive my diploma. After finishing my coursework and defending my master’s thesis – an analysis of ee cummings’s poetry that my lead professor said was good enough to publish (!) – all of my hard work was finally paying off. I was graduating from NYU with a master’s degree in English Literature.
On stage, I looked out and found my mother standing and clapping as I went to receive my diploma. The tears in her eyes mirrored my own.
Walking down from the stage, I couldn’t help whispering to myself, “Please don’t trip, please don’t trip, please don’t trip.” But thankfully, I was able to descend from the platform somewhat gracefully and walk out to where my mother stood with a bouquet of roses in her arms.
“Bravo, Em! I’m so proud of you.” She kissed me on the cheek and hugged me tight. Daisy inched her way in and it became a three-person hug.
“Yay, Emily! You go, girl!”
Once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader.
We went to eat a celebratory lunch at my favorite Italian restaurant. A few of my friends joined us there, including Carl.
A month after my arrival from Paris and three months after not speaking to each other, Carl suddenly showed up at my dorm one night bearing lilies and Krispy Kreme donuts. We were starting to date again, but only casually. I knew better than to get my hopes up.
Back at the dorm, I peeled off my clothes and put on some sweats. There. Now I felt more like myself. I put on a Smiths CD and began packing.
Daisy helped pack some of my stuff before leaving to the gym.
“Will you be in touch, Emily? Please say you will! You’ve become one of my bestest friends.”
I promised to stay in touch, and I actually meant it. I’d grown attached to the fluffy-haired and fluffy-brained eighteen-year old, despite myself.
I was going back home to live with Mom for a while until I found a job. I had applied to a few publishing houses in Manhattan, and I even had an interview with one tomorrow morning. It was only a few blocks from the apartment where Mom lived.
As I opened one of the drawers in my nightstand, some of the contents in the drawer spilled out by mistake. I bent down to pick up some papers, and a card slid out into my hands.
I felt my pulse quicken as I recognized the handwriting. The card read, Fleures pour une fleure. Sebastian.
How had that gotten here? I could’ve sworn I’d thrown everything out that reminded me of him. I went to throw it into the trashcan, then realized I couldn’t bring myself to do it. So I stuck it into a book. A collection of poems by ee cummings.