There she was, sitting on the other side of the vitrine, carelessly leaning into her companion, touching his hand with one of hers, while teasing her long dark locks with the other. She seemed engrossed into the conversation, blushing at times, her lips slowly stretching into a smile, while her mouth opened and closed to words that would remain a secret to the onlookers, and more importantly to Jane.
As Jane stood outside of the small coffee shop, looking in, she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. It had been a long time since they last spoke, but at this moment, everything seemed just like before. Sarah didn’t look much different from six years ago. Her hair was still long, stubbornly curling around her always glowing complexion. Her green eyes were focused, like two moons ready to engulf the darkness. How many times had Jane wiped away their rivers? How many times had she trusted their innocent reflections? As she stood there, slowly letting past memories flood over her, Jane suddenly found herself gasping for more air. Was it just her, or was the air stuffier? Forcing herself to step back from the glass surface, she strode away, putting some distance between her past and what seemed to be her imminent present.
Three blocks later, Jane finally slowed down her pace, matching the ongoing traffic on the sidewalk. She had ran away as if she had seen the devil in person. How was it possible that one person – who had meant so much to her at one point in her life, how could she stir up so many contradicting feelings within her? Jane was puzzled, and even more so, frustrated. Her day had started so well! Now, the sight of an old friend rained on her parade. But why? she asked herself,reaching a familiar place – the local grocery store. As she perused down the produce isle, Jane thought about relationships, and more specifically about bad breakups. They left you empty handed, exhausted and heart broken. There was no immediate cure to pain, nothing that didn’t require time and many hours of counseling. It wasn’t just about past boyfriends, even female friendships hélas! – were not immune to this condition.
Jane was a big proponent of the “everything happens for a reason” ideology. She used it to justify all of her heartbreaks, be they professional or more personal. She thought the Universe was trying to teach her something, that if only she took her time to listen, then maybe she would be rewarded with better opportunities. After all, didn’t they say “when one door closes, another opens”? When she had closed her door (literally) on Sarah six years ago, she was convinced that it was what needed to happen. In her mind, there was nothing left to put back together. No glue in the whole wide world could fix their broken friendship. Jane had had enough of perpetually being trapped inside Sarah’s never-ending drama. She was mentally exhausted of always picking up the pieces, just as she was tired of always being the one to collect all the blame. As painful as it had been to detach herself from the one person she had thought she’d be linked to indefinitely, it was a decision she had had to make. So why was she doubting herself at this moment, when so much time had passed? Seeing Sarah had sown new seeds of doubts.
Of course, Jane knew deep inside, that she had made the right decision for her at that time. As hard as it had been to separate herself from Sarah, she needed to distance herself from the young woman. Sarah always acted with her own interest in mind, not really worrying whether or not she was walking over people. There was always this sense of entitlement about her. That, and also this impulsiveness about everything. One moment they would be sitting quietly in the library, studying for their upcoming exam, and a moment later, they were driving to the next state to crash a party that a friend of Sarah’s was throwing. Sometimes even, Sarah would drag Jane to her blind dates, before ditching her for her beau-du-jour. She never seemed to worry about Jane, never seemed to care whether or not she was putting her through uncomfortable situations. Did she even care? Jane would often ask herself. Sure, Jane too could have protested, thrown her own fits, refuse to tag along, but she hadn’t reached her threshold. She could cope with an occasional incident, she could be the better friend, the plane Jane, the one who made sure they never left their homes without having fully charged phones, or be the one who would ensure they both had a safe way to get back home. There was never a dull moment, it was always a go-go rhythm, and Jane frankly didn’t know how to press on pause. Of course, it wasn’t all bad. Maybe it was the good times that brought her these moments of doubts? Or was it the way she had put stop to their friendship? Jane knew it was mostly the later.
She did miss Sarah at times, especially when a song they both used to like came on the radio, or when someone passed her by, trailing behind the same smell as did her long lost friend. Hélas, too much blood had spilled between them during the last year of their friendship. Too many ugly words were voiced, fingers were pointed, objects were thrown. They had tried their best to patch things up, pretend they were not diverging from one another, refusing to accept that one bad year could undue many good ones. Yet, eventually, there was no more fighting left in Jane. She had given her all to this friendship, and she had to go. So after one last big fight, where Sarah called her names, Jane had had it. She threw Sarah out of her apartment, and before slamming the door on her friend, told her to go fuck herself.
The end of their friendship ironically coincided with the end of their undergraduate degree. Eventually they both moved away, started new lives somewhere, and Jane never thought she’d see Sarah ever again. The world was really a small place to live in, wasn’t it? As she walked back home from the grocery store, Jane stopped. She turned and retraced her steps back to the coffee shop, wondering if she would still find Sarah there. She believed the Universe was testing her resolve to put the past behind, and maybe even give her another chance to do things the right way; to politely part ways? This idea brought her some comfort. But was that even possible, at this stage? She didn’t want Sarah back into her life, of that she was certain, but she also didn’t want to go through life dragging their painful separation, replaying it over and over as a movie of poor taste.
Back in front of the coffee shop vitrine, Jane took a deep breath in. She peaked through the glass, only to find the seat where Sarah had been sitting moments ago vacated. A wave of relief and sadness washed over her. Relief to not have to confront her past, sadness for not getting a chance to do so. Stepping back from the glass surface for the second time that day, Jane turned away, colliding into a pedestrian. When she looked up, ready to serve her apologies, Sarah stood in her way.
Total Word Count: 1,257