I woke to the sound of birds out my window. I’d always kept it open during the summer. Downstairs, I could hear Evan, working as quietly as possible. I knew she’d already had what she considered a breakfast.
Downstairs, roughly an hour later, I was dressed and with newly minted breath, upon just finishing my breakfast ten minutes beforehand.
Evan sat on the couch, computer in hand. She typed quickly, the keys barely making any noise. I had made plans to meet up with Cassandra.
But first, I opened the TV for news.
This didn’t distract Evan. Sighing inwardly, I noted that mornings were going to be dull.
She chatted with Jasper. I could tell by her focus and increasing worry.
Jasper and I had made plans to meet up quite often, but they never really happened. They’d mainly fallen through our school and family schedules. I was honestly fine with that.
Over the years, I figured out that he’d talked to Evan about our friendship. That she’d presumably unintentionally told him some things that made him reconsider. Of course, I didn’t blame either of them.
I also figured out that he might have fallen for the girl. Poor guy, she was off to a different province and he was blasted with work. On top of that, she was in the military.
From the blush on her face to the rapid shifting on the couch, I could tell something had gone off plan yesterday, at their meet.
Yeah, I’d also figured that one out. It was quite obvious really. She was gone the whole day and had a ride back home. She only mentioned parks and reading; she was in a neighborly area.
Put two and two together and you got a meet at the library nearest to where Jasper lived.
I didn’t press matters, though. I’d find out soon enough.
On the couch, hours after waking, I was talking to Jasper. He expressed his worries about our time together, and we danced around emotions since neither of us really knew what to say. One simple request of bluntness later, he was telling me he’d missed me and, well, expressing emotional support and maturity. We both acknowledged that there was something unsaid, and despite his earlier hesitant but quick reply, this time he denied me of any declarations, thinking it would affect my final decision as to where to live.
In the end we agreed to leave it as it was, known but not acted upon until we’d both decided what to do with our futures. Since he had the day off, we settled on meeting up at an old shop of used books.
I signed off, sighing. This may be hard. I’d figured it out last night. I knew for a fact that I’d known I could never like Jasper, because not only would he not return the favour, it would be odd.
But with his announced feelings, I couldn’t help but sink back to that. I worried that I would choose something different, something biased because of the rise of feelings.
On my way to out, I thought hard about the next week. About how tomorrow might shape my thoughts about transferring, or anything else. I wasn’t sure what Dad wanted, but I wanted to be happy, and I could live with his resentment if need be. I got there much earlier and settled into a familiar corner with a few books, careful not to bother any other costumers in the process.
I logged off, sighing.
Honestly, I knew it wouldn’t take her much to figure it out. I hadn’t done much, but it had been evident nonetheless.
I wanted her to have the least biased opinion about having to leave, and I needed one myself, as a precaution. My thoughts rambled in the car. I thought of taking the bus, but maybe we’d go somewhere different after a few hours, or I could drive her home again.
Getting at the shop, I got myself a couple books and settled for checking dark corners.
I found her on the second attempt. As I snickered, making my way closer, her head snapped up, alarmed. She had heard me, of course, but the increasing loudness of my amusement had cause her to look up distantly, and jump back at my proximity.
Well, I wasn’t that close to her, but I was standing. For someone claustrophobic, that was almost worse.
She sat, a pile of books and a bag at her side as usual. She frowned and shifted. “Hi.”
“Hey.” I said.
She smiled slightly and sighed. “Hi. I… I’m sorry. This isn’t supposed to be,” she trailed, her hands waving as if to express something.
“Look, Angie. I know this complicated things a bit, but I don’t want to fully influence you. That decision is huge.” I muttered.
“Fuck that, Jasper. Look, the job is done. You’ve already done a bunch. Maybe not physically, but definitely otherwise. I don’t know what’s going to happen, and I don’t know what to decide, but I know one thing,” she said, “I know that I might regret it if something wasn’t said or done.” I looked at her, frowning slightly. My thoughts raced for something, a decision of any kind. “The thing is, I’m not sure I’m going to be safe for much longer. Going to a base, and having such a high expectation in my department means I may be shipped off some place dangerous. I knew this when I signed up, but it didn’t matter much then, as it does now.”
“Okay,” I nodded. “Okay, well, I know that my side remains untouched by dangerous mysteries, but I can say that I’m completely unsure about the company’s decisions, where as you are almost sure they’ll transfer you as well as rank you higher.”
“What’re you saying?” She wondered.
I sighed, “I hope you are safe at the base, Angie.” I muttered.
She frowned again. “Okay.” Angie gulped. “I suppose it was foolish to think with all the possibilities, you’d agree.” She said sheepishly, looking away.
“Alright, look-” I was interrupted by a call, the ID signifying it was my boss. “I gotta take this.”
Walking off to the the exit, I took the call.
I stood near the entrance for a few minutes as he explained. After hanging up, I considered my options. I paced and fidgeted as I tried to figured things out, but shaken out of my daze my someone tugging on my shirt as I paced.
“What happened?” Angie asked.
I looked at her for a moment before shifting uncomfortably. “They’ve made up their minds.” She only raised an eyebrow, expecting further explanation. “They’ve decided to transfer me to a local museum in Victoria. They think I’d be the perfect guy and that I’ll enjoy the experience.”
Her eyes darted back and forth as she took this in, and I frowned, awaiting her answer. “You’re moving.” She stated. Nodding to herself, she frowned again. I licked my lips nervously. I knew she’d perceive it as something, a chance perhaps. I wondered how much I would have affected the future. “You’re moving to the same town in which I currently live, and may move out of.” She said.
“Alright, look. I know this fucks it up even more, but-” I cut myself short as I noticed her sudden pacing and frantic fidgeting. “There’s a strong chance they’ll keep you in BC. Maybe that’s worth something?” I said uncertainly.
She stopped, only to stare intensely at me, frown deepening by the second. I sighed, reaching out to her. She didn’t shove me away as I pulled her closer. “I’m not certain about much at the moment, I need to find a flat, I need to get sort things out with my parents, I need to get tickets. But there’s one thing I’m certain of, I really don’t want to mess this up. I don’t want to remember our last moments, for a while, as confusing confessions and fatal decision making which lead nowhere.”
“Then don’t worry about influencing my choices. If I stay in BC, it’ll damn well be for my job. I’m stay for my job. I’m comfortable there, it’s a good place.” Angie told me.
Nodding, I smiled. “When did you decide?”
“I’m not sure, but I think I’ve know for a while. Victoria is for the best.” She murmured.
More nodding followed until I sighed, hugging her closely.
We stayed in the shop for a while. Reading had always been one of the more relaxing, fun things for Angie. This meant she could read for hours on end and be happy. Eventually, we did head out, though. We looked out for placed where we could eat. We settled for a burger joint Angie had assured me had good stuff. Eating at a nearby park we talked and laughed, enjoying the company and the weather.
I was enjoying comfortable silence when I remembered the gift in my bag. “Oh,” I said, reaching for my bag, “got something for you.” Angie frowned, lips perking up.
I pulled out a paper bag. She merely laughed, cocking her head slightly. She opened the bag hesitantly, frowning yet again. She pulled out the leather case, chewing on her lip curiously. I nodded encouragingly and she opened it.
The smile was instantly on her face, brightly lifting the mood. “I can’t believe you!” She said. Laughing, she hugged me tightly. “How? When?” She wondered. I shrugged. “Jasper, really. Thank you so very much.”
She laughed and put the harmonica to her lips. I was surprised to find she knew how to play the thing. She played a short catchy riff, biting her lip as she put it back into the case. “Well, I got it a few months ago, to answer your question. With the help of minimal research and a good memory, I pulled this out.” I told her.
Angie smiled, “Well, I’ve got something for you as well. She pulled out a box. From the label, or lack of it, I knew it was a package. This meant, inside the box there would be an assortment of small objects and things that a typical package would hold.
I opened it up and carefully set every item on my sweater. By the end, there were roughly fifteen items.
I laughed, hugging her. “Thank you for this package.” There were many things; a mug, a book on organization and listing, packs of sticky notes, packs of paper, a book on the history of biological topics, a graphic short sleeved shirt, two button down shirts, a card game and a pizza cutter.
I smiled, thanking her again. Most of the items had been things I’d jokingly suggested she buy me in the years we’d spent together in Toronto. The cutter, she promised she’d get me when I got my first flat.
Knowing her, she’d found out places where they sold it at lower prices, making the package and the harmonica nearly even in prices. The shirts fit, as it turned out. I skimmed both books while Angie played harmonica, and soon we packed up.
In the car, we listened to a playlist Angie gave me a few weeks before first leaving leaving all those years ago. As all her playlists, it consisted of two discs with one topic which she never specified. The topic, she said, was easily found within the group of songs. Usually, it was enlightening, because I’d never liked most the type of music she listened to. These playlists had often proved me wrong, I’d discovered over fifteen bands because of Angie and her thematic playlists.
She tapped lightly beside me, a smile playing her lips. I chuckled and went to hold her hand once she’d stopped tapping to flex and rest the hand. I could tell I’d startled her by the sudden stiffening beside me, but she easily relaxed into the touch.
I knew she was analyzing every moment, so, sighing, I looked at her. “Angie, relax.” Her brow furrowed, and she licked her lips. “Try not to think about every little detail. I know this is new, but please. I can almost hear the rambling.”
She chewed on her lip carefully before nodding slightly. “Sorry.” She murmured.
“I know, it’s a habit. Old habits die hard.” I rubbed my thumb on her skin. “Try to be less aware of it. I know what you’re thinking. You’ve explained it to me in the past, and I’ve though it myself.” I smiled. “I know I come off as a confident pompous prat, but trust me, I’m just trying to show myself, testing what’s cool.”
She laughed then. “Alright, alright.”
I parked the car on Angie’s street, sighing slightly. Angie had eventually relaxed and distracted herself, twitching less and less as the ride progressed. I got out, going to her side as I had last time. On the sidewalk, Angie shifted to be facing me, her hand still in mine. I looked down at our entwined hands and smiled. Her hand was small in comparison to mine, pale long fingers holding on lightly. Both our hands were pale, but hers much more so than mine.
Angie’s other arm wrapped around my waist, increasing the proximity at which our bodies stood. She hesitantly let go of me, hand fiddling with the hem of the over-shirt I wore. We locked gazes before I was pulled into an unexpected kiss.
As startled as I’d been, I reacted well enough that she quickly intensified it before pulling away slightly. “Does that ease off the tension?” She muttered, grinning slightly.
“Somewhat,” I said, frowning slightly. I brought my lips to hers hesitantly before fully kissing her. We both shifted into the kiss, my arms sliding around her back in an embrace. We broke apart for air, but the proximity, smaller yet, only drove me back to her. Eventually we watched each other, and though we were still standing very close together, it was much easier to focus.
I smiled, fiddling with her collar as she rested her forehead against mine. “Right. I’ll, uh, Skype you, yeah?” She said after awhile.
I nodded. “Yeah, sure.”
She scratched her elbow for a moment before looking at me. “Good.” Angie frowned, brows furrowing. I could tell she was trying to express something, so I waited. Sighing, she tapped her fingers to her sides. She scowled for a second, evidently frustrated at her lack of communicational ability. I was close to asking her what was wrong when her lips pressed to mine. The kiss didn’t deepen. “See you later,” she whispered before touching her lips to mine. She was off in the next seconds. I stood, frowning at myself for a good minute before getting into my car, and driving away.
In the car, just as this morning, my thoughts rattled. A lot had happened today.