Part II – TWO YEARS LATER (2004)
I woke up to my alarm blaring. Mercury’s went off only minutes later.
I got out of bed drowsily, taking a short cold shower. I got dressed and made my bed.
I tidied the messy areas with my clothes and waited.
Over the years, I became less shy, more confident and still rocked the short hair.
I was twenty-one. I had few friends, and was still in contact with my old ones.
I studied for the rest of the afternoon and headed to the lab to help out.
Last time I saw Jasper or anyone (outside of direct family) associated with my hometown was a nearly a year ago.
We spoke through Skype a lot, but it wasn’t the same. I still had minimal time alone, even as the years passed.
Last I saw Dad or Percy, was a few months ago. I had a couple days off, and they visited. I missed them, and everything was different, but I liked my new life.
Speaking of which, it was quite uneventful. I went out with Mercury and a couple other friends every once in a while, but I was usually cooped up in the dorm, sleeping, studying or reading. Most days, I wasn’t really aware of the world outside of my studies and the school itself, unless it was a friend from Toronto informing me of recent events. My involvement in the school, helping around and getting hours in the community was a part of being at UVic, but I’d never been one to go out much. Mercury and I would go out, walk a kilometer away from the school to a park or something and hang out till dark some days, meet new people as the sun went down and all.
Ultimately, though, the days went fast enough that everything blurred to one, and the experience that was university wasn’t really something I could describe, except perhaps as a time lapse in which I wasn’t entirely worried about everything, instead I was just living, experiencing myself for whatever else was out there.
I called Jasper through Skype, and he answered, a large smile upon his face.
“Hello.” He said. His face had changed again. It had become more angular and he’d let his hair grow a bit. It had reminded me of the first couple years, when he kept it slightly longer, shaggier. His facial hair had been left there as well. I could tell he had left it for roughly a week. He had a short goatee and side burns.
“How’re your studies?” I asked.
He shrugged. “Going well. I’m starting my Masters next year, dude. I’m still not over that”
I smiled. “I know.” I laughed. “You and I will finish the same year.”
Jasper nodded. “How’s the studies on your part?”
“Good. I’ve got more and more to study for. Mercury’s got a bunch of tests soon. I’ve helped her. The material she covers is cool, so I’ve learned a lot.” I said.
Jasper smiled. “I hope you’re having fun.”
“I’m nervous for tomorrow.” I said genuinely.
He smiled. “I know you are, it’s one of the reasons I told you to contact me when you got tested. you know I can help. You can say whatever you like.”
We smiled at one another. “You’re a sap.” I said quietly.
“Yeah, and you love it.” He muttered back. I snickered. Jasper smiled, sighing slightly. “Alright, I’ll leave you be. You know what to do if it escalates?”
I nodded, smiling slightly. “Yes. I thank you for that.”
He smiled again and looked at me. “Alright. Good night, you.”
“Nighty night.” I said, and the line clicked dead.
I woke, and sighed as I readied myself for the day. I only had one class today, but later I had a lecture. I’d have to stay at the grounds for hours before returning home.
I took the tram to the grounds and went into the class, taking notes and such.
It took a while to get used to this, but I knew from high school, I’d suffer without steady notes to study from.
I read over some old lectures as I waited for the hall to open. I sat at the coffee shop, sipping my coffee after a while.
In my bag, Angie’s letter sat, folded just as she had left it to me. I remembered wondering why she had hugged me, given our extreme lack of intimacy and contact. In that moment, I hadn’t questioned it because it could have few reasons. Afterward when she was gone, I’d almost driven myself mad over it, even if I’d settled on the possibility of the note being an excuse.
I know you’re worried. I know you wonder about what will happen, how things will go. Needless to say, I am confident. I know I’ll like it. I know that leaving for this particular reason isn’t quite practical because of the dangers. I don’t know what will happen in the years to come, but I know that for now, it’s a wise decision. Especially in the field of engineering. Often times, engineers can only get a high pay if they work for the government. And I will be, in a sense.
I love you. I hope you can get used to it.
Keep in touch,
I wonder how you feel about this. You haven’t spoken your mind as others have.
I feel this will be a good choice of mine, maybe one of my only ones.
I know you’ll be doing what you like most, just know that I’m on the way to that.
I’ll be as safe as possible. I’ll learn combat, train real hard. I can do this.
Please don’t worry. Be safe, Percy.
I hope you do well in second year. Hopefully you keep in touch with Dad, as well as with me.
I’ll miss you so much. I already do.
I’ll think of you. I’ll make you proud, you’ll see. Honestly, I’ll be good.
I know you’re worried, but don’t be. This is a great experience, a great part of life.
On the other side of the page, there was a letter. Longer, and neater, it was addressed to me.
I wrote these last night (assuming you read these the day I give them to you). It will be my last day in Toronto for a while. I know you’re worried. Not like they are, though. You know more, but you also see more.
I know you wonder how emotionally unstable I am at the moment. I can assure you, I will feel better by the end of the train ride. I know I’m freaking out, but I’ve done this before.
Talking to you made me feel better, I can certainly say.
I know I confessed while UI, but I’m fine with it. I know I’d feel bad for not telling you at some point. Or at least, I assume so.
I like how you can reassure me. In a way, it’s bittersweet… Because when you reassure me, I wonder how easily manipulated I am, but I know that you’ve spoken the right words.
You are, as I’ve told you many times before, a dear friend. I appreciate everything you’ve done.
I’ll keep in touch, for sure. Keep note of the time difference (of three hours).
I hope to see you soon.
With all my heart,
I smiled, wondering what she was up to. I could picture her, in her room, studying. I saw her in class, stiff and restraining a smile. At a park or cemetery, sitting in the most random spot and breathing it in. She would have changed her habits, perhaps worried less, and tried to live through the experience with a different light, one that meant it wasn’t something she should worry about, just experiences to gain.
I glanced at my phone and saw a text.
Speak of the devil, she’d messaged me. I laughed loudly.
I didn’t text her back, knowing she’d Skype me at some point.
After the long lecture, I waited for Cassandra to pick me up. We’d been spending a bit more time together lately. Since then, she’d offered to pick me up from the grounds after the lectures whenever we planned to hang out.
In the car, I smiled warmly. We spoke for a bit, small talk was common these days.
On Skype, she seemed worried. I did my best to reassure her, and it seemed to work. She notified me of the low possibilities of a women her age in her department to have that sort of record, but I countered her worries and she evidently felt better.
She had changed. Her hair was shorter, having cut it in the recent weeks. She had a stronger jawline and her cheekbones stood out a bit more as well. I was glad to hear from her.