Girl in the Uniform : Chapter Six

Jelly

Walking back to the porch, it took a lot of effort to keep a neutral expression.

We’d agreed hours ago to keep it platonic, and I’d just broken that. Then again, his response was more than agreeably telling off the rule. First, we met up, and it was odd. When Jasper took the call, I tried not to let my thoughts overwhelm my sense of judgment, but when he took too long, I went to see. His transfer meant our relationship could further, and I didn’t know what to make of that.

Now, upon breaking the tension by intimacy, I was certain things would get better.

 

I spent the next hour searching the web and setting up things for the next few weeks. I wanted to spend at least one day with the lot of friends, and one with the family. Of course, I had tomorrow to be with Dad and all the meets to be with Percy, but what about Ed? while I was the middle of an article Jasper called through Skype.

I answered, sighing slightly. “Ah, hi.” I muttered.

He chuckled. “Hello.”

“Have you talked to your Mum yet?” I asked.

He shook his head. “I’ll be up when Dad comes, so I’ll do it then.”

“Jasper, that’s preposterous. On weekends, he works nights. His shift ends at six. I’d bet he’s not even gone yet.” I told him. Jasper’s father worked as a chef and bartender at a pub. It was well known, so he had a good pay. He liked it, as far as I knew.

Jasper sighed, scowling slightly. “Alright, I’ll go now. Call you when I’m back.”

Nodding, I waved. The line clicked dead and I was back to the article.

 

When he called again, I was read a book on the edge of my bed. Head snapping up, I shifted on the bed to answer.

“Hi, again.” He muttered.

I frowned. “Not good?”

He shrugged, “Dad wasn’t surprised. Mum thinks it’s a good opportunity.”

“So, both?” I said. “I mean, did it go more than an irritated sigh?”

Jasper chuckled. “Of course, it’s just that he thinks I’m rushing it. I assured him, it was solely my boss. Though I do think he’d like I did some research, and I thinks the place is cool. Plus, it’s super close to the Military base.”

I sighed. “That’s only a bonus, not an incentive. But, I see your point.” I said, as he gave me a link to the information. He was being transferred to Craigflower Manor and Schoolhouse.

It was a place with huge grounds and interesting history. They were still doing research on the grounds and the geographic significance, and it would be one of the many things Jasper would do there.

 

We spent the next two hours talking and researching. Jasper was busy trying to find a cheap flat, and I was distracting myself from the possibilities of the future. I worried about Jasper and I, how things would turn out. Of course, I knew I was outdoing myself in dramatic worries, so I focused on the Internet and house hunting.

When we hung up, I went back to my book. I fell asleep at three.

 

Dad

I woke at ten, blinking rapidly. The sun shone brightly, disorienting me as shuffled about in my room.

Downstairs, Angie cooked. Two eggs we set in a plate with fried sausage and ketchup. She was turning two more eggs when I entered the kitchen.

“Hi, Dad.” She said, facing me when she finished.

I smiled, “Morning, Angie.” She grinned. “Sleep well?”

Angie shrugged. “Alright.” When I went to sit, she pointed at the dish. “That plate is for you.”

“Thank you.” I muttered. I ate as she finished off. She set the pan in the sink and sat.

We ate silently. The eggs were good, as always. Angie had started cooking at young age, so the dishes she now made were always tasty.

“What’s the plan today, Dad?” She wondered.

I shrugged, “Depends. The weather is supposed to be good. I say we do whatever in here for a while, and catch a movie at the theatre. Maybe we can go for a bike ride, as well.”

Angie nodded, “Sounds good to me.”

 

Jelly

After I was ready to go, I waited by surfing the web on the couch. It took Dad half an hour more to be ready. We sat, reading for a while before Dad turned on the TV. There wasn’t anything on. Dad sighed and turned on his computer. He set up a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, smiling slightly at my sudden enthusiasm.

Roughly an hour later, we sat in the car, Dad’s favorite band on the stereo.

At the theatre, Dad bought tickets. After the movie, we went home to cook. We set up a simple diner, cooking together in the kitchen. We watched TV while eating, the clatter of dishes filling the room at every muted set of adverts.

 

I spent the next day alone. I read and played video games until a couple hours before dinner. Then, I settled for inviting Orlando over. We played board games for the first two hours, and Dad got home. I helped him cook a bit before Percy came. She’d been working all day as well. She caught up with Orlando while I helped Dad.

 

Percy had been working extensively since grade ten, saving up for when she moved out of the house. She’d worked most of the week and all week during school breaks. Her hours were good, and she got a decent pay. She also worked for an online company, working at home when she wasn’t out for her other jobs. She still worked for the online business and three days a week during her first few years of Uni. It was only when she was more confident she could balance school and work that she added hours and work days to get more experience and save up.

I knew what I wanted to do what might be called early; I saved up for the future flat search and to investments. I started working with kids at a young age, and I got my first job in grade nine. I worked at a local bike shop. I worked often, getting good money.

The next year, I continued at the shop, but also worked at a theatre. The years during high school, I saved up a lot of money. I worked full days six days a week on every summer, and kept a babysitting position for a couple hours on the day I was free.

 

Now, Percy had a permanent career job as a chemist. She worked in a lab, researching chemicals and creating compounds. She’d found the job after only two months’ searching. She still worked online, and at a local bookshop on weekends. She planned to move out as soon as she found a decent flat. We hadn’t really spoken, so I wasn’t sure what she’d decided.

She was telling Orlando how she’d presumably need a flatmate, and how she’s originally planned to ask her boyfriend, a couple months ago. That didn’t turn out well, I’d guessed. They’d apparently broken up because she was confident in taking the next step; a flat or something of the sort. He’d declined, and implied a break up.

Dad wasn’t paying attention, running about from the kitchen to the backyard for the grilling he’d been busy with. I’d assured him I was good with the kitchen, but he’d always come and check for himself.

 

We wind up eating under an hour later. Orlando, it turned out, had been offered a few jobs while we went on with his studies. He’d declined, determined to get his degree.

Now, he was looking around, trying to find a job in the video game designing industry. He said it shouldn’t take too long because of the increasing demand in workers. Apparently, he was quite close and he had an interview coming up within the week. Dad was surprised by this. He told us about how he hadn’t spent that much time either, but the interviews had been limited.

 

When Orlando left, Percy went to drop him off at the station. I went back upstairs, connecting to Black Ops. Jasper was online. We played together for two hours before switching to playing TF2. I wasn’t as good at Team Fortress, but I had fun by any case.

Jasper •

Once we finished with the video games, I proceeded to calling her on Skype.

“Hi.” I said, busying myself with Internet comics and some flat researching.

She waved. “Hey.” Typing on her end was disrupted, “How goes the flat hunt?”

“Alright. I’ve found a couple. I’m still not sure whether I should be a two bedroom or not.” I replied.

“Decisions. Well, you can always make a list.” She said.

I laughed. “I did. In favour of a two bedroom,

“It’s larger, not that that matters much.

“I’ve got a potential flatmate.

“It’d be good for not moving out later on.” I muttered.

Angie raised an eyebrow. “We never spoke on sharing a flat.”

I smiled. “Yeah, but I figured. Since you’re going to be at a base, with the job rather than the schooling to do.”

Angie nodded, “Logical. I’ll help you look, then. But, no worries, I’m not picky.”

“I know. Alright, here are the ones I’ve got.” I said. “There’s one in Hillside, listed for 1150 a month.” As I spoke I gave her a link to the website. “There’s another in Colwood listed for 1100 a month. Oh, and,” I searched it up, having just found it, “One on Royal Roads, listed at 1150.”

She laughed. “That’s fifteen minutes’ walk to the base!” she frowned, looking focused for a second. “Wait, these are all in the opposite direction from the museum.” She said, glancing my way.

“I’m aware. But there’s something called transit.” I said, raising an eyebrow teasingly.

Angie sighed, nodding. “Yeah, yeah. You’re so cocky sometimes.” She said with a grin.

 

Eventually, we settled for the one on Royal Roads. Angie had made me promise that I wasn’t rooting for it under her convenience. She seemed happy, and I was glad.

We hung up several hours later. We spoke about many things, but mostly how much we’d changed and how much it would still change. By this logic, Angie had figured things would always change, but that this one was both exciting and quite scary.

With that, I decided not to over think the fact that we’d only really been together for two days. Then again, when we were in high school, those years back, we’d said something along the lines of sharing a flat, and though it had assured that we were four people rather than two, I was fine with this. In those years, Angie, Percy and I had said we wanted a flat together, possibly with Orlando.

Now, as Angie had said, Percy and Orlando most likely had plans of sharing a flat as well, only here in Toronto. She’d said they had gotten along more that well when he was over. They seemed to have up unspoken feelings, but Angie was keen on not interfering. She said they’d possibly get to it while looking for a flat.

 

As far as Percy And I had been concerned, we’d hung out twice a month since Angie departure four years ago. Sometimes, given the finals, we’d only see each other once a month. She’d gotten along fine without Angie. I think they were both at least a little relieved not to be in the same household for all that time. When they were much younger they shared a room. The other had been their father’s office of sorts.

 

When they turned ten, he settled for a change and the office became Angie’s room. She hadn’t made much of a fuss about it, but there was this one week where they didn’t get along at all, so Angie settled on the couch every night, as a habit of not wanting to be in the same room as Percy. When their father had enough, he agreed to make the office into a bedroom for her sake. She’d told him she was fine with the couch, in all honesty, but he’d refused.

Their rooms were quite different. When they’d shared it, they had two separate beds. Angie had a top bunk bed and Percy had a separate single bed underneath. They’d agreed not to get a bunk bed because their father had seen the chance of separating them.

When Angie moved into the office, her bed went in the corner, much like it had in the old room. Under the bed, she had a beanbag and a few shelves for books. There were shelves all over and a storage compact for papers and clothes.

The floors were often covered in stacks of paper and books. She claimed it was organized, but it didn’t seem like it. Upon knowing we’d share a room, she assured me she’d keep the cluttering to a low amount.

Jelly •

I woke the next day, and it was early enough that Dad was still at home. I packed his lunch, getting breakfast ready afterward. He checked his laptop, sitting across the table.

I glanced at him. “So, Dad, I just wanted to update you on my job. I dunno if you care much. I’m getting transferred to a base. I’m getting a flat, as well.”

He smiled. “I’d assumed so.” Frowning, he glance my way. “What’s the flat like? Any roommates?”

“It’s good. Unfurnished, though. It’s in the second storey, pretty low price for a two-bedroom. Yeah, one flatmate.” He nodded. “I know you’re curious. Jasper is the guy.”

“Oh. Interesting.” He said blankly. I snorted.

He left shortly afterward, and I was alone. Percy had left earlier, wanting to get more done at the lab.

I called Jasper a couple hours later. We settled for later in the afternoon.

I spent a couple hours at home on the Internet, and went to the library. I was close to a cemetery, so after staying at the library for a while, I walked over. I’d always enjoyed cemeteries, even when I was younger.

Graveyards aren’t popular, so I’d usually gone alone. When I was in high school, one of our friends shared my fascination for cemeteries. We’d go together and spend the afternoon.

I liked how peaceful and silent they were. Often, it was empty, allowing me to roam the grounds. I liked to imagine the fallen. People die twice. Once, when they are buried, but again when their memory fades off, forgotten. The headstones are there to remind us, and that had always seemed so symbolic to me.

 

I spent two hours, walking the grounds and sitting around. I climbed a couple trees to look into the distance and stay in the shade for a while.

As I sat, reading in a more private section with more bland headstones, I heard rustling nearby.

After finishing my page, I looked up. I saw Jasper, eyeing me a few headstones away.

I frowned as he got closer. “I thought you’d never look up.” He muttered, a couple feet away.

“I wasn’t sure whether you were a random pedestrian or not. And I had to finish my new page, once I decided you not might be.” I explained, smiling slightly.

Jasper grinned and I patted the ground beside me. Nodding, he sat. I could feel my twisted gut, wrenching as he got closer. I wondered how he knew, what he was doing here. “I wasn’t sure where you’d be.” He said, as if knowing what I’d say. “I remember you telling me you were going to the library. I got your text half an hour later, so I still wasn’t sure.

“I didn’t know whether you’d left.” He looked at me. Taking my hand, he went on, “I tried to think as you would, what would you do? It didn’t take me much time to realize you were probably at a graveyard. I wasn’t sure which.” He chuckled. “But then, I remembered you looking up and smiling widely when we passed by this one while on the tube. I remembered how your eyes lit up, with fondness and wonder whenever we came nearby.”

“And how did you find me in this section?” I whispered.

He smiled. “I knew you’d like some place in the maze of headstones, away from the gravel. Maybe some place with trees. I checked in the trees, wondering if I could see you in the distance. I didn’t.”

I chuckled, looking down. Before I could say anything, though he sighed. “I know why you like cemeteries. I figured it out on the way here. It’s quite simple, really. You find it reassuring. It’s very peaceful and quiet, but it’s also quite mysterious and lonely. It’s bittersweet. You like to imagine the people who are buried, to picture them in life, to imagine a death; tragic or not. You like the mysterious history and all the probabilities that life has. But, also how death has steps, how people go from human to matter. How they’re forgotten as time passes. You find all those ideas intriguing, especially when put together so well. And as it happens, that’s exactly what graveyards are for, in a sense.”

“Didn’t you hear? Life’s a game we’re meant to lose.” I said, smiling widely.

Jasper snickered. “Good one.”

I sighed, “In all seriousness, um.” I swore, sighing, I closed my eyes as to try to focus in between stuttering.

 

“I’m here because I wanted to spent time with you. I wanted to see whether graveyards were honestly intriguing. I wanted to explain things to you.” He said. “I wanted to keep you company.” I opened my mouth, but he cut me off again. “I went in early. The manager dismissed me earlier, noting my fidgeting as a distraction for what was actually on my mind.” He fiddled with my hand. “I kept thinking about how much I care about you. How much pain and stress and loneliness you’ve been through. I wanted, I want you to be happy. I couldn’t bare to think of you that way again.” He kissed my temple. “You don’t know how little self-control I had when you broke down in 2002. It pained me so much to see you that way. To hear you through the phone, with the smallest amount of rope left.” He leaned closer, fiddling with my shirt hem. “It took me so long to realize it was so much more than fondness. Even then, I denied it. You were in a different province, probably staying there. Every time we would plan to Skype, I could barely think about anything else that day. I was so nervous and so relieved and so confused, but I knew I’d talk to you and that made me feel better. Whenever we saw each other in person, I could barely contain myself.” He whispered. The lump in my roast grew more pronounced, then. I waited for him to finish. “I missed you so much. I always thought about you. I worried that you weren’t happy. I wondered how stressed out you became. It took so much effort to not think about the worst scenarios. I would picture you curled up in a ball, tears shining off your face, shaking uncontrollably as you tried to calm down. I knew you had a method to contain yourself, but I was never sure whether you’d use it often. I hoped with everything, you wouldn’t try to shake it off and ignore it until it got terribly uncontrolled.” I could feel my chin shaking, my vision blurred by tears threatening to come. “It helped so much when I saw your face, often at least slightly happy. I couldn’t trust myself to keep it in, especially not if I received a message indicating a panic attack, or a breakdown. I spent the days on your worst weeks hoping not receive a Skype call and see you in tears, curled up in blanket as you shook, stuttering when you tried to speak to me.”

I swallowed, blinking. A tear shed, unbidden. “I’m sorry.” I whispered, almost inaudibly.

Jasper looked my way, and his eyes grew wide. “Oh god, Angie. Sorry. I shouldn’t have. I’m so sorry.” He whispered, kissing me where the tears had fallen.

“No, no, I needed that.” I said, shaking my head. “I worry about myself a lot as well. I never knew whether I was happy or not. I just hoped the pit in my stomach never got huge, worsening my state. I always thought about you when it happened. Whether you’d be bothered if I talked to you. Whether it would worry you sick, like I worried when you warned me of a dilemma. I hated myself for being insufferably uncontrolled, sometimes I still do. All I wanted was to be at least slightly happier. I wonder how long the feeling would last. The way you described me is so accurate, I don’t even know how you could picture that. I always hoped you never saw me the way I see myself. But, I suppose you can guess. That sort of counts, in a way. I hoped it wouldn’t turn you away. God, how I worried about that. It took so many distractions.

“Thinking of you, of how happy you were, of how well you were doing with your studies helped. I never thought you’d be miserable, not after seeing how passionate you were about it. I envied that, the certainty. I knew I’d never be able to think that of my job. Not when so many people disapproved. I missed you so much, and everytime I heard your voice, or saw your emails, I was always instantly happy. Worried and missing you, but happy.”

 

Jasper gazed at me as I spoke. My voice was low, a soft murmur as I tried to control the shakiness in my voice. I glanced at the ground, fiddling with my laces as I spoke. I could feel his gaze on me and it worried me a bit, but I couldn’t look up. Eventually, he placed a finger under my chin, guiding my face toward his. His lips quirked up slightly as our eyes met. His hand moved to my neck, thumb tracing my jaw. I watched him, breath evening as I controlled myself. When my heartbeat steadied and I sighed, I smiled. He chuckled, biting his lip. Our eyes met again briefly. His eyes unmistakably flicked to my lips. I snickered, closing the distance after a moment.

I laughed quietly, head lowering to rest my forehead against his shoulder. He chuckled, hand rubbing my back.

 

Afterward, he suggested we take a stroll. We walked hand in hand around the field. It was beautiful.

We walked some more, and went to his house. There, we went to his room. We watched TV for a bit. During the commercials to the next TV show, Jasper muted it, smiling. I frowned. I wasn’t sure whether to say anything but before I could think anything through, we were kissing again.

I called Dad, telling him I’d been offered a diner at Jasper’s. He said it was fine.

Diner was mostly silent, but we did talk about work a bit. Lydia wanted to know how things were. I told her about my departure and she seemed impressed.

Back in Jasper’s room, we played PS3. Jasper drove me home roughly an hour later. We held hands, and it felt much more natural. Jasper came to my side again. We kissed, my back pressed against the door. I hugged him, and he kissed my temple. I turned to leave, but at the steps, I turned around. “Oh, and Jasper?” I called. He raised an eyebrow. I ran back down, threading my figured through his. “I am happy.” I squeezed his fingers, and he returned the favor. I didn’t need to expand.

 

When I shut the door to my room, I received a text. [And that makes me happy.]

Girl in the Uniform: Chapter Five

Chapter 1, 2, 3, 4

Percy •

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.

 

Jelly

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.

 

Jasper

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.

Girl in the Uniform: Chapter Four

Chapter 1, 2, 3

Part III – TWO YEARS LATER (2006)

 

Jelly

It was my last week before I was scheduled to take a break. I had just graduated, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay in BC. I was getting good money and I liked my part time job, but I knew my family might be uneasy about it. I had contacted the military offices about moving me to a base.

 

Mercury was staying in BC, but possibly transferring to a base, having nearly finished schooling.

I didn’t know whether I was ready for the transfer, or how things would be at boot camp..

 

Jasper had said that knowing me, the family might prefer the base in Barrie, but he knew I liked BC, so he didn’t know which to say. He suggested I wait until the break was over.

In the grounds, I was often alone, studying and thinking on my made bed.

 

On the day that I left, I packed my belongings and wondered what to wear.

I wore my cleanest clothes, less baggy as well.

On the train, I busied myself, reading and sleeping. But mostly reading.

 

I took the tram back home, knowing Dad would be at work.

People looked at me, as I stood stiffly, holding the rail but never sitting down.

 

Back home, Percy was surprised to see me.

She smiled widely as she noticed me. We greeted each other happily and I went to put my things back.

In my room, it was still the same. Except, it hadn’t been dusted or cleaned in a while. Dad had stripped the sheets, so the mattress lay, uncovered.

 

Percy

I was minding my own business in my room, when the door unlocked. It was an obnoxious lock I hated it, but this was one of its quirks.

I looked out in the hall and only saw a duffel bag. I frowned, going out. In the kitchen, I recognized a tall figure with short hair. I frowned and noted her posture. “Evan?”

She turned and frowned. “Hello, Percy.” She swallowed and glanced at me hesitantly. Evan and I had never been physical, but for this one time, we advanced quickly for a short hug. It only lasted seconds.

Her hands clapped awkwardly on my back and I snickered. “You know that that’s kind of ruining it, yeah?” I said in French.

She smirked, shrugging slightly as she looked away. “Are you home alone?” I nodded, and she drummed her fingers along the table silently.

Evan and I had never spoken anything other than French. Well, asides from when it got awkward because of the stares, or if we’d been with a large mass of friends. Though even then, we’d still slip up.

Eventually, she awkwardly exited toward her room.

I was happy she was staying for a while. She would need to get used to us, and same us for her, but it would be great.

 

Jelly •

I spent most of the time that night in my room. I went out to check if Dad had gotten home yet, but no such luck. I made myself something small to eat and retreated to my room.

When he did get home, it was seven. I never remembered him coming home that late but I supposed it made sense, seeing as Percy would be studying and such, meaning he could manage a couple more hours.

He greeted me cheerily, with a large hug and a sigh. “How are you?”

“I’m fine. A bit tired from the ride, but good.” I said. “How’s work? Taking extra hours?”

He shrugged. “Good. Work is there. Yeah, keeps me a bit more busy, less homework.” Dad said.

 

We wind up sitting on the couch, watching TV for the next two hours, before I got tired and went back to my room. Jasper contacted me saying we should meet up. Eventually, we settled for the library at twelve-thirty.

 

I woke in the morning feeling off. It was early, as per habit. I fixed up my room with precision and stayed on the couch. There, I read for awhile before going to have a small breakfast.

Back in my room, I checked my drawers for possible clothes to wear. I didn’t know what would still fit me, so it took some effort. Normally, I’d just peek and get items that’s fit well together.

I took a short cold shower before setting into blue cargo pants and a plaid button down. I had time to spare, but didn’t waste it, instead I automatically left.

I took the tram to the nearest station and rode up to the library. Of course, I was stiff and uncomfortable, being used to the the spacious, loneliness of the outskirts in Victoria.

 

At the library, I was early. I took the time to look around for books. Eventually, I settled in a secluded corner to read, surrounded by large shelves full of mystery novels. I had a pile of five books, incase I suddenly didn’t see the point in the one I had picked up to read first.

 

I was broken from my intense reading by shuffling sounds coming from my left. I glanced, looking intently. My gaze was met by none other than Jasper. He walked toward me, smiling slightly. I smirked, getting up.

In a quick motion, my arms were around his waist in a hug. He chuckled softly and wrapped his arms around me. I ignored the analytical part of my mind informing me that this was my first real hug when it came to Jasper. I noted that I should not mess this up, seeing as I was clumsy and always managed to make hugs awkward by stepping on people’s feet.

I’m not sure how much time passed, but I felt my face heat up. Flustered, I smiled and licked my lips reassuringly, whether to myself or to Jasper, I didn’t know.

 

We sat, and I set my books aside. “It’s been far too long,” Jasper muttered.

I nodded. We hadn’t Skyped each other because of Jasper’s finals, and we hadn’t spoke at all even a couple weeks before that. I hadn’t physically seen him in over a year, either. “What’ve you been up to?” I wondered.

“Not much. After my finals ended, I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I stayed home and went on the interwebs and read for hours on end.”

“Shitty sleep pattern?” I predicted.

He smirked and nodded. “What about you?”

I shrugged, “I had a bit of work to do. Though, I also had to help out and stuff. They’ve been trying to figure out when to get me to Quebec for the monthly training, and whether to move me to a base, possibly more Ontario Local. I’m not sure yet.”

“That’s cool. Well, I’ve got myself a job.” He muttered happily.

“Really! Wow, that’s great.”

He grinned. “Yeah, I work in the lab and research parts of the museum. It’s very intriguing. I like it.” He said, biting his lip slightly. He studied archeology, biology and history in Uni, and had recently gotten his Masters for it.

“That’s good. You’re happy. Have you got a flat?” I wondered.

He shook his head. “I’m not sure I want to stay in Toronto. They said they may transfer me, but it was vague and blunt. No final decisions. I was looking, but I may move out of Ontario, so no point.”

“Oh, interesting. Yeah, they said the same with me. They haven’t decided much.” I muttered. “D’you reckon staying will be good, or the opposite?” I wondered.

“I can surely say somewhere else would be great, but I’m fine with staying in Toronto.”

He nodded, and we stood once more in order for him to get some books. After a good ten minutes, he nodded his okay and we sat down.

 

We spent the next two hours reading, side by side. I’d finished one of the books, reading a second for then. It was taking me more time because Jasper kept interrupting me to look at a book of graphs and tables he had picked out. He went on to laugh or chuckle whenever he found something funny, followed by tapping my leg twice with the book.

 

Jasper •

I met Angie at the library. I was nervous, I hadn’t talked to, much less seen Angie in a while. I’d been busy with finals and getting a job. Now that I had one, and she was on break, we had to meet up. I knew she would have changed again.

Angie was happy and confident. I knew for a fact that she was conflicted, her choices getting in the way of happiness. I would try, I thought to myself, to affect her opinion in the least biased way possible.

I, myself, had been conflicted with staying or moving within the last couple months. They had told me nothing was final, but I would have to make the choice at some point.

At the library, I searched in isolated corners. It was on the second corner that I found her, at the end, a pile of books at her side.

Her head snapped up at the noise, presumably, my footsteps. She smiled widely and stood, quickly rushing up to hug me. My arms adjusted at the right moment, because this was the most intimate we’d ever gotten. It was more genuine, and tender.

She sat back down slightly flustered, grinning. We spoke for awhile before getting up. I found a few books. Most were novels, but I did find some list books and biographies as well.

We read and I couldn’t help but enjoy her company and enthusiasm toward reading. Of course, she’s been much more passionate about books, reading much more often and much quicker than I did. I’d only started enjoying books a couple years after I met her.

 

After leaving the library, three new books in Angie’s bag, we walked around. We spoke of the past few years, covering topics we had barely talked about in our time on screen. Eventually, we looked for shops. I took her to a bistro, where she had an sandwich. I ate a burger. Having been at the place before, I knew they’d be tender and well cooked.

We spent two more hours together afterward. We went to the park, where we climbed trees and nearby kids grounds.

Afterward, we walked to my place, where she greeted my mother with joy. I could see the nerves building and quickly ushered her inside. We played COD for the next hour.

I offered to take her home. She seemed reluctant, but I assured her it was no inconvenience. She agreed then and we left.

 

In the car, the radio played soft classical music. This was music we could both agree on. She was silent for awhile before she muttered, “I missed you.”

I had never been forward, much less intimate, and neither had she, but I could tell she meant it with a great severity. I nodded and placed and hand on her knee, brushing my thumb back and forth for a while. Eventually, after twitching slightly in her seat, she placed a hand on my shoulder.

As the ride continued, I ignored the laws and the temptations to use both hands and kept driving. Her hand hadn’t left my shoulder, and mine her knee.

As Angie looked out the window, I couldn’t help but catch her glance and smile. She grinned, humming softly to the song that played. It was barely audible, but she was still quite in tune.

 

When I parked a few doors down, I felt her hand squeeze my shoulder slightly, and impulsively returned the favour. When I finished, I tapped twice, sighing. I got out of the car, opening her door. Not only was it traditionally polite, it allowed a proper send off.

She smiled as she lifted herself out and stood on her sidewalk. Knowing I wasn’t done, she waited.

I sighed and wrapped my arms around her, allowing some room between the both of us. After a few seconds, I pulled away, gazing at her. She and I were almost the same height, but I managed to grow taller, by roughly two inches.

I smiled reassuringly before kissing her lightly on the forehead.

Sighing, I rubbed her arm softly before walking to my side of the car. I nodded when she grinned, walking slowly toward the house. As I drove off, I noted that she’d watched from the porch.

 

Jelly •

After my long day with Jasper, I could help but wonder about a lot of things. We had walked around, gone to bistro, gone to the park, and played video games. And then he offered to drive me home. That’s when it sort of got intimate. That’s what I wondered about. Was that good? Was that now an avoidable subject, awkward and unwanted?

Right on cue, I received a text, “Don’t over think today. I’ll see you soon,” he’d said.

I laughed. God, the man knew me.

Well, I supposed that makes sense, when you’re still in touch with him after slightly more than a decade. Even so, the stubborn part of my brain said, I had been gone for nearly half a decade.

 

I lay in bed, unable to sleep, then. It had been an hour since I’d settled to the dark, humid state of the room, attempting to get some sleep. I wondered about the intimacy. It had grown over the hours, more genuine than ever. Together, we’d just crossed of a bunch of firsts on the list of our intimacy, and god, that sounded wrong.


Wasn’t I supposed to be a rational, grown woman? Wasn’t I supposed to know not to feel insecure?

Girl in the Uniform: Chapter Three

Chapter 1, 2

Part II –  TWO YEARS LATER (2004)

 

Jelly

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.

 

Jasper

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 read,

 

Dear Dad,

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,

Evangeline

***

 

Dear Percy,

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.

 

In sisterhood,

Evan

***

 

Dear Ed,

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.

 

With love,

Evan

 

On the other side of the page, there was a letter. Longer, and neater, it was addressed to me.

 

I read,

 

Dear Jasper,

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,

Angie

 

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.


Girl In The Uniform: Chapter Two

Chapter 1 x

Jelly 

On the train, I looked out the window as I waited for the emotions to pass. Tears rolled silently down my cheeks as my mind blanked, hazy. Later, once the tears had dried from my unmoved face, I read.

It was a long journey to BC.

Sighing, as I put my book down, I thought about when I’d seen Jasper, how all worry seemed to have evaporated, how it all seemed to be momentarily better. How I would live with that moment forever.

 

I woke, feeling disoriented. Sighing, I glanced at my watch. It was late in the day. I got out of the compartment, trying to find a trolley or a bar.

Minutes later, I was paying a fairly old looking lady. Her expression was questioning as I quietly muttered my order.

Back at my compartment, I ate. I’d slept a long time, which had been good, given my extreme lack of sleep the night before.

I ate slowly, trying not to be rash about the taste of the train food. I thought about my book, how the characters interacted. It was a method of distraction I’d used for years. Then, I’d thought about the speed of the train, how long it would take me to arrive to the station in Victoria, BC. Gulping as I tried to liberate my mind, I read.

It worked, because next time I paused to think about something other than the fiction novel in front of me, two hours had passed. I looked outside the window, only to see the darkened sky, lightened only by the moon.

I glanced at my watch, which indicated that the train ride would last a full twenty-four hours more. I smiled to myself nervously.

I slept for something else to do. I woke, getting up disoriented. It wasn’t dawn yet, but I didn’t bother going back to sleep. I read for a few hours, before going out to eat.

Afterward, I spent the next hours reading. then, I ate once more. And, feeling sick of reading then, I played games on my phone.

Next thing I knew, four hours had passed. I sighed, getting out of the compartment to stretch and find something to eat.

 

Outside, the woods surrounding seemed peaceful. The steam and polluted air of the train blew away, flowing the light June wind, in the middle of nowhere, where the tracks had been installed ages before.

Next, I slept, getting ready for the stop, in only a few hours. I fell asleep again, later. I woke harshly, standing automatically. My head spun. I read, waiting for the train to stop. Drowsily, I noticed in only had minutes to go. Only minutes before I’d get out, settling to find the school and its grounds.

Upon getting out of the train station, I hailed a cab, paying him as we approached the gates. The driver seemed surprised to hear that I was headed to the academy. He’d glance, bleakly my way. And I’d ignore him. I was used to it. I was odd, people knew that.

 

Driver 

I parked for a girl, who seemed small and nervous. She had short hair, and she was pale.

“To the UVic campus, please.” She said quietly.

I nodded, keeping my–shocked–emotions to myself.

She was small and lean. She wore baggy clothes, her eyes distant, looking out the window.

I could see it. I saw a distant family, quiet and often empty-housed. I saw a girl, wanting a different life, away from prejudice and family.

 

I knew she saw me, imagining, assuming. She didn’t comment, though. She was evidently shy and quiet, but I knew there was more to the girl.

 

Jelly 

I sat and noted the driver of my destination as loudly as I dared. I hated doing this, they almost never heard, and never bothered to read lips.

He nodded, and if I’d blinked I wouldn’t noticed the slight twitch in his eyebrow, suggestion shocked curiosity. I pictured him thinking, watching me. Assuming things, noting of my petite shape and baggy, boyish style. I didn’t mind, in fact, I ignored it.

 

The drive was fairly short. The car stopped and I checked the meter as he told me price. I nodded and handed him the money, thanking him. I got out, and glanced around. The grounds were big, with a large field, which extended farther past the building. The place was large from the outside, so I could only imagine the inside.

 

I walked in, and went to the desk. The guy handed my a set of keys and an envelope. He pointed in the general direction of the residences saluted me. I nodded, smiling slightly.

Getting to my door, I unlocked it and peaked inside. It was clean.

My roommate sat on her made bed, glancing out the window. She turned as I closed the door behind me. I smiled shyly. She returned the favor, chuckling softly. “Hi. I’m Mercury Sanders.” She said quietly.

“Hello. I’m Evangeline Doukas.” I chuckled at her expression. “Call me whatever you like, I know the name is unsettling.”

She nodded and smiled warmly. “Where’d you come from?” She wondered.

“I’m from Toronto, Ontario.” I chuckled. “What about you?”

“I’m from Alberta, in the suburbs close to Edmonton.” She muttered.

 

I nodded and sighed, as I moved to unpack. I hadn’t brought all that much. Mostly, it was just clothes and books. Mostly books. I stacked them on the shelves and left one on the dresser. I unpacked the minimal clothes I had, which were mostly undergarments.

It took barely any time. Mercury seemed impressed at my lack of clothing, but I knew she had done something similar.

 

I settled on my bed, sighing. Picking up my book, I began to read. I was interrupted by Mercury, who had gotten up, and looked at me expectantly. “Want to get our things and get look at the grounds?” She suggested, I smiled and nodded.

 

Mercury 

The girl seemed shy. She was tall, but thin; agile, presumably. She hadn’t packed much. Her books had a variety of genres and there were some from the same authors. All and all with wide variety.

Her name, a mouthful for a kid, had many syllables. My name had usually the same reactions I gave her. She just laughed softly, openly.

I would call her Doukas, just as the Sergeants would. I wondered why she’s enlisted, but didn’t ask. I did it for the job itself and for the experience. I was studying to be a military doctor. Something told me she wasn’t just studying to be a soldier.

I thought she was decent.

 

Jelly 

The grounds were huge. I was excited to see what I would learn and how much it would change me.

For now, I just returned to our room and relaxed. Everyone already received a text. I would call them later.

Girl in the Uniform : Chapter One

Part I – 2002

 

Teacher •

It was odd, I thought, the way Evangeline Doukas and her friends associated themselves. Evangeline was a tall, quiet girl. She was often stiff and awkward, her expressions barely readable.

Only some of her friends were the same. Like Tina, who seemed to be her closest friend but, I’d recently learned, was just close through coincidence and mutual awkwardness.

And as for her Irish twin, let’s just say they were polar opposites.

While Evangeline was tall, with boy-style straight brown hair, and green eyes, her sister–Persephone–was slightly shorter, with wavy dirty blonde hair past the shoulders, and brown eyes. Persephone was quiet too, but not so much as Evangeline, they related in the blank stares as well, but Evangeline was always more to it. That happened with nearly everything.

Evangeline was the type of girl who was rare–uptight, but somewhat lazy. Persephone was more lenient, and less lazy–again, opposites. While Evangeline had to study more to get through some things, Persephone could be ignoring it and get a fairly decent mark. Evangeline was harder on herself, but that did nothing–except stress her out even more.

 

They had an odd way about things. People tended to call Persephone by a boyish, yet simple nickname.

Evangeline had a different way of things. She let people call her what they wanted–so long as it was related to her name. Most commonly, she’d been called Jelly. The odd close friends would call her Angie or Angel. Possibly the weirdest, though were the names given by Tina and Persephone (Jo and Evan). They had justifications, I’d always supposed. The one that was most random, was Jo, which most wondered about. Whenever questioned, they’d just smile and say, “Why not?”

The other thing was that Evangeline called Tina, John. It was the same thing, and it went the same way.

 

I watched the siblings in class, murmuring in rapid-fire French.  They spoke quietly, usually muffled by shyness and their quick speech. Often, it’d seem like a drone of even sounds more than a conversation.

As they packed up, I watched as Persephone waved. Her sister saluted her dully. Percy winced, causing Evangeline to grin. Tina watched, like me. When Evangeline finished, she walked quickly to the door. Pausing, she looked back at Tina, who was still packing. Her lip twitched and she drummed her long fingers on her binder, waiting.

Tina joined her and with a wave my way, they left.

 

Jelly •

I walked stiffly to the next class, John beside me. “Chill, Jo. We’ll make it on time.”

“Amp’s going to be there,” I said, but John shook her head. Amp was the English teacher. His name given from his booming voice.

I was happy it was one of my last classes. We hadn’t got much time left in school and all the exams were completed.

John and I had been friends for ages, but never best of friends.

Gulping as I walked in, I tried to calm down. The sense of claustrophobia overwhelmed me, even if Amp hadn’t closed the door yet, as he usually did. The class seemed smaller, since I was tall. The other kids kept to themselves, even after acknowledging me. There were desk lined in pairs, forming four rows and five columns. Amp started the class up, keeping his voice as low as possible. He set up a movie. “Could have skipped,” I heard someone say say. I couldn’t help but agree.

 

I sat alone, in the back, John in front of me. We passed notes, keeping watch on Amp.

Mainly we talked about sitting and posture. It was in context, because of the people slumped in their chairs in front of us.

At one point, John brought up guys. It was the one thing aside from friendship I hated to talk about.

 

The conversation broke eventually, at which point I started doodling. Nobody got how I doodled. But there were two ways, either I did lines and spirals, or I really vaguely sketched my thoughts.

I drew lines in lines, stopping only when I heard a chair scrape at the front. Amp got up and flicked the lights on. Sighing, I got up.

It was lunch. But I didn’t have food. John noticed, frowning my way. I shrugged dismissively, I wasn’t hungry.

 

Amp •

I cleaned the class, sighing to myself. At the back, in the second rows’ last pair of desk, was a folded paper. I frowned to myself as I walked over. On the desk in front of it was a lined paper with drawn lines and curves. Another paper was cut in different shapes beside it.

Glancing back at the folded paper, I flipped it. There was nothing on it, so I opened the flaps. There, two different handwritings varied only by cleanliness and grammar, opened a conversation. It was odd and brief. Flipping it open once more, I read on. At the bottom flap, a new conversation began.

The scrawled and messy handwriting had better grammar, and the person was evidently annoyed. They seemed to be talking about relationships and guys. It was even more brief than the first conversation. I read it, surprised by the sudden stop in conversation. As I returned to my desk, I couldn’t help but try to remember the people sitting at the back during the previous period. I was curious to know about the trip that one person was going on.

 

Percy •

Evan, Tina and I sat in the stairwell, reading. I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Evan read Unwind and Tina read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Tina had just got into the series after mine and Evan’s constant nagging. She’d been reading them for months now. Evan read Unwind for entertainment. She’d already read it twice, although, I’d read The Perks dozens of times.

 

I rushed off to class, hearing Tina and Laury in the distance. Evan walked beside me, staring at the ground in daze, presumably lost in thought.

Evan and I had Physics next, but it was just be review. Next, we both had a spare. Catching Tina in the halls, Evan smiled. “See ya tomorrow, sucker.”

“Donkey. Have fun.” Tina said. I laughed.

We walked quietly to the house, Evan twirling her key in her hands, looking at the ground.

As we went in, I went straight downstairs. I saw Evan take her laptop from the coffee table.

 

Jelly •

Sitting on the couch., I played Black Ops 2 with Jasper. I’d only been playing Black Ops for three years. With my reflects, I could be like Jasper, who’d been playing for nearly twice as much time.

We had our own plays, where we talked and competed only against each other. We played for hours., even after I shifted from the couch to my room.

My room was at the end, farthest from my father and the stairway. It was fairly large, with dozens of bookshelves filled with things. There was a large desk with a comfortable rolling chair. It had paper on the edges and in the drawers. Beside it, was a three drawer storage compact, mostly filled with junk. In the storage place, just behind the door, I had old school stuff and pictures. It was filled with memories, event after event. Eighteen years worth of pictures and school related things.

Dad got home, but I ignored him knowingly.

 

Dad •

I knew from watching it happen that Angie was upstairs. I could picture her, shifting on the couch until she simply went to her room, closing the door behind her. Most likely, she shifted around in there too.

I couldn’t help but wonder whether she was scared of leaving, scared of what she’d gotten herself into. I worried that she would be worse after the years passed. Years, loads of them, away from home, training and working real hard. She just had two months left.

As I cooked, she came down. Smiling, she greeted me. I smiled at her.

“How was your day?” I asked.

She shrugged. “We sketched in class and watched a movie in another class and then I had Physics. We did review.”

“That’s good.” I noted. She nodded.

“What about you?”

I sighed. “Work, you know. It’s getting there.” She nodded again, understanding flashed in her eyes.

I worked hard to provide for the three children. And even though one was already in University and the other would start soon enough, it was Angie that I worried about. Sure, I had the money and the distinction, but I still worried about her. A fragile, shy thing. I’d tell myself, she’s tall and strong and brave, she’ll make it.

 

Jelly •

It was late, and I was talking to Jasper.

He wondered again and again why I’d chosen UVic, why that specific future.

 

I explained that I wanted a high pay Engineering job. I wanted to be trained to fight and help others with it too. He figured I could have chosen a safe job, and I retorted with snarky remarks until he sounded worried. I got antsy after that, apologizing and mocking myself so that he’d drop it. Overwhelmed by temporary uncertainty, I judged myself openly, wondering what he’d think. He ended the conversation with a string of flatterers, and I chuckled as I got ready for bed.

 

Percy •

I woke to the sound of my alarm blaring loudly. Downstairs, I could hear Dad and Evan.

When I came down, Evan was packing her lunch. Dad ate toasted bread. I got myself a waffle, eating quickly. By that time, Evan was getting dressed.

Soon enough, Evan was reading in her room. I continued to get ready, finishing quickly. Going downstairs, I went on the desktop computer.

And an hour and a bit later, Evan and I were out the door.

 

We walked quietly, as usual. Inside, Evan went to her locker. Lockers were in alphabetical order by first name. Soon enough, I was in class, the anthem playing.

We didn’t sketch. Instead, we played board games.

 

Jelly •

I exited the class, John at my heels. In English, Amp was setting up the board for The Game of Life. I played with Sam and John and Laurey. She was also part of the group. I chose college, even if I knew I wasn’t really doing that in real life.

 

I spent the rest of the day trudging from class to class. At lunch, we hung out with the whole gang. It was the last real day.

It was better than I expected. Only a few people cried. I remained silent.

It was the end, a new beginning. More friends to make, more people to meet.

 

I spent the next day with Cassandra, whom I’d met years before. We managed to keep in touch even though I hadn’t had a class with her since middle school.

The Saturday, I spent with Gran. We cooked and watched TV.

On Sunday, I spent the day in my room, reading. I finished two and a half books.

Monday, I spent with Jasper, at his house. His mom, Lidia was very welcoming. Percy wasn’t there, she had work.

 

Lydia •

Jasper had told me that his friend was coming over only hours before hand. I knew from experience that Evangeline was a great girl. She was kind and helpful, but she was also very quiet and shy. Jasper had been friends with her for many years now. Unlike her sister, she spoke less, and was more critical. She helped around more though, while her sister just stood there. I got to know her a little more through that.

 

The time she and Jasper spent in ear shot was short, but she was always quieter then. I could tell, from the way her expression shifted back and forth. Jasper was used to this. He only accommodated to her changes.

They ate quietly, choosing songs to listen to on the computer. While Evangeline chose rock song, some with mild pop, Jasper was more picky. His choices were more modern and more pop-like. I mostly recognized the one’s from Evangeline’s playlist.

 

Jelly •

Tuesday, I spent at Gran’s, helping her around the house. It was quick, and reminded me of the good times where I stayed with her. Especially while I was younger.

Wednesday, I spent playing Black Ops and reading. It was an empty house.

Thursday, I hung out with Ash, before meeting John.

Friday, I read, in bed.

Saturday, I helped Dad with errands and the house cleaning. We mostly worked in silence, but I didn’t mind.

Sunday, we had diner at our Aunt’s house. Ed had even come over. Ed was our sibling, but he’d started at U of T. He had often slept in the dorms, it had been more convenient. It was short and mostly silent. TV and food were the main things.

 

My weeks off had passed quickly. I was leaving soon. The days had mostly been filled with my lying in bed reading. That, or socializing until I was immensely tired and called quits. I spent most morning trying to convince myself not to camp in the basement playing video games and reading all day. Bike rides and walks often ended with me sitting on the grass in a cemetery, reading my latest addition to the bookshelves that covered my walls. I hung out with Ed every once in a while, but for the most part, he stayed at the dorms. Why, I could never guess.

Now, everything was crumbling away. I would be gone within the next couple days or so. In a different province, alone. I would make new friends, I was sure, and I would definitely keep in contact with the others. But I would be far away. Hours and hours away.

 

I also often spent time with Gran, helping her with the backyard and the veggies everywhere. When I got bored with being at home, I camped at her place and visited Jasper during the evenings.

I got sick a few days before my departure and proceeded to camp up at Gran’s. I felt better, but my fever was still high, so I took Advil. I helped out in the kitchen and backyard.

Late in the day, I took more for the pain and headaches, going to Jasper’s. We spent the time in his room, playing cards and watching YouTube videos. It got dark faster than I thought. My fever went up and I took more Advil.

 

Jasper •

Angie came to my place in the afternoon. She still wasn’t feeling so good, from the sickness and temperature changes in her body. She took more Advil. It messed with her. It was like she was drugged. She had also had loads of sugar, with all the chocolate pudding and Sprite and Candy Sticks.

 

Up on the roof, it was dark out. Her eyes looked distant, in the darkness. Suddenly she looked at me.

She was quiet. Scowling, she pulled out her pack of Candy Sticks, taking one out. She fiddled with it for a while, like a lollipop. When she had finished, she sighed.

“You know, I was happy when I was younger. I was young and I was naively stupid, but I was happy. Thing with Percy were different, quiet, but open. But that changed when we moved. New neighborhood, new school.

“We spent the first year together, buddy to buddy. Then, we made friends, I was alone again, but not for long. A bit late in the year, the groups merged.

“Then, for middle school. I met you, John and Andy. I was happy. I was confident. Then Percy and Cassie got close to you, and I don’t know what happened. I was with Ash and Andy, but felt a loss of sorts. Confidence–gone. You lot became closer, and I was me, with Ash’s help, I felt better, but it still hurt.

“Then we split, and Percy and I went someplace with John. We had the same groups of friends, no better, no worse. It was fine, I was better. We had different paths. I felt better. Now, I just don’t know what to think. Everything is different, just like I wanted. I thought so.”

 

She sighed. Scowling, she drummed her fingers along her ribcage.

We lay there in silence for a while. I thought about all that. The way she thought Percy was more to people. The way not being a people-person made her. The way she felt about the past.

“You know, when we first met, you were the closest I had ever gone to have a best friend. All of my old friends had never been as close as you and me. I knew loads that others didn’t. I liked the facts I could tell about you. I felt close to you.

“All the rare times we had alone, where we’d talk or run, or go on our laptops or iPods, I was happiest. It was great. Just at the peak, though, Percy had to come and take my place. In the back of my head, you were still my best friend. I could never tell you that, of course. I chose the others who’d been closer, out of impulse. Nothing has ever been like that, ever since.”

She remained quiet. I felt touched. I knew this was the truth, because of the way she wouldn’t meet my gaze, the way she spoke quickly, sighing every so often. The way she was frustrated and self-loathing.

 

It took minutes for her to start talking again. I didn’t dare speak. “You know, I had a crush on you in our early days. Three months after we met, I developed a goddamned crush on you. You, my fucking best friend! I’d always told myself I wasn’t the kind of person to like like my best friends. It didn’t take long to realize that my first crush had been on one of my closest friends.

“It was a small thing, never really developed itself. It lasted four months. Admittedly, not the shortest amount of time I’ve taken, but a fairly short one. I never told you. I was convinced it would change things. I was confident enough to say it was going to ruin it all. One of my finest qualities, ruining things.

“Most recently, I’ve learned that I can’t ruin things anymore than they are ruined. I’m leaving in two days. Two short, short days. Not enough to fix all the crap that’s happened lately. All the worry, all the anxiety.”

 

I stayed quiet. Angie liking me?

I knew that we’d been too young. I knew it didn’t mean anything. I knew, also, that she was just telling me to let it out. To let out all her thoughts from different points of her life. I was sure, then, that she was having a nervous breakdown. She was on the process of it.

I laid there for a while, waiting. She got up, looking inside the house. “And that’s my story. See you.” Before I could react, she jumped. It wasn’t high up, and I’d seen her jump from higher dozens of times before, but I was still worried.

“Where’re you going!?” I said, jumping to go find her. She was just lying there.

“I dunno. Somewhere.”

I sighed. “Come on Angie. You can’t take the bus back. I’ll drive you.”

She frowned at me. “Are you mad? Me going home–like this?!”

Sighing once more, I picked her up. She was light. Lighter than I expected, really. “Then you sleep here.” Angie said nothing.

I walked inside the house, taking her right up to my room. I lay her on the bed and took sweat pants and a long-sleeved shirt to change in the bathroom.

Back in my room, Angie was drumming her fingers along the wall in daze. I tossed her a smaller shirt of mine and shorts. She was fine to sleep in with anything. I changed my socks and waited for Angie, who was changing in the bathroom. She came out, the shorts and shirt hanging loosely on her. She may have been thin and light, but she had muscle, loads of it in her calf and arms. Sighing, I went downstairs, getting water for Angie. Feeling her forehead, I saw that she was definitely better. She took the water, thanking me. I flicked the lights off.

“G’night, Angie.”

“Nighty night.”

 

Jelly •

I woke in daze, my vision hazy. I sat up, my head spinning. Beside me, Jasper slept. I stared, wide eyed. What had happened? Why hadn’t I gone home? I checked my cellphone. Nothing, except a text from Cassandra. It said she’e covered for me, but she wanted a full explanation. I sighed. I stayed there, in order to avoid waking him.

Minutes later, Jasper woke. Blinking quickly he sat up. Sighing he looked around the room. “Hi, Angie. You look better.”

I nodded. “I feel better. But one thing. What happened last night?” I asked.

“Confronting. Loads of it.”

“Why?”

“Too much sugar, too much Advil.”

I sighed, “I’m sorry. I bet I made you think too much.”

Jasper shrugged. “I know what happens in your head now. It’s fucking sickening. You were right, it really is hell.” I laughed humorlessly. “Hungry?”

I shook my head. “No, not yet.” Smiling, Jasper nodded.

“I figured. I have an idea.” He told me. I frowned. He tossed me one of his shirts. It was one of the shirts I’d liked the most. A polo with patterns of orange, red, green and blue. He took another for himself. It was his striped red orange, red, green and gray one. “Be right back, get dressed.”

I smiled to myself. As I pulled the shirt on, I heard him in the stairs. “I’ll leave you to it. Meet me downstairs?” I said. He nodded.

“Oh, wait. Here.” Jasper said briefly. He went in his room and came out, tossing me a hoodie. I laughed.

“Thanks.” It was our middle school hoodie, one I’d wanted to buy but hadn’t gotten the chance, given my size. I’d still been short back then.

Jasper drove, while I sat beside him, puzzled by his eagerness. He drove quickly.

“Where are you taking me?” I asked.

He shrugged. “Somewhere.”

“Not elsewhere?” That made him laugh.

“I hope not. That would be a bummer.” I smiled.

Half an hour later, he parked in the parking lot of our middle school. I smiled widely.

“Just like the old days. The better days. The fun days.” I laughed loudly, getting out of the car.

 

I ran out, going straight to the swings. Laughing, Jasper ran after me. He took the larger swing–as he’d always done. We swung high, racing for a while before letting it fall until it stopped. Then, we went to the castle it had more graffiti and more rust than when we’d been there. We sat, talking about the past, the memories. After that, we sat in the slide. We talked some more. We slid, we pushed each other. Just like the old lunch times.

After that, we sat in the front steps, listening to the music and playing on the apps of Jasper’s really old iPod. We slid on the rails as well.

Later, we went to the field. We went to the tree swing first. I was surprised to see it was still there. Next, we went to the tree. We talked about the past some more, then we went on the discuss the types of trees. It sidetracked us to Minecraft.

Afterward, we went to the woods. We sat on the bench, in the treehouse. We walked the whole thing, both sides, the track and the woods. In the woods part, there was a bank and think pines. On the track, there was dry mud and branches.

Going back to the park, we climbed the tree. It was the easiest tree. One of the best. We spent a while there. Next, we went to the alley. We walked in, and traditionally, I flipped the camera off. At the corner store, I bought more Candy Sticks. We talked some more. We went back to the tree.

 

Jasper drove me home, and I called Cassandra. I went to bed early.

I tossed and turned, but I never fell asleep.

 

Jasper •

My phone rung loudly. Disoriented, I looked around. My phone rung again, making me jump.

“Hello?”

“J-Jasper?” Angie said on the other line. Her voice was a hoarse whisper.

I frowned to myself, yawning stiffly. “What are you doing up?” I yawned again. “It’s four am.”

“It is? I can’t sleep. I haven’t slept. I-I. I can’t.”

“Whoa. Whoa, slow down.”

It took a while for her to speak again. Her breath was long and even, stuttering every once and a while on the line. “I think I’m probably having a nervous breakdown.” She gulped and sighed. “I’ve been thinking too much. I think I’m starting to realize I’m probably gonna die if I take this future.”

“Why? Something happen?”

She sighed. “No. It’s just … look at me. I wake up and I look in the mirror and like it’s pretty obvious to me, you know?”

“You don’t know that, you can’t say that. And a lot of what you’re feeling right now is from the confessions of others freaking out.” I told her.

“I know, but it’s … Look, thank you. But you don’t have to try and cheer me up. I’m … I’m actually really okay with it. I’m, you know, okay. I’m gonna die. You’re gonna die. You know? Hopefully a lot later than I am, but that’s just what happens. And, you know, it doesn’t really mean anything anyway.”

I sighed. I thought hard about the way she was acting. “Okay. Angie, right … right now you’re … you’re going through um … an alienation phase. And I know that you feel really helpless, but I think it’s important to remember that this your choice. Your idea. You created this, for the better. You want to help. You want to feel stronger than you really are. You like the suspense.”

“I know. I know that. It’s just … I need–I think … I feel–I just want it to be over. I’m so fucking tired of being pushed around by my goddamned thoughts, I just wasn’t to stop worrying for once.”

I nodded to myself. “Right. It’ll be gone. It’ll be done in just around three hours.”

She laughed. “I hope I sleep most of that time. Look, I’m sorry I was such a jackass on Wednesday.” She told me.

 

“It’s alright. Angie, I feel bad. I was one of those people who couldn’t keep it inside. I was one who said wrong. I’m sorry I was so stupid.

“I feel like a coward. I’m a prick. I didn’t see it. I was blinded by the possibility of a newer friendship. I was sucked into the idea of a different kind of friendship. I was mean not to realize it. I knew something was up, but I could never pinpoint it. Every time I came close, I told myself I’d been wrong.

“I didn’t know about the friendship and the strength and bond of it all back then. I was dimwitted. I became so into the newness, that I forgot to include you as I had before. When you told me I’d always been your best friend, I felt good. I know now. I know I’d made a foul mistake.

“I was somewhat surprised to hear that you of all people could like me that way. It didn’t take long to see that you’d only felt that for a short amount of time. It was no longer, because you saw me as your closest of close friends. I knew you were just telling me to let the guilt of not telling me go away. I respect that. I know you’re stressed as hell. I know you’re confused and scared.” I waited, but Angie said nothing. I sighed. “On the contrary, you haven’t ruined things. You’ve educated me. I know you better than ever. It’s great. Thank you, Angie. You always assume when you’re stressed, with incoherent thoughts. Mostly, you just haven’t done a justification that people can really understand. But here’s the thing. They don’t need to understand. It’s all on you. Sometimes, the people who understand can be determined as the people who care most. You’re too critical of yourself, Angie. You should really see yourself the way others see you. It’ll make you feel so much better.”

 

I could hear Angie processing all that. Her breath was paced. She gulped several times. “Thank you. It means a lot. It says a lot. It helps already.” She sighed. “Jasper?”

“Hmm?”

She gulped. “I’m terrified.”

“Don’t be. It’ll be good. A good experience, a good lesson. Good deeds for good money at a good job. It’ll help you. You’ll feel loads better than you feel now. You might even be happy.”

Angie stayed quiet. I could practically hear her anxious thoughts. I could imagine her, in bed with patterned, baggy clothes. Her expression, unreadable, except for her widened eyes, worried and fearful. I knew she would feel better as the thoughts synced in.

“Thank you. I could never repay you. You’re the best.”

“I severely doubt that.” I said, and she laughed.

“Don’t argue with me. It’s the truth, and you can’t deny it.”

I smiled to myself. Angie was kind. Even when she was just being honest. She was a very modest person, but she’d never come to that conclusion. Whenever it was mentioned, she would shake her head, look at the ground and sigh. Then, she would you look you in the eye and smiled the small smiled she gave when she was embarrassed or feeling momentarily better. But soon enough, all that would pass and she’d just, shake her head once more, and she would deliberately change the subject.

 

I sighed. “Fine. That’s very nice of you,” I glanced at my clock. Sighing again, I said,“Good morning to you. Sleep tight.”

“Same goes for you. Thank you again.” Angie said, sighing once more. I nodded to myself, and the line went dead.

 

Jelly •

I woke at ten to six, to Dad shaking my shoulders quickly. Remembering my conversation with Jasper, I sighed. Even after I’d hung up, I didn’t fall asleep for a while. Downstairs, I had eggs and pudding.

In the five seater car, I sat in the middle, Ed on my right and Percy on my left. I focussed on convincing myself to keep the emotions inside, feeling the lump in my throat.

At the train station, I got out, blinking back soon-to-be tears. The train station wasn’t packed, which was to my comfort. I waited, leaning against the platform post in misery. Dad looked worried. Ed stood beside Percy, looking grim. Percy sighed every once in awhile. I stayed where I was, taking every ounce of my thoughts and energy to not freak out–or let out any emotion whatsoever.

As we waited, my mind wandered, getting used to the state of robotic-ness. I thought about how long the ride to Victoria was going to be. I thought about my friends, the last day of school. The recent teachers, the ones I’d warmed up to. I gulped, sighing. University was going to change it all. Studies for a future military career would change it all. I would find my place, though, I told myself. I was meant to do such things.

More time passed, and I was oblivious to the outside world. My mind was alive, racking, focusing. I could not let go of anything, in these last moments. But at least, I thought bitterly, I still had some spark of hope. Not yet, a single flame of fire, but perhaps on the way there, upon seeing my sort of freedom, my chance.

I thought about Dad, what he must be thinking. The average girl, clumsy and small for most of her life, going away first. His middle child, leaving. Then, Ed, his sister, companion, friend, gone. And Percy, whom stuck with me the longest. The one who could see through me better than others. I would have to thank them all.

 

Jasper •

I woke again, hurrying to get ready. When it was time to leave, I nodded at Mom, who just smiled.

In the car, I racked my brain, checking the time often. I could make it. I should. I had to.

At the train station, I searched, getting in the platform. I found them, almost alone. Angie was more distant, staring away in daze. She seemed to be thinking deep, given the crinkle in the forehead. Her siblings sat side by side, a pained expression upon their faces. Her dad stood not too far, looking troubled. I sighed. Walking over, I waited. She slowly noticed me, blinking a couple times, before really noticing me.

A whole smile lit up her face. It wasn’t the small smile she’d I’ve me when I complimented her, it was the rare, large smile that made her eyes crinkle. She knew this smile, and she always hated it, but I knew it was the best, the one where she was happiest.

“How are you here?” She asked me.

I smiled. “Percy told me. I had to.”

“Thank you. You are the best. I mean it.” Angie said, smiling again.

“You needed at least one proper send off.” I told her quietly.

Smiling, she nodded. Looking around her, she sighed. “I need this, don’t I? This is me.”

I shrugged, nodding a bit. “Sure. You could use it. It will be good.”

 

Smiling, I waved at Percy, who got up, standing beside me. “Thanks for coming.” She said.

I nodded. “Anything, really.”

The train came then, and Angie sighed heavily.

Nodding, she hugged her family. “I’ll email you.”

While she was hugging me, I felt something go in my pocket, but I ignored it. I ignored the worry creasing in my mind. “You’re the best.” She said.

Going up to her dad, she nodded. “I love you.” And with that, she was gone. As she mounted the train, I could see her eyes giving away to the fear. But she and I both knew it would be gone soon. Smiling weakly at me, she waved.

 

As the train blew past, I reminded myself of the times we’d spent together. Sighing, as I turned away, I checked my pocket. There was a note. I shook my head, sighing at my expectancy. Of course she would.

 

Girl in the Uniform : Chapter Thirteen

I drove with Andy in the car, where I parked downtown so we could wait for Tina and Cassie. In the car, we sat with the windows open. It was a bit hot, but both of us preferred it to the crowd. I smiled as Andy received a text, followed by a call. He chuckled, and I nodded to reassure him taking it was fine. I sent Angie a text, wondering how the ride was going.

Eventually, she got more nervous. It was over keyboard, but I could still tell. Andy had finished his conversation by then, and was staring at me in confusion. “What’s wrong?”

“She’s about to have a panic attack. I gotta call her.” I explained.

He nodded. “Yeah, do that.”

“Thanks.” I said, sighing. “Angie,” I murmured when she picked up. She huffed, and I clenched my fist to keep from sighing. “Angie, baby. Talk to me.” Her voice was small, wavering and shaky.

I huffed a laugh at her attempt to sound better than she was. I ran through the checklist of things to say when someone is undergoing a panic attack, making my voice more reassuring and quiet. “Baby, listen to me. Focus on the sound of my voice,” I said slowly, coherently. “Breath, Angie. Everything is fine. You’re going to be fine. In and out, breath.” I told her, “Count with me, okay?” I said encouragingly. She counted slowly, voice wavering as if it slipped in and out of her control. “That’s it, baby. Stay calm. Listen to my voice, everything will be okay. I’m right here, I’m not going anywhere, baby.” I told her calmly.

She started to squirm, mumbling about the people on the train. “Don’t think about them, Angie. Think about me. About you. When you get to your room, Skype me, okay, baby? Think about that, it’s just four more hours, and I’ll be with you the whole time.” I interrupted. She questioned my position with the group. Thankfully, the girls hadn’t arrived yet. “They won’t mind, baby. Don’t worry, okay? You’re my priority, alright?”

Angie apologized and I sighed, expecting it. “Hey, hey, listen to me. Don’t apologize. You’re not doing anything wrong. I want to do this. Andy never minds. Everything is good.” She described her surroundings and I resisted the urge to swear. “Is the bathroom small?” I grunted when she confirmed. “If you go out, I’ll still be on. Alright?” I replied, knowing she would take the chance. I thought of ways to get her away from a claustrophobic panic. “Open the window, okay, breath.” She chose the moment to be selfless and aware of the public. “Too bad.” I replied, jokingly harsh. She seemed more relaxed. Angie asked about Tina, whether they had arrived. “No. Neither is Cassie.”

She assured me she was okay, thanking me multiple times. “Good,” I said, glad to have her feeling better.

 

I sighed when the line clicked. Orlando glanced at me. “Alright?” He asked. I nodded. “Did she ask about Tina and Cassie?” I nodded again, running a hand through my hair. “Did she apologize more than once?” I scowled and nodded. “Was she worried about other passengers?” I mumbled in agreement, running a hand down my face. Andy nodded. “Very standard.”

I sighed, suddenly exhausted. “How do you know so much about it?”

He laughed bitterly. “Two of the three girls I’ve dated, and Sef had and still have severe anxiety, plus I talked to Angie every day for two years. You get to know the tricks.”

I nodded. “Yeah. You seem to have a knack for that.”

“No, it’s just more common than you’d expect. You just learn what works best, and what the ticks are for each. Easy.”

“How many times a week would Angie have an attack?” I asked. We had stopped talking daily in grade ten, sometimes we would go weeks without it.

“Three times, at least.” He said, frowning slightly. I raised an eyebrow, trying to remember how many times she had come to me in a time of panic through our years. “She often mentioned bothering other people instead of me. Sometimes she would ask me whether it was a good idea if she spoke to you. She often didn’t, for fear of intruding or whatever. Needless to say, with every conversation came at least a dozen thank yous and I’m sorrys and you really don’t have to do this.” He muttered, sensing my tension and confusion.

“Did she?” I frowned, wondering about the way she had asked about me. We had had a couple falling outs during our time, and a few of them lasted what felt like ages, but what I remembered to be a few weeks at most. “What was it like?”

“Tiring. Good practice. Sad. Worrying. Very repetitive. Mostly confusing. Too hear that someone hated themselves so much. To see that there was so much misery and confusion. So much denial and struggle. It was hard. But, someone had to do it.”

“Why you?” I asked, referring to why he stuck around.

“Because I cared for her. I still do. I needed her to see that she wasn’t as alone as she felt. That there was hope. That despite her falling out with three friends at once, my girlfriend of the time included, I would still be there. Every night. Waiting, helping, encouraging. When she didn’t show up, I was worried. Hell, I resisted the urge to chain message a string of worries. But, the next morning, as usual, came a string of apologies along with an I hope I didn’t keep you up and a repetitive flow of Shit, sorry Andy.”

“Did she ever try to explain it?”

“Only everyday. She wouldn’t always get to it, though. Most often, she would spend a while trying to make sure I was okay with this or not busy or not tired yet and sometimes I was, but I full on knew that she was too, so I stayed there. Even if I told her I really wasn’t the best at it, she still came to me. I don’t know why. Maybe because she felt comfort, or because I lighten up a room and that was a good refresher. Her being there, and endlessly thanking me, and assuring herself that I was okay, was her way of saying she cared for me. Her way of showing how much my presence made a difference. Her excuse for openly complimenting me fifty times a day to make both of us feel better. She felt better reassuring me, thanking me, apologizing, saying the ramble that was her thoughts, giving me clues as to when to say what, and I ran with it for her sake, and because despite the way it was bittersweet, it still made me feel better about myself, every time.”

“Was she aware you sometimes struggled with it?” I asked quietly, fiddling with the hem of my jacket.

Andy nodded, chuckling to himself. “Very much. It was one of the reasons she spent so much time making sure I was fine, reiterating that fact that it was nice to have an ally, but that she worried about my worrying. And worried that I would spend too much time on her. And worried that I wouldn’t always be on board, because she saw herself so poorly. It was an impasse. I was strong on getting her to like herself, and she was strong on getting me not to dislike her. But there was always this wall, where we would both want to make each other feel better, and in the end we did it together. It was hard, but it was also be very heartfelt.”

“Thank you.” I said. I had always felt bad about the times when we had stopped talking. I thought of her endlessly. Once, we went a month without so much as glancing at each other. I spent the entire time wondering what had gone wrong, how I could fix it.

Orlando nodded, smiling slightly. “My pleasure. I would say she’s like the sister I never wanted, but I do want her in my life, and she’s better than a sister. She’s my family. The best anyone could ask for.”

 

“Did she give you a letter every Christmas since grade nine?” I wondered. She had said that she only gave them to specific people.

“Yes. I still have them all to this day. They’re the finest and most heartfelt pieces of writing that were ever addressed to me. No girlfriend will ever beat that.”

I smiled. “I know. Although, the first one was partially controversial and created a one month fall out. I still read them. She’s written me other letters, the non-holiday ones. They are great as well. I can hear her talking to me when I read them.”

“I read them when I’m having bad day.” Andy said with a laugh.

 

I smiled. “She’s wonderful.” I laughed freely. “I worry about her so much.” We both sighed, nodding. “Sometimes, I wish I could have been in BC with her. I wish we, or I, hadn’t waited so long.”

“What made you realize?” He asked.

I shrugged. “I had been thinking over and over about what she had said, what had happened in the few days before she left. It made me go through all the memories I could remember, just so I could attempt to take her point of view. I realized how sweet and patient and selfless she was. Of course, I’d always known she was kindhearted, but it gave me a new way to look at it.” I sighed, “I don’t know. I think, ever since she confessed, I realized I might have been lying to myself. I mean, the only other relationships I had lasted a few months at most. And I wasn’t as happy as I ever was with Angie. I denied it though, after figuring it out. I knew that if I didn’t, I would do just as she had.” I laughed, “It was so obvious, when she came back. Every time she did, I almost cracked, but I managed to stay true to it. She was back, and I had this small opportunity. I was sick of it. Sick of waiting, denying. We had both realized that something was different, unsaid, but neither said anything until after I received the call for my boss confirming my move to Victoria.”

 

Andy laughed then. “What about your girlfriends? You dated through most of University, didn’t you?”

“Not really. I had a booty call for the first couple years, but I knew it was odd. I wind up dating her for a couple months, and we decided it was better to remain friends. I dated this one girl after that, and we got on well, but she moved at the end of semester. And I attempted a relationship with this one girl, but it only lasted like two weeks. Apparently, I had a luck for hooking up with girls that moved in and out of cities a lot.”

Laughing slightly, he said, “I started dating early, I suppose. It lasted about six months, and then, almost a year later, I dated this girl for a while. We broke up mutually, though. My girlfriends and I often stayed friends afterward. And then I dated this girl a few months after the start of grade eleven and we broke up during the summer, so. But, in Uni, I hardly dated. I was busy with school, and I didn’t really care for it. In year one, I dated this girl, and we hooked up again in year three, but yeah. So that’s five relationships, but four girls.”

“Wasn’t that mutual break up your entire grade ten experience?” I asked, laughing to myself.

Andy chuckled. “People had been teasing me, saying she would break up with me to hook up with my friend, who pretty much instantly became her best friend. She talked to me about it, and we ended it. It was all right. I didn’t exactly mind.”

“Isn’t it a thing that people don’t hook up with their friend’s exes?” I asked teasingly.

Orlando laughed. “Apparently not. I’m dating two of my exes friend, also known as your girlfriend’s sister.”

I chuckled. “Point taken.”

We joked around a bit to let off the tension and ease away from serious topics, and so that the girls wouldn’t suspect anything when they arrived.